WI: The Gemini 8 Disaster

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by The Oncoming Storm, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. The Oncoming Storm Well-Known Member

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    Gemini 8 was the first docking of two spacecraft in orbit, unfortunately a faulty thruster caused both the capsule and the Agena target vehicle to enter a severe roll forcing them to undock. The crew of Neil Armstong and Dave Scott were at risk of passing out from the g-forces created by the roll and only regained control by using their re-entry control system that forced an abort of the flight and a return to Earth.

    So what if they died during the mission? Obviously the First Man on The Moon would be different but what would have been the public and political reaction and how would it have affected the American space programme?
     
  2. kclcmdr Well-Known Member

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    The Soviet Union will probably say their condolences and then proceed to go on forward with their own Space Program and hope that the Americans will either give up or spend too much time arguing and complaining that will slow down America's commitment to reach for a Lunar Landing...
     
  3. modelcitizen note2self, no ranting ninjas

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    While an in-space disaster is more dramatic, it isn't as if there weren't fatal accidents in OTL in the 1960s as part of the space race. (Or, as Wikipedia puts it more gracefully, spaceflight-related accidents and incidents.)


    The list of non-fatal spaceflight-related accidents is notable and hair-rising, lots of near-misses!!!!! (Or, as George Carlin would insist, near-hits.)


    While looking around online regarding this, came across the Nedelin Catastrophe, so named after the Marshal Mitrofan Nedelin who died alongside dozens of space program personnel...

    The Soviet Union acknowledged the facts of this event 39 years after it occurred.
     
  4. neopeius Well-Known Member

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    A fault in Gemini slows down the Gemini program, but it probably won't delay the Apollo program. If five astronauts have died by early 1967 (q.v. Apollo 1), there will be more scrutiny and caution in the undertaking of the lunar program, but I don't think it will unduly slow things down any more than things paused after the Apollo fire.

    There might be knock-on effects down the line, however. Perhaps Americans are a little sourer on spaceflight, and Apollo 17 gets canceled.
     
  5. Anaxagoras 21st Century Jeffersonian

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    But if the Gemini program is slowed down, the Apollo program will obviously be slowed down as well.
     
  6. e of pi Turbine Printer

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    Not as much as you might think. Apollo's progress was in some ways slowed by Geminii as far as the effect of forcing a division of labor between the Apollo system and the Gemini system, plus supporting the actual Gemini flights. This is a perfect example: the mission's component applicable to Apollo (Can rendezvous be done?) is successful, the failure is with the specific Gemini hardware--hardware inapplicable to the Apollo system. But to "complete" Gemini, they now have to spend more time and effort debugging a dead-end system.
     
  7. neopeius Well-Known Member

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    E of pi Johnson is right about Neopeius Johnson being right.
     
  8. e of pi Turbine Printer

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    To add a bit more to that, I've actually been interested for a while in a Tl in which the capsule that follows Mercury serves in both the Gemini and Apollo roles. This could be accomplished through a Big Gemini/Lunar Gemini or whatever, or it could be done with a lower-stakes space race that means that NASA is okay with giving Apollo the three or four years it needs to get on its feet and learn the same lessons as Gemini, but I think it'd be interesting.
     
  9. neopeius Well-Known Member

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    A NASA with less aversion to NIH. A Von Braun-less NASA.

    Either Gemini or G.E. Apollo could fit your bill. And, we could be using it to this day (just as the Russians still use Soyuz).