Author Topic: How would you do an alternate timeline where the space race continued?  (Read 676 times)

Offline CmdrShepN7

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What would you think of a realistic take on the "For All Mankind" concept? I think it could be interesting. It could be a docudrama like some of the shows on Discovery Channel back in the 2000s?

In season 2 they show shuttles going to the Moon. IRL the space shuttle couldn't go to the Moon.

Would you have NASA use Big Geminis that would dock to NERVA space tugs to staff an outpost on the Moon?

Would you have an Ares style mission to Mars by the 1980s?

Or would you have it be a massive international effort with the US, Europe, Canada, AUS/NZ, Japan, and perhaps even the USSR and/or China set during the Soviet Union's last days for more entertainment value?

Would a continued space race had accelerated nuclear and medical technology? Or would Three Mile Island and Chernobyl still happen?

Would the USSR still collapse if they did not go into Afghanistan but Chernobyl still happens?

Would a continued space race helped computer technology develop faster? Would we be seeing PSOnes in 1986 instead of 1995?

Would you have a Cuban Missile Crisis type event happen on the Moon during the 80s?

Would you have the first American woman on the Moon become president by the 90s?

« Last Edit: 06/30/2022 04:11 am by CmdrShepN7 »

Offline RoadWithoutEnd

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This has always been a fun premise for space fans, and each has their own.  It depends exactly where you break from the real timeline and in what ways.  More than one thing went wrong in real events, so you'd have to do a lot of pruning.

1] Budget.  So even imagining the budget stayed firm and unconditional, we've seen programs with unconditional budgets before...they get corrupt, bloated, and slow.  Congress starts demanding more and pettier kickbacks in exchange for the gravy train, until it's basically their office making technical decisions and the engineers are little more than bus boys.

Would a continued Apollo have had a small base on the Moon with a rotating crew?  Sure, makes sense.  But let's assume what we witnessed with Shuttle, ISS, and now SLS would have "infected" the program: Ever-expending costs, ever-declining capabilities, ever-downspiraling ambitions for future uses and configurations.

2] Resistance to the next thing.  Contractors won't be held accountable for anything up there, so Congress just keeps retreating the goals and ambitions for it, pushing back the dates for aspirational future missions, until they start saying the more "realistic" idea is to retreat altogether.  If there's a Moon base, maybe it's smarter, cheaper, and safer to keep on up in lunar orbit exclusively (a la Gateway).  As in Apollo retreating to ISS.  From there, retreat to LEO as happened in LEO.

For anything to have really changed fundamentally, the whole economy would have changed around scaled spaceflight, which would require reusable spaceflight with the permission of the big contractors that made crazy bank on cost-plus contracts.  I don't see how that could have happened, so it will have to happen in this slow, roundabout, evolutionary way.
Walk the road without end, and all tomorrows unfold like music.

Offline libra

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This is mine. My own take at (coincidentally) what you describes. Been writting it since 2008.

Lot of fun, but I'm all too aware of many fiction / novel / literary  issues. TBH it ain't easy to come with a readable and interesting result. There are so many ways of getting lost along the way... and readers along you.
 I've reached a point where I'm looking for an anglophone partner (I'not born english speaker) to share this enormous  thing and help reworking it, one way or another.
If anybody interested then drop me a mail at this forum.

Offline libra

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Some random elements I've collected along the years.

- retreat to LEO sounds mostly unavoidable in the Nixon and early 1970's austere & crisis & OMB budgetary background.

- Apollo went too early and too fast and for the worst reason (JFK p*ssng match with Kruschchev in 1961, "Mine is bigger, it can even reach the Moon !" 1-Politics 2-Engineering 3-Science - in that order.

-Big Gemini (on paper at least !) was $2.5 billion - against $5.15 billion allocated by Nixon to the Shuttle in 1972 that got a 20% overrun a decade later to $6 billion and counting. That was the lowest possible cost full size orbiter with the 15*60 ft payload bay, as defined by the Mathematica Institute in 1972 - Oskar Morgenstern and Klaus P. Heiss.
Any other Shuttle design, even partially reusable was well past $7.5 billion that is thrice Big Gemini cost. Fully reusable was$10 billion minimum.

- Space Station was always cheaper than Shuttle because technologically easier.

- space station decisions:
a) drop Saturn V, go 15 ft diameter modules: July 1970
b) Spacelab Task Force: November 1972, replaces Station Task Force
c) Space station postponed to "post Shutle flight 1" automatically means: after 1980 (we got 1984, then 1998, then 2010)

- no Shuttle, Big Gemini at 1/3rd the cost allows the station to return right from 1972, not 1984

- station early IOC can REALLY happen by 1978 - no exploding SSMEs nor falling ceramic tiles there.

- Titan III-M is feasible and cheaper than any Shuttle

- Big Gemini looks like a Shuttle reusable cockpit attached to an expendable payload bay (module is more appropriate)

- What Saturns are left ?
a) on paper at least, 1* Saturn V (the one without a Skylab)
b) Saturn IB:
- 209, 210, 211 are full and complete
- 212 lost its S-IVB to Skylab but the S-IB is assembled and complete
- 213 & 214 are similar no S-IVB but complete S-IB
- 215 and 216 are scattered bits of S-IB with no upper stages
- there are enough J-2s to build a round of S-IVBs
- Skylab uses a S-IVB hull albeit "borrowed" from Saturns, not new ones

c) so on paper at least: 209, 211, 212, 213, 214, 215, 216 : seven Saturn IB, each able to thrown 38000 pounds into orbit.

- 38 000 pounds is also, coincidentally, Titan III-M payload to LEO

- Lockheed Agena screams to become an american FGB tug to build a Mir-like station

- Why re-invent the wheel ? just build a clone of OTL Mir except with Skylab-size 22 ft modules, rather than 15-ft Salyut / Almaz / FGB tins cans (also applies to Spacelab)

- launch a core first, Salyut style
- then Agena automated tugs ferry and dock modules to the core
- after launch by all those spares Saturn IB.

Offline tea monster

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I've said this before, but what if the Space Shuttle came of age as per it's original, pre-bloat design? Would it have fulfilled it's dream of being a reliable 'space truck'?

If for some other reason it didn't work out, you could have one of the existing aerospace companies decide to take matters into their own hands as Elon eventually did and make a two-stage reusable space transport system. If one of the big players had done this in the late 80's or mid 90's then space today would be very different.

You could go back to the mid 60's and have Chrysler build their SERV design and we have cheap orbital access in the early 1970's. Large space colonies, rotating space stations, solar power satellites and Mars in the 1980's anyone?


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