Quaerere Caelis

Wonder how Doctor Who will be affected by this (IOTL, it premiered in November of 1963 (1))...

(1) The day after JFK was shot, BTW (2).
(2) I doubt the British space program butterflies will affect JFK's assassination (JFK is still going to have to go to Dallas to try to heal the divided Texas Democratic Party)...

Dr Who might even be more popular, given that space should be even more in the public mind than it was. The show, or at least the people who made it, will be making an appearance at some stage later on.

Where possible I’m trying to keep to a space-related story, re-interpreting or putting a spin on real events rather than having to rewrite the history of the world. Most major non-space events will still happen, maybe with a butterfly here and there (e.g. the Nassau summit is still happening, but about 2 months late and under slightly different conditions). I can’t see that a British space programme would have much effect on US domestic politics, certainly not this early on.
High Noon at Nassau

Subsequently described as "the collapse of American nuclear foreign policy", the talks between British and American leaders start in the usual amicable manner, with discussions focussed on the Berlin issue and communist-backed activity in Southern Asia.

On the second day, a well-briefed Kennedy and McNamara start bullishly, confident they have the upper hand in negotiations over the nuclear issue. They point out that this proposed “Black Anvil” system, while an improvement on Blue Streak, will not have the power to adequately deter the Soviets. With nuclear weapons, but without a modern missile system to deliver them, Britain will be vulnerable to a pre-emptive Soviet strike.
The US side offers to return the re-entry vehicle found in a field west of Memphis and acknowledge that this long range flight (even if in error) was an impressive technical demonstration. Nevertheless, it does not represent anything approaching an operational system and in their opinion, a small deterrent system is flawed under any circumstances; "A few long range rockets, with enemy cities as their targets; that may not even perform the function of deterrence, it’s not strong enough".

British suggestions to adapt the JDF proposal to be closer to an independent deterrent are listened to politely, but are effectively ignored. There is only the slightest acknowledgment that "some components could be built in the UK".

The American delegation’s attack on "limited, dangerous and unreliable national nuclear deterrents" starts again and it is pointed out that the US plans to withdraw its Atlas missiles from service within 4 years - before the UK could have their technically equivalent “improved Blue Streak” in service. Again, it is said that "your plan, for thirty to forty liquid fuelled missiles, slow to launch, limited in power … that will not stop the Soviets."

To the well concealed amazement of the British side, it becomes increasingly clear that the American delegation seems to have completely misunderstood what Black Anvil is, they seem to have the idea that it is just a long range version of Blue Streak. Unsure how best to proceed, further attempts to discuss the JDF plan are made, however with the Americans in full flow and convinced that theirs is the only real option, there is little progress.

Overnight, a motion in parliament is supported by Conservative and a majority of opposition MPs. It calls for the UK to maintain its own independent deterrent "irrespective of the cost or the actions of other nations".

The following morning, Macmillan and Kennedy discuss the subject alone. Macmillan and his advisors have agreed to disclose full details of the Black Anvil programme, as the President seems to have been misinformed as to the nature of the project. As with any defence programme, Black Anvil is Top Secret, but the nature of US-UK military and intelligence links means that the Americans should already have a good idea of the scope of the project.
Confident of the backing of parliament, Macmillan's position is strong enough to dismiss the idea of the UK blindly cooperating with the JDF. The long range, multiple warhead and orbital capabilities of Black Anvil are mentioned. The British view is that the single-warhead Polaris system, while extremely secure, may not be able to penetrate Soviet defences in 10 years’ time, any more than Blue Streak would. Multiple warheads, decoys and jamming blasts are credible solutions which will assure the effectiveness of a deterrent in the long term over which British thinking is focussed. No US system incorporates any of those technologies [this wasn’t strictly true, but was close enough].

Macmillan offers to allow a US team to inspect the progress made so far with Black Anvil. British opinion is that co-operation on this project would be of greater benefit to both sides than the deployment of a few JDF Polaris submarines, which in any case would not be a deterrent force specific to the UK and her interests.

Despite his surprise and irritation at being misinformed and unprepared, Kennedy agrees to the British proposal to inspect Black Anvil development, much to the bemusement of his staff (who have yet to hear the full story). It is clear that nothing further is going to come out of the summit. After an awkward lunch with the Canadian Prime Minister, who arrived early, President Kennedy departs.

Thorough and uncompromising investigations into the humiliation at Nassau start before Air Force One even lands back on US soil. What should have been a simple exercise in massaging a few egos and making a few trivial concessions has turned into a disaster. Without British acceptance, the entire JDF concept is dead in the water. It is quickly established that the US does have a significant amount of information on the true nature of the Black Anvil programme, however a combination of low priorities, unlucky timing and biased thinking conspired to produce the high level report given to senior members of the administration. Senior military personnel appear to be much better briefed and are well aware that Britain is working to develop a new long range rocket, equipped with decoys and other systems to help ensure the warheads hit their targets.

Suggestive timing of contracts, announcements and test flights led low-grade, politically appointed analysts to conclude that Black Anvil was merely an "improved Blue Streak".
A report containing details much closer to the truth was also prepared but was rejected as its conclusions were thought to be beyond the capabilities or intentions of the UK. The assumption seems to have been that the UK was waiting for the US to "bail them out" and had continued a limited missile programme as a negotiating tool.

The RV found in Arkansas was of an advanced low-drag design, experimental versions of which the USAF has tested and worked on as part of the joint US-UK Black Knight research flights. Similar RV designs will enter service on US missiles next year. The one ton RV suggests that the UK has made some progress in building lighter, smaller warheads (the Blue Streak RV has a mass of just over 2 tons).

Far from falling ever further behind, British missile technology seems to be catching up with that of the US.
Yes, BK has gone bigger earlier. It was somewhere way back in the story. New RVs and joint Anglo-American tests needed a bigger test vehicle so they resized it and went to 8 Gamma 201 engines. As an upper stage its still 58", but with only 4 long-nozzle engines.

In reality, several designs up to 58" were suggested and a 54" was built (for Black Arrow). Originals were 36". 58" max was supposedly due to size limits at High Down testing station, although the 2m first stage of Black Arrow was later tested there, so the "limits" existed more in the minds of pesky anti-space bean counters.
Ah. A quick search only yielded the 54", and I wasn't sure it had been built iOTL. Thank you.
More than one instrument per sub-carrier channel; multiplexing soon became very important. Most Atlases used more than 5 channels (I believe 16 channel, 200ish instruments was typical in the early days). If they'd only been able to make 5 measurements we'd still be testing Atlas today.
Ah. Very good. I actually misread your post, thinking you'd had massive amounts of telemetry, went looking, found the 5 channel Atlas, thought 'Wow, worse than I thought', came back and realized my error, but still asked the question.

Thank you for that clarification.

They were aiming for 300km circular (I may not have said that, it probably got editted out somewhere), so about 230kg based on simulation, not allowing for ullage.
a) Simple satellite, built to be well below the capability of the launch vehicle.
b) It burned to propellant depletion, not the planned cutoff. No-one ever plans to do this (obviously other than with solids, where they can be the same thing). Even with "maximum payload", there should be a margin added for under-performance/error/manufacturing variation etc... Fuel margins equivalent to over a hundred m/s would be quite typical, even on a well-tested version of a modern rocket.
c) There will always be unusable propellant in lines, valves, jackets etc., plus the pressurant gas in the tank. If the control system never shuts the prop. valves, all of this will be vented. Even if it can't all be burned, it can still add to the total impulse. Venting can take time, hence the stage (maybe) colliding with the satellite when the separation squibs fail. Alternatively, venting might have destabilised the stage prior to separation. Without the telemetry, they will never know...

OK. Haven't run the numbers, but that combination of stuff (and, of course, the low perigee) sounds believable.

Thank you for the responses.
Thank you for the responses.

You're welcome. Its helpful to have some feedback, I've already realised that I need to add a bit more background to some of the updates to come. Some things have been simplified in the interests of readability, but on the the whole the technical side should be reasonably B.S. free. In the interests of a good story, I might stretch that definition in other areas from time to time.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Back in the UK, the inconclusive meeting at Nassau makes the case for Black Anvil stronger.
An independent deterrent is firmly backed by parliament and the US has not offered any acceptable alternatives. Even the Treasury has grudgingly accepted that the economic case for a missile (and by extension some associated space research) has been made, or at least they are prepared to admit that there are no cost-effective alternatives.
As ever, public opinion is mixed. While strongly opposed to being "pushed around by the Americans", the nuclear deterrent itself receives only a modest balance of support.
The concept of an expanded space programme provokes interest and support as being the sort of thing that Britain should be doing, but the question "why not spend the money on <industry, health, defence, public works, etc.>" is never far away.

Britain conducts two H-bomb tests over the ocean near Malden Island. Both are prototype lighter weight warheads intended for use in ballistic missiles. The tests produce yields of over 600Kt and are regarded as successful.

A delegation to Paris discusses the possibilities for Anglo-French aerospace research. Having accepted the necessity of continuing with large scale missile programmes, the UK is now ready to co-operate across the channel, as any technical return or cost reduction that can be had is of benefit.
Needless to say, the French are aware of some of what has gone on with the Americans, and are not quite as willing to concede control as they might have been a few months ago. A programme of steady technological development is discussed, starting with basic Earth orbit satellites for scientific research and leading towards communications and longer range exploration. The need to develop a manned vehicle for inspection and maintenance is thought to be a practical idea by both sides, with the potential for this to support a “space base” similar to those under development in the US. It is noticeable that the British are less keen on manned flight than their French counterparts.
French studies into manned vehicles are more extensive than in the UK, although their work has been mostly theoretical and wind-tunnel based due to the French missile programme being less developed.

"Gaslight" research flight from Woomera. Copper alloy re-entry head designed to measure heating rates. A timing error with the tape recorder means only 3/4 of the planned data is returned. Head was recovered in good condition.

A report by the GPO concludes that satellite distribution could be a cost-effective way of upgrading the television network. The technical side of the idea has gathered support at all levels of the organisation. There is strong public demand for colour television and improvements in picture quality, but also widespread concern about the cost of new TV sets and equipment. Estimates of the costs of building a new network of UHF transmitters to cover the entire UK have risen to £58M (actually this includes operational costs as well as construction) in the period to 1970. Such a network would have to be "rolled out" to most of the UK over 4-6 years, before further extension into remote areas.
A satellite system would offer coverage to the entire UK as soon as it was launched. Access to some classified details of the Black Anvil booster has allowed GPO engineers to complete an outline design for a broadcast satellite. In concert with earlier research done by BAC and HSD into large satellite platforms, they are confident that a system of 3 satellite “repeaters” could be developed and built within 5 years, at a cost of £36M (although notably this does not include the cost of launching them, estimated at a further £15M).

The BBC (and to a lesser degree ITV) are supportive of the GPO's conclusions and the concept of "satellite relay television" is discussed on a special BBC programme broadcast on the 25th. It is emphasised that no decision has been made and that this is just one of the available technical options. Nevertheless, the BBC are particularly keen on the idea, as they hope to be able to relay some of their national radio stations by satellite, possibly leading to further savings on the radio transmitter network. The ITV regional companies are less convinced as it would mean most, if not all, of them would need to merge. However, the idea of a “national” ITV is popular with large advertisers, as their commercials could reach the whole nation simultaneously.

Saunders Roe are contracted to build 8 improved Blue Star second stages. Known as the Mk.2, these will be equipped with the same engines but will feature stretched tanks and a revised guidance system. The first of these is to be available in early 1964 to support orbital research flights.

Bristol Siddeley test fire two experimental J-650 thrust chambers at Spadeadam. This engine is the reduced scale prototype for the "Orion" engine that will be used on Black Anvil. The tests do not include any turbopumps or pre-heaters and are used to calibrate flow rates and measure heat transfer within the chamber.
Overheating problems are encountered around the injector head when operating at full flow, when combustion pressure approaches 1000psi. Of the two chambers tested, one suffered a partial burn through of the injector and coolant tubes failed on the other. Neither chamber would have survived more than a few seconds at full thrust.

Cabinet committee meets to discuss defence and space research. Black Anvil appears to be an economic and political necessity, and militarily, the missile itself is still needed due to the lack of any agreement with the US. It is widely felt that the situation regarding US cooperation has changed in the last 12 months. The goal of full nuclear cooperation with joint US-UK development and deployment should not be pursued further at the present time. The UK should instead pursue a more limited objective in the near term, building on the intelligence and joint research agreements already in place.
It would still be of benefit to have access to lightweight US warhead designs, which are fully tested. British "Granite type" warheads, as used on Blue Streak and the V-Force, are much heavier than their American equivalents. AWRE's newer lightweight designs are largely untested and are therefore still several years away from production and deployment as operational weapons.
The current Black Anvil design assumes that the missile will be armed with improved versions of "Granite type" warheads, which will certainly be ready for deployment by 1967/8. If better warheads can be designed or procured, Black Anvil could be modified to carry them.

Blue Streak Operational Test and Readiness flight from Woomera.
A standard production “operational version” of the Blue Streak missile is launched carrying an instrumented and ballasted RV. This is the first of a series of training and test flights using RAF and Royal Navy crews who will return to operate live missiles in the UK. Range 1138mi, impact 2,400' from target point.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention, Part 2

Construction of the first Blue Star pad begins at RAAF Gympie on the East Coast of Australia.
This new site will allow Eastbound launches with fewer restrictions than Woomera and will also be the home of the Black Anvil test programme. Ground clearance to support several launch pads is well under way. The recent completion of a dock will make transport of materials for the large concrete pads and steel towers much easier. Once the site is operational, this dock will be used to receive the booster stages from Britain, either by ship or flying boat.

BAC publish a technical study entitled "Exploring Space".
Although its real purpose is to advertise the engineering capabilities of the firm, it is the first widely published "officially backed" study in the UK on how to send spacecraft to another world. In among all the colourful illustrations and diagrams are proposals for lunar orbiting satellites, a Venus lander and a concept for a manned space module to fly past Mars. In the centre of the brochure is an illustration of a system which might make a lunar landing possible. This uses three identical large upper stages with a lightweight crew vehicle. Each upper stage would launched into Earth orbit and then refuelled by another similar stage, before being joined together and used as a booster to leave Earth and start the lunar landing. A small crewed module would then complete the touchdown and perform the ascent back towards Earth. The complete mission would last ten days and require a total of 7 “large” rocket launches, each one carrying an upper stage.
The most eye-catching feature of the brochure is the final proposal (a drawing of which also appears on the front cover) for a large box-shaped satellite which, the firm claims, could be adapted to carry a TV camera for weather monitoring or be equipped with a set of sophisticated-looking radio antennas to relay radio or TV “to any point on Earth”.

Details of the discussions at Nassau start to leak out into the press. At the time it was reported in the typical deferential manner reserved for summits between world leaders, portraying serious but amicable discussions between the two great statesmen of the free world. Hints at real discord between the US and UK delegations are sensationally newsworthy. Full details are of course secret, but the papers have enough to know that a US offer to supply a Polaris missile system to the Royal Navy was turned down, in favour of the British built "Black Anvil" (the public know the name and that it is a missile, but little else).
Editorial opinion ranges from concern that we are offending our closest ally, to jingoistic cheering for British technological prowess.

In private talks, Australian government officials express an interest in the purchase of a television relay satellite, if the UK would develop such a system.

A second mission to Paris expands on the efforts made in March. A joint programme to build on the existing capabilities of each country is discussed, with a plan for steady but continuous improvement over a period of several years.
In Britain, such research could easily build on contracts that are already in place. Both sides believe that an Anglo-French programme could help counteract US dominance in this area. Despite the lingering resentment over the rejected application to join the Common Market, it is still felt that Britain must pursue closer ties with Europe. The Treasury, as ever, are opposed to expenditure, particularly on international projects where they are concerned that considerable sums might "leak" out of the country. They are also instinctively opposed to open-ended development projects with no definite goal.

Frustrated by what they see as delays in planning for the future of transmission and broadcasting, the BBC starts to push for the development of a colour TV network. The corporation uses its own engineering staff to investigate both satellite relay and ground based transmitter systems. Enquiries are made directly with Hawker Siddeley Dynamics (HSD) and BAC into their designs for communications satellites. If there is no agreement soon, the corporation announces it would consider seeking permission to develop its own transmission network.

Apr-63 Overseas
The Soviets launch Vostok 5, a mission which completes a 4d 19h flight, making 76 orbits of the Earth.
Vostok 6 launches the next day, piloted by Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to fly in space. She completes a 3d 14hr flight, returning to a heroine's welcome with a parade in Red Square.
The Story so Far

Those butterflies have been frantically flapping away for the past few years and events are starting to diverge more quickly. The story is going to become more about the consequences of the changes that have happened.
However, I’ll leave you in suspense for a while; there won’t be any more instalments for a week or so while I am away.

If you are new to the story, are not too interested in the MAD policies of the 60s, or have just been enjoying skim-reading, I thought I’d leave you with a quick summary of the story so far…

- It’s the spring of 1963 and Britain has a space programme.
- The Blue Streak IRBM is starting to enter service with the RAF.
- An experimental satellite “Ariel” has been launched on a Blue Star rocket (a derivative of Blue Streak). Several low-orbit military communications satellites are planned.
- A larger MIRV-capable ICBM, codenamed Black Anvil, is under development.
- British research into satellite technology is well underway, including studies into the possibility of direct-to-home TV broadcasts by satellite. However, such major development would need government backing, as most space technology is still secret and the risks seem high.
- Britain and Australia have an agreement which will see British missiles based on Australian islands and space launches from the mainland.
- The British government is convinced that the country should not rely on the USA to supply future nuclear or missile technology, although it still seeks to conduct joint research programmes where possible. An example is the UK-US research into re-entry vehicles being conducted at Woomera.
- After several false starts, Britain and France are beginning to seriously discuss the possibility of a joint space research programme.
- The USA “won the Space Race” in 1961, when Alan Shepard went into orbit.
- Both the USA and USSR have launched several manned flights since then, and are developing bigger and better rockets and spacecraft.

A few real events haven’t happened:

- Following years of suspicion, spy scandals and a failed nuclear test, the US decided it was not worth the risk of sharing nuclear secrets with Britain. The McMahon Act was never modified, so there is no US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement.
- The Blue Steel cruise missile was cancelled before it ever flew.
- Fewer Vulcan bombers are being built.
- There was no agreement at Nassau, so no Polaris submarines are being built for the RN.
- The TSR-2 is still on the drawing board. The project is active, but is regarded as being low priority.
- Britain and France couldn’t agree terms on a deal to develop a supersonic airliner.
- The US hasn’t committed itself to landing on the Moon by the end of the decade. NASA has a wide range of long-term plans, including lunar flights, but there is no Gemini program and the agency hasn’t been given a “blank cheque” for Apollo and .

If you can guess where we are going next you will owe yourself something cool and refreshing.
If anyone wishes to post their ideas or questions, I’ll check in from time to time and offer some hints.
That didn't take as long as I thought, so normal service will be resumed.

If you've been thinking this is a bit slow and long winded up to now, it has all been leading up to making what is about to happen vaguely plausible. For reasons that will be very obvious, the politicking isn't going to die down any time soon, but there should be a few more rocket launches to go with it.
The Bubble

On Monday the 1st April, and over the course of the next week, the Daily Mail publishes a series of articles on manned spaceflight, the possibilities of manned space stations, lunar exploration and the use of resources from the Moon and Mars, which is thought to have a Nitrogen atmosphere and maybe even frozen lakes or seas. The first article is taken by some as an April fool, but it is the last that achieves worldwide notoriety.
Following on from the paper's long history of public prizes for aviation, a prize of £1,000,000 is offered for the first man to land on the Moon. The paper's management is advised that this is unlikely to be claimed for decades. As a publicity stunt, it succeeds brilliantly, and circulation rises on the back of follow up articles covering various plans; some of which are "unlikely" to say the least. Criticism of the stunt serves only to further publicise the paper.

The Jervis Report into the uses of space technology is completed and distributed to ministers.
It is not what was expected. Sir Giles, lacking technical knowledge of his own, has drawn on many sources from industry, science and his own social circle to produce a wide-ranging but analytical report, which seeks to set out the risks and potential rewards of a space programme. He has gone somewhat beyond his original mandate of looking at the exploitation of the space environment and its resources.
He highlights the potential for satellite communications, mapping, weather monitoring, navigation, astronomy and the use of zero gravity to produce such products as high purity crystals and ultra-thin coatings. Scientific exploration of the Moon would be of great geological interest in helping to determine its origin and by extension, the origin of the Earth and the rest of the solar system. If adequately mapped and explored, lunar resources might offer minerals and elements not found on Earth, while more basic resources could provide the raw materials for lunar bases.
Lunar materials might be used to build solar concentrators, either on the Moon or in orbit, which could provide reflected sunlight in winter to cold, dark areas of the Earth (the North of Canada and Scotland are mentioned). Such a system could be used to help boost food production to meet the ever increasing needs of Earth’s growing population.
International law is limited as to how resources in space might be developed and protected, but it is pointed out that those who map and can exploit the land or resources often have the best claim.
As he later said, "we did let our imaginations run wild" [in respect of the possible uses of space technology].
On a more practical note, the report includes a study of the risks and possibilities for the next few years. Jervis identifies the high cost of launching payloads as being a limiting factor, something that could be relieved in the short term by lighter payloads and later with an emphasis on large reusable launch vehicles. He also identifies several areas in which investment is most likely to be of direct national benefit, or to be cost effective; specifically communications and materials sciences.

The Treasury and a group of senior MoD officials opposed to "reckless expenditure" on a space programme are horrified by the contents of the report, which comes across as very positively in favour of space research. An attempt is made to stop it being published, a strategy which backfires badly when it fails. Coming so soon after the Daily Mail’s sensational prize offer, the launch of “Ariel” and news surrounding missile development, a fairly minor report becomes front page news, with leading articles covering some of the more exciting possibilities that are outlined. The fact that several government officials wished to have it suppressed only adds to the story.
The public verdict is highly critical of those who are seen as unwilling to invest in the future and who seem content to let Britain ignore the Space Age.

Anglo-French negotiations resume, with the focus on constructing a programme with a specific goal.
Both sides acknowledge the need to for a "steady development" style of programme, in which missions of increasing complexity are performed over a number of years.
Despite the current public enthusiasm, if the programme is to stand any chance of being politically acceptable in Britain it must have a definite timescale and cost and a must lead to a well-defined conclusion.
The French are broadly agreeable, as almost any deal which will allow their scientists and engineers to work with British missile technology is still in their interests.
Problems occur when it is made clear that the Britain’s position has not changed regarding French access to key technologies such as heat shields and guidance systems. They still regard these as being subject to restrictions imposed by US-UK treaties.
Negotiations continue in other areas and move towards splitting not just the cost, but the responsibility for the complete development and production of individual systems and spacecraft.

BK104 "Gaslight" research flight. Bi-conic RV boosted to 381km. Heating and acceleration data recovered but damage to the RV results in no useful ablation data being gathered. It appears the RV was not stable during re-entry.

May-63 Overseas
NASA launches Telstar 2, a duplicate of the first Telstar. It operates for nearly two years.

The Soviets launch Vostok 7, carrying two cosmonauts. The flight makes only 3 orbits, but claims yet another record for the Soviets as the first two man spacecraft. TASS later announces that the crew worked together to co-ordinate the control of their ship and practice co-operative tasks, and that this flight paves the way for the longer duration orbital and exploration flights that Soviet scientists are now planning. [Very little of this was true, there wasn't even room in the capsule for any controls].

Several ministers are briefed against on the subject of international aerospace cooperation. A campaign largely organised within the Treasury seeks to scupper any agreement on the grounds of cost. It is pointed out that Britain is already committed to a significant space research and missile programme through the development of Blue Star and Black Anvil.

A confidential memo written by the GPO indicates that the organisation is ready to proceed with a development programme to attempt to relay radio and television signals by satellite. However, they are being prevented from doing so by the lack of a clear commitment to an ongoing rocketry programme, meaning there may be no vehicle available to launch the large spacecraft that will be required. They request that an "Improved Blue Star" launcher (as Black Anvil based concepts are still known) be given some form of official recognition to help guarantee its future and allow development to proceed.
The existence of the memo is leaked almost immediately to the BBC and the press. They take up the story that Britain's radio and television development is being held back by “petty official delays”. These delays come from the same officials who tried to suppress the Jervis report, and who are now refusing to support world-leading British efforts to be competitive in industrial and aerospace research.

May-63 Overseas
NASA announces that McDonnell has been awarded a contract to build its first space station.
Intended for launch on one of the large Saturn rockets that are now under development, the station will have a launch mass of just over 50 tons and will be supplied and crewed by Apollo spacecraft. It is a simple cylindrical design equipped with solar panels, an airlock, an external experiment mount and a lab area inside. NASA plans call for the station to be launched in 1966. Several crews will visit the station for up to two months at a time during its one-year lifetime.

A cabinet meeting at No.10 includes discussion of the future of space research.
Anglo-French discussions have laid the foundation for a cooperative space programme, which for Britain need not necessarily mean vast expenditures beyond the existing commitments to missile design and space research.
The current newspaper enthusiasm for spaceflight is thought to be just another campaign that will fade, nevertheless, there is widespread support within government and industry for a "well defined" (i.e. limited) space programme. On a strategic and economic level, it is felt that Britain must not stand still in this field. An expanded programme would also serve to support the aerospace and electronics industries without the direct subsidies that might otherwise be needed. It could also provide a much needed boost to the economy and national morale in the run up to the next election.
The implicit guarantee offered by an expanded space programme would encourage the investment needed to develop the satellite TV relay system so heavily advocated by the GPO. This is a project which appears to be attracting significant interest from overseas and might therefore make a useful contribution to Britain’s balance of payments.
Close cooperation with the French in a highly public project will do the UK no harm when the application to join the Common Market is renewed.

Across the Atlantic, US intelligence reports that the Soviets are greatly expanding their space program. It is known that authorisation has been given for a series of new rockets capable of placing payloads of up to 75 tons into orbit. New space capsules are also being developed which will be capable of long-duration flights, and both manned and unmanned probes are being planned to orbit and land on the Moon.
This intelligence, coupled with public reaction to the recent Soviet successes in space with longer duration and multiple crew flights persuades the American administration of the merits of a more active space policy. NASA is confident that it can deliver an expanded program based on systems that are already under development.

A ministerial delegation from the UK meet with their French counterparts in Rouen. Senior civil servants and engineers from the space field are included on both sides. Earlier deadlocks have been broken by a proposal that British and French engineers work together to develop “all new” designs in areas where the UK cannot directly share technology. Although there would be absolutely no transfer of design details or materials, the British government’s decision to move away from actively seeking to renew US-UK nuclear co-operation has led to a softening of attitudes regarding sharing some “practical experience” with the French. The development of completely new designs is likely to present fewer legal problems.
The purpose of the meeting, held away from Paris to reduce the need for state formalities, is to agree a top-level plan for Anglo-French space research. Details such as sub-contractors can be decided later, the objective of the talks is to agree a definite set of programme goals, how the work is to be shared and an outline budget plan. The intention is to formalise this with a bilateral treaty by the summer.

After a briefing by British intelligence on Soviet and US space and missile development plans, the Prime Minister makes it clear to his cabinet that action must be taken in this field. With that in mind, discipline amongst ministers and their departments must be maintained.

Officials and engineers from the GPO brief senior ministers on the proposed television relay satellites. The details of the system are set out clearly, with the requirement for a powerful launch vehicle. A concept based on Black Anvil is outlined, making the point that the cost of adapting the rocket would be relatively small and would not interrupt the missile programme. The primary cost is the satellite development itself. They emphasise that the proposal has attracted interest from around the world. The project is currently being delayed by the lack of a clear, long-term space programme which would guarantee the availability of the launch vehicle.

On the 2nd June, President Kennedy addresses a joint session of Congress. His speech includes the now-famous lines “In addition to our plans for orbiting laboratories, where new materials and technologies will be developed in an environment unlike any on Earth, I am convinced this nation must commit itself to securing and exploring space in the name of the free world. I am therefore instructing the National Astronautics Agency to prepare to send American astronauts to live and work on the Moon.”
Shortly thereafter, NASA announces that a “Block 3” version of the Apollo CSM will be built. This will be a significant advance on the early Block 1 & 2 vehicles and will be capable of long duration flights to lunar orbit. A new engine will allow the CSM to take off from the lunar surface after landing on a separate descent stage.
The immediate consequence of the speech is that Congress agrees a massive increase in the NASA budget, to just over $2.6 billion for 1963/64. The new funds will allow projects such as the giant Saturn III rocket to be expanded and accelerated.
Before the announcement, there was heated discussion at the White House over whether sending astronauts to the Moon was necessary, or whether the US should focus on expanding its space station and military space programmes. These opinions were overruled, as a civilian program would be less directly threatening to the Soviets, while potentially staking a claim on the Moon. It could also be better publicised, helping to show off US technical superiority around the world.
With the greatly increased budget, NASA engineers confidently expect to accomplish the first lunar landing within 8-10 years and make the first circumlunar flights before the end of the decade.

The American announcement proves to have many unintended consequences, the most notable of which is that it momentarily galvanises support in Britain and France for a manned space research programme, on the basis that if the US and Soviets are pursuing resources and territory in outer space, Britain and France must keep up.
Spending on anything like the scale the Americans propose is simply not possible, but leaving the field entirely to the US and the Soviets is felt to be unacceptable. Harking back to post-war A-bomb development, both the British and French governments come to believe (albeit reluctantly) that to be left behind in this field will result in their nations becoming increasingly irrelevant second-rate powers.

Politically, Macmillan is now under greater pressure than ever. An election is due next year and the economy is slowing. The rhetoric of his opponents is attracting a lot of attention; according to them, he has failed to agree terms with the Americans at Nassau and failed to convince de Gaulle to admit Britain to the EEC. The government is suffering the embarrassment of yet another spy scandal, with the surrounding publicity only fuelled by the more sensational aspects of the Profumo affair. Negotiations towards technical co-operation with the French are one of the few things that are going well. If ever there were a good time for a major new announcement, it is now.

Anglo-French negotiations are concluded in Rouen. Both parties have made concessions regarding the cost, the degree of work and the level of information sharing. At the urging of both governments, preparations towards the formal signing of an agreement are being made with unusual speed.

NASA launches "Syncom", an experimental satellite into a geosynchronous orbit. The upper stage does not perform as intended and the spacecraft does not enter the planned geostationary orbit. However, the satellite itself functions and is used as a test for future geostationary relays. Indirectly, the satellite validates many of the concepts advocated by British engineers over the past few years. If a basic geosynchronous relay can be achieved with such a small satellite, the possibilities offered by a larger one are obvious.

Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and President Charles de Gaulle meet to sign the 1963 Treaty of Paris on the 1st July. Under its terms, Britain and France will work together to develop and build a series of increasingly capable spacecraft and launch vehicles over the next ten years, starting with scientific satellites in Earth orbit and ending with manned exploration of the lunar surface.
The treaty is co-signed by the Australian Foreign Minister, as the Australian government has agreed to host the launch site and a test facility under an extension of their existing agreements with Britain. In return, they will have access to scientific and technical data and an Australian astronaut will be trained to fly into Earth orbit. The treaty comes into force the following day.

The resulting programme will be known as The Selene Project.
Hello All,

I have decide to end this thread here, as this is where the focus of the story changes from deterrent missiles towards space flight.

The story of the Selene Project will be continued here: The Selene Project

I'll keep an eye on this thread in case there are any "pre Selene" questions.
Hope you all enjoy it and thanks for reading.
This is excellent stuff but I have to admit to being somewhat unclear on the POD. I understand that there was no1958 US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement in the ATL as operation Grapple was less than successful, but I'm unclear on the details. After all the first two British thermonuclear tests in OTL 1957 were if not exactly duds, then certainly less than successful delivering only a fraction on the expected output.
This is excellent stuff but I have to admit to being somewhat unclear on the POD. I understand that there was no1958 US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement in the ATL as operation Grapple was less than successful, but I'm unclear on the details. After all the first two British thermonuclear tests in OTL 1957 were if not exactly duds, then certainly less than successful delivering only a fraction on the expected output.

I have never defined an exact POD, partly because I think there are several of them.

The best I could do is that there is a slightly higher level of paranoia in the US in the early 50s (perhaps a few dedicated McCarthy supporters with more influence over the nuclear program). After that, the inconveniently timed discovery of several spies in Britain – people such as Klaus Fuchs and then later Maclean and Burgess – allowed these men to persuade the US administration that there was a risk of revealing too much to the “spy-ridden” British establishment. It wasn’t enough to stop US-UK co-operation in other areas, but it created enough of a block to stop the 1958 and subsequent agreements.

The other departure is the early creation of NASA (about a year early in the story).
I think that is one relatively easy: Eisenhower was convinced by his advisors that the US needed to establish “overflight rights” of the Soviet Union in anticipation of a secret space programme (Corona). Attempting to do this with a civilian space agency launching a scientific probe would be diplomatically acceptable, where a military satellite might not be. Unfortunately for the US, NASA still didn’t get their rockets to be reliable early enough and the USSR beat them with Sputnik. However, they got a jump start on Mercury-Atlas and (just) beat Gagarin into orbit.