>My new hero is Robert Harrison of West Yorkshire, UK, because of his Icarus Project.
A helium balloon, a used digital camera, a GPS, a launch clearance, and a bunch of duct tape, and we see how the middle of the road is just not good enough. Good things happen when billion-dollar, high-tech, publicly-funded R&D meets hundred-dollar, low-tech, privately-run, improvisational experiments. All that middling, corporatized crap that we wait for and pay for from outfits like Apple and Microsoft really don’t get us anywhere.
But this guy, with his “Hm, I wonder what would happen if I did this…” approach, he is advancing our story, showing us how access to knowledge really is opened up by new technologies, and how initial investments in R&D lead to much lower costs in real life application.
So while we, on the one hand, stop haggling and complaining about the costs of public programs like NASA and new fuel development, etc., because they really are worth the effort (Mr. Harrison stated on MSNBC this morning that, without the billions spent to develop GPS, he would not be able to do his $700 launches), let us also stop making excuses for not chasing our own visions as well. Not having funding, not having connections, not having credentials, are no longer any reason not to do things, because the tools are in our hands.
All we have to do is try, to see what is possible.
Hell, that even must apply to getting permission. The only part of all this that I haven’t seen and really want to is the pitch he made to the UK government to get the permission to send up his balloons. It must have been a good one.