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Historical Background
 
In 1862, President Lincoln determined that the existing railroad network from Iowa should be extended to the Pacific coast at San Francisco.  Then, California Governor Leland Stanford (founder of Stanford University), Charles Crocker (a founder of Central Pacific Railroad), Collis Huntington (railroad builder) and Mark Hopkins (a founder of Central Pacific Railroad) answered the call. Known as the “Big Four,” they proposed to build the connecting rail line primarily funded by the US Government.  Investing relatively little funds of their own and using a great deal of persuasion, a deal was struck.  The operators were to be Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads.  As an incentive, the Big Four received the rights to the land under the rail line and extending out 20 miles on each side.
 
Elon Musk and the “Railway to the Stars”
 
What is Elon Musk’s grand plan?  Elon Musk, the Chief Executive of SpaceX, plans to populate our Solar System.  [That sentence should probably be followed by at least one exclamation mark. In truth, this is no joke.]  Musk, who became an overnight billionaire on his website, PayPal, plans to populate the Solar System, starting with the Red Planet, Mars.
 
Musk plans to design and build a spaceship, what he calls the BFR — “Big Falcon Rocket.”  Musk unveiled a slightly scaled-down BFR on September 29, 2017 at the International Astronautical Conference in Adelaide, Australia.  Musk’s stated plan is that the spaceship component would transport people on point-to-point suborbital flights or on missions to the Moon or Mars.

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