9 moonshot ideas that became real-life innovations, from driverless cars to birth-control pills
The Apollo 8 blastoff from Cape Kennedy, Florida, on December 21, 1968.AP Photo
- NASA's Apollo program helped introduce the concept of a "moonshot": a lofty goal that may at first seem impossible.
- Some modern moonshots, such as virtual reality, were first imagined through science fiction.
- Others were the product of researchers tinkering alone in their labs.
- Today, the Alphabet subsidiary X Development is dedicated to bringing moonshot ideas like internet balloons and driverless cars to life.
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When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped foot on the moon in 1969, they helped to cement the idea of a "moonshot" - a goal or achievement that challenges what we thought was possible.
While few moonshots measure up to the Apollo program, many of the world's greatest inventions were once thought of as similarly out-of-reach. Virtual reality, for example, was the province of science fiction before it came to life. And the concept of DNA fingerprinting even boggled its inventor until he saw it work for the first time.
Here are some of the world's biggest moonshot ideas that became real-life innovations.
Traveling through space was once thought to be impossible. Now, astronauts live there for months at a time.
Driverless cars have been slow to get off the ground, but they're operating in Phoenix.
Alphabet's latest moonshot company delivers internet access via solar-powered balloons.
High-speed rail is still a moonshot in the US, but Japan has been using the technology for years.
Regulatory restrictions in the US made birth control pills a moonshot idea until 1960.
The inventor of DNA fingerprinting didn't believe that he had created it at first.
One man's hunch led to the invention of 3D printing.
The concept of virtual reality was first popularized by science fiction.