Apollo Program Continues

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Roadwarrior, Jun 28, 2006.

  1. alt_historian Has returned

    May 18, 2007
    Republic of Surrey
    Y'see, this is something I never understood about this plan... the entire mission takes a couple of years, but they're only going to stay on Mars for 30 days?

    I don't get it. Why not make it a longer stay? It'd be like going somewhere really exotic on your annual 2 weeks (or whatever) holiday, but taking so long to get there you can only stay 1 day before you have to go home again! :p

    Yeah, I know, it's to do with orbital mechanics... so they'd have to stretch out the overall journey home. So what? :D
  2. grdja83 Well-Known Member

    Sep 27, 2007
    If you stay on Mars longer I think you have to stay for another 9 months at least, because of launch windows and orbital mechanics and stuff.

    You are pushing entire mission to nearly 4 years. That is openly taunting Murphy. There is only a finite amount of spare parts and consumables you can carry with you, not even taking into account crazy hope that in nearly 4 years of journey no one of crew gets any serious medical problems.

    Now, with even basic nuclear engines you can get there and back much faster, and 9 month stay on Mars becomes preferable option.
  3. Archibald space jockey !

    Jan 22, 2008
    Because the Von Braun mission is just a "stretched" Apollo I mean that prestige and engineering are much more important than science !

    That's the problem: nuclear power and Saturn V make Von Braun plans technically sound (even in our days) but from the point of view of "why going here, for what result ?" it is not good at all.

    Over 600 days, 30 are spent on the surface. 5% !
    That's the reason why the expedition was not funded: spending 5% of the time on the surface, all you can do is planting the flag, and walk - fooprints.

    Hence the expression "flag and footprints" imagined in Apollo's days. That expression explains why Apollo didn't last, nor men walked on Mars in the 80's.

    You don't spend Apollo $20 billion, or Mars $100 billion just to spent 5% of the overall trip on the surface...
  4. alt_historian Has returned

    May 18, 2007
    Republic of Surrey
    Ah... I see. That makes sense...
  5. Caesar Well-Known Member

    Dec 23, 2006
    This would certainly make for an interesting timeline.

    There was mention before of the full version of the Space Shuttle. I was just wondering if anyone had any ideas on how different it would have been from the current version?
  6. Archibald space jockey !

    Jan 22, 2008
    North American - Rockwell (NAR) built the shuttle we know today, right ?

    This picture http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4221/p333.jpg show what NAR shuttle looked like at the beginning (= 1969-1971)

    At the beginning there was no external tank. The tanks were within the orbiter. So it was much, much bigger.

    Current orbiter is 37 m long * 24 m span. Internal-tanks orbiters were 60m long*35m span! They were also much heavier, even empty.

    difference number two: the booster or first stage.

    The little trick which explains why the shuttle drop its tank as of today: when you drop the orbiter tank, you save weight, so the booster can be smaller and less efficient.

    Because of the big orbiter, the booster was so big it could not be parachuted down on the sea as of today.
    The only way of recovering it was to turn it into a giant aircraft, and land it on a runway. So the already big booster had wings, crew, turbofans, undercarriage, tail
    Imagine a Boeing 747 crossed with a X-15, and having twelve SSMEs.Or a piloted Saturn V S-IC ! http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4221/p355.jpg

    Last difference: today the shuttle starts its SSME on the pad, not in flight. This help at take-off, but also mean a bigger tank.
    At the time the booster being bigger and more efficient the orbiter didn't needed to fire its own SSMEs at take-off. They started during the flight.

    Designers used to say the shuttle dimensions were "something like a Boeing 707 riding a 747"

    Whatever happened, the monster shuttle was way too complex and expensive to built.
    So NASA asked an economic institute called Mathematica to find a less expensive shuttle. Mathematica answer was called TAOS - Thrust Assisted Orbital Shuttle - a barbaric acronym covering the shuttle as we know it today.
    - External tank, smaller orbiter
    - SSME started on the pad (not in flight)
    - thanks to the two "tricks" above smaller, unefficient, and unexpensive booster could be used: the SRBs.

    So we consider the actual shuttle a compromised thing; BUT the original design was not better. It would have been a much worse disaster! Heck, there were two crews, one in the booster, the other in the orbiter.
    The orbiter and booster were enormous. The booster maximum speed was something like 3km/s - 10 000kph ! Kind of flying an A380 faster than a X-15 :eek:
    The orbiter was twice as big, so the heatshield - which already doomed the smaller Columbia orbiter - would have been even more extended, on a larger area.

    So the question is, what design was best for the shuttle at the time ?

    Well, the answer is, the technology was not to date. The shuttle was kind of too big... Endeavour (no pun ;)) for the 60's -70's. Well, it still is as of today in fact.

    General consensus as of today (with 30 years insight)
    - Reusable Launch Vehicles are justified only if very high flight rate. This mean a very large number of satellites to launch, or a moon base to feed. We have neither, so RLV are not of interest of today
    - NASA should have continued a X-series after the X-15; kind of X-20 DynaSoar instead of trying to built the shuttle right from the start

    - what works from a technical point of view : Kistler K-1. Unmanned, two stages, parachutes, airbags. http://www.rocketplanekistler.com/k1vehicle/k1vehicle.html

    This thing has no wings, nor pilots; it is recovered by parachutes and airbags. Not glamourous, but that would works. This would have been the best option in 1970, alas airbags were not mature at the time.
    A pity: a Kistler K-1 with an Apollo CM capsule ontop would have made a perfect space shuttle for NASA.

    Of all the shuttle concepts examined from 1968 to 1972, my favourite these days is the Triamese. http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/triamese.htm

    Alas, even this one doesnt work, for reasons explained here http://www.spacekb.com/Uwe/Forum.aspx/space-flight/236/Multiple-Engines
    Nope, in an alternate history world, the Triamese would work. :) And NASA would have had a fully-reusable, viable space shuttle.
  7. Archibald space jockey !

    Jan 22, 2008
    Here's my favourite take on an "Apollo continue" timeline. WARNING = this is a spacewank!!!

    First, history happens differently. Here's my taking.

    - Kennedy dies in 1963
    - Diem doesn't.
    - Diem held South-Vietnam enough to avoid US intervention.
    - So Johnson is reelected in 1968, against Rockfeller or whatever else
    - Nixon try again in 1972, and won.
    - After that (and despite the lack of vietnam) history continue as of today
    - Watergate, Ford, carter, Reagan.
    - I know, this is probably ASB - but considers I don't want to bother with history any longer. My main interest is space :)

    Now history is rewritten, let's try spacewank. The basic equation is: no Vietnam war = more Johnson = more budget for the space program.

    Gemini, Apollo happens as OTL until 1970.

    First difference: Apollo 18 trough 20 are not cancelled.

    Butterfly starts in 1965. George Mueller AAP - Apollo Applications Program - is taken seriously. From that, a very large post-Apollo program is developped.

    - Step 1. AAP. More Apollos missions around Earth (Skylab) and the Moon (non landing missions)

    - Step 2. Manned flybys using the S-IVB or S-II as Earth-departure stage (no nuclear energy is needed for flybys).

    Proposed by Von Braun in 1965 as the ultimate extension of Apollo hardware, a series of flybys are performed between 1974 and 1980, to Mars, Venus, and... asteroids, such as Eros.

    - Step 3: the 80's.

    - The Triamese shuttle is developped from 1968, and replace Apollo and Saturn IB for LEO around 1980, after a lengthy and difficult development process. At least it is fully reusable...

    - Lunar base ? Not sure. Better to have a space station at EML2, as Robert Farquhar suggested in June 1972. The said station is built from Skylab or a spent S-IVB.

    - The lunar base might be built by the Soviets - if they master the N1 one day. Two N-1F and Mishin L3M sounds valid; but one has to butterfly Glushko and Ustinov away. Maybe (as suggested by Michel Van) killing Brejnev in January 1969, and having Kossygin instead.
    The "risk" is Kossygin reforming USSR, hence this country doesn't crumble in 1991... :confused:

    - on the two point above. What about a cooperative lunar-program ? The US EML2 station is used as relay for the Soviet lunar base.

    - The Moon is no longer of interest for NASA after Apollo
    - The EML2 station nevertheless keep NASA involved in a lunar program, for a low cost
    - Kossygin is easier to cooperate-with than OTL Brejnev
    - More detente in the 70's.
    - Result = ASTP around the Moon ?

    - Manned expedition to Mars. Here the scenario might looks like Baxter Voyage; NERVA is developped, and fails - but chemical propulsion is heavy, so manned mars expeditions will be hard to repeat. If no NERVA, Saturn S-II is most likely.

    Or, more simply, NERVA works. After all this is a spacewank, isn't it ? Again, that cause problems later, because of Three-Mile-Island and Chernobyl, and the ensuing anti-nuclear fears...

    This blog - http://beyondapollo.blogspot.com/ - has ideas aplenty.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2009
  8. Triton Active Member

    Apr 17, 2009
    I am interested in hearing more about Michel's "Lost Moon" Timeline.

    Is NPO Energia created in 1974 through the merger of Korolev's and Glushko's design bureaus?

    Is Glushko able to create his moonbase Project "Zvezda" using the Vulcan to launch the LEK and other landers?


    Maybe should have another thread for the Russian space program.

    In regards to the Apollo Applications Program, is NASA able to do have its Earth orbit missions?

    I wonder what would have happened to the space program if Hubert Humphrey had become president during the 1968 election and not Richard Nixon?
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2009
  9. Archibald space jockey !

    Jan 22, 2008
  10. Michel Van Well-Known Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Liege Belgium Europe
  11. Triton Active Member

    Apr 17, 2009
    I look forward to seeing it. :)

    I have been playing with the idea that Vasily Mishin was ousted as the head of TsKBEM after the Soyuz 1 malfunctions and crash that killed Cosmonaut Vladimir Mikhaylovich Komarov. Yuri Gagarin and Alexei Leonov wanted facts concerning Mishin's poor management, poor knowledge of the Soyuz 1 spacecraft, and alcoholism documented in the "State Commission on the Soyuz 1 Crash" report and they met with Colonel General Kamanin for this purpose. After reading some histories, the cosmonauts clearly disliked Mishin.

    I have been thinking of replacing Mishin with Mikhail Klavdievich Tikhonravov, a Deputy Chief Designer at TsKBEM as Chief Designer. Brian Harvey in his book Soviet and Russian Lunar Exploration called him the "father of the Soviet moon program."

    "The Man Behind the Curtain" by Dr. Asif Siddiqi from Air & Space Smithsonian Magazine has an interesting story about the largely unknown Tikhonravov:


    I was thinking that Tikhonravov might have been able to put the N-1 project back on track and have a Soviet moon landing in the early 1970s. Certainly, Chelomei and Glushko would destroy the project and replace it with their own vehicles.

    Tikhonravov died on March 3, 1974. On August 12, TsKBEM and Glushko's KBEM were merged to create NPO Energiya. So I could have Glushko design the RLA family of rockets that became Energiya, the LEK lunar lander, and the Zvezda moon base project that was planned to begin in 1980.

    I would be very interested in seeing Archibald's completed timeline for the "Apollo Program Continues".

    Reading about the Apollo Applications Program, the Bellcomm mission proposal documents from the 1960s, and the Integrated Manned Spaceflight Program, it seems that NASA had more proposals for programs than could be funded even with the most generous budgets.

    Do you believe that the NERVA-2 operational in 1977 is a flop as is the Reusable Nuclear Shuttle (RNS)? Or do you believe that it could be a technical success, but the project would be killed for political reasons such as fear of nuclear-powered engines in space?

    Does anyone believe that if the UR-700, UR-700M, or UR-900 had been developed further that these launch vehicles would have used cryogenic fuels instead of hypergolic storable fuels that were of such concern to Korolev? Despite Chelomei's assurances that Glushko's engines don't blow up, could an explosion of a fueled UR-700 have made Baikonur toxic for ten to twelve years? Could Glushko have been persuaded earlier to put aside his dislike of cryogenic fuels and create engines with clusters of smaller combustion chambers?
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2009
  12. Triton Active Member

    Apr 17, 2009
  13. Archibald space jockey !

    Jan 22, 2008
    It is very hard to give NASA a viable space shuttle, even more when fully reusable.
    Let's try again... this may be better

    (Henri Spencer is a well respected space historian)

    I like this idea very much.

    More on the subject of the 1982 Mars expedition.

    NASA planned a long serie of MEM (Mars Expedition Module) tests.

    Among these tests, a reinforced MEM was to reenter Earth atmosphere and land at Edwards in 1978, for a simulation of a Mars landing.
    I've found mention of such test in Boeing IMIS paper. In Voyage Stephen Baxter only mention this briefly - the crew being it ... Crippen and Young :)
    So it's up to anyone interested to imagine such mission.

    Something like a mix of Apollo 9-10-11 (LEM tests) plus Columbia's STS-1.

    The link to Von Braun 1969 speech mentionned above show that a large numbers of astronauts were to be carried - six per ship, two ships.
    Maybe some astronauts from ESA would have walked on Mars ? Chretien for example, or the swiss Claude Nicollier ?

    And yes, Lindroos website was great (albeit difficult to read). I've spent lot of time exploring it back in 2002-2003.
    There I've discovered the amazing numbers of Shuttle concepts NASA toyed with in 1969-72 - plus the painstaking political/ financial process.

    for a year I've been very busy on another space timeline (the Big Gemini one, closest possible from OTL - quite the negative of this one)
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2009