It is surprising that Dr. Griffin has presented to the international community [“Griffin Asks Spacefaring Nations for Help Exploring and Settling the Moon,” Nov. 7, page 6] the analogy between the proposed U.S. exploration initiative and its interstate highway system — surprising because the U.S. highway system is far from being the “visionary” transportation infrastructure that “has paid dividends for decades to America’s well-being.”
Had Dr. Griffin been more cautious in his statements, he would have recognized the nation’s highway system is more analogous to the current high-cost and inefficient space shuttle. Like the shuttle, the U.S. highways system does not “pay dividends.” Rather, it is a multi billion-dollar drain on America’s budget in both money and time, the latter in the form of millions of hours collectively wasted in traffic jams.
Further, the lack of robust, diversified surface transportation for daily public transport and commerce (unlike most European nations), is strikingly similar to the United Sates’ lack of diversification for human access to space. In fact, rather than only being stuck in a 40-year technology rut like human space transportation, U.S. surface transportation is still based on century-old internal combustion technology.
If the future of human exploration of space is anything like the U.S. transportation system, the vision doesn’t really look that bright.
(Name withheld upon request)