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The US space program is a prime example of how a national imperative can reap benefits far beyond its initial goals. The attraction of space had been unfolding for nearly a century in novels; and early experiments with balloons and aircraft stimulated interest across the globe. Advances in rocket propulsion and structures were absolutely vital to accessing outer space; it is unlikely that the space race could have proceeded without these two critical technologies. Although discovered in the late 1 940 s, solid-state electronics remained a curiosity until the military began to use them to reduce the size, weight, and power requirements for their critical systems.