The US Government first funded roadways through the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916, and began an effort to construct a national road grid in 1921. After Dwight D. Eisenhower became president in 1953, his administration developed a proposal for an interstate highway system, eventually resulting in the passage of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. Construction of the Interstate Highway System was proclaimed complete in 1992. 1
In fact, its official name is the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. The word “Defense” is critical in this regard. Although little-recognized now, Eisenhower, being a retired five-star, US Army general, was primarily concerned with the inability — in 1952 — to efficiently transport large quantities of troops and supplies across the poorly-developed, US highway system. His objective was to be able to deliver a “heavy-lift” capability for defense materials to any part of the continental US during a national crisis. Of course, what developed is today’s Interstate Highway System.
Jeff Bezos’ and Blue Origin
“We are not in a race, and there will be many players in this human endeavor to go to space to benefit Earth. Blue’s part in this journey is building a road to space with our reusable launch vehicles, so our children can build the future. We will go about this step by step because it is an illusion that skipping steps gets us there faster. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.”
Jeff Bezos may be the founder of Amazon.com, but he now has a much more significant mission than selling kitchen toasters, office furniture and baby wipes over the Internet. Bezos is literally shooting for the Moon and building future, long-term, human settlements in space. In a manner similar to building the interstate highways, Bezos clearly intends to go slowly and smoothly, much as President Eisenhower’s highway system that took 40 years to construct and complete.
Bezos’ objective is: “Millions of People Living and Working in Space. Blue Origin’s vision is a future where millions of people are living and working in space. In order to preserve Earth, our home, for our grandchildren’s grandchildren, we must go to space to tap its unlimited resources and energy. If we can lower the cost of access to space with reusable launch vehicles, we can all enable this dynamic future for humanity.” 2
Blue Origin is in the process of developing a fleet of partially-reusable, launch vehicles and rocket engines to loft scientific, commercial and military payloads into space. The importance of reusability is the cost of access to space. Right now, Blue Origin is in the process of developing a fleet of launch vehicles known as New Shepard and New Glenn as well as a Moon lander vehicle called Blue Moon. The first two vehicles are named after two members of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, the late Alan Shepard and John Glenn. The term “Blue Moon” has commonly been used to mean “never” or “rarely,” but that doesn’t seem to be appropriate in this context [!]. New Shepard is currently taking payloads to space and will soon carry astronauts. New Glenn’s heavy-lift capabilities will bring crew, passengers and payloads to low Earth orbit. These next-generation launch vehicles are powered by their family of high-performance, reusable rocket engines. In this sense, Blue Origin is focused on developing an infrastructure for the creation of human spaceflight capabilities. In this way, they are building that “road to space” — a road so that our “children and grandchildren can build the future.”
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