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On June 8, 1959, the American submarine Barbero fired a cruise missile, the Regulus, just off the Atlantic coast. The target was the Marine Airport in Mayport, Florida. 22 minutes later, the missile hit its target. But it did not explode. Shortly afterward, the missile was opened, and two American standard mailbags were taken out. The warhead had been replaced.
The mail was driven to Jacksonville for sorting and further travel to the addressees. One destination was Dwight D. Eisenhower, the White House. Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield was ecstatic over the possibilities and made the following statement:
“This peacetime employment of a guided missile for the important and practical purpose of carrying mail, is the first known official use of missiles by any Post Office Department of any nation. Before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India or Australia by guided missiles.”
It would have been a blast!
But ten years later came Arpanet, the foundation of what is today the Internet, and now we are here, without rocket mail. And rocket cheese. Not all ideas are good.
For every successful solution, there are a thousand unsuccessful. Laws, bad luck, clumsiness, or pure idiocy made them fail. But we do not know that, yet.
At Warp News, we write a lot about research and new ideas. A lot is at an early stage. No one can know if it will succeed or not.
But we know this: If we try 10,000 times, maybe one of the attempts will be really successful. We get penicillin or solar cells. If we try 1,000,000 times, 100 of them can be of the same dignity – ideas that change the whole world.
That's where we are now. We are in a time when more research is being done than ever before and where the tools we can use to create and realize ideas are more powerful than ever in world history.
Most of the time, those ideas are bad, but by and large, they are not 999,899 failures. It is part of the creative and innovative process that takes us forward to a future with more innovations than we can imagine.
Rocket mail was a really bad idea - let us celebrate that!
❓ Want more on rocket mail? Read more at the Smithsonian.