For All Mankind (AH Tv series at Apple TV)

My understanding is the sea dragon was sold as a cost-saving device? Or do you just mean r&d and getting it off the ground? (No pun intended)
Sea Dragon's concept was that it would be built very cheaply once you're in production. Despite having a payload about 5x Saturn V, it would supposedly only cost about $181m, compares to the $113m cost of a Saturn V. However, this has two problems--it's only cheaper per kilogram if you're routinely filling the entire payload mass, and there's the expense of development to get flying regularly. Saturn V cost about $6.5 billion up front to get flying, so even if Sea Dragon only cost half that to develop and you're able to fully fill every flight to "save" $380m per launch, you'd need to fly Sea Dragon about 9 times to break even or have some payload which exceeds to massive 120+ tons to LEO of the Saturn V such that investing multiple billions in a new launcher is justified. That's about as much mass as launched in the entire Space Shuttle program. In other words, unless you're regularly launching lunar or Mars flights on a massive scale, then developing Sea dragon for a one-off is a waste.

It's not inherently a bad idea to seek "minimum cost" design. The idea of producing with larger margins and thus substantially lower costs--trading performance for ease of production--is something you see today in the early Falcon family, and part of how they achieved cost reductions and high rate production before introducing reuse. Sea launch from a floating rocket isn't even a horrible idea. It's just that the full scale Sea Dragon's the wrong way of doing it. It's very impressive, but it's too dang big.
 
Since there are people in this thread who knows about spaceships, could a Sea Dragon put a nuclear pulse propulsion ship beyond Earth Magnetosphere so firing the nukes doesn't irradiate the Earth' surface and lower atmosphere? As in, Sea Dragon as a first stage, Orion for the rest of the trip?
 
Because Moore needed him to in order to get the butterflies needed to supercharge Apollo.

And maybe also because, well, he hates Nixon.

(I'm a Ron Moore fan. But I can concede when he's taking shortcuts.)
A non-scandal Ted Kennedy is a reasonable victor in ‘72. Especially since we don’t know the details of the actual election, other than that Watergate still went down. Nixon with, let’s imagine, slightly worse luck, plus the bad feelings from losing the moon race, and Teddy at the top of his game? Do we need to call it a shortcut?
 
Sea Dragon's concept was that it would be built very cheaply once you're in production. Despite having a payload about 5x Saturn V, it would supposedly only cost about $181m, compares to the $113m cost of a Saturn V. However, this has two problems--it's only cheaper per kilogram if you're routinely filling the entire payload mass, and there's the expense of development to get flying regularly. Saturn V cost about $6.5 billion up front to get flying, so even if Sea Dragon only cost half that to develop and you're able to fully fill every flight to "save" $380m per launch, you'd need to fly Sea Dragon about 9 times to break even or have some payload which exceeds to massive 120+ tons to LEO of the Saturn V such that investing multiple billions in a new launcher is justified. That's about as much mass as launched in the entire Space Shuttle program. In other words, unless you're regularly launching lunar or Mars flights on a massive scale, then developing Sea dragon for a one-off is a waste.

It's not inherently a bad idea to seek "minimum cost" design. The idea of producing with larger margins and thus substantially lower costs--trading performance for ease of production--is something you see today in the early Falcon family, and part of how they achieved cost reductions and high rate production before introducing reuse. Sea launch from a floating rocket isn't even a horrible idea. It's just that the full scale Sea Dragon's the wrong way of doing it. It's very impressive, but it's too dang big.
I suppose if they can sell it as a military necessity (since we don’t yet know what’s going on in ‘83 this is just speculation) then costs be damned.

They also have the benefit of not having to compare things to the shuttle. IOTL, when the shuttle was pitched, I doubt they said “here’s why it’s better than the Sea Dragon,” even though they knew the theoretical specs. More likely they’d say, “here’s why it’s better than the Saturn.” And so would the Sea Dragon pitchmen ITTL.
 
A non-scandal Ted Kennedy is a reasonable victor in ‘72. Especially since we don’t know the details of the actual election, other than that Watergate still went down. Nixon with, let’s imagine, slightly worse luck, plus the bad feelings from losing the moon race, and Teddy at the top of his game? Do we need to call it a shortcut?
Well...to me, it comes across as wishcasting.

Kennedy would have been a tougher opponent than McGovern, no doubt, but also not as popular as either of his brothers, even without Chappaquiddick. Remember: that was an election that Nixon won by 24 pts (!) and in which George Wallace was a double digit indy threat until he was gunned down - that's the conservative nature of the electorate at that point.

A flat out smoking gun of Watergate as a fall surprise followed by an immediate meltdown of the congressional GOP might get you there, possibly.

I grok the need to get someone more Apollo-friendly in the White House to make this timeline work, but I think it would have been more plausible with a Humphrey or non-assassinated RFK win in '68. I mean, the point of departure is well before the 1968 election, so why not?
 
Well...to me, it comes across as wishcasting.

Kennedy would have been a tougher opponent than McGovern, no doubt, but also not as popular as either of his brothers, even without Chappaquiddick. Remember: that was an election that Nixon won by 24 pts (!) and in which George Wallace was a double digit indy threat until he was gunned down - that's the conservative nature of the electorate at that point.

A flat out smoking gun of Watergate as a fall surprise followed by an immediate meltdown of the congressional GOP might get you there, possibly.

I grok the need to get someone more Apollo-friendly in the White House to make this timeline work, but I think it would have been more plausible with a Humphrey or non-assassinated RFK win in '68. I mean, the point of departure is well before the 1968 election, so why not?
Yeah, I see your point about wishcasting. My first thought to answer your question is, “well how much of the audience would care about Humphrey, or even know who he is?” So that’s at least weak evidence that story concerns might’ve driven the choice.

Still, to me the interesting question is how is he doing by the standards of ah.com? (By which he’s under no obligation to play.) And there I remain fairly optimistic. There are certainly butterflies much less plausible that have flapped their wings in the post-1900 forum. I’ve certainly set some of them ridiculously flapping myself.

I do admit, I’m a little worried about the future, but I think season one was very reasonable from an ah perspective.
 
Just finished the series and I can honestly say I am impressed overall. The Cobb rescue was a highlight for me.

Was it me or did Ellen turn Shane's machines off?
I liked the interweaving of the various plots. The Mexican family subplot seems to be there to Humanise Magold as much as anything.
I think the Baldwin's are going to drift apart with Ellen become a lot more outspoken.
I do wonder what effects the extended, largely sucessful space program is having on pop culture?
 
Just finished the series and I can honestly say I am impressed overall. The Cobb rescue was a highlight for me.

Was it me or did Ellen turn Shane's machines off?
I liked the interweaving of the various plots. The Mexican family subplot seems to be there to Humanise Magold as much as anything.
I think the Baldwin's are going to drift apart with Ellen become a lot more outspoken.
I do wonder what effects the extended, largely sucessful space program is having on pop culture?
Which machines do you mean?

For pop culture, I have this vague idea for a late 70s tv show with a bit of a Battlestar vibe where there’s maybe a potential catastrophe looming on Earth and the Soviets use their ever-expanding rocket capacity to leave the planet en masse and travel to Alpha Centauri. The brilliant minds of the West avert the disaster and we get 200 years of peace...until the commies return!!!
 
Some proposed that with an expanded space race, Star Trek Phase II gets the green light with Decker being a woman, taking influence from Molly Cobb.

The establishment of the Jamestown Moonbase and all the drama around that makes me wonder if we’d get a space station focused Star Trek sooner. It would certainly be nothing like otl Deep Space 9 but it’s not hard to imagine Roddenberry and crew pitching something along the lines of “old west frontier town in space” to the executives. Deep Space K-12, distant federation outpost and the humanities gateway to the deepest depths of unexplored space, jostled right up near a similar Klingon/romulan station. Tune in the see the wonders of the galaxy pass through town with their amazing sights and stories while captain and crew push thelimits of knowledge and try to keep the machinations of the Klingon/Romulans/whoever at bay
 
Speaking of old TV shows, I'm borderline convinced that this is a Space: 1999 prequel series. Ron Moore is known to be a fan. All we need is mention of Moonbase Alpha and I'm sold.
 
So, I just got around to getting apple tv and binged the show in two days. In general I quite liked it- I agree with quite a few of the quibbles posted by others on this thread but overall it was nice to watch a new alt history show and one that had a good balance of cool shit happening in space (even if they're a tad loose with the technology) - it's not bad given the influence that Garret Reisman has had as a major adviser... It'll be interesting to see how all that progresses in the next season as head head into the 80s and beyond.

I agree that there wasn't quite as much the big deal about Danielle as I thought there might be. I did kind of like the way they did the first Asian American astronaut- tho it's a shame he was only literally a token character who's killed off the next episode which was kind of on the nose to say the least. I was half expecting Ellen to come out- but, between the era (1970s) and the last chat with Deke that right there probably spooked any thoughts of her going public- to say nothing of her loosing her position as an astronaut as soon as she returns home from the moon... Aids and gay rights will almost certainly be a plot point for season 2 as we head into the 80s.

I agree that I wish there were some scenes or even episodes from the Soviet sides - it would have been cool to have a parallel story line from the USSR and their program and make the show 15 episodes or something of that sort. I hope we get a greater glimpse in season 2. I also wonder if the 'fall' of the Soviet Union will somehow be butterflied into the 90s or something instead.

On the space side for season 2 - as I look at them using Sea Dragon I think we'll obviously see a massively expanded moon base, probably Space Station Freedom in some form as a continuation of the Soviet and US dick measuring contest (which of course is the reason for all of this) and for both NASA and the US to start looking more seriously at a path to Mars. I wonder if reusable rockets and/or shuttle type programs happen in addition to continuing (and improving) Saturn V. There could also however perhaps be budget fights with the likely upcoming Regan administration. My total guess is that the mission to Mars will launch on the last episode on season 2 to get us viewers to continue watching through multiple seasons. Between Moore and Apple's $ i'm hopeful we'll get quite a few seasons out of this show.
 


Dwayne Day writes up something more than a review, more of a reflection, on FOR ALL MANKIND today over at The Space Review.
The premise is thought-provoking and also informative. One of the criticisms by academics of counterfactual history is that it is merely fiction and lacks any explanatory value. Not everyone agrees on this point. Robert Cowley and Niall Ferguson have published anthologies of works by prominent historians positing what-if questions in history. Last year, Quest magazine devoted an entire issue to what-if questions in space history. Counterfactual scenarios may even have more practical applications. In 2017, insurance company Lloyd’s commissioned a study on counterfactual risk analysis to explore various scenarios where, if events had happened differently, there could have been profoundly different outcomes (imagine, for example, that instead of grounding on an island in 2012, the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia had drifted a half kilometer farther and capsized, drowning thousands of passengers; the impact on the cruise ship industry would have been substantial). The purpose of the study was to explore Lloyd’s vulnerability to alternative events, particularly “near-misses.”​
For All Mankind’s writers have done a good job of demonstrating the value of counterfactuals beyond merely entertainment in several ways. One lesson that they teach is that events can be like billiard balls, ricocheting off other events in unexpected ways, and even rolling backwards. One of the clever observations by the show’s writers is that losing the Moon race would have raised questions about Apollo 10 and why it did not land when the lunar surface was so incredibly close. Was NASA too risk-averse after the Apollo 1 fire? Some people may have concluded that it was, and that bolder leaps were required. Some people also would have desired scapegoats. Another unexpected outcome could have been political, demonstrating the quirks of circumstance: instead of heading to Chappaquiddick Island right before the Apollo 11 landing, Ted Kennedy cancels that trip, Mary Jo Kopechne does not drown, and Kennedy’s political prospects survive; he eventually beats Nixon in the 1972 election.​

I may have to track down that issue of Quest.
 
I grok the need to get someone more Apollo-friendly in the White House...
Remind me again but what was Nixon’s attitude to Apollo – was he negative or merely neutral and taking his lead from the public as reflected by Congress?

One of the benefits of the current lockdown is managing to catch up on a lot of reading. After I finish the current one this has prompted me to start Logsdon’s After Apollo.
 
Remind me again but what was Nixon’s attitude to Apollo – was he negative or merely neutral and taking his lead from the public as reflected by Congress?

One of the benefits of the current lockdown is managing to catch up on a lot of reading. After I finish the current one this has prompted me to start Logsdon’s After Apollo.
Reading Logsdon is definitely a must.

Until you get hold of that, if you want something shorter, you should read NASA's The Space Shuttle Decision on their website.

The short version is that Nixon was...complicated. More complicated than many space advocates assume. He wasn't anti-space as such. In fact, as John Erlichman later wrote,

"I can remember Nixon coming off a phone conversation with the astronauts. And you know, they are up on the moon, and [Nixon was] as high as a kite. He got a big charge out of them. Then when the astronauts would come to the White House for dinner afterwards, he would always be enormously stimulated by contact with these folks. He liked heroes. He thought it was good for this country to have heroes."

That said, he was more sober and more calculating about it. The decision he made for the Shuttle could have been something else - in fact, a couple of our regulars had a good timeline which make a very good case for that - but what wasn't so easy to change was that the political environment that made limitless funding for Apollo possible was now gone, and there was no obvious imperative (like there is in For All Mankind) to spend massive political capital to restore that environment. A lot of the responsibility - blame, if you like - for what he did decide to has to go back to senior NASA leadership, especially Tom Paine, who badly misread not only Nixon but the mood in Congress, and then frantically pivoted onto an architecture they felt they had to oversell to close the deal. Perhaps if I was going to sum up:

1) Nixon liked manned/crewed space exploration, and wanted to see it continue.
2) Nixon wanted it done for considerably less money, so it would be sustainable.
3) Nixon wanted a crewed program that had his, rather than Kennedy's, name on it.
4) Nixon needed something new put in the pipeline anyway, since even if NASA followed through on everything Apollo still had planned, it would exhaust the remaining Apollo/Saturn hardware by the mid-70's.
5) Nixon had an additional, cruder reason for wanting crewed space to continue: a need to sustain at least some of the relevant chunks of the aerospace industry, especially in key congressional districts, in the leadup to the '72 election, especially given that military spending had been cut back.
6) The Space Shuttle, as sold to Nixon in 1972, fit the bill for (1) to (5).

I sometimes think too much is made, too, of the story that Nixon wanted to whack all of Apollo (save maybe Apollo-Soyuz) after Apollo 15 - Apollo 16 and 17, and Skylab - since it's not clear to me that he was ever seriously committed to that. When Caspar Weinberger sent him a memo outlining why this would be a bad idea, Nixon needed no real persuasion, and he readily supported Weinberger. (See page 32 of this pdf here - note Nixon's handwriting on it.)

I'm not a Nixon fan, and I think the decision he made for the Shuttle, or at least the Shuttle we got, was the wrong decision. But the truth is, Nixon's outlook fit hand in glove with where the sentiment of most of the political class and most of the American public basically was. It's too easy to demonize Nixon for what happened. The truth is, there is a lot of blame to go around, and some of the problematic decisions made were only fully evident as such in hindsight.
 
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Has anyone heard a production update for season 2? So much has been shuttered due to the virus. The only possible saving grace is that I remember hearing that season 1 wrapped pretty and then had a very long post-production schedule. My understanding is that most everything in post is still being worked on, but did FAMk make it out of filming before the lockdown?
 
P.S. One other point:

Bear in mind, too, that not all the opposition to continuing Apollo was in the administration or on Capitol Hill. There were some in senior NASA management who were getting ulcers about the risks being run in doing lunar missions.

At the outset of the program, NASA had formally established the target probability of overall success for each Apollo mission—a landing and return—at 90 percent. Overall crew safety was estimated at 99.9 percent. But a 1965 assessment of these risks had found that, based upon the current plans and technology, the probability of mission success for each flight was only around 73 percent, while rated per-mission crew safety sat at 96 percent.​
Few people lived day-to-day with these risks and concerns more than Robert Gilruth. His fame may have receded in recent decades, but Gilruth stood above all others in America’s efforts to send humans to the Moon and back. After NASA’s creation, the fledgling agency had turned to Gilruth to lead the Space Task Group to put a human into space before the Soviet Union. Later, after President John F. Kennedy called for Moon landings, that task fell to the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, which Gilruth directed.​
An aeronautical engineer from a small town in Minnesota, Gilruth had a more pragmatic view of human spaceflight than Kennedy's grand vision. As he saw it, after NASA had successfully put astronauts into orbit with the Mercury program, the next logical step toward a permanent presence in space would have been to build a space station there.​
“But that didn’t have the flair that was needed at the time, in the eyes of Mr. Kennedy,” Gilruth, who died in 2000, recalled in an oral history. “He thought going to the Moon was about as good a thing as you could possibly do. I think LBJ liked that, too. Nobody in NASA would say they couldn’t. I at least said that ‘I’m not sure we can do it, but I’m not sure we can’t.’”​
Gilruth had no illusions about the challenge of reaching the Moon. Moreover, once Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the Moon before a global television audience, NASA had achieved Kennedy’s mandate. If each mission had a one-quarter chance of not landing on the Moon and a non-negligible chance of losing a crew, why keep at it? That feeling only grew within Gilruth as NASA accomplished more Moon landings.​
“I put up my back and said, ‘We must stop,’” Gilruth said. “There are so many chances for us losing a crew. We just know that we’re going to do that if we keep going.”​

And the truth is, Gilruth was pretty much right. NASA had some hair-raising escapes with Apollo, and not just on Apollo 13.

I'm not gonna nick Ronald D. Moore for getting into all these weeds. A Soviet first on the Moon probably *would* bulldoze guys like Bob Gilruth, because of the political imperative at work...and hey, it's a TV show. But it's worth understanding all of the dynamics that came together to wind down Apollo once Neil and Buzz stepped foot on the Moon.
 
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