And now for the new post!* It is gratifying that the Russians have managed to partially evade the Mars curse ITTL and be the first to soft-land something on that planet. And meanwhile the incremental, slow-paced American unmanned program is paying off modestly, enough to overlap Muskie's grand Columbia manned Lunar program with Surveyor and Pioneer coming on line in harmony with it, achieving the OTL purpose of the Apollo-connected crash programs to scout out Luna without quite as much actual crashing! And these aren't ad hoc, hastily thrown together schemes but the evolutionary outcome of previous work that just happens to ripen in time to pave the way for Columbia. I'm sure the President is still framing the successful Pioneer and Surveyor orbiter in the context of Columbia though. Perhaps this means that NESSA's programs get a little boost from the Columbia slush fund, in gratitude as it were? Or vice versa--yes, the probe funding is increased, but more than the increase is demanded for more Lunar probes, scanting the plans for deeper space missions? Still, the infrastructure developed should help future planetary missions, if funding for them remains forthcoming on the modest levels of the 1960s. -------------- *seeing how Michel Van and I filled up the post space below the new canon post with stuff irrelevant to it, I thought I'd better put a link to the new post on top of this page.