Realistic Soviet Lunar program leading to American manned Mars landing preferably without a POD before 1966

So, I've been wondering what the possibilities are when it comes to creating a timeline for the N1 program that is a) realistic, and b) doesn't have a POD earlier than 1966.

So, because I have no actual writing skills, I created this (rather literal) timeline, and I was wondering what some of the experts that I know hang around here thought of it. Basic POD is Korolev lives.



1963 Mar - Design work on the N1 launch complex starts.

1964 Mar - Korolev attended a meeting with Khrushchev, where he advocated an aggressive plan of Lunar and interplanetary exploration. Khrushchev expressed some interest in the Lunar landing scheme.

1964 May - Korolev drafts a letter to Brezhnev, then in charge of missile development, complaining about a lack of funds. It is never sent.

1964 Aug - Command number 655-268 issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party sets the objective for OKB-1 to put one man on the moon and return him safely to Earth ahead of the Americans. The L-3 Lunar complex is redesigned to utilize a Lunar orbit rendezvous strategy.

1964 Sep - Construction work on N1 Launch Complex 110R starts. Of the 11 million rubles of funding promised for the construction, only 7 million have been received.

1964 Oct - Khrushchev is removed from power and Brezhnev's faction assumes control of Politburo.

1965 Jan - The decree for production of 16 sets of spacecraft and boosters is issued.

1966 Feb - Construction work on N1 Launch Complex 110L starts.

1966 Oct - The first N1 hardware arrives at Baikonur and construction of the 1M1 full-size launch vehicle mock-up begins.

1966 Nov - A government decree approves Korolev's plan for the first lunar landing.

1966 Dec - Construction work on the first N1 boosters begins at the Progress plant in Samara.

1967 Aug - Construction work on Launch Complex 110R is completed.

1967 Sep - hot-fire tests begin on the N1 second and third stages.

1967 Oct - The 1M1 mock-up is rolled out to Launch Complex 110R and erected for fit checks.

1967 Nov - Apollo 4 becomes the first test flight of the Saturn V booster. Pogo oscillations observed during the launch require that a second test flight will be needed before it can be man-rated.

1968 Jan - The first LEM to fly is launched atop a Saturn IB rocket into low Earth orbit on Apollo 5.

1968 Mar - Apollo 6, the second test of the Saturn V rocket, is launched. The pogo oscillation is still catastrophic, but the booster is man-rated anyway since it can be fixed before the next flight. N1 booster 4L is rolled out to Launch Complex 110R and erected.

1968 Apr - Construction work on Launch Complex 110L is completed.

1968 Jun - The first N1 booster is flown. 57.3 seconds into the flight a fire starts in the engine section, and the KORD engine control system incorrectly gives the command to shut down all 30 first stage engines. The vehicle is self-destructed 2 seconds later.

1968 Jul - Korolev writes to the Soviet leadership asking for money for the construction of a test stand for the Block A first stage. The funding is granted, and construction starts 2 weeks later. Launch Complex 110L will be modified to allow continuous firing of the Block A to save costs on constructing an entirely new facility.

1968 Oct - Apollo 7 becomes the first manned mission of the program, with a Saturn IB launching a CSM into orbit.

1968 Dec - Apollo 8 launches, with a Saturn V sending a manned CSM around the Moon for the first time. Construction of the Block A testing complex is completed. 19 days later, the first static fire of the N1 3L first stage is performed. During the test, catastrophic issues caused by foreign object damage to the turbopumps are observed. The LK-1 Lunar lander is launched atop a Proton rocket to perform an unmanned test flight in Earth orbit. It encounters issues with its guidance computer but is otherwise successful.

1969 Jan - The issues with the turbopump assembly have been fixed by placing filters over the propellent inlets, and N1 booster 3L is rolled out to Launch Complex 110R and erected. Work begins on modifying the Block A stage of booster 5L to fully utilize the superchilled propellents that were originally planned.

1969 Feb - N1 booster 3L is launched on a test flight with the 7K-L1A spacecraft. At T+94.5 seconds the ring of center engines shuts down to reduce stress on the vehicle, but this sudden deceleration causes the propellant lines running to engine 12 to rupture, and the engine fails. At 112.7 seconds the propellent spilling out causes an explosion. The first stage disintegrates at 115.4 seconds, 1.1 seconds after staging. The second and third stages successfully make it to orbit, and the fourth stage pushes the 7K-L1A spacecraft to the Moon. However, the spacecraft fails to return safely, skipping off of the atmosphere. The Block A first stage of booster 5L is hot-fired with a full super-chilled propellant load. To Korolev's horror, the test fails. More propellant tank and engine modifications will be needed and they won't be available for the Jun 20th launch date. A crash program is devised to launch extra propellant into orbit on a Proton rocket and refuel the Lunar complex before it performs trans-Lunar injection.

1969 Mar - Apollo 9 conducts a manned test of the LEM in low Earth orbit. The LK-2 Lunar lander test is launched, with plans to rendezvous with a Soyuz 7K-OK and perform a test flight. However, the Proton rocket's second stage fails, and it falls into the sea. An investigation into the flight of N1 booster 3L finds the source of the failure of engine 12 to be excessive gee-forces induced by the core engine ring shutdown. To fix these issues work beings on modifying the center engines to deep-throttle down just before shutdown.

1969 Apr - Soyuz 7 and LK-3 are launched into Earth orbit by R-7 and Proton rockets. After rendezvousing and docking, cosmonaut Aleksei Yeliseyev transferred to the LK, undocked, and performed a test flight including a simulated Lunar landing. However, just after the ascent engine is fired for the second time, it explodes, ripping apart the lower half of the LK and tearing a 70cm hole in the cabin. The resulting explosive decompression disables the spacecraft, and Yeliseyev is nearly killed. Soyuz 7 immediately makes an emergency orbit change to rendezvous with the LK, and successfully recovers Yeliseyev before he dies of overheating from his damaged spacesuit. Both cosmonauts return to Earth safely, and after a 29-day investigation, the fault in the LK engine system is identified and fixed.

1969 May - Apollo 10 conducts a manned test of the LEM in low Lunar orbit, with the LEM descending to within 15 kilometers from the Lunar surface. N1 booster 5L is rolled out to Launch Complex 110R and erected. A proton rocket carrying 20 tons of propellant is launched into orbit.

1969 Jun - N1 booster 5L is launched from Launch Complex 110R, on a flight that is christened Zarya 1. Upon rendezvousing with the Orbital Propellent Carrier, cosmonaut Alexi Leonov performs a spacewalk and connects a fuel transfer line between the two craft. Both crafts fires their RCS in the prograde direction to settle the propellents while maintaining their relative distance. After the transfer is complete, the line is disconnected, and the trans-Lunar injection is performed. When the spacecraft breaks into Lunar orbit, Alexi Leonov spacewalks to the LK lander and undocks. Using the navigation beacon placed by Lunokhod 1, it lands at the Sea of Tranquility. After a 90 minute stay, where he goes on EVA and plants the Soviet flag, collects samples, rides around on the Lunokhod rover, and takes many pictures, he returns to orbit, transfers to the 7K-LOK spacecraft, and he along with Oleg Makarov return to Earth.

1969 Jul - Apollo 11 conducts the first manned American Lunar landing at the Sea of Tranquility, touching down 82 kilometers from the Zarya 1 landing site. Concerned with an abnormally high roll-rate observed on Zarya 1, the N1 design team add roll control motors to all future N1 boosters.

1969 Sep - Development on uprating the N1 for superchilled propellents is finished. Work starts on modifying N1 booster 6L for the new propellent begins.

1969 Oct - The second hot-fire test of the N1 Block A with superchilled propellents is carried out successfully. Two Proton rockets are launched to place communications satellites into Lunar orbit, to allow for a future landing on the far side. One of them fails to perform the trans-Lunar injection burn.

1969 Nov - Apollo 12 launches, and conducts a pinpoint Lunar landing 200 meters from Surveyor 3. N1 booster 6L is rolled out to Launch Complex 110L and erected. A replacement for the previously failed Lunar communications satellite is launched.

1969 Dec - N1 booster 6L is launched from Launch Complex 110L, on the Zarya 2 mission. The landing site is on the Lunar farside, and Valeri Bykovsky becomes the 4th person to step foot on the Moon. The surface stay lasted over 6 hours, during which time he sets up a small radio telescope.

1970 Apr - Apollo 13 lands on the Moon, and returns uneventfully. Development on the LK shelter is complete, and a test spacecraft is launched into orbit atop a Proton booster. The test flight is successful, and an LK shelter is slated to launch to the Moon in 4 months.

1970 Jul - N1 booster 7L is rolled out to Launch Complex 110R, and erected.

1970 Aug - N1 booster 7L is launched from Launch Complex 110R, on the Zarya 3 mission. The LK shelter successfully lands on the Lunar surface, while the 7K-LOK/B2 unmanned reconnaissance orbiter spends several weeks mapping the Lunar surface, before returning to Earth. N1 booster 8L is rolled out to Launch Complex 110L and erected.

1970 Sep - N1 booster 8L is launched from Launch Complex 110L, on the Zarya 4 mission. Pavel Popovich pilots the LK down to the Zarya 3 LK shelter, landing 730 meters away. After walking to the LK shelter, he deploys the small Lunar rover attached to its side, as well as the Lunar Surface Experiment Complex. He spends a total of 49 hours on the Lunar surface, and drives a total of 5 kilometers, before returning to Earth.

1971 Jan - Apollo 14 lands on the Moon and conducts the first usage of an American Lunar rover. The crew stays on the surface for just over two days before returning.

1971 Feb - N1 booster 9L is rolled out, erected, and launched from Launch Complex 110R. It carries a Lunokhod Laboratory, a small pressurized rover built out of an extended LK lander cabin. The descent stage fails, and it impacts the Lunar surface at over 1000 m/s.

1971 Jul - Apollo 15 becomes the last American Lunar landing for a long time. The crew spends 3 days on the Lunar surface, having landed on the farside thanks to a fleet of communications satellites launched a few months earlier. N1 booster 10L is rolled out, erected, and launched from Launch Complex 110R on the Zarya 5 mission (the previous failed mission having 'never happened'). It carries another Lunokhod Laboratory and successfully lands near the Lunar south pole.

1971 Sep - N1 booster 11L is rolled out, erected, and launched from Launch Complex 110R on the Zarya 6 mission. After a 5 day trip, cosmonaut Vladimir Shatalov set down the LK 310 meters from the Lunokhod Laboratory, and he stays on the surface for 5 days, driving a total of 84 kilometers. During one EVA, he uses rock-climbing equipment to descend into one of the heavily shadowed and deep craters and finds a substantial amount of water ice.

1972 Mar - N1 booster 12O is rolled out, erected, and launched from Launch Complex 110L. Its payload is the Salyut 2 space station, which has been in development for the last year-and-a-half. With a total mass of 80 tons, it consists of 5 Almaz class station hulls attached together. Its predecessor, Salyut 1, had been launched half a year prior on top of a Proton rocket. This station was specifically constructed to outclass the soon to be launched American Skylab, so it was designed to be as spacious as possible, and this necessitated that it be launched on an N1. Upon reaching orbit, it entered standby mode and awaited its crew to be launched.

1972 Jun - N1 booster 13L is rolled out, erected, and launched from Launch Complex 110R on the Zarya 7 mission. It successfully lands its Lunokhod Laboratory at the Lunar north pole.

1972 Jul - N1 booster 14L is rolled out, erected, and launched from Launch Complex 110L on the Zarya 8 mission. Sitting atop it are cosmonauts Nikolay Rusavishnikov and Alyona Yakovlev. After landing 417 meters from the Lunokhod Laboratory, Yakovlev transfers over to it and stays on the Lunar surface for a total of 7 days, during which time she sets up a small ISRU unit which will use the water ice found in a nearby crater to make oxygen.



To come up with this I used information from Astronautix and Wikipedia, as well as some threads on this site like NASA's Waterloo. Most of it is real in one way or another, but for the last character I introduced, the female cosmonaut, I couldn't find any suitable women from that era to pick so I just used a random name generator. (If any of you know the names of suitable female test pilots from 1970 to 1972 that would be great)

The main POD for this is, of course, Korolev not dying. There's also a maybe-a-POD earlier in 1964 when he drafts the letter to Brezhnev, which may or may not have been delivered OTL. If it was, it certainly damaged their relationship (at least that's what Astronautix says), so I decided to just say it wasn't. I don't know how important that is.

The main things that I'm having problems with are finding sources for the details. For instance, I cannot find out when LC110L finished construction, so I guessed it was in April of 1968. I also cannot find out how many N1s were built, so I assumed it was the full 16 that was ordered in 1965. Though I'm not sure if that includes boosters 1L and 2L, I can't find any information on them.

Anyways, the main reason I'm posting this here is I want your input on what I should do next. I originally wanted to write a timeline about the Space Shuttle and Apollo based Mars missions flying side-by-side, and I figured that NASA would need a reason to develop both. So I thought a Soviet Moon landing would be good, and then I couldn't find any on the other threads here that worked perfectly, so I thought I would very quickly write my own. Three days and a lot of work later, and I have this thing, and now I'm not sure how to go from here. I do have a general outline, which goes as follows.

The US will want to respond to the Soviets beating them. Presumably, three options will arrive on Nixon's desk, LEO (OTL, but earlier and bigger Space Station Freedom), Moon (the TV series 'For All Mankind'), or Mars (NASA's Waterloo).

He decides that just LEO is not an option, it would be seen as a step back by the public. He realizes that a Lunar base is also not a good idea. The Soviets will pursue that one, but a response would be pointless, as there is a good chance the Soviets will beat him to it. The US would end up with a Moon base for the simple reason that the Soviets have a Moon base. Also, he realizes, if he instead chooses Mars, and the Soviets build a Moon base, he can spin it as the USSR stagnating, while the US is pushing forward.

But Nixon also realizes that once this is all well and done, going from Mars to LEO is going to be a huge step back if they are not ready, and so he decides to also do the LEO option, but push the Orbiter's developmental start to 1975, and the Shuttle's first flight back to 1985 to 1987, by which time the first Mars mission will just be wrapping up. That way the 1970-1975 period can focus on the flyback S-IC, and doing paper studies of the Orbiter to help refine it before it starts being worked on properly.

My basic idea for the rest of the program was that Apollo 13 never happens, the rest gets cut at 15, and so there are 5 Saturn Vs left. One of them would be used for Skylab, one would launch a NERVA engine powered S-IVC to test nuclear propulsion systems, and maybe send a probe to Mars or somewhere in the process, one would test the Saturn V-BX sold boosters and probably send an unmanned Apollo CSM around Mars in an endurance test, while one would launch a manned Mars flyby. The final one would be used as a reserve. The classes would be: a Saturn V-A has stretched tanks and upgraded engines, a V-BX has solid boosters, a V-B has solid boosters and no third stage, a V-C has a nuclear third stage, and a V-D has boosters and a nuclear third stage.

Meanwhile, Saturn V production would be restarted with the V-A and V-B. The NERVA program wouldn't be canceled and would produce a flight-worthy engine somewhere around 1975, at which point S-IVCs will go into production. These will be used to test the NERVA engines without needing to finish the design on the Planetry Propulsion Modules (a lot of this will be shamelessly ripped from NASA's Waterloo, sorry), and they can be used as space tugs later. The first Saturn V-C flight (and the only to use an original Saturn V) will probably just be used to launch a Mars probe, the second and third will probably be Saturn V-Ds used to launch prototype MEMs to Mars. The second-to-last of the original Saturn Vs will be used for a manned Mars flyby around 1978.

By 1976 to 1978 the Mission Module (aka Skylab for deep space) will be finished and a Saturn-VA will launch one into orbit as Spacelab, for long-duration endurance tests. By this point, NASA will have run out of CSMs and will have to have started building new ones.

The PPMs will be ready somewhere around 1976 to 1978, and a Saturn V-B will launch one into orbit for testing. Then around 1980 one will be launched to fly by Mars for an endurance test. After that, from somewhere around 1982 to 1984, the first all-up deep-space test (Ares 1) will take place, with a manned Mission Module being pushed by three Planetry Propulsion Modules to Mars orbit and back. The MEM will have been ready since 1980, and in all likelihood, one will have already been shot out to Mars by a Saturn V-D for testing, so Ares 1 might carry one and land it remotely. Then, around 1986 to 1988, Ares 2 will make the first manned Mars landing.

Meanwhile, the Shuttle program will be advancing. The flyback S-IC will have probably been dropped as OTL, and either replaced with the OTL Shuttle stack or more likely, the EDIN05 booster or LRBs, which for early flights will probably be expendable and then made reusable later on. Eventually, the F-1s would be replaced by a pressure-fed engine, that would be much cheaper to make and refurbish. The most likely course of action is probably the LRBs, with two F-1s each for the early flights, and 3 to 4 pressure fed engines for the later ones.

The Shuttle orbiter will probably have developed as OTL, maybe with better safety systems. NASA would probably forgo a full-blown crew escape system, but stuff like the gliding-escape procedures would probably have been there from the beginning. Challenger would have probably never happened, Columbia might have but probability dictates that it would have happed during a station or satellite servicing mission, so the crew would have been able to inspect the damage, and a rescue orbiter would have been launched.

I expect the first flights would occur from around 1986 to 1987. Apollo would keep flying for a few more years, primarily as a station resupply vehicle, or an escape craft for early shuttle flights. By 1990 the Shuttle will be flying quite regularly, and a heavy-lift vehicle derived from it would probably start flying by 1995 to 2000. After Ares 2, there probably wouldn't be any more manned Mars landings using that hardware, but a few S-IVCs would still be up there and could be used as tugs. By 2000 the original Space Transportation Architecture will probably be in full swing, with Shuttles assembling Apollo stacks in Earth orbit over the course of 3 launches (1 for the LEM, 1 for the CSM, and 1 for the propellant for the S-IVC). It would only be a matter of time before a Lunar base is constructed, probably by 2010 to 2015, and by the time Starship/Superheavy becomes operational in 2022, the shuttle and its heavy-lift vehicle derivatives will have been in service for 30 years and will be ready to be retired.

I really want to turn this into a fully working timeline, but unfortunately digging up all of the resources required, and actually writing the thing with my terrible skills, would simply be too much effort. That's why so far I've written it as a list of events, and I would like to continue doing that.

However, first I want to know what some other people think, and I would like to see if any of you know about some of the things I've had a hard time researching. Most importantly:

- When was Launch Complex 110L finished?
- How many N1s were originally made, did they have plans to continue, and what was their manufacturing setup?
- What happened to N1 booster 1L and 2L?
- How much would converting Launch Complex 110L into a static fire facility have cost? Could it still be used for launches?
- How would world politics work after a Soviet Moon landing? Would Apollo-Soyuz still be a thing?
- What sort of timescale was the NERVA program working on? When would the first flight-ready rocket be made?
- Could a manned Mars flyby take place (using the AAP study on a Venus flyby) as early as 1978?
- How much would the Ares program cost?
- Would a flyback S-IC, EDIN05 booster, LRBs or SRBs be chosen for the Shuttle?
- Could Shuttle-derived heavy-lift vehicles be built at a reasonable cost?
- What does all of this do to the Strategic Defense Initiative? Real-life 'Storming Intrepid'?
- While the US is out exploring Mars, what does the Soviet Union do?

Art by Maciej Rebisz.
20141031_n1_lok-3_001.jpg
 
So, I've been wondering what the possibilities are when it comes to creating a timeline for the N1 program that is a) realistic, and b) doesn't have a POD earlier than 1966.

So, because I have no actual writing skills, I created this (rather literal) timeline, and I was wondering what some of the experts that I know hang around here thought of it. Basic POD is Korolev lives.
Hey nice to see another space thread and I'll try and help where and when I can. (Writing skill? Oh sweet summer child you just don't know... see below ;) )
While having Korolev alive helps the main argument against that as a 'singular' POD is that by the time the Soviets considered committing to going to the Moon, (the mid-to-late 60s) it was already too late, and far to late when they finally DID commit, (1967) for them to try and repeat Apollo which was the mission profile of the N1. They at this point were not working to their strengths and severe internal dissent, personal rivalries and competition instead of cooperation between nominally "co-working" bureaus was rampant all of which had been crippling the effort. I'd consider it an open question on which 'booster' they would use in a more focused program. Had Glushko been directed to work with Korolev on kerosene/lox engines for the N1 that would have been even better but that requires some hefty intervention all by itself.

There's an interesting thread here called "Yangel Presents First and The R56 Rocket Flies" (see: https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/yangel-presents-first-and-the-r-56-rocket-flies.398625/) with a lot of the background on the back-and-forth behind the scenes and some good insight into the major players involved. You might want to glance it over and PM the participants some questions if they don't show up here on their own :)

I"m going to watch the thread while I compile my reply, (so far it's gagged my email to death so there MAY be some issues with posting to the forums.. I do apologize for any inadvertent black-hole of verbiage created... At least I think I do :) ) and try and address the points with both issues and possible solutions.

Let me say that while I enjoyed many of the post-Apollo "better space program" time lines the main issue is two fold: The backgrounds tend to assume situations that were not present and ignores many that were without attempting to resolve or address them. Not really a big deal since we are talking AH fiction not some scholarly work but just some good clean fun :) The second is the tendency towards wish-fulfillment rather than logical progression. Again not a biggie because that's actually the point isn't it? (Just because EVERYONE else's vision is wrong and mine the only correct one I won't stop reading or commenting, though I will remain justifiably disappointed that you all are not immediately in awe at my wit and knowledge. What? I should write my own timeline? But then I wouldn't have time to post on the forums... Ohhhhhh... ;) )

If you're up for it I'd like to use your thread to actually address and discuss some of those issues though and the background and reality at hand?

Let me skip ahead a bit to address this:
I really want to turn this into a fully working timeline, but unfortunately digging up all of the resources required, and actually writing the thing with my terrible skills, would simply be too much effort. That's why so far I've written it as a list of events, and I would like to continue doing that.
Heh, "too much effort" is a good way to put it :) I've four physical 3 inch ring binders with specific information, along with about two dozen other on the general theme of spaceflight and a dozen more on tangential subjects and note not to mention, (but I will :) ) hundreds of hard-drive files over multiple computers, laptops, and devices, (some of which in fact still work) with at least four "starter" word documents and about three dozen other "this could be a good timeline idea" couple-of-lines each notes and YOU sir are already far ahead of my efforts, so don't knock yourself. Chronologies are underrated I think, and frankly if one wants you can always go back or collaborate on expanding and entry later. You rock, and please do :)

However, first I want to know what some other people think,
I try not to as it hurts my brain and gets me into trouble far to often... Oh, of the time-line/concept, oh that's different. :) Good premise though as I noted I'd like to discuss it in depth.

...and I would like to see if any of you know about some of the things I've had a hard time researching.
Eh, hem... "I know everything, the question is what can I remember" :) What I can help with I will actually as long as you don't mind personal opinion, memory and off-subject facts occasionally :)

Most importantly:
- When was Launch Complex 110L finished?
Even Russian Space Web isn't clear as I'm sure you already know so you'll likely have to 'guesstimate' a date.

- How many N1s were originally made, did they have plans to continue, and what was their manufacturing setup?
If I'm reading Astronautix and other sources correctly it would appear that they had around nine (9) that were 'assembled' and four (4) that were in parts when the program was canceled. Which is more than I'd heard of previously having heard the number being around 8 or 9 total. Much like the American manufacturing set up the N1 was supposed to be done in 'batches' with the initial order of 16 being for research, testing and initial use with follow up batches ordered as needed or authorized. Much like the American Saturn V the "sticker-shock" of that initial batch made the authorities decide to put off a second run as long as possible so the production slowed significantly to allow the process to remain in place while the 'bugs' were worked out. If, as Saturn, the N1 doesn't have as many bugs you'd have ended the first run around the first part of the 70s I think and it's a question if any more would have been ordered as the N1 was no more affordable than the American Saturn V.

- What happened to N1 booster 1L and 2L?
I think those were test articles not actual 'booster' per say. They were used for static testing, load and transportation testing and IIRC are the 'parts' that were turned into storage and out-buildings?

- How much would converting Launch Complex 110L into a static fire facility have cost? Could it still be used for launches?
Due to the way the process had to run I understood that the pads WERE in fact also the test stands since you couldn't static fire a full stage anywhere else. I think they were designed to perform both functions for that reason.

- How would world politics work after a Soviet Moon landing? Would Apollo-Soyuz still be a thing?
Not to go to in depth here but, assuming the US loses the Moon race at the last minute but still goes to the Moon then probably yet ASTP goes forward. I'll point out that neither the US nor the USSR can afford to go anywhere else at this point nor can they maintain a Lunar landing capability for long and both a Moonbase in the near future and planetary trips are right out the window so there's a lot of incentive to cooperate MORE in LEO under the circumstances. (Part of what bugs me about "For All Mankind" is that the idea that the US would find enough public outrage and support to expand the space program is ridiculous at best. By 1969 the general public were tired of spending money on space and wanted it cut back and the Congressional policy of cutting NASA's budget steadily since 1965 was a popular move OTL. A closer space race and even a Russian win is not going to change that basic fact unless the background circumstances are VASTLY different. Nixon was in no position to try and push things and the US economy had begun to fail to support Apollo peak spending in the early 1960s which is why spending was being reduced in the first place. Something to keep in mind in that vein is that in order to not only match the American effort but to beat it the Soviets will have to adopt an even more aggressive program with an equally aggressive budget and support. So they to will find going to the Moon un-affordable very rapidly. Hence an incentive to find things to do nearer to home and cooperatively)

- What sort of timescale was the NERVA program working on? When would the first flight-ready rocket be made?
They tested what was essentially a flight ready prototype engine (NERVA XE, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NERVA) in 1969. With proper support they could have flown a test engine any time during the early 70s. Problem was the Apollo Lunar Program was eating the budget leaving nothing to work with. Point of fact NASA Administrator Webb had raided money from the NERVA program in early 1968 to pay for NASA overhead costs which delayed the program significantly and it took President Johnson taking the money back and redirecting it to the NERVA program, (NASA had to find another source and IIRC canceled several in work space probes and studies to find the money) while denying it to NASA. Apollo wasn't affordable and if it had been any 'closer' of a race then the money would have gone to Apollo and NERVA would have been shut down even earlier.

- Could a manned Mars flyby take place (using the AAP study on a Venus flyby) as early as 1978?
I'll have to look it up but I think there was a window for a duel, (Venus/Mars) flyby in the late 70s but something to keep in mind was the time factor was on order of a two, to two and a half year mission. Apollo couldn't do that. And note there were issues with Mars flyby missions that made them really, really sub-optimal by the early 70s. (Including the only means of getting 'free-return' trajectories requiring the far end of the trajectory being well into the asteroid belt and VERY long trip times) Since there was not going to be any chance of landing on Venus a flyby still made some sense, barely.

- How much would the Ares program cost?
Which version? :) Estimates STARTED at two to three times the peak funding for Apollo for a similar time-table. (Aka start around 1970 and land by the start of the 80s) to three or four is you rushed it and/or tried to do other things, (like continued lunar missions, a space station or develop a space shuttle). If you stretched out the time-table, (start in 1970 but don't plan an manned mission till the late 80s or early 90s) you might squeeze by with an Apollo sized budget with enough continued public and government support. Put the landing off till the early 2000s and you'd finally see some savings but that depended on continued public and government support as well and still required a higher than was going to happen post-Apollo budget. A cooperative effort? That depends as cooperative is actually pretty expensive due to the integration and cooperation. Done right it's cheaper in the long run bu the short term costs usually are what dominate make the decision and it usually end up being a toss up.

- Would a flyback S-IC, EDIN05 booster, LRBs or SRBs be chosen for the Shuttle?
The question requires a detailed concept of what the Shuttle, (or shuttle as it was originally envisioned) would do and how. As an example if, as you suggest, they are flying Saturn V variants then the "shuttle" is going to be more aimed at economic access for astronaut and light cargo transport. You don't need an big flyback booster or huge orbiter in that case so you have something vastly smaller, and cheaper than OTL Shuttle.
My go to? A recoverable Saturn 1B type booster with a S-IVB based "Shuttle" such as the Rockwell "Platypus" concept, (see below and https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/threads/unidentified-boeing-spaceplane-model.32440/#lg=thread-32440&slide=1) You don't really need much else and realistically to afford do do anything else both the US and USSR will likely fall back to cheaper and more affordable boosters and projects.

Platypus Space Shuttle Concept.jpg


- Could Shuttle-derived heavy-lift vehicles be built at a reasonable cost?
If one goes with the TAOS (Thrust Assisted Orbital Shuttle, which was the OTL design decided on, see: https://history.nasa.gov/SP-4221/ch8.htm) then yes you can as it was noted early on, (but not really advocated by NASA since it therefore could be used without astronauts on-board which they were against) that due to the nature of the 'system' it was in fact a rather modular system. (Hence "Space Transportation System" which was the official title, see: https://www.aiaa.org/docs/default-source/uploadedfiles/about-aiaa/history-and-heritage/shuttlevariationsfinalaiaa.pdf?sfvrsn=b8875e90_0) The need would be to reduce the Orbiter itself to components that could be mixed and matched which NASA wasn't keen on but it would have enhanced both the utility of the Shuttle and ended up being cheaper in the long run. If you followed the "what-follows" the shuttle debate/discussion you will not that both cheaper and more near term, (though often either/or there was some interesting overlap) SDLV's that could have been built but were politically not viable. In the end it greatly depends, (again and almost always) on both the design goals and missions you need to perform as well as the political and financial support you can maintain.

- What does all of this do to the Strategic Defense Initiative? Real-life 'Storming Intrepid'?
Depends on how things shake out in the period since IF you have a more cooperative and less confrontational US/USSR period due to expanded cooperation in Space then the Reagan Revolution is harder to pull off. If you have a US going broke trying to "one-up" the Russians in space with a worse economy and worse conditions then it becomes easier but the whole space program would be essentially turned over to the military and Mars, let alone the Moon or much else is all off the table. SDI would be marginally easier to begin, (and you'd have fewer uber-high-tech programs and more near-term ones funded) but the Soviets are going to essentially be neck in neck and may in fact be in better shape to withstand the economic conflict than the US. (We "won" the Cold War but have yet to manage to wean ourselves off needing to keep dumping money, which I might point out is not in fact ENHANCING our defense but mostly just maintaining it, into our defense industry to keep the economy stable... Think about that for a moment...)

- While the US is out exploring Mars, what does the Soviet Union do?
Not what you want to hear I'm sure but they'd be sitting back and making friends and allies on Earth while fixing their economy and upgrading their military and waiting for the inevitable US economic and social melt down to come. I can't really emphasize this enough but the United States could not AFFORD APOLLO and that's why it ended. We could have afforded a scaled down version with more limited goals and/or a longer time-line but the way we did Apollo was a total aberration and is unrepeatable and undesirable outside a specific and rather unique set of circumstances that will likely never come again. (World ending asteroid or comet impact imminent? if it isn't going to hit tomorrow at 4am, since I have to be at work at 6am, then get back to me when it's more urgent.. And yes that's an actual attitude when people are confronted with the idea) Apollo was exactly the WRONG way to go to the Moon and since that way 'worked' its become the accept 'right' way to go anywhere else and that's just as wrong.

The Russian's are still flying the R7/Soyuz today and here's a kicker, do you realize they have launched people and payload into space with that system? Well in context JUST since January 1st 200 we're well on the way to half a thousand flights: https://www.spacelaunchreport.com/soyuz.html#log

Imagine a world where you add in re-usability and the economy that goes along with it and about an equal number from the US instead of trying so hard to repeat Apollo every time...

Randy

Art by Maciej Rebisz.

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There's an interesting thread here called "Yangel Presents First and The R56 Rocket Flies" (see: https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...sents-first-and-the-r-56-rocket-flies.398625/) with a lot of the background on the back-and-forth behind the scenes and some good insight into the major players involved. You might want to glance it over and PM the participants some questions if they don't show up here on their own :)
I've had this thread bookmarked since a couple hours after the first post was made, but wanted to post a half decent reply given that @BillKerman123 did such a fine first post.

I am touched that you find that old thread of mine worthy of singling out. I do think that the R-56 or multiple Soyuz launches building a moonship in orbit are by far the most likely ways the Soviets could actually win. The N-1 has a lovely dieselpunk kind of look, but oh my the program caused so many problems for the Soviet effort to reach the moon! It was over-sized for Soviet R&D and industrial capabilities, undersized for actually reaching the moon in one launch (resulting in a far less capable moonship and much greater danger for the Cosmonauts) and even if the Soviets managed to get to the moon first, the Americans can prove that by gum they got there better as with only another billion dollars or so they can do the LESA program. The N-1 just does not have the capability to compete. Add to that, I really can't see the N-1 being ready before 1970, even with an earlier start to the Soviet lunar program. More likely, they wouldn't be ready to make a moonshot until 1972 or so, and so very much has to go wrong for NASA for them to not have landed a man on the moon by then.

Not what you want to hear I'm sure but they'd be sitting back and making friends and allies on Earth while fixing their economy and upgrading their military and waiting for the inevitable US economic and social melt down to come. I can't really emphasize this enough but the United States could not AFFORD APOLLO and that's why it ended. We could have afforded a scaled down version with more limited goals and/or a longer time-line but the way we did Apollo was a total aberration and is unrepeatable and undesirable outside a specific and rather unique set of circumstances that will likely never come again. (World ending asteroid or comet impact imminent? if it isn't going to hit tomorrow at 4am, since I have to be at work at 6am, then get back to me when it's more urgent.. And yes that's an actual attitude when people are confronted with the idea) Apollo was exactly the WRONG way to go to the Moon and since that way 'worked' its become the accept 'right' way to go anywhere else and that's just as wrong.
I think the US could afford Apollo. But it is money the US doesn't have to spend, so why waste it? Unless you have years of unexpected humiliation when people turn out to care about what is getting launched into space when, followed by humiliation in Cuba, followed by the President who proposed the program getting martyred, followed by him being succeeded by the man who cajoled the Eisenhower administration to create NASA... Then I guess the US might blow a bit of cash on something to soothe the sting...

If we assume that Space Geeks are a significant electoral force in US politics, I am pretty sure the US could find the money and that finding this money would not harm their economy relative to that of the USSR (indeed, NASA is one of the best economic stimulus programs that the US government does, it's right up there with food stamps with some calculations showing that each dollar spent on NASA makes the US GDP $300 larger - the TARP program that came after the 2007-8 financial crisis by contrast had $0.80 worth of benefit for every dollar spent), so the US trying to get to Mars may actually be good for the economy (I say "may" because we don't know how fast the efficiency of spending on NASA drops as NASA funding goes up - if indeed it drops at all, a Mars program could suck in funds from more economically useful R&D at NASA, and other more minor considerations).

A serious Mars program during the turmoil of the 70s does mean serious choices need to be made - given the costs we're talking about, either defence or some aspect of social security need to be less than they were in OTL to fund the program. Even if the extra NASA funding resulted in a wealthier America in the end, that growth would take time and the sacrifices would happen up front. And would require some serious cross-party political enthusiasm. Kennedy's moon shot was something that could reasonably be expected to happen during his second term. Or at least come close enough to succeeding by the end of his second term that he'd get the credit even if the landing itself happened under a successor. A Mars shot requires so much foundational work done that there's just no way to avoid the risk that someone from the other party gets all the credit for it.

Anyways... Response to the OP pending. Watch this thread. :)

fasquardon
 
I've had this thread bookmarked since a couple hours after the first post was made, but wanted to post a half decent reply given that @BillKerman123 did such a fine first post.
Agreed, and (unfortunatly for him :) ) why I did only a LITTLE massive drive-by posting as I'm still parsing my way through the rest. The omnibus, 15 volume "trilogy" should be available from Amazon (THE Amazon, I need the paper) by the end of next year... A Century of two from now.. Maybe :)

I am touched that you find that old thread of mine worthy of singling out.
Good discussion always deserves sharing :)

I do think that the R-56 or multiple Soyuz launches building a moonship in orbit are by far the most likely ways the Soviets could actually win. The N-1 has a lovely dieselpunk kind of look, but oh my the program caused so many problems for the Soviet effort to reach the moon! It was over-sized for Soviet R&D and industrial capabilities, undersized for actually reaching the moon in one launch (resulting in a far less capable moonship and much greater danger for the Cosmonauts) and even if the Soviets managed to get to the moon first, the Americans can prove that by gum they got there better as with only another billion dollars or so they can do the LESA program. The N-1 just does not have the capability to compete. Add to that, I really can't see the N-1 being ready before 1970, even with an earlier start to the Soviet lunar program. More likely, they wouldn't be ready to make a moonshot until 1972 or so, and so very much has to go wrong for NASA for them to not have landed a man on the moon by then.
Well we're all aware that the N1 was never supposed to be a "moon" rocket because it's rather obvious where Korolev got the inspiration:
N1Shuttle.jpg


He was just easing the Leadership into the idea :)

I think the US could afford Apollo. But it is money the US doesn't have to spend, so why waste it?
We managed it for about 4 and a half very productive years but other priorities came up and we couldn't have sustained it at that pace for the entire decade even so. The thing was once NASA was organized around and became dependent on that kind of support ...

Unless you have years of unexpected humiliation when people turn out to care about what is getting launched into space when, followed by humiliation in Cuba, followed by the President who proposed the program getting martyred, followed by him being succeeded by the man who cajoled the Eisenhower administration to create NASA... Then I guess the US might blow a bit of cash on something to soothe the sting...
And that's the thing in that despite all that the general expectation outside Kennedy and some of the other higher ups was that it WOULD blow over somewhat just like Sputnik and Eisenhower. But Kennedy was seriously worried and Johnson had egg on his face for his pride and joy NASA having seen to have failed... But change any ONE thing...

If we assume that Space Geeks are a significant electoral force in US politics,
There are those who truly believe they are as well as that millions of people are ready and willing to leap aboard the first Starship and set up a home on Mars. Sadly that's never been how the frontier works and so you have to plan to plod and make steady if not spectacular progress day-by-day. Apollo set an unreasonable bar that most can't get over. (In all the senses of that word in that context :) )

I am pretty sure the US could find the money and that finding this money would not harm their economy relative to that of the USSR (indeed, NASA is one of the best economic stimulus programs that the US government does, it's right up there with food stamps with some calculations showing that each dollar spent on NASA makes the US GDP $300 larger - the TARP program that came after the 2007-8 financial crisis by contrast had $0.80 worth of benefit for every dollar spent), so the US trying to get to Mars may actually be good for the economy (I say "may" because we don't know how fast the efficiency of spending on NASA drops as NASA funding goes up - if indeed it drops at all, a Mars program could suck in funds from more economically useful R&D at NASA, and other more minor considerations).
The issue is that the 'stimulus' isn't always as direct enough to be clear and worse the fact that NASA is all over the country means it's spread out more so the actual impact is actually less outside some of the bigger projects. And in the case of Apollo it was a boom and bust situation where it would peak early and then decline but it wasn't set up to allow for that.

Better would have been to spread it out and keep it at a more consistent and stable level. That's what the original "plan" was to have happen with no major funding peaks, (or valley's) to disrupt the process.

A serious Mars program during the turmoil of the 70s does mean serious choices need to be made - given the costs we're talking about, either defense or some aspect of social security need to be less than they were in OTL to fund the program. Even if the extra NASA funding resulted in a wealthier America in the end, that growth would take time and the sacrifices would happen up front.
Unless things in the background were different it was never going to get political or public support at that time. People rag on Proxmire but I head/read/lived through the vast amount of grassroots support he and the rest got in the opposition to the waste of the space program and which later went on to include a questioning basic scientific research in and of itself.

Kennedy's moon shot was something that could reasonably be expected to happen during his second term. Or at least come close enough to succeeding by the end of his second term that he'd get the credit even if the landing itself happened under a successor.
That's exactly why "the decade is out" was chosen :) The same reason Zubrin picked it for Mars Direct. To with it's the 'average' attention span of politicians and the public in general :)

A Mars shot requires so much foundational work done that there's just no way to avoid the risk that someone from the other party gets all the credit for it.
Well yes and no because you pretty obviously COULD do it if you throw enough money at the problem which was what Apollo "proved" and why so many want to repeat it.

Can't wait, this should be good all around :)

Randy
 
Unless you have years of unexpected humiliation when people turn out to care about what is getting launched into space when, followed by humiliation in Cuba, followed by the President who proposed the program getting martyred, followed by him being succeeded by the man who cajoled the Eisenhower administration to create NASA... Then I guess the US might blow a bit of cash on something to soothe the sting...
Repeating because there's something here I wanted to address but couldn't find my link and wanted to get it right :)

Likely anyone but Kennedy would have simply accelerated the planned deployment of Apollo rather than choosing to go to the Moon. (Well, McNamara and IRRC some others in the administration were worried even the Moon wasn't a 'big' enough goal, they argued pretty heavily for a commitment to Mars or beyond but Kennedy had enough qualms about the Moon as it was) It was how America did things and it was a well-known method of 'coping' which is why the Soviets didn't take it seriously at first.

And this was enough a known "problem" that it was a theme in media of the time. Engineers and scientists were used to fluctuating budgets and support and in fact it was a testament to how WELL they knew the system that they would still tend to make major discoveries and advances under those conditions.

Take the Saturn 1 for an example. It started as a 'busy work' project to keep Von Braun's team together when the Secretary of Defense took long range (I/MRBM) missiles away from the Army and gave them to the Air Force*. Everyone knew it would be reversed at least somewhat "soon" but till them the danger was with no work the team would drift away to industry or other positions and the knowledge base would be lost.

So initially the work started out the same as the N1/R56/Proton/etc in that, (keeping with the "mission" of the main sponsor) they undertook the study of a "Super-ICBM" missile which could be quickly and easily brought into service if given the tasking. And lo and behold someone at the new Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) actually decided that the US really should look into a big booster/missile and there was funding available to do a detailed study. And more money appeared for a prototype/static test article. But not a LOT of money, and it was inconsistent and variable**.

So Von Braun and team first picked a known engine (the H1) while specifically rejecting higher power engines in development but not yet available. (Quick and easy in a relative sense remember) They then choose to use already existing tank manufacturing process and tools even though logic said that would be horribly inefficient, (not as much as was thought) because it was a test article and prototype which, (by this point in development) the customer now wanted to go as far as flight testing.

To save even more time/money they would use existing missiles as upper stages augmented by more advanced upper stages as they were developed.

You had designers and engineers literally looking in dark storage sheds and dusty backrooms to build a never rocket more powerful than anything before it's time. And it worked. But during almost all of it, (right through the first flight in fact since Kennedy only announced the Lunar goal a few months before) everyone was not expecting the 'flush' to last. Eventually it would all go back to 'normal' and the entire design philosophy was to have developed something that could weather that change of support and still be used. Apollo was pretty much the opposite for the major components though they tried.

But the point was it was a well-known phenomenon. They play up to it during the period in media for example it shows up in the movie "Destination Moon" (1950) as a passing line to the 'government' will need/want it eventually but are not going to put out the effort UNTIL that point. TV shows like "Men Into Space" dealt with it in the background and it was prevalent in books and fiction as well.

There is a specific example I wanted to bring up, and it's telling because of the time it was given being between Sputnik and Gagarin. There was a failed TV show pilot for a proposed space based series similar (probably too similar which is why it wasn't picked up I suspect) to "Men Into Space" that was to be titled "Destination Space". (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destination_Space) George Pal was the effects agent so the show would use as lot of stock footage and sets from his film "Conquest of Space" (1955) and followed the trails of building up to the first Lunar circumnavigation flight.

Now the story itself is a bit stale and if, (as theory has it since records are scarce) it was in competition with "Men Into Space" then CBS made the right call. But the story follows the 'director' of the US national space program which is launching the Moon trip. To accomplish this they have built a reliable and economical (assumed) surface to orbit transport system of which at least the part we see, (the orbital vehicle) is a winged reusable rocket. (It's economical and safe enough that they ship the director up every couple of weeks and even a US senator and party) They have also built a wheel shaped space station at which they have assembled the "atomic powered" (and oddly winged main body :) ) spacecraft. The station has no official name but is known far and wide as "BB" which stands for "Benedict's Billions". (Did I mention the director's name is Benedict? No? Well you can guess I think who they 'credit/blame' here :) )

In the first scenes they are prepping for the launch of the ship when BB gets hit by a meteor, damage and hilarity ensue and the trip is postponed. (BB's main computer has to be online to help navigate the ship) Needless to say this is seen in some circles as a huge waste of time and effort and questions are raised if there is not a 'better' way to do this and if BB and Benedict need to be scrapped. In particular one Senator notes that he has been briefed by "experts in the field and highly competent engineers" (which "I" laugh at since that's pretty much word for word what Senator Hatch of Utah used as as justification for the specifications required of the SLS so that it would require the use of SRBs... said "experts" being representatives from ATK that were lobbying for the SLS to use SRBs... :) ) that it would be more efficient and cheaper to launch a very large rocket from Earth, go pretty much directly to the Moon, land there, and then return to Earth. The "goal" was to land on the Moon so why had the US spent so much money on BB, atomic rockets and this huge spaceship?

Benedict has a bit of a speech I'll post below but the gist of it in context is that the US here "committed" to going to the Moon, eventually. Meanwhile BB had/has other uses than JUST being the assembly point and computer server for the Moonship but people don't hear much about it because the Moonship takes all the glory. The senator eventually goes up to the station and find out how much OTHER work is going on an changes his stance but it's telling that this conflict is and was reflected in reality as well.

By setting both a goal and a timetable Kennedy pretty much ensured that the way we did Apollo was the only plausible method to achieve both. To get the Soviets to the Moon before or near the American's they have to make the same commitment with all the same consequences. As their space program has always been an at least second tier priority that obviously never happened. But had the commitment been there they have amply shown they COULD do a pretty impressive Lunar mission with in a different way.

"Justification" testimony before a Congressional committee from this teleplay:

"Jim Benedict:
Sir, there are any number of hazards and dangers, ranging all the way from radiation to innumerable possibilities of mechanical failure, but if you demand my frank appraisal of what I consider to be the greatest danger, it's the vacillation, the continuing swings of certain sections of public opinion.

From the earliest days of Cape Canaveral, when we were first trying to outdo the first Sputniks, many people have teeter-tottered between anguish and triumph. Whenever the enemy made the slightest advance, loud voices proclaimed that we should beat them at all cost. And whenever the slightest gain was made, this unfailingly was followed by periods of apathy or complacency. And through it all, a few kept up the weeping and the wailing over the cost of survival, and there have always been political opportunists ready and waiting to grab a headline by jumping on the crest of each wave, whether it be one of enthusiasm or one of despair.

Those of us on these projects are well aware of our responsibilities, and we recognize the value of committees such as this one, calling us in from time to time for a reckoning. And it's good that they take us to task and keep us on our toes.

It's of little importance whether one by the name of Benedict bears the principal responsibility or someone else. I do not speak for myself, except to say that if I seem to be failing, I should be replaced, immediately.

But let us make up our minds once and for all whether we want an all-out space program or not. And if we decide that we do, as I pray we will, then let us remain constant to that purpose, and in the name of the future of our country, let us stop being like a changeable wind, blowing hot one day and cold the next.#

Instead, let us go forward in the American way - pioneering new frontiers without fear, taking pride in accomplishment, yet facing dangers and disappointments with resoluteness and without qualms and complaint. " - dave_s36

In a very visceral way Kennedy's "commitment" of the US to the Lunar goal WAS very much in keeping with the frustration and 'sting' of coming in second... again, to the Russians in space but also it reflected the need for a clear and unambiguous "win" that had been lacking. From the Soviet perspective tweaking the US in space was easy and cheap since they had the capability and the US did not. It was when the US caught up, (and there was no illusion that they wouldn't at some point) that things could get expensive. Which it did and why the Russian's shrugged and said, "there is no race" even though they DID try. They were well aware of the costs and for what they considered a generally propaganda program they weren't willing to pay that cost. The US was, for a while, but the focus of the program ALSO changed from a utility to a propaganda and specifically human/manned (essentially) program. This along with the fundamental changes in way NASA was organized and run meant that by the time the US landed on the Moon in 1969 that NASA couldn't really go back and do things "right" (which was technically where IPP in general and the Shuttle in particular were supposed to be heading) without going through another radical change and reorganization.

Randy

* Who BTW where not interested or even supportive of developing them but simply didn’t want the Army to have them. Semi-joke on them because even though Eisenhower ALSO didn’t want them or to waste time and effort to develop them, they were both overruled by Congress requiring them to be developed and deployed. At this point, since it was already developed and ready to go, the Army offered to build the Jupiter for the Air Force to fulfill the requirement. The Air Force declined and then designed the Thor using mostly parts from Jupiter, (the contractors at least weren’t idiots) and deployed that instead.

** Air Force again. The Air Force kept insisting they could build a better, cheaper big booster faster… IF ARPA gave them the entire budget of the Army program AND a few hundred million besides. You know, using missiles that were themselves not flying yet and engines that had yet to be tested… And they kept finding people in ARPA who didn’t understand what the Army/Von Braun were doing so they money would stop, start up, stop again, people would come and see what was going on and the money would start again… Hence the Saturn 1 was a kludge, but it was a really, really GOOD kludge and did the job excellently.

# Bolded because as a truism NO nation has every made such a commitment or set such a goal. Apollo was far to focused and limited and the cost and dedication needed for that level would be unsustainable as we've learned. However, such a commitment coupled with a steady level of funding and support... People who have grown up in the shadows of Apollo don't understand that even the most enthsuastic visionary of the time was by far, didn't see humans on the Moon till the near the millenium. The effort needed and cost, (keeping in mind they assumed a slow and steady progression rather than something like Apollo turned into) had to spread out and the infrstructure, organization and process' had to be set up and the bugs worked out. Sure we COULD go to the Moon in a decade if we wanted to spend the money but like that Manhatten Project it would only generate the bare core of "system" that could function beyond the end of the current "crisis" or goal. Going back and infilling the things you skipped or skimped on would end up being just as expensive as doing it right the first time so the only exuse was a time crisis. Or mandated time-line.
 
Sadly that's never been how the frontier works
Eh?
the 'Pathfinder' from the wiki
Beginning in 1842, Frémont led five western expeditions, however, between the third and fourth expeditions, Frémont's career took a fateful turn because of the Mexican–American War. Frémont's initial explorations, his timely scientific reports, co-authored by his wife Jessie, and their romantic writing style, encouraged Americans to travel West.[21] A series of seven maps produced from his findings, published by the Senate in 1846, served as a guide for thousands of American emigrants, depicting the entire length of the Oregon Trail.[21]
First expedition (1842)


When Nicollet was too ill to continue any further explorations, Frémont was chosen to be his successor.[14] His first important expedition was planned by Benton, Senator Lewis Linn, and other Westerners interested in the acquiring the Oregon Territory.[14] The scientific expedition started in the summer of 1842 and was to explore the Wind River of the Rocky Mountains, examine the Oregon Trail through the South Pass, and report on the rivers, fertility of the lands, find optimal sites for forts, and the nature of the mountains beyond in Wyoming.[14] By chance meeting, Frémont was able to gain the valuable assistance of mountain man and guide Kit Carson.[14] Frémont and his party of 25 men, including Carson, embarked from the Kansas River on June 15, 1842, following the Platte River to the South Pass, and starting from Green River he explored the Wind River Range.[14] Frémont climbed a 13,745-foot mountain, Frémont's Peak, planted an American flag, claiming the Rocky Mountains and the West for the United States.[14] On Frémont's return trip he and his party carelessly rafted the swollen Platte River losing much of his equipment.[14] His five-month exploration, however, was a success, returning to Washington in October.[14] Frémont and his wife Jessie wrote a Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains (1843), which was printed in newspapers across the country; the public embraced his vision of the west not as a place of danger but wide open and inviting lands to be settled

And soon, many would try the Oregon Trail, not as easy as the Newspaper reports made out. Most would make the trip alive, though
 
Eh?
the 'Pathfinder' from the wiki
Beginning in 1842, Frémont led five western expeditions, however, between the third and fourth expeditions, Frémont's career took a fateful turn because of the Mexican–American War. Frémont's initial explorations, his timely scientific reports, co-authored by his wife Jessie, and their romantic writing style, encouraged Americans to travel West.[21] A series of seven maps produced from his findings, published by the Senate in 1846, served as a guide for thousands of American emigrants, depicting the entire length of the Oregon Trail.[21]
First expedition (1842)


When Nicollet was too ill to continue any further explorations, Frémont was chosen to be his successor.[14] His first important expedition was planned by Benton, Senator Lewis Linn, and other Westerners interested in the acquiring the Oregon Territory.[14] The scientific expedition started in the summer of 1842 and was to explore the Wind River of the Rocky Mountains, examine the Oregon Trail through the South Pass, and report on the rivers, fertility of the lands, find optimal sites for forts, and the nature of the mountains beyond in Wyoming.[14] By chance meeting, Frémont was able to gain the valuable assistance of mountain man and guide Kit Carson.[14] Frémont and his party of 25 men, including Carson, embarked from the Kansas River on June 15, 1842, following the Platte River to the South Pass, and starting from Green River he explored the Wind River Range.[14] Frémont climbed a 13,745-foot mountain, Frémont's Peak, planted an American flag, claiming the Rocky Mountains and the West for the United States.[14] On Frémont's return trip he and his party carelessly rafted the swollen Platte River losing much of his equipment.[14] His five-month exploration, however, was a success, returning to Washington in October.[14] Frémont and his wife Jessie wrote a Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains (1843), which was printed in newspapers across the country; the public embraced his vision of the west not as a place of danger but wide open and inviting lands to be settled

And soon, many would try the Oregon Trail, not as easy as the Newspaper reports made out. Most would make the trip alive, though
And according to a certain game most died of "Dis'n Terry" or something like that :)

The key is that space ain't Earth and it's also vastly harder to 'interest' people to immegrate when there is litterrally nothing on the other end you don't bring yourself to start with. Frontiers work by being attractive and offering opportunties that the places where the immigrants come from don't offer. Hence 'frontiers' historically don't work the way the advocates assume they do when reality of the situation is taken into account. Just the assued 'existance' of a "frontier" being 'available' will not do the job which is the current assumption. Frontiers don't work that way.

Most of the people we're talking about, (and the big hint is in the name) had a specific and certified desirable destinatoin in mind when they set out and planned and equipped accordingly. (They also didn't travel alone and live off the land like the Mountain Men/Exploreres which required and built an expanding trade network that followed and supported the trail. There's a good reason you want a robust infrastructure that compensates for the 'hostility' of the places your going through as well as where you're going)

What will probably REALLY bug folks is that a legal technicality is that you actually can't HAVE a 'frontier' without a government/governments sponorship declaring de-facto if not actual 'soverignty' over what encompasse the 'frontier' which is unlikely to apply to the Solar System and physically can't be done in 'open space'. (Well not currently anyway :) ) It's very much like the open/deep ocean in that if a nation doesn't "own" if first then the private individual can't "own" it in any legal sense. (Practical? That's an open question but keep in mind that an acre of the Lunar surface isn't ever going to be worth what it costs to get there while something you may aquire there like resources is highly likely to actually be worth something) And going from that point it's also very true that the colonization of space can be best compared to colonizing the open ocean. Doable of course but expensive and so far of limited utilty...

Randy
 
While having Korolev alive helps the main argument against that as a 'singular' POD is that by the time the Soviets considered committing to going to the Moon, (the mid-to-late 60s) it was already too late, and far to late when they finally DID commit, (1967) for them to try and repeat Apollo which was the mission profile of the N1. They at this point were not working to their strengths and severe internal dissent, personal rivalries and competition instead of cooperation between nominally "co-working" bureaus was rampant all of which had been crippling the effort. I'd consider it an open question on which 'booster' they would use in a more focused program. Had Glushko been directed to work with Korolev on kerosene/lox engines for the N1 that would have been even better but that requires some hefty intervention all by itself.
I'll say this once but it goes for all the other quotes too, thanks for the input! I was starting to get worried no one was going to reply, but apparently I was proven wrong. And by one of the forum's legends, no less!

Anyways, I was under the impression that they were 'like, this close' to a manned lunar landing, and that all they needed was a bit more funding. I had heard people say that they were years behind of course, but Astronautix assured me that they were basically ready to go, and the N1 was just being a pain in the ass and kept failing on them. Maybe it was more serious than I thought.

And actually, I did consider the thing with Glushko, and after some digging, I found this: http://www.astronautix.com/d/details51217.html. I decided not to do it because I wanted the early days of the TL to be as close to reality as possible, and I couldn't even pretend to know what would have happened differently if that was the case. But I might look into it in more depth at some point.

Let me say that while I enjoyed many of the post-Apollo "better space program" time lines the main issue is two fold: The backgrounds tend to assume situations that were not present and ignores many that were without attempting to resolve or address them. Not really a big deal since we are talking AH fiction not some scholarly work but just some good clean fun :) The second is the tendency towards wish-fulfillment rather than logical progression. Again not a biggie because that's actually the point isn't it? (Just because EVERYONE else's vision is wrong and mine the only correct one I won't stop reading or commenting, though I will remain justifiably disappointed that you all are not immediately in awe at my wit and knowledge. What? I should write my own timeline? But then I wouldn't have time to post on the forums... Ohhhhhh... ;) )

If you're up for it I'd like to use your thread to actually address and discuss some of those issues though and the background and reality at hand?
Yeah, I'm not going to lie, I 'worked backwards' on this more than once.... but I think it came out at least plausible.... maybe. Also, yes, I would love to discuss this more in-depth with you.

Heh, "too much effort" is a good way to put it :) I've four physical 3 inch ring binders with specific information, along with about two dozen other on the general theme of spaceflight and a dozen more on tangential subjects and note not to mention, (but I will :) ) hundreds of hard-drive files over multiple computers, laptops, and devices, (some of which in fact still work) with at least four "starter" word documents and about three dozen other "this could be a good timeline idea" couple-of-lines each notes and YOU sir are already far ahead of my efforts, so don't knock yourself. Chronologies are underrated I think, and frankly if one wants you can always go back or collaborate on expanding and entry later. You rock, and please do :)
Holy.... that's a lot of data! And I thought I was overdoing it with just three folders on my (computers) desktop! I do agree with you that chronologies are underrated. I kind of wish every TL on here had one so I could quickly see what was going on, but I understand they take effort to write out. In this case, though, it saves me a lot of work.

I'll have to look it up but I think there was a window for a duel, (Venus/Mars) flyby in the late 70s but something to keep in mind was the time factor was on order of a two, to two and a half year mission. Apollo couldn't do that. And note there were issues with Mars flyby missions that made them really, really sub-optimal by the early 70s. (Including the only means of getting 'free-return' trajectories requiring the far end of the trajectory being well into the asteroid belt and VERY long trip times) Since there was not going to be any chance of landing on Venus a flyby still made some sense, barely.
Really? I was under the impression they could be done in under a year. The more you know, I guess. I wonder if a Venus flyby would be better, then.

The question requires a detailed concept of what the Shuttle, (or shuttle as it was originally envisioned) would do and how. As an example if, as you suggest, they are flying Saturn V variants then the "shuttle" is going to be more aimed at economic access for astronaut and light cargo transport. You don't need an big flyback booster or huge orbiter in that case so you have something vastly smaller, and cheaper than OTL Shuttle.
My go to? A recoverable Saturn 1B type booster with a S-IVB based "Shuttle" such as the Rockwell "Platypus" concept, (see below and https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/th...aceplane-model.32440/#lg=thread-32440&slide=1) You don't really need much else and realistically to afford do do anything else both the US and USSR will likely fall back to cheaper and more affordable boosters and projects.
I kind of wanted a full-scale Shuttle orbiter, just because they look awesome, but I see your point. So something more like the Clippers from Ocean of Storms, then. https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/ocean-of-storms-a-timeline-of-a-scientific-america.418531/page-14 (scroll down to just above the bottom of the page, you'll see them). I suppose those are cool too, but it means no Shuttle-derived super-heavy lift to replace Saturn, which could be a problem depending on how expensive continued Saturn operations are. Something like a Shuttle-C or Ares V would be useful going into the 2000s.

Not what you want to hear I'm sure but they'd be sitting back and making friends and allies on Earth while fixing their economy and upgrading their military and waiting for the inevitable US economic and social melt down to come. I can't really emphasize this enough but the United States could not AFFORD APOLLO and that's why it ended. We could have afforded a scaled down version with more limited goals and/or a longer time-line but the way we did Apollo was a total aberration and is unrepeatable and undesirable outside a specific and rather unique set of circumstances that will likely never come again. (World ending asteroid or comet impact imminent? if it isn't going to hit tomorrow at 4am, since I have to be at work at 6am, then get back to me when it's more urgent.. And yes that's an actual attitude when people are confronted with the idea) Apollo was exactly the WRONG way to go to the Moon and since that way 'worked' its become the accept 'right' way to go anywhere else and that's just as wrong.

The Russian's are still flying the R7/Soyuz today and here's a kicker, do you realize they have launched people and payload into space with that system? Well in context JUST since January 1st 200 we're well on the way to half a thousand flights: https://www.spacelaunchreport.com/soyuz.html#log

Imagine a world where you add in re-usability and the economy that goes along with it and about an equal number from the US instead of trying so hard to repeat Apollo every time...
I've seen quite a few people talk about this, but most of them forget something; when was the last time the general public got excited over a Soyuz launch? Building up orbital infrastructure is great, but it doesn't have the same interestingness factor as a Moon or Mars landing, and so if you want the public behind your back, maybe a 'race' is better. It's hard to say, long-duration low-level funding, or short-term huge amounts of funding? Also, keep in mind they are not mutually exclusive. A 'race' style funding program will provide spin-off tech that can be used going into the future with long-term low-level funding. AKA sprint the first few hundred meters, walk the rest of the way. But that's just my opinion.

I think the US could afford Apollo. But it is money the US doesn't have to spend, so why waste it? Unless you have years of unexpected humiliation when people turn out to care about what is getting launched into space when, followed by humiliation in Cuba, followed by the President who proposed the program getting martyred, followed by him being succeeded by the man who cajoled the Eisenhower administration to create NASA... Then I guess the US might blow a bit of cash on something to soothe the sting...
I concur, the US could probably have afforded ten Apollo programs, they just didn't want to. And why would they, it has virtually no short-term benefits. That's why I had the Soviets beat us, I wanted some motivation for continued spending in space. I assumed that since it worked in NASA's Waterloo, it should work here as well, but maybe I was wrong.

A serious Mars program during the turmoil of the 70s does mean serious choices need to be made - given the costs we're talking about, either defence or some aspect of social security need to be less than they were in OTL to fund the program. Even if the extra NASA funding resulted in a wealthier America in the end, that growth would take time and the sacrifices would happen up front. And would require some serious cross-party political enthusiasm. Kennedy's moon shot was something that could reasonably be expected to happen during his second term. Or at least come close enough to succeeding by the end of his second term that he'd get the credit even if the landing itself happened under a successor. A Mars shot requires so much foundational work done that there's just no way to avoid the risk that someone from the other party gets all the credit for it.
Are there any other programs that in hindsight could have been cut back? Maybe the SST or something.

Well we're all aware that the N1 was never supposed to be a "moon" rocket because it's rather obvious where Korolev got the inspiration:
I noticed that too, and by the 1970s they weren't even trying to hide it! Like seriously, the last N1 study put forward an SSTO spaceplane launcher. It's insane, and awesome! But mostly insane.

The issue is that the 'stimulus' isn't always as direct enough to be clear and worse the fact that NASA is all over the country means it's spread out more so the actual impact is actually less outside some of the bigger projects. And in the case of Apollo it was a boom and bust situation where it would peak early and then decline but it wasn't set up to allow for that.

Better would have been to spread it out and keep it at a more consistent and stable level. That's what the original "plan" was to have happen with no major funding peaks, (or valley's) to disrupt the process.
That could work. It depends on what they're funding I suppose. I wanted Mars and the Shuttle, so continuous funding won't work, but for a more laid back program, it might.

You had designers and engineers literally looking in dark storage sheds and dusty backrooms to build a never rocket more powerful than anything before it's time. And it worked. But during almost all of it, (right through the first flight in fact since Kennedy only announced the Lunar goal a few months before) everyone was not expecting the 'flush' to last. Eventually it would all go back to 'normal' and the entire design philosophy was to have developed something that could weather that change of support and still be used. Apollo was pretty much the opposite for the major components though they tried.
Really, it was that cobbled together? I didn't know that. I guess KSP was more realistic than I thought....

Anyways, my end goal here is to basically have a copy of NASA's Waterloo, where a Soviet Lunar landing in the 60s prompts a NASA Mars landing in the 80s, if possible with a scaled-down Shuttle at the same time (actually, the thread Ocean of Storms is perfect reference for this, just replace the extended Apollo Moon missions with a mission to Mars, and you have what I'm going for). Something like a cross between Dreamchaser and the Shuttle would work (aka the Clippers mentioned earlier), and as for Mars, all you need is a NERVA engine, a MEM, and an uprated Saturn. That's the rough gist of what I'm going for.

I'm not entirely sure how the Soviets should play this to make that possible. When writing the TL above, I came to the conclusion that a Soviet Lunar base would prompt NASA into building its own Lunar base and not going to Mars. for that reason, I chose a Soviet Moon program that, while impressive, wasn't that impressive. AKA N1-L3, beefed up a bit. In retrospect, that might not have been the best choice. I would be interested in hearing some more of your thoughts on that, and also some of your thoughts on the N1 development schedule I came up with. I was under the impression that if they could have gotten N1 flying a year early, and gotten a test stand for the Block A (they didn't OTL, which was what lead to its downfall), it would have worked.

I would also be interested in hearing your thoughts on the L3 part of N1-L3 that I came up with. In this TL the LK lander does Earth orbital tests a few years early (and you might have noticed the Apollo 13 style incident that happened on one of them, I added that because I thought the Soviets were having it a bit too easy, but I'm not sure if something like that would have derailed the program in real life). I also included LK Shelters and a Lunokhod Laboratory based on an LK ascent cabin with wheels. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on those too.
 
Short reply... No really, I promise! It's true, they kick me out of here in an hour and I have to go home where my wife insists I 'do' things like chores and stuff.. Wait, why do they keep calling me an "adult" again?
(Yes folks it's been THAT kind of week :) )

I'll say this once but it goes for all the other quotes too, thanks for the input! I was starting to get worried no one was going to reply, but apparently I was proven wrong. And by one of the forum's legends, no less!
Your very welcome and I hope you mean fasquadron as the "legend" because I assure you that is NOT what they think of me around here. (What "I" think of me of course is the important thing and I will continue to believe that at least for the moment :) ) As he noted the thread deserves a good look and discussion and that tends to take some time. The thread I cited for him actually had a couple of days IIRC before we got going... Then I came along and well.. :)

Anyways, I was under the impression that they were 'like, this close' to a manned lunar landing, and that all they needed was a bit more funding. I had heard people say that they were years behind of course, but Astronautix assured me that they were basically ready to go, and the N1 was just being a pain in the ass and kept failing on them. Maybe it was more serious than I thought.
Well Astronautix has been known to be a bit biased at times :) But really it's quite possible to argue it in both directions but in the main had the N1 worked perfectly the chances of beating the American's was slim at best. And that's assuming they use the very FIRST N1 off the line to go to the Moon after the first successful N1 flight which isn't llkely either. The N1 was in fact a driver but the rest of the architecture, while in theory ready wasn't tested so it would have depende on everything working perfectly the first time. And again once the American's got wind they could accelerate the Apollo program easier than the Russians could.

And actually, I did consider the thing with Glushko, and after some digging, I found this: http://www.astronautix.com/d/details51217.html. I decided not to do it because I wanted the early days of the TL to be as close to reality as possible, and I couldn't even pretend to know what would have happened differently if that was the case. But I might look into it in more depth at some point.
And here's an example of the above :) Glushko said this yes, but has anyone else backed it up? Assuming Korlev 'gave' the information to Mishen for anyalysis instead of just 'trusting' Glushko on the matter, (which is actually a smart and proper thing to do given the needed design work and planning) and it came back as not working, (which we happen to know is exactly how that same design anaylsys for the larger modular UR500 and UR700 that Glushko worked with Chelomei on ended up with the same conclusion) why would we assume that if it was simply accepted that the work would have gone any faster with the need for redesigns? We also know that Glushko at the time cited was dead set against working on high performance kerosene/lox engines and even more against LH2/LOX which Korolev also desired. It was not that he and his group could not design them but that he firmly belived that Soviet industry was not up to making them. That a jet engine group actually DID succeed, (and they did despite the N1 failures) he started to change his mind.

Even if this had all worked out, in 1961 the leadership of the USSR weren't supporting a Lunar mission and this was all on paper. Nothing got started enough to be considred 'real' till after the 1963 meeting and even with Glushko on his side there it's not clear that Chelomei wouldn't have still 'won' more support than Korolev. Now if we assume that the decision at that meeting is to pick ONE program and openly declare going to the Moon before the Americans, (which is what it would take) then we're going someplace. But keep in mind that unlike the American space program the REAL backer and sponsor of the Soviet space program was always the military and THEY weren't looking lunar launch vehicle but a 'super-ICBM' system that could possibly stand alert for first strike on America and that required the launcher NOT be kerolox powered.

Ok I promised to keep this one short so some skipping is in order. I WILL be back to it :)

Holy.... that's a lot of data! And I thought I was overdoing it with just three folders on my (computers) desktop! I do agree with you that chronologies are underrated. I kind of wish every TL on here had one so I could quickly see what was going on, but I understand they take effort to write out. In this case, though, it saves me a lot of work.
Heh, it's also a physical hazard I've found... I used to think that paper/book slides were fictional danger, oh no they aren't :)

One of my main writing issue is I'm more a 'free-form' writer. (As if you couldn't tell I suppose :) ) But without an outline or chronolgy it's FAR to easy to get lost and lose imporatant and interesting bits. Having said that as you note, they can be a royal pain to compile and keep up with. Don't recall the exact forum thread over on NASAspaceflightdotCom but one chonology/thead had a flight reenter safetly... And then noted it landed a year and a half later! That's some parachute hang time for you :)

Really? I was under the impression they could be done in under a year. The more you know, I guess. I wonder if a Venus flyby would be better, then.
Could? Yes if you were willing to invest in the needed delta-v and everything lined up right. I'll have to look in my notes but IIRC the ones your thinking of were early 70s possiblities and were undestood to be un-available due to the commitment to Apollo. They could do one in the 80s I think but it required a powered manuever near Mars or it was the one that swung out to the asteroids before coming home. The history of the whole period is quite fasinatinig in and of itself.

And while we're on it if you haven't wasted your, er that is purused the information available from this site:
http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/

I highly suggest it as it's a really great primer on planning and figuriing a 'fictional' mission and architecture as well as a good resource on who thought up what concept and when.

I've seen quite a few people talk about this, but most of them forget something; when was the last time the general public got excited over a Soyuz launch? Building up orbital infrastructure is great, but it doesn't have the same interestingness factor as a Moon or Mars landing, and so if you want the public behind your back, maybe a 'race' is better. It's hard to say, long-duration low-level funding, or short-term huge amounts of funding? Also, keep in mind they are not mutually exclusive. A 'race' style funding program will provide spin-off tech that can be used going into the future with long-term low-level funding. AKA sprint the first few hundred meters, walk the rest of the way. But that's just my opinion.
I understand where you're coming from but will point out that they ARE kind of mutually exclsusive, at least in the long run. Taking examples of Earth transportation, (as well as they can be analaoged of course which is inaccuratly at best) while the 'sprints' have their place the faster they become 'boring and routine' the faster a system becomes economical and exploitable and the faster it's accepted as 'routine' enough for the general public to consider accessble. The problem is in OTL the 'sprint' got out of control and left us with pretty much nothing and since the circumstance had drastically changed there was no longer the will or support to really start over again but that's what was tried anyway. We ended up with something that met none of the criteria required and none of the ability to build and support the steady build up needed to move on. We're getting closer again today but as can be easily seen the pressure is to stop moving forward and leap again since it looks so easy to do. Landing the Falcon 9 back at the launch site is hum-drum, Starship looks exciting. IMHO Falcon has more life to it but that's not how the company/founder feel about.

I concur, the US could probably have afforded ten Apollo programs, they just didn't want to. And why would they, it has virtually no short-term benefits. That's why I had the Soviets beat us, I wanted some motivation for continued spending in space. I assumed that since it worked in NASA's Waterloo, it should work here as well, but maybe I was wrong.
Let me be a little clearer on what I mean by 'afford': Apollo as it was by 1965 was straining the US budget, not by itself by any means but in the overal scheme of things and by this time public and political support had waned significantly. Hence "they didn't want to" in spades and you are also correct it had no visibly direct benifit and it added up to a loosing propostition by that point to try and expand Apollo into something with legacy and post-landing utility. NASA tried anyway and did it excatly wrong and at the wrong time. It didn't help that it was very true that Apollo was being run badly and that things were falling behind and spending money was the only way to catch up. This had been what many feared from the start and it was obvously only going to get worse. The problem at this point is that the motivation that had failed to push the more sustainable solution earlier on was now gone and even being beaten wasn't going to bring it back. This was to be expected since the inital surge of feedback and visible benifits played out between 1962 and 1964 and going into 1965 what's left is the 'slog' in building the machines and launching the missions which by their nature and design become 'routine-and-boring' after the first one.

Sadly, it's a truism that even staring death in the face can get boring and in general without a 'personal' investment in something, beyond a 'fan' of the subject, the general public quickly lose interest. That has alway's been the missing 'key' to opening space in that a 'regular joe' has very little chance to interact with it and therefore while 'interesting' it won't ever be a priority enough to actualy care about.

Really, it was that cobbled together? I didn't know that. I guess KSP was more realistic than I thought....
Going off the top of my head the first three boosters were litterally built by the engineers at Huntsville and they fabricated the assembly jigs and machines on site as they were building it. The first launches were built up in place on the pad and the fact they had zero failures was a great surprise when everyone expected V2 like failure rates. There were glitches of course, (Von Braun opened a conference having just returned from a scrubbed Saturn 1 launch... Somebody forgot to remove a pressure check seal which they didn't find until they had fueled the vehicle for launch and it couldn't dump excess LOX. Opps :) ) The design and program goals kept changing on an almost daily basis, (the first booster originaly had no fins, then ARPA changed it to require them sized to launch the Dynasoar, so they attached fins. A month later as they are getting ready to stack the system ARPA changes it again and says never mind the area calculated was too big. Can't remove the fins by this point they are welded on and they are too big for a launch without Dynasoar so what to do? Some quick calculations, cutting torches and power grinders and "manually" reduce the fin size by 2/3rds and launch that bad boy... There's a reason I love that rocket so much :) )

Time to go but lets keep it going :)

Randy
 
Really? I was under the impression they could be done in under a year. The more you know, I guess. I wonder if a Venus flyby would be better, then.
A single 'year' in the original work, (see: "EMPIRE; Autonutronics" here, http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/realdesigns.php. Stands for "Early Manned Interplanetary Expedition") using the work of Dr. Gaetano Crocco on possible one-thrust flyby missions from 1956. The original plan worked out so that the entire mission took exactly one year, so Earth was in the starting position on return. Nice in a general way but the closest you could get to Mars was over a whopping 1.3 million kilometers or you risked getting shot off into deep space instead. The good doctor came up with a semi-solution in that you got CLOSER to Mars and actually let it sling you across to Venus but that sent the trip time to over 390 days. Still not bad...
But Autonutronics found a mistake though and the required delta-v for a one year shot turned out to be vastly higher than calculated and that was for a 'best case' flight window. It could still be done but trip times with the lower and more practical delta-v were higher though ramping up to averages of 600 days. General Dynamics also participated in EMPIRE and frankly they take the cake for 'crazy' add-ons since they decided to toss in a possible landing option for the flyby. (This became a 'thing' around 1966 with the unfortunate nomenclature of "Flyby Landing Excursion Mode" or FLEM.. Really guys? https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=26594.0) The lander is below the above entry and might I recommend the entry on the propellant? FLOX was bad, but Chlorine Trifluoride is a "bit" worse.
From the book "Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants" by John Clark, (1972) (and atomic rockets since my pdf isn't coming up atm)
"It is, of course, extremely toxic, but that's the least of the problem. It is hypergolic with every known fuel, and so rapidly hypergolic that no ignition delay has ever been measured.

It is also hypergolic with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, not to mention asbestos, sand, and water—with which it reacts explosively.

It can be kept in some of the ordinary structural metals—steel, copper, aluminum, etc.—because of the formation of a thin film of insoluble metal fluoride that protects the bulk of the metal, just as the invisible coat of oxide on aluminum keeps it from burning up in the atmosphere. If, however, this coat is melted or scrubbed off, and has no chance to reform, the operator is confronted with the problem of coping with a metal-fluorine fire. For dealing with this situation, I have always recommended a good pair of running shoes."

So there is that :)

And I'm going to take a sideways step here and mention an issue with Glushko that relates. He had a tendency to be rather lazy about the particulars of his various "great ideas" in liquid propulsion. I don't have the note in front of me but he had a GREAT idea for a hydrogen peroxide propellant combination that would always ignite and had a pretty high ISP as well. IIRC the "fuel" component was best described as being slight LESS dangerous than the above, bu only SLIGHTLY less :)

Anyway in general it isn't really a viable mission plan past the early 70s for a manned flyby of Mars unless you can 'swing' it, (pardon the pun) as a multi-encounter mission and even then it wasn't clear that anything from Apollo could actually handle the tasking. Add in nuclear or even ion propulsion and it's simply better to go for a straight up landing mission from the start and Venus can be added for a bonus for little extra cost in propellant anyway.

I kind of wanted a full-scale Shuttle orbiter, just because they look awesome, but I see your point. So something more like the Clippers from Ocean of Storms, then. https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/ocean-of-storms-a-timeline-of-a-scientific-america.418531/page-14 (scroll down to just above the bottom of the page, you'll see them). I suppose those are cool too, but it means no Shuttle-derived super-heavy lift to replace Saturn, which could be a problem depending on how expensive continued Saturn operations are. Something like a Shuttle-C or Ares V would be useful going into the 2000s.
Yes, no and maybe? See how simple AH can be? Seriously, (for the moment, don't get used to it I swear :) ) Really more than one modular launch system capable of handling anything from say Saturn-1 class to heavy Saturn V class WAS studied but you run into the problem it's not as clear if and what you need with such a broad range. And while STS was cool looking in it's way there's litteally a whole book written on how it got there and it's convoluted and full of likely butterflies. We'll see what we can do though :)

Are there any other programs that in hindsight could have been cut back? Maybe the SST or something.
The SST was cut OTL due to issues around Apollo and it's follow on :) And arguably, in the near term at least, it was far more likely to have actual value to the American aerospace industry than an Apollo follow on and both sides knew it. Congress axed it and Nixon axed NERVA in return. Since there were relatively few NERVA advocates left that worked out just as well as Congress wanted it to. The general problem was the economy was in a slump due to the end of Vietnam, the government CAN boost spending to prop up the economy but nobody really could decide on where to spend the money and NASA was the last option for everyone. Especially the American public. Hence the need for a more 'rational' space race to keep things going. As it was it was around the end of Apollo that a bunch of smaller projects finally got some attention and pretty much only because there was a shuttle in the offing. If Mars is on the table you lose things like the lifting bodies and other related research. At that point in time I'm not seeing a lot of wiggle room but I'll keep looking.

And don't forget that the USSR has to make a commitment as well which brings up the question of what they are then doing without?

I noticed that too, and by the 1970s they weren't even trying to hide it! Like seriously, the last N1 study put forward an SSTO spaceplane launcher. It's insane, and awesome! But mostly insane.
Something in the world wide engineer water supply is my thought :) It's not like the Americans weren't just as "inventive" after all :)

That could work. It depends on what they're funding I suppose. I wanted Mars and the Shuttle, so continuous funding won't work, but for a more laid back program, it might.
Essentially you can slow the pace and if you can keep the 'interest' steady, (and in that point it can be general but not intense) and end up with pretty much everything we were 'promised' :) The problem is people are people and don't react in nice logical patterns which is arguably a good thing at times :)

Initially Apollo was susposed to be mostly focused on LEO and near-Earth space just like the Soyuz but (also like the Soyuz) it could be modified to do things in Cis-Lunar space at a later time. So essentially you'd see American and Russian progress moving along the same path the USSR took OTL in a general way. Since economy would come to the fore a bit earlier with less intense pressure you could see 'shuttle' experimentation looked at more closely since the whole process is more open. And of course if ONE side is doing it...

Anyways, my end goal here is to basically have a copy of NASA's Waterloo, where a Soviet Lunar landing in the 60s prompts a NASA Mars landing in the 80s, if possible with a scaled-down Shuttle at the same time (actually, the thread Ocean of Storms is perfect reference for this, just replace the extended Apollo Moon missions with a mission to Mars, and you have what I'm going for). Something like a cross between Dreamchaser and the Shuttle would work (aka the Clippers mentioned earlier), and as for Mars, all you need is a NERVA engine, a MEM, and an uprated Saturn. That's the rough gist of what I'm going for.
I'll be honest that one of the main issues with the outline is the stuff OUTSIDE the outline :) Vietnam and a lot of the other stuff going on in the 60s ruined the optimism of the 50s which fed into the doldrums of the 70s. (I maintain however the Satan is truly, fully and utterly responsible for Disco and for that reason alone is an enemy of mankind but that may not be applicable to the discussion) And of course that was a big basis for public mistrust in science and technology and lack of interest in the same over the same period. We'd been to the Moon so the rest was meh... (Or as it turned out the argument was more we had NOT been to the Moon and the government is a bunch of lairs and cheats...) I'm of the opinion that you can actually butterfly away some of the ancillary issues, (but the more I look into it the more I find that doing so significantly effects things that become important down the road in some weird ways, for example if there is no Vietnam then by the mid-70s Soviet and US conventional military parity is WAY out of whack) but it comes down to finding a way to keep interest alive in space and to be honest it's not going to be easy to pin that on the Russians getting to the Moon first. At least not at that late in the game. Again lets knock that back and forth.

I'm not entirely sure how the Soviets should play this to make that possible. When writing the TL above, I came to the conclusion that a Soviet Lunar base would prompt NASA into building its own Lunar base and not going to Mars. for that reason, I chose a Soviet Moon program that, while impressive, wasn't that impressive. AKA N1-L3, beefed up a bit. In retrospect, that might not have been the best choice. I would be interested in hearing some more of your thoughts on that, and also some of your thoughts on the N1 development schedule I came up with. I was under the impression that if they could have gotten N1 flying a year early, and gotten a test stand for the Block A (they didn't OTL, which was what lead to its downfall), it would have worked.
At it's most basic the N1 needed a more powerful upper stage set, full stop. SpaceX has the same problem with using kerolox in the upper stage, it just doesn't have enough performance to get to where it needs to go. Now my idea was something along the lines of Korolev getting a hold of Kruschev's son instead of Chelomei and the kid getting a wild hair about using liquid propane in the upper stages. Sounds crazy but a fun fact is liquid propane, cooled to LOX temps has a density a bit higher than kerosene but a much higher ISP. Meaning with a minimum of insulation on a standard set of kerosene tanks you get a lot better performance. Why doesn't anyone use is? You get BETTER performance out of liquid methane and vastly better with hydrogen so why bother? Unless you are working the margins and need a break of course. Downside is Russia lacked a good supply of natural gas at the time and had difficulties producing propane anyway. Frankly if you can get Glushko on Korolev's side and get him to produce higher performance engines that would work too but he's got to move out of the 'comfort zone' he wouldn't do OTL till after they put him in the hot seat. Again it boils down to the program needing more focus and oversight by someone would could get everyone to play nice in a system designed to keep everyone from playing nice.

On top of that there's the question of what's in it for the Soviets in playing the game openly at all? They didn't lose much NOT going to the Moon OTL and that was clear early on. Put it out there and you can fall flat on your face with no way to hide it. Again that's a main reason they delayed cooperation till they felt more ready and ASTP still didn't play well for them in comparison.

And while that's out there I need to point out another little boggle in the mix here: In the context of how the US handled both Sputnik and Gagarin we handed actual control and pacing to the Russians. They tended to dictate the pace and direction even when they weren't doing anything really. By the time the US landed on the Moon it really did look to most of the world like the US had always just been racing ourselves and the Russians weren't playing the same game at all. And quite obviously they loved that. So it's important to keep an eye on what's in it for them at any one point and how much of a chance there is they will not only not gain anything by engaging the US but actually manage to lose ground.

I would also be interested in hearing your thoughts on the L3 part of N1-L3 that I came up with. In this TL the LK lander does Earth orbital tests a few years early (and you might have noticed the Apollo 13 style incident that happened on one of them, I added that because I thought the Soviets were having it a bit too easy, but I'm not sure if something like that would have derailed the program in real life). I also included LK Shelters and a Lunokhod Laboratory based on an LK ascent cabin with wheels. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on those too.
I need to print the timeline out again and finish going over it :) I was impressed with the detail and thought so I was going to go through and highlight it. Then got busy and didn't realize till I got home I accidentally shredded the timeline instead of the work papers I was aiming for. Like I said it's been a day :)

In general I like the concepts as a concept but again they needed something other than just the N1/Proton and a better deployment plan in going to the Moon. Of course the US had some similar issues but "in thrust we trust" they had more margin to spare in the first place so ... And once again if the US sees them testing hardware in space they can and will speed things up and the Soviets were aware of that. Having the Russian's get sneaky is always a plan but it needs to be balanced with what they could actually accomplish which is tougher. Coupled with that is the fact of how risk averse they were since any failure was magnified by their assumed superiority. I'll see what there is and NOT reply line by line... I hope :)

Randy
 
I hope you mean fasquadron as the "legend"
Who me? How did that happen? Who authorized that!

I've seen quite a few people talk about this, but most of them forget something; when was the last time the general public got excited over a Soyuz launch? Building up orbital infrastructure is great, but it doesn't have the same interestingness factor as a Moon or Mars landing, and so if you want the public behind your back, maybe a 'race' is better. It's hard to say, long-duration low-level funding, or short-term huge amounts of funding? Also, keep in mind they are not mutually exclusive. A 'race' style funding program will provide spin-off tech that can be used going into the future with long-term low-level funding. AKA sprint the first few hundred meters, walk the rest of the way. But that's just my opinion.
I would argue that the unexcitingness of a Soyuz launch is how we know it's a successful rocket. The LV has never caused any fatalities and has a failure rate of something like 1 in 200. It's been kept in use long enough that the R&D money that went into it has been more than paid off and it's allowed the Soviets and Russians to do an impressive catalogue of exciting things.

And actually, I did consider the thing with Glushko, and after some digging, I found this: http://www.astronautix.com/d/details51217.html. I decided not to do it because I wanted the early days of the TL to be as close to reality as possible, and I couldn't even pretend to know what would have happened differently if that was the case. But I might look into it in more depth at some point.
Now that is very interesting. If it is true, then it gives us a good PoD for the Soviets developing a much more practical N-1.

I concur, the US could probably have afforded ten Apollo programs, they just didn't want to. And why would they, it has virtually no short-term benefits. That's why I had the Soviets beat us, I wanted some motivation for continued spending in space. I assumed that since it worked in NASA's Waterloo, it should work here as well, but maybe I was wrong.
Well, every story is allowed one "gimme". NASA's Waterloo is a good timeline, but I don't think it is likely the US would react like that if the Soviets won the moon race.

In my view, it depends on how much the Soviets beat the US. If they land days/weeks/months before the US lands, then likely the US extends Apollo. There are relatively cheap options that would allow the US to claim "first moonbase" and would allow the US to show that while they were slightly slower to get there, they got there best. In OTL, Apollo had probably done its job to reassure the US public by 1966 or so - that is, by that point it was clear that America could match the Reds if it wanted to and that addressed most of the anxiety that bubbled up after Gagarin returned from orbit. So in TTL Apollo would succeed well enough that pressure to do an even bigger stunt seems dubious.

If Apollo is a year or two behind the Soviets, there's very little point in canning it since most of the money has been spent and most of the problems solved, and landing at least two LEMs on the moon (one to show that the US can do it, a second time to show the first wasn't a fluke) seems likely. The US could still opt to do a LESA style moonbase, but it could also decide to focus on low orbit science and military space efforts (as the Soviets did in OTL). A space station in the 70s is much more likely IMO. But America just hasn't been beat bad enough to justify many hundreds of billions of USD and risks a Mars shot would take.

If Apollo is many years behind the Soviets (so basically the US is as far behind the Soviets as the OTL Soviets were behind the OTL US and haven't even managed to get mission critical hardware working before the Soviets get bored of planting flags on the moon), my bet is Apollo is canned as a white elephant and a failure, Kennedy and Johnson are pilloried in the history books and the US focuses its efforts on more "practical" ways to show superiority over the Soviets. Almost certainly all manned space flight would be focused on low Earth orbit, with maybe a space station, and likely much more military activity in space by the US. Might NASA be cut down to something closer to its NACA roots and the astronaut program be given to the US airforce? I could see it happening, though it might not be the most likely outcome. Might the US get interested in something like SDI earlier? I think it's another possibility.

Are there any other programs that in hindsight could have been cut back? Maybe the SST or something.
The US SST program was a phenomenal waste of money, it's not enough money to get to Mars though. It is enough money to fun an interesting space station program or temporary moonbase program though.

IMO the best PoD for a more active US in space is no Vietnam War. Not sure it's enough to get a man on Mars on its own. I think a manned Mars landing in the 20th Century would require at least 2 PoDs.

I wanted Mars and the Shuttle, so continuous funding won't work, but for a more laid back program, it might.
Well, a Mars program is one of the few things that would make a shuttle worth having in the 70s and 80s. So actually, a Mars program and a Shuttle program at the same time is very likely. A specialized ground to low orbit vehicle, especially a reusable one, would make building a Mars ship WAY cheaper.

I'm not entirely sure how the Soviets should play this to make that possible. When writing the TL above, I came to the conclusion that a Soviet Lunar base would prompt NASA into building its own Lunar base and not going to Mars. for that reason, I chose a Soviet Moon program that, while impressive, wasn't that impressive. AKA N1-L3, beefed up a bit. In retrospect, that might not have been the best choice. I would be interested in hearing some more of your thoughts on that, and also some of your thoughts on the N1 development schedule I came up with. I was under the impression that if they could have gotten N1 flying a year early, and gotten a test stand for the Block A (they didn't OTL, which was what lead to its downfall), it would have worked.
So I've never been able to find much detail on exactly how well "all the other stuff" was coming along while the N-1 was being developed. It's worth noting that for NASA, the Saturn V was one of the easier parts of the Lunar program. By comparison the Soviets were really struggling with the N-1. So if the N-1 was proving challenging, how were all the elements that the Americans were finding challenging going for the Soviets?

I would also be interested in hearing your thoughts on the L3 part of N1-L3 that I came up with. In this TL the LK lander does Earth orbital tests a few years early (and you might have noticed the Apollo 13 style incident that happened on one of them, I added that because I thought the Soviets were having it a bit too easy, but I'm not sure if something like that would have derailed the program in real life). I also included LK Shelters and a Lunokhod Laboratory based on an LK ascent cabin with wheels. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on those too.
I wish I knew enough about the L3 to answer! If you have any good sources on it and its development I'd love to hear them.

We also know that Glushko at the time cited was dead set against working on high performance kerosene/lox engines and even more against LH2/LOX which Korolev also desired. It was not that he and his group could not design them but that he firmly belived that Soviet industry was not up to making them. That a jet engine group actually DID succeed, (and they did despite the N1 failures) he started to change his mind.
Well, IMO Glushko was right, in so far as it's hard to see the Soviets getting a big rocket working in time if they didn't use large hypergolic engines.

The RD-170 took 12 years to develop, the hydrolox RD-0120 took 11 years to develop. Both were incredible engines, but those development times are too long for the moon race.

And yes, the jet engine group did succeed in designing and building an amazing engine in the NK-33 - but it is just too small for the "big rocket" approach to getting to the moon. Soviet computer technology just wasn't up to controlling the number of NK-33s a big rocket would need. Something like the NK-33 would have been amazing if the Soviets had used rockets the size of a Soyuz or Proton to launch a moonship into orbit in pieces. But such an approach would have an extremely inflexible schedule and have (at the time) unknown risks.

Though what if the Soviets had the electronics to make the KORD control system work? That might be enough to make the N-1 a viable design in the race.

Let me be a little clearer on what I mean by 'afford': Apollo as it was by 1965 was straining the US budget, not by itself by any means but in the overal scheme of things and by this time public and political support had waned significantly. Hence "they didn't want to" in spades and you are also correct it had no visibly direct benifit and it added up to a loosing propostition by that point to try and expand Apollo into something with legacy and post-landing utility. NASA tried anyway and did it excatly wrong and at the wrong time. It didn't help that it was very true that Apollo was being run badly and that things were falling behind and spending money was the only way to catch up. This had been what many feared from the start and it was obvously only going to get worse. The problem at this point is that the motivation that had failed to push the more sustainable solution earlier on was now gone and even being beaten wasn't going to bring it back. This was to be expected since the inital surge of feedback and visible benifits played out between 1962 and 1964 and going into 1965 what's left is the 'slog' in building the machines and launching the missions which by their nature and design become 'routine-and-boring' after the first one.

Sadly, it's a truism that even staring death in the face can get boring and in general without a 'personal' investment in something, beyond a 'fan' of the subject, the general public quickly lose interest. That has alway's been the missing 'key' to opening space in that a 'regular joe' has very little chance to interact with it and therefore while 'interesting' it won't ever be a priority enough to actualy care about.
Apollo was being badly run? Howso?

Last I read about the actual management (we're talking an article from Analog here) Apollo was brilliantly managed...

fasquardon
 
Ok, so you guys are bringing up some really interesting points. Most notably, with the political climate OTL, a Mars mission isn't going to happen. So, let's add a few more PODs. Let's say Nixon likes space more than OTL. Let's also say that there's a lot of political pressure for some reason to one-up the Soviets, and a Moonbase simply won't cut it. Let's say that the US wants a big-budget program to show the world that the US is the one opening up the new frontier. Why I don't know but I'm sure that it's possible. Let's also say that either they don't care how much they spend, or they figure out a way to cut back spending on something else. Maybe the Vietnam war ends way earlier than OTL, maybe it never happens. Also, the Shuttle as we know it is probably lost to butterflies. We might get to see a smaller Shuttle though, something like a Clipper from Ocean of Storms. With this sort of political climate in the west, I would imagine the Soviets would double down on their strengths and build space stations, with maybe a small Lunar base, but nothing big or long-lasting. TKS probably gets more funding since it can be used as a planetary flyby craft to beat the US.

As for the Soviet Moonshot, after some digging, and with your suggestions, I've found what they really wanted was some sort of unified booster force. Maybe once the N1 starts flying they start developing the N11 going into the late sixties and early seventies to eventually replace Proton. When that happens, it will probably be simplified as much as possible. Let's also say that someone, I'm not sure who decides to help build propane engines for the upper stages as RanulfC suggested. Those come into play by the really late 60s, and maybe hydrolox upper stages come around by the mid-70s. I'm just guessing here though, I would need to do a lot more research on that.

Now onto the 'quote and reply' part:

Well Astronautix has been known to be a bit biased at times :) But really it's quite possible to argue it in both directions but in the main had the N1 worked perfectly the chances of beating the American's was slim at best. And that's assuming they use the very FIRST N1 off the line to go to the Moon after the first successful N1 flight which isn't llkely either. The N1 was in fact a driver but the rest of the architecture, while in theory ready wasn't tested so it would have depende on everything working perfectly the first time. And again once the American's got wind they could accelerate the Apollo program easier than the Russians could.
The way I did it had the N1 first fly in June of 1968 (It was originally planned to fly in September of 1968 OTL, but cracks formed in the first stage caused the launch to be scrubbed. I assumed Korolev would be able to accelerate things by a few months and fix the craking issues). Korolev sees the N1 fail and tries to get the Soviet leadership to fund a Block A test stand. OTL this request actually happened and was denied, ITL it goes through thanks to Korolevs people skills. The test stand is finished in December 1968 (a bit of a stretch), and what would have been OTL the first N1 to fly is test-fired. The foreign object ingestion problem is found and fixed, and the next flight in February of 1969. The center engine shutdown causes problems but the first stage is detached early and the mission continued (this very nearly happened OTL on flight 4), kind-of proving the L3 spacecraft (the 7K-L1A skipped off of the atmosphere on reentry). The N1 cannot be modified to use super-chilled propellants in time for the actual mission though, so they have to refuel in orbit using a Proton rocket. It works, and Alexi Leonov lands in June of 1969.

If you read the accounts on Astronautix from the engineers who worked on the project, they still had tiny slivers of hope for a Soviet first landing even by the second N1 launch OTL. When the rocket fell back onto the pad was the moment everyone realized that they were, without a dought, going to lose. In fact, I've heard people say (I cannot confirm it though) that some cosmonauts volunteered to fly that second N1 launch to try and land. Thank god they didn't.

And here's an example of the above :) Glushko said this yes, but has anyone else backed it up? Assuming Korlev 'gave' the information to Mishen for anyalysis instead of just 'trusting' Glushko on the matter, (which is actually a smart and proper thing to do given the needed design work and planning) and it came back as not working, (which we happen to know is exactly how that same design anaylsys for the larger modular UR500 and UR700 that Glushko worked with Chelomei on ended up with the same conclusion) why would we assume that if it was simply accepted that the work would have gone any faster with the need for redesigns? We also know that Glushko at the time cited was dead set against working on high performance kerosene/lox engines and even more against LH2/LOX which Korolev also desired. It was not that he and his group could not design them but that he firmly belived that Soviet industry was not up to making them. That a jet engine group actually DID succeed, (and they did despite the N1 failures) he started to change his mind.

Even if this had all worked out, in 1961 the leadership of the USSR weren't supporting a Lunar mission and this was all on paper. Nothing got started enough to be considred 'real' till after the 1963 meeting and even with Glushko on his side there it's not clear that Chelomei wouldn't have still 'won' more support than Korolev. Now if we assume that the decision at that meeting is to pick ONE program and openly declare going to the Moon before the Americans, (which is what it would take) then we're going someplace. But keep in mind that unlike the American space program the REAL backer and sponsor of the Soviet space program was always the military and THEY weren't looking lunar launch vehicle but a 'super-ICBM' system that could possibly stand alert for first strike on America and that required the launcher NOT be kerolox powered.
Those are very good points. I'm still not quite sure what to do with the military in this TL. Maybe Korolev can sell the N1 as a launcher for a military space station or something.

One of my main writing issue is I'm more a 'free-form' writer. (As if you couldn't tell I suppose :) ) But without an outline or chronolgy it's FAR to easy to get lost and lose imporatant and interesting bits. Having said that as you note, they can be a royal pain to compile and keep up with. Don't recall the exact forum thread over on NASAspaceflightdotCom but one chonology/thead had a flight reenter safetly... And then noted it landed a year and a half later! That's some parachute hang time for you :)
Wow... let's hope I don't mess up quite that bad...

In all seriousness though, figuring out the dates for these things is stupidly hard. That's why I stuck close to OTL like my life depended on it, I didn't want to do something and have no idea where to get the dates from. I was already pulling my hair out just over the completion time for LC110L! I still cant believe that no one wrote it down somewhere - that was one of the biggest construction projects in the space program! How do you forget when you finished building several thousand tons of concrete and steel launchpad?

Could? Yes if you were willing to invest in the needed delta-v and everything lined up right. I'll have to look in my notes but IIRC the ones your thinking of were early 70s possiblities and were undestood to be un-available due to the commitment to Apollo. They could do one in the 80s I think but it required a powered manuever near Mars or it was the one that swung out to the asteroids before coming home. The history of the whole period is quite fasinatinig in and of itself.

And while we're on it if you haven't wasted your, er that is purused the information available from this site:
http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/

I highly suggest it as it's a really great primer on planning and figuriing a 'fictional' mission and architecture as well as a good resource on who thought up what concept and when.
I know of Atomic Rockets, but I dint know they had the stuff of the Mars and Venus flybys, ill have a look into that. For now, though, it seems they're off the table.

Going off the top of my head the first three boosters were litterally built by the engineers at Huntsville and they fabricated the assembly jigs and machines on site as they were building it. The first launches were built up in place on the pad and the fact they had zero failures was a great surprise when everyone expected V2 like failure rates. There were glitches of course, (Von Braun opened a conference having just returned from a scrubbed Saturn 1 launch... Somebody forgot to remove a pressure check seal which they didn't find until they had fueled the vehicle for launch and it couldn't dump excess LOX. Opps :) ) The design and program goals kept changing on an almost daily basis, (the first booster originaly had no fins, then ARPA changed it to require them sized to launch the Dynasoar, so they attached fins. A month later as they are getting ready to stack the system ARPA changes it again and says never mind the area calculated was too big. Can't remove the fins by this point they are welded on and they are too big for a launch without Dynasoar so what to do? Some quick calculations, cutting torches and power grinders and "manually" reduce the fin size by 2/3rds and launch that bad boy... There's a reason I love that rocket so much :) )
....wow. It's literally just KSP in real life. That's insane and really awesome! And yes, the Saturn I was very cool. Its probably my favorite rocket too, just something about the way that the first stage looks like it was cobbled together at the last minute (which, apparently, it was) It looks like the embodiment of the early space age.

A single 'year' in the original work, (see: "EMPIRE; Autonutronics" here, http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/realdesigns.php. Stands for "Early Manned Interplanetary Expedition") using the work of Dr. Gaetano Crocco on possible one-thrust flyby missions from 1956. The original plan worked out so that the entire mission took exactly one year, so Earth was in the starting position on return. Nice in a general way but the closest you could get to Mars was over a whopping 1.3 million kilometers or you risked getting shot off into deep space instead. The good doctor came up with a semi-solution in that you got CLOSER to Mars and actually let it sling you across to Venus but that sent the trip time to over 390 days. Still not bad...
But Autonutronics found a mistake though and the required delta-v for a one year shot turned out to be vastly higher than calculated and that was for a 'best case' flight window. It could still be done but trip times with the lower and more practical delta-v were higher though ramping up to averages of 600 days. General Dynamics also participated in EMPIRE and frankly they take the cake for 'crazy' add-ons since they decided to toss in a possible landing option for the flyby. (This became a 'thing' around 1966 with the unfortunate nomenclature of "Flyby Landing Excursion Mode" or FLEM.. Really guys? https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=26594.0) The lander is below the above entry and might I recommend the entry on the propellant? FLOX was bad, but Chlorine Trifluoride is a "bit" worse.
From the book "Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants" by John Clark, (1972) (and atomic rockets since my pdf isn't coming up atm)
"It is, of course, extremely toxic, but that's the least of the problem. It is hypergolic with every known fuel, and so rapidly hypergolic that no ignition delay has ever been measured.

It is also hypergolic with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, not to mention asbestos, sand, and water—with which it reacts explosively.

It can be kept in some of the ordinary structural metals—steel, copper, aluminum, etc.—because of the formation of a thin film of insoluble metal fluoride that protects the bulk of the metal, just as the invisible coat of oxide on aluminum keeps it from burning up in the atmosphere. If, however, this coat is melted or scrubbed off, and has no chance to reform, the operator is confronted with the problem of coping with a metal-fluorine fire. For dealing with this situation, I have always recommended a good pair of running shoes."

So there is that :)
Okkkayyy, note to self; never ever go near FLOX.

And I'm going to take a sideways step here and mention an issue with Glushko that relates. He had a tendency to be rather lazy about the particulars of his various "great ideas" in liquid propulsion. I don't have the note in front of me but he had a GREAT idea for a hydrogen peroxide propellant combination that would always ignite and had a pretty high ISP as well. IIRC the "fuel" component was best described as being slight LESS dangerous than the above, bu only SLIGHTLY less :)
Hydrogen peroxide, isn't that an acid or something? I cant imagine it would be a very good idea to use it as rocket fuel.

Yes, no and maybe? See how simple AH can be? Seriously, (for the moment, don't get used to it I swear :) ) Really more than one modular launch system capable of handling anything from say Saturn-1 class to heavy Saturn V class WAS studied but you run into the problem it's not as clear if and what you need with such a broad range. And while STS was cool looking in it's way there's litteally a whole book written on how it got there and it's convoluted and full of likely butterflies. We'll see what we can do though :)
In that case, then I would image an STS system in this TL being built around a Saturn I. Maybe simplify the upper stage as much as possible, once you get into the 80s replace the first stage, and put a Clipper atop the thing. Maybe add parachutes or wings to the first stage, and fly them back. So, you would have two vehicles, the Clipper-Saturn I that could resupply stations and fix satellites, etc, and the normal Saturn I that would replace the clipper with 20 to 30 tons of cargo. I would imagine that it would be designated the Saturn IC or Saturn II, and a system like that would basically be perfect. If cold-war tensions stay really high, we might even see an Air Force Clipper launched atop Titan IIICs from Vandenberg as well. The military would definitely be interested in such a spacecraft for inspecting Soviet satellites and such. And at the end of it all your left with a partially reusable heavy-lifter (if you went down the parachutes/wings on the first stage route), and a reusable Dreamchaser style spaceplane.

The SST was cut OTL due to issues around Apollo and it's follow on :) And arguably, in the near term at least, it was far more likely to have actual value to the American aerospace industry than an Apollo follow on and both sides knew it. Congress axed it and Nixon axed NERVA in return. Since there were relatively few NERVA advocates left that worked out just as well as Congress wanted it to. The general problem was the economy was in a slump due to the end of Vietnam, the government CAN boost spending to prop up the economy but nobody really could decide on where to spend the money and NASA was the last option for everyone. Especially the American public. Hence the need for a more 'rational' space race to keep things going. As it was it was around the end of Apollo that a bunch of smaller projects finally got some attention and pretty much only because there was a shuttle in the offing. If Mars is on the table you lose things like the lifting bodies and other related research. At that point in time I'm not seeing a lot of wiggle room but I'll keep looking.

And don't forget that the USSR has to make a commitment as well which brings up the question of what they are then doing without?
Very good points. maybe an early pull out of Vietnam is the way to go. Or start privatizing the launch market, that might lower costs.

Essentially you can slow the pace and if you can keep the 'interest' steady, (and in that point it can be general but not intense) and end up with pretty much everything we were 'promised' :) The problem is people are people and don't react in nice logical patterns which is arguably a good thing at times :)

Initially Apollo was susposed to be mostly focused on LEO and near-Earth space just like the Soyuz but (also like the Soyuz) it could be modified to do things in Cis-Lunar space at a later time. So essentially you'd see American and Russian progress moving along the same path the USSR took OTL in a general way. Since economy would come to the fore a bit earlier with less intense pressure you could see 'shuttle' experimentation looked at more closely since the whole process is more open. And of course if ONE side is doing it...
Maybe, but I'm still convinced that a Voyage style Mars mission is possible somehow. If you run it at the same time as the scaled-down STS program I just mentioned you might get a sustainable architecture out of it by the end.

At it's most basic the N1 needed a more powerful upper stage set, full stop. SpaceX has the same problem with using kerolox in the upper stage, it just doesn't have enough performance to get to where it needs to go. Now my idea was something along the lines of Korolev getting a hold of Kruschev's son instead of Chelomei and the kid getting a wild hair about using liquid propane in the upper stages. Sounds crazy but a fun fact is liquid propane, cooled to LOX temps has a density a bit higher than kerosene but a much higher ISP. Meaning with a minimum of insulation on a standard set of kerosene tanks you get a lot better performance. Why doesn't anyone use is? You get BETTER performance out of liquid methane and vastly better with hydrogen so why bother? Unless you are working the margins and need a break of course. Downside is Russia lacked a good supply of natural gas at the time and had difficulties producing propane anyway. Frankly if you can get Glushko on Korolev's side and get him to produce higher performance engines that would work too but he's got to move out of the 'comfort zone' he wouldn't do OTL till after they put him in the hot seat. Again it boils down to the program needing more focus and oversight by someone would could get everyone to play nice in a system designed to keep everyone from playing nice.

On top of that there's the question of what's in it for the Soviets in playing the game openly at all? They didn't lose much NOT going to the Moon OTL and that was clear early on. Put it out there and you can fall flat on your face with no way to hide it. Again that's a main reason they delayed cooperation till they felt more ready and ASTP still didn't play well for them in comparison.
Propane sounds awesome, I'll see what I can find on it. Frankly, would it be ASB to just tweak Glushko's character a bit, make him more likely to work with Korolev? Even if it is possible to do that, would it be the best course of action? I'm not entirely sure.

In general I like the concepts as a concept but again they needed something other than just the N1/Proton and a better deployment plan in going to the Moon. Of course the US had some similar issues but "in thrust we trust" they had more margin to spare in the first place so ... And once again if the US sees them testing hardware in space they can and will speed things up and the Soviets were aware of that. Having the Russian's get sneaky is always a plan but it needs to be balanced with what they could actually accomplish which is tougher. Coupled with that is the fact of how risk averse they were since any failure was magnified by their assumed superiority. I'll see what there is and NOT reply line by line... I hope :)
I think an N1 could just barely do it, but it would be close. Once they get the N1-U or N1-F working it will be much easier for them. For the very first mission, I assumed they couldn't get the super-chilled propellants to work, and they refueled in orbit with a Proton. I think that would work in real life, but I need to do more research.

I would argue that the unexcitingness of a Soyuz launch is how we know it's a successful rocket. The LV has never caused any fatalities and has a failure rate of something like 1 in 200. It's been kept in use long enough that the R&D money that went into it has been more than paid off and it's allowed the Soviets and Russians to do an impressive catalogue of exciting things.
Good point. The Satun-Clipper system I mentioned might eventually turn into the US's Soyuz in that case.

Well, every story is allowed one "gimme". NASA's Waterloo is a good timeline, but I don't think it is likely the US would react like that if the Soviets won the moon race.

In my view, it depends on how much the Soviets beat the US. If they land days/weeks/months before the US lands, then likely the US extends Apollo. There are relatively cheap options that would allow the US to claim "first moonbase" and would allow the US to show that while they were slightly slower to get there, they got there best. In OTL, Apollo had probably done its job to reassure the US public by 1966 or so - that is, by that point it was clear that America could match the Reds if it wanted to and that addressed most of the anxiety that bubbled up after Gagarin returned from orbit. So in TTL Apollo would succeed well enough that pressure to do an even bigger stunt seems dubious.

If Apollo is a year or two behind the Soviets, there's very little point in canning it since most of the money has been spent and most of the problems solved, and landing at least two LEMs on the moon (one to show that the US can do it, a second time to show the first wasn't a fluke) seems likely. The US could still opt to do a LESA style moonbase, but it could also decide to focus on low orbit science and military space efforts (as the Soviets did in OTL). A space station in the 70s is much more likely IMO. But America just hasn't been beat bad enough to justify many hundreds of billions of USD and risks a Mars shot would take.

If Apollo is many years behind the Soviets (so basically the US is as far behind the Soviets as the OTL Soviets were behind the OTL US and haven't even managed to get mission critical hardware working before the Soviets get bored of planting flags on the moon), my bet is Apollo is canned as a white elephant and a failure, Kennedy and Johnson are pilloried in the history books and the US focuses its efforts on more "practical" ways to show superiority over the Soviets. Almost certainly all manned space flight would be focused on low Earth orbit, with maybe a space station, and likely much more military activity in space by the US. Might NASA be cut down to something closer to its NACA roots and the astronaut program be given to the US airforce? I could see it happening, though it might not be the most likely outcome. Might the US get interested in something like SDI earlier? I think it's another possibility.
I'm not sure. I think if the president wants to really show the Soviets whos the best in space, he will choose a Mars mission because a Moonbase has almost no real value, and the Soviets could realistically beat them to it. A Mars mission would be expensive, but not too expensive, and it would be very decisive in deciding the winner of the race. It would also immortalize that president more so than a Moonbase would.

The US SST program was a phenomenal waste of money, it's not enough money to get to Mars though. It is enough money to fun an interesting space station program or temporary moonbase program though.

IMO the best PoD for a more active US in space is no Vietnam War. Not sure it's enough to get a man on Mars on its own. I think a manned Mars landing in the 20th Century would require at least 2 PoDs.
So, no SST, no or reduced Vietnam war, and a Soviet first Lunar landing. I think that might work, you'd probably need to tweak some other stuff too though.

Well, a Mars program is one of the few things that would make a shuttle worth having in the 70s and 80s. So actually, a Mars program and a Shuttle program at the same time is very likely. A specialized ground to low orbit vehicle, especially a reusable one, would make building a Mars ship WAY cheaper.
Maybe, but I think any Mars mission in the 80s will be launched on Saturns. A Shuttle simply won't be ready in time, and won't be economical in any way (they didn't know the latter back then, but still). Once you get into the 90s, then yes, a Shuttle would probably be used.

I wish I knew enough about the L3 to answer! If you have any good sources on it and its development I'd love to hear them.
Here are a few:

The obvious ones - https://www.wikiwand.com/en/LK_(spacecraft) - http://www.astronautix.com/l/l3.html - http://www.astronautix.com/l/lunarl3.html - http://www.russianspaceweb.com/l3.html

This has a lot of data on the entire program: https://fas.org/spp/eprint/lindroos_moon1.htm

A Lunar orbiter project: http://www.astronautix.com/l/lunae-6ls.html

A Lunar flyby Soyuz (not Zond): http://www.astronautix.com/s/soyuz7k-l1a.html

A Lunar orbiing Soyuz: http://www.astronautix.com/s/soyuz7k-l1e.html

The 7K-LOK Soyuz: http://www.astronautix.com/s/soyuz7k-lok.html

The LK lander: http://www.astronautix.com/l/lk.html

A rescue lander: http://www.astronautix.com/l/lkr.html

The DLB Lunar base: http://www.astronautix.com/d/dlblunarbase.html

Well, IMO Glushko was right, in so far as it's hard to see the Soviets getting a big rocket working in time if they didn't use large hypergolic engines.

The RD-170 took 12 years to develop, the hydrolox RD-0120 took 11 years to develop. Both were incredible engines, but those development times are too long for the moon race.

And yes, the jet engine group did succeed in designing and building an amazing engine in the NK-33 - but it is just too small for the "big rocket" approach to getting to the moon. Soviet computer technology just wasn't up to controlling the number of NK-33s a big rocket would need. Something like the NK-33 would have been amazing if the Soviets had used rockets the size of a Soyuz or Proton to launch a moonship into orbit in pieces. But such an approach would have an extremely inflexible schedule and have (at the time) unknown risks.

Though what if the Soviets had the electronics to make the KORD control system work? That might be enough to make the N-1 a viable design in the race.
So N1 uses more advanced electrics, and either a Soyuz outfitted with NK-33s or an N11 and N111 is used for medium and heavy lift? That could work.

So the end result of all of this is the N1 flying by 1968, the and the first landing by 1969. By late 1969 or early 1970, they have the superchilled propellent figured out, so they don't need to use a Proton refueling craft. The N1 in this case probably uses either propane (likely) or hydrolox (unlikely) in its upper stages, maybe as early as the first flight but probably not until the 4th or 5th. The N11 probably starts flying around 1967 or 1968 and would replace Proton by the end of the 1970s, with the N111 maybe replacing Soyuz. Presumably, they fly a couple of standard Lunar missions, maybe with one or two failures, and then they start flying LK Shelters and Lunokhod Laboratories as well. By the end of the 1970s, they will have flown 6 or 7 Lunar missions, and retreat back to LEO to build Mir.

Meanwhile, the US wants to get back at them and so it starts the Ares program. Presumably, the Shuttle program and the Apollo program as we know it OTL is cut with the latter only flying to 15. By the mid-1980s an Ares mission lands on Mars, and the program is cut. During this time the Air Force has probably sponsored NASA to develop a smaller version of the shuttle, aka the Clippers from Ocean of Storms, and they start flying by the mid-1980s too. Eventually, we get Space Station Freedom by 1990, and it evolves into the ISS by 2010. Does that sound plausible?

And by the way, here are some mock-ups of LK Shelters and Lunokhod Laboratories I made in KSP: https://imgur.com/gallery/WfyTYl3
 
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Who me? How did that happen? Who authorized that!
You didn't see the memoi? It was clearly posted on the door to the sub-level 21 auxilary, secondary, emergency storage4 room in the anex to the forums main virtual building located on the semi-working server on Crete... Everyone ELSE knew about it... Even the Vogons... Yeesh do you not keep up with simple little things like that? What? Do you have a life or something like that? :D

I would argue that the unexcitingness of a Soyuz launch is how we know it's a successful rocket. The LV has never caused any fatalities and has a failure rate of something like 1 in 200. It's been kept in use long enough that the R&D money that went into it has been more than paid off and it's allowed the Soviets and Russians to do an impressive catalogue of exciting things.
Yep, "getting there is half the fun and most of the work" and you pretty much HAVE to make it routine and boring for it to be economic and pratical. The 'exciting' stuff is what comes after that which pushes your efforts outward.

Now that is very interesting. If it is true, then it gives us a good PoD for the Soviets developing a much more practical N-1.
Still the problem of getting the needed support, but agree.

Well, every story is allowed one "gimme". NASA's Waterloo is a good timeline, but I don't think it is likely the US would react like that if the Soviets won the moon race.
As I noted I love me some alternate-after-Apollo but ... :)

In my view, it depends on how much the Soviets beat the US. If they land days/weeks/months before the US lands, then likely the US extends Apollo. There are relatively cheap options that would allow the US to claim "first moonbase" and would allow the US to show that while they were slightly slower to get there, they got there best. In OTL, Apollo had probably done its job to reassure the US public by 1966 or so - that is, by that point it was clear that America could match the Reds if it wanted to and that addressed most of the anxiety that bubbled up after Gagarin returned from orbit. So in TTL Apollo would succeed well enough that pressure to do an even bigger stunt seems dubious.
Sounds about right

If Apollo is a year or two behind the Soviets, there's very little point in canning it since most of the money has been spent and most of the problems solved, and landing at least two LEMs on the moon (one to show that the US can do it, a second time to show the first wasn't a fluke) seems likely. The US could still opt to do a LESA style moonbase, but it could also decide to focus on low orbit science and military space efforts (as the Soviets did in OTL). A space station in the 70s is much more likely IMO. But America just hasn't been beat bad enough to justify many hundreds of billions of USD and risks a Mars shot would take.
Also :)

If Apollo is many years behind the Soviets (so basically the US is as far behind the Soviets as the OTL Soviets were behind the OTL US and haven't even managed to get mission critical hardware working before the Soviets get bored of planting flags on the moon), my bet is Apollo is canned as a white elephant and a failure, Kennedy and Johnson are pilloried in the history books and the US focuses its efforts on more "practical" ways to show superiority over the Soviets. Almost certainly all manned space flight would be focused on low Earth orbit, with maybe a space station, and likely much more military activity in space by the US. Might NASA be cut down to something closer to its NACA roots and the astronaut program be given to the US airforce? I could see it happening, though it might not be the most likely outcome. Might the US get interested in something like SDI earlier? I think it's another possibility.
The US SST program was a phenomenal waste of money, it's not enough money to get to Mars though. It is enough money to fun an interesting space station program or temporary moonbase program though.
True, and really the only reason it got as far as it did was AS a likely way to put money into aerospace outside of Apollo. Was it enough to exend Apollo (per the "temporary" Moonbase concept? I thought that required things like the Saturn V?) and I agree about the "interesting" space station program. But in context the one thing the Adminstration and Congress DID agree on with the money was it wasn't going to NASA for Apollo or Space flight. Hmmm, could it be directed towards a more 'practical' (near term) shuttle vehicle? At the time the Air Force was spaming everyone with replacing most of the Saturn system with Titan III as a 'cheaper' alternative for orbital launch.

IMO the best PoD for a more active US in space is no Vietnam War. Not sure it's enough to get a man on Mars on its own. I think a manned Mars landing in the 20th Century would require at least 2 PoDs.
Yep, though Vietnam is tied with the same issues with Kennedy's issues that initially led to the Lunar decison as he'd almost gone into Laos when things flared up there so once again you need to give him some kind of 'boost' to take the pressure off. As for landing on Mars in the 20th century that's EASY! However, as Elon Musk points out the difficult part is the "not dying" during the litho-braking segment of the mission :)

Well, a Mars program is one of the few things that would make a shuttle worth having in the 70s and 80s. So actually, a Mars program and a Shuttle program at the same time is very likely. A specialized ground to low orbit vehicle, especially a reusable one, would make building a Mars ship WAY cheaper.
Well, yes and no actually. It greatly depends on how you do it because you have different requirements for different elements and in the context of a practical Mars program they end up being disimilar enough you either need a big kludge of a shuttle system that doesn't do manned transporation well, (OTL Shuttle stack as used) OR you get a general booster design that can be scaled between medium and heavy lift loads that you "can" tack a manned shuttle onto to transport people to orbit when needed. (OTL Shuttle system had that possiblity but the Orbiter and TAOS design was difficult to optimize to the task and frankly NASA didn't want anything that was "unmanned") The Saturn V was a beast and they tried to despreatly find a way to continue using it but it was too much for anything that was going to be affordable post-Apollo. The Saturn-1 was probably more adaptable but while improvments were studied in the end it wasn't the Saturn V and why settle for lesser capability? There was a lot of study on possible ways to make the Saturn more afforable and practical, oddly enough though the most "advanced" ones tended to be really obscure and more of an aside than you'd think given the time/money/effort put into the Saturn development. (Then again at the TIME most of this was being done the thinking was less they needed a better Saturn but that the 'logical' next step would simple be a much bigger booster instead :) )

Essentially you're going to end up with a vehicle development program as part of the Mars program and that's where the Apollo paradigm tends to fail because it's "easier/faster" to brute force it rather than finnesse it. Hence the multitude of various Saturn V versions instead of something more optimized. And to get a 'shuttle' would require advanced funding for some of the more neglected aeronautical programs aimed at lifitng reentry. (This is why Big G, Big Apollo, and other capsule designs kept coming back up around the same period for Space Station support. Capsules were easier to develop and build and they could, in theory, be reused)

As long as you can ease off the pressure of a Mars mission to something like Apollo level mid-60s public/government support with a practical budget there's enough wiggle room to have the needed concurrent and parallel development going on but getting THERE is tough :)

So I've never been able to find much detail on exactly how well "all the other stuff" was coming along while the N-1 was being developed. It's worth noting that for NASA, the Saturn V was one of the easier parts of the Lunar program. By comparison the Soviets were really struggling with the N-1. So if the N-1 was proving challenging, how were all the elements that the Americans were finding challenging going for the Soviets?
It's my understanding that while development on the 'other stuff' was advanced to a prototype stage, (with plenty of mockups and test fixtures) the N1 was also the driver for the Soviets. Those that could, (Chelomei for example) had plans to do advanced testing with other means, (using the Proton or R7 if it could be made to work) but the utility wasn't that great. And there were problems with the other systems as exampled by the issues with Zond, that weren't going to show up without actual testing. IMO the N1 was both a driver but also only the biggest component of the whole and they don't seem to have been as ready as it would appear. Again a lot of this is due to the lack of actual commitment and support at an early stage.

I wish I knew enough about the L3 to answer! If you have any good sources on it and its development I'd love to hear them.
:::Sigh:::: Seriously? Theres a ton (litterally, 1.5 metric tons to be exact) of information on the L3 and other project right inside that store room with the memo on your forum status that you didn't read... I swear it's like you don't live on the forums or something like that... Yeesh... :D

More seriously, I'd echo that as well. The sources are Ok but there's some really pointed questions that can't be answered since the 'complex' was never tested or trialed as a system. (And since it had to WORK as a system that's kind of important :) )

Well, IMO Glushko was right, in so far as it's hard to see the Soviets getting a big rocket working in time if they didn't use large hypergolic engines.
Agreed-ish? He was right per-se but then again everything I've seen seems to indicate that was more in hindsight than at-the-time and he wasn't really interested in trying either. As I noted it seems to me he was at times a bit conservative and stubborn and at others wildy inovative with little regard to what was practical. Taking the above possible interaction, if Glushko HAD made such an offer to Kololev you end up with having to ask why he wasn't willing to accept a supposed professional anyalsys of the issues with the modular LV concept? Because Korolev's group came up with it? Normally you'd see some back and forth on the idea but it just gets dropped? Actually, in the context of the time I can actually see that happening IF I can accept that the offer wsa there in the first place. The environment was toxic already and getting worse as things progressed and while both sides had good points the way the system was set up, you made a quick deal or none at all as the dynamics were too volitile to be stable. (Not going to say the situation was rather 'hypergolic' but... No, that's ok, I'll see myself out, no need to get violent)

The RD-170 took 12 years to develop, the hydrolox RD-0120 took 11 years to develop. Both were incredible engines, but those development times are too long for the moon race.
Yes but ... (I say that a lot don't I :) ) there was a need for at the very least a bigger, more powerful kerolox engine and arguable he COULD have done it with enough backing from Korolev and leadership. However, there in the background is the actual sponsors of all this development (the military) who have a dislike for kerolox and prefer storable propellants and are not at all convinced that Korolev's "Moon rocket" is going to have any utilty as a super-ICBM in any case. It's pretty easy to come to the conclusion that Korolev's project isn't going to be the path forward with some "logical" assumptions.

Again, if you take the Soviet system as it was supposed to be rather than how it actually was, Yangel was an orginizer and coordinator, Glushko was propulsion, Korleve booter/LV and orbital spacecraft design and Chelomei, (despite some short-falls) was a pretty good orbital/utility spacecraft designer. working together as cooperative whole I've no doubt they would have at LEAST given the US a neck-in-neck race to the finish. More likely they had a very good shot at grabbing the prize but as per OTL the follow through would be in question. But the system wasn't set up or run that way so the real chances are shockingly low and the risks way to high.

And yes, the jet engine group did succeed in designing and building an amazing engine in the NK-33 - but it is just too small for the "big rocket" approach to getting to the moon.
Yep, but the thing I keep coming back to was to keep in mind that it as in fact a 'first-effort' and there had initially been enough leeway to consider a bit smaller N1 which would later evolve up. And Kuznetsov was quite willng to take on a larger engine design task if it came to it. (How successful it would have been considering... :) )

Soviet computer technology just wasn't up to controlling the number of NK-33s a big rocket would need. Something like the NK-33 would have been amazing if the Soviets had used rockets the size of a Soyuz or Proton to launch a moonship into orbit in pieces. But such an approach would have an extremely inflexible schedule and have (at the time) unknown risks.
For the most part yes, EOR has the same downside for the Russians that it did for the US in that while probably the 'better' way to go overall it would take longer (as noted) at the time, had a lot of risks that couldn't be quantified.

Though what if the Soviets had the electronics to make the KORD control system work? That might be enough to make the N-1 a viable design in the race.
Again it ended up being to little time and not enough support in a timely manner to make it work on schedule. That DID get it to work but it was far to late. While we're on that btw I think one thing that also needs to be in the mix is a 'fix' for Soyuz/Zond and a more robust LEO mission progression for the Soviet program for this to work. They pretty much need to be neck-in-neck with Gemini on pacing items for the whole program and in fact their plan may in fact require hitting a few points harder than the American's did. Even if we make the N1 a viable design, the rest has to be in place for them to suceed.

Apollo was being badly run? Howso?
If I cite the memo you didn't read would that be totally unhelpful or what? :D

Ok, back on topic :)

Last I read about the actual management (we're talking an article from Analog here) Apollo was brilliantly managed...
When reviewed as a whole program from start to end and looking at the big picture, there is no argument that the Apollo program was brilliantly managed, effectivly coordinated and utterly awsome, especially when it is take into account how NASA was initially orginized, what made up both the original and early Lunar program NASA and what it finally evolved into. However once you get down to details, especially pre-fire, things get ugly really, really quickly and you can reasonably ask "How did these knuckleheads manage to get to the Moon?"

NASA was initially just NACA with a new sign on the front door and some tossed in ancillary miltary space projects that NACA/NASA had little to do with and little interaction with. Oh there were some larger and more coordinated segments such as what would become Marshall SFC but in truth NACA has had less interaction than ARPA had and what ARPA had been doing or organizing beyond what MSFC people knew on personal basis was not available. NACA wasn't an 'agency' and it was set up to be mostly independent labs with their own schdules, contacts and budget segments. They did mosty research and lab work with some low-budget physcial work when they could coordiante it. The "new" parts were mostly military based side projects with a smatering of larger projects that were organized and coordinadted under the particualr military branch they originated from And THAT was a mish-mash in and of itself with the Army programs used to doing the majority of the R&D themseleves to define a design before they handed it over to a contractor to build to specification. The Navy parts were similar but they tended to be smaller, more focused and deeper in detail. The Air Force bits were used to defining a requirement, bidding contracts, running comparisions, then rinse and repeat till you got what you wanted. (And even then parts of the Air Force system still used combined Army/Navy methadolgy which confused things even worse)

Now from 1958 to early 1962 THIS is the NASA that came up with Mercury, (pretty much pure NACA with some Army/Air Force support albeit grudgingly on the later part) and laid out the original Apollo. Note that at the time there was no Gemini and no percieved need for anything like Mercury MkII as it was all going to be on Apollo. Things are begining to gel and most of the areas are coming around to a semi-coordinated partition of responsibilty which is blenging the various 'cultures' of operation and management. Then Kennedy drops the L-bomb and things are going to get weird. Suddenly NASA is an "agency" in full and operations and organziation will need to expand by an order of magnititude. Worse the timetable given is possible but only if everything goes perfectly well and frankly something that the core managment (NACA) has no idea how to do other than throwing money at the problem. (Which in fact sesms to fix most problems but keep in mind that was never an option for the actual NACA so oversight and pacing is only a very minimal passing thing)

Well, as part of this the Administartion is removing the last vestigas of the Air Force space program outside some outlier projects and DoD launch services. And in this transfer is a solution as it includes a good population of people who are familiar with the Air Force ICBM development and deployment program which had a similar problem. Combine that with the orginal NACA expertise in running the bueracracy in Washington for support and things don't look so bad. In fact the combination seems to be able to perform miricles! On close examination though the Air Force missile program was so successful because it essentially threw money at contactors to fix problems and had selected on-site coordinators that were directly responsible for success or failure of that fix. It worked but it was expensive and more than a bit balkly. Oversight and coordination were tightly controlled but it was pushed down the chain as far as practical to avoid blocks. While the whole program was set to a fixed schedule with set goals and coordinated through the HQ it was the individual areas and area managers which mostly drove the selected sites and al the contarctors and resources assigned to them.
On the other hand NACA could shmooze money out of the politicans on a regular basis (which was easier here due to the the same essentially throwing money at NASA but it's good to keep in practice) and would then distribute it to the individial project managers who would then coordinate the project themselves. NACA managment was pretty laid back on overight and coorinaton, leaving that to the center, lab and often individual project managers. Meanwhile the overall planning and timeline development were focused at the top level so that there were few overlaps and duplications and the varous areas could easily coordinate and share information and resources.

So the level of oversight was all over the place and it showe in things like the Command Module and LM pacing and progression. As you noted the Saturn development and related work went pretty fast and realtivly easy which was essentially the Huntsville Army group simply doing what they always did with a little more reliance on contractors than the past. The Cape used mostly the Air Force methods with a healthy dose of basic Civil Engineering (Army Corp of Engineers) grunt work and standard methods. The Manned Spaceflight group of course were core military, mostly aimed at replicating the standard Test Pilot organization and methadology with a layering of public relations to help things along. Again the probems were whera all these styles and methods meshed... Or in many cases didn't :)

Now on top of all this was the overlay that this was 'working' and that unlike the early NASA it was fast becoming clear that in order to meet the goal and timetable, planning for the 'future' and having more projects on the side weren't going to work out. And since NASA stand for "National AERONAUTICS and Space Adminstration" (and keep in mind this is before political meddlng began to add even MORE 'side' responablities to NASA) there was problem. The clear indication was that as of 1962 NASA's main mission would be the "Space" part and in particular it would be the MANNED space mission. So the order of the day is going to be damage control because, even with the budget and support of the early 60s it's no longer viable to spread it out and delute it if the job is going to be done. So the shutdowns and reductions begin.

This isn't a problem for the areas run like the Air Force missile program, that's SOP. It's an issue for the NACA run areas because they had always looked ahead to keep things moving forward. No 'future' plan means at some point you run out of things to do. Which was also an issue for the Army run groups because with nothing to look forward to you lose people which translates into the loss of knowledge and skill. And this trickled down to those in direct contact with and with oversight of a lot of the critcal but short-term projects as well as some of the bigger ones that were having issues.

By the time of the Apollo 1 fire it was pretty clear there were major organizational and managment issues in places but the pacing and time factor was such that it was being overlooked on a regular basis and it came back to bite them in the end. But the OVERALL program managment was fantasic, the problem was it was so specifically aimed and focused that once that program was over...

It is actually going to be similar if the Soviets were to commit to a Lunar goal in a short time period. As successful as it was it was successul because it was so focused and once you 'get' where you're going that's pretty much it.

Randy
 
Hydrogen peroxide, isn't that an acid or something? I cant imagine it would be a very good idea to use it as rocket fuel.
It's acidic, meaning its PH is below 7, but varies depending on purity and what contaminates are in it.

It's an awesome monopropellant, just needs the presence of a Catalyst to decompose into Steam and O2. With a rocket, that gets you some thrust.
Adding that with a hydrocarbon, you get even more, thanks to the heat and extra O2.

Much rather be around HOOH than RFNA, not that I really want to have 100% HOOH spilled on me either, I like my organic Tissue to stay the way it is, thank you very much.
 
I think this is a reasonable timeline, but I don't know that it's close enough of a race to keep the Soviets in it after One Small Step for an American.

I did a very similar timeline called "Sputniks" (Turtledove nominee, 2011! :) ) -- there, the POD is not Korolev living, but an earlier Korolev/Glushko split. Kuznetzov is brought early and is able to make a workable N-1 earlier. Mishin is able to continue where Korolev left off.

Another favorable factor was a more smooth transition between Khruschev and Brezhnev. An unfavorable factor was a fatal flaw in Russia's Trans Lunar Injection booster. Gus Grissom is the first Man on the Moon in July 1969. Andriyan Nikolayev is the third, in October 1969.

That timeline ultimately reverted to OTL despite the excitement of the 1960s and some hope for the 1970s. (including the early discovery of water ice on the Moon, as you have). Space travel was just too expensive (still is) without a major breakthrough. Russians walking on the Moon doesn't immediately translate to "On to Mars!"
 
It's acidic, meaning its PH is below 7, but varies depending on purity and what contaminates are in it.

It's an awesome monopropellant, just needs the presence of a Catalyst to decompose into Steam and O2. With a rocket, that gets you some thrust.
Adding that with a hydrocarbon, you get even more, thanks to the heat and extra O2.

Much rather be around HOOH than RFNA, not that I really want to have 100% HOOH spilled on me either, I like my organic Tissue to stay the way it is, thank you very much.
Personal note: Having to work around, (storage within 25 yards of the building) RFNA netted me an extra $25 dollars a week 'hazard' pay. We had a vented barrel of H2O2 in a locker in the bay next to the business office :)

Then again it was the late-70s and I washed my hands in MEK on a regular basis.. No effect I swear :)

Randy
 
- What happened to N1 booster 1L and 2L?
Fist 1L was more technical model, 2L had serious issues as they put on Launch Pad, it had afterwards cracks all over: hull, tanks, propellant lines etc.
Both were used as Mockup and later scraped in 1970s

- What sort of timescale was the NERVA program working on? When would the first flight-ready rocket be made?
RIFT not before 1979, the program had allot technical problems to solve as it was stoped...

- Could a manned Mars flyby take place (using the AAP study on a Venus flyby) as early as 1978?
With RIFT in 1979 you could have 1986-89 A mars mission with Venus Flyby

- How much would the Ares program cost?
Around twice of Apollo on R&D cost like Nerva engines, Nuclear Tug and there long storage Propellant tanks, Mars Lander, Lifesupport and Testing all this in Space, building rockets etc.

- Would a flyback S-IC, EDIN05 booster, LRBs or SRBs be chosen for the Shuttle?
- Could Shuttle-derived heavy-lift vehicles be built at a reasonable cost?
If Capitol Hill Dump money into Space Race, take flyback S-IC its good base for reasonable cost STS

- What does all of this do to the Strategic Defense Initiative? Real-life 'Storming Intrepid'?
- While the US is out exploring Mars, what does the Soviet Union do?
If they got Saturn V in production and Saturn base Shuttle for SDI, as Soviet i would become very nervous, mean extremely nervous.
Start to build Military present in Space either Low Orbit or on Moon as Anti-SDI system
Or as more Peace loving Soviet General Secretary send expedition to Mars too, force NASA to fly astronauts deeper into solar system...
 
Moving some things around a bit :)

Specifics first:
Now onto the 'quote and reply' part:

The way I did it had the N1 first fly in June of 1968 (It was originally planned to fly in September of 1968 OTL, but cracks formed in the first stage caused the launch to be scrubbed. I assumed Korolev would be able to accelerate things by a few months and fix the craking issues). Korolev sees the N1 fail and tries to get the Soviet leadership to fund a Block A test stand. OTL this request actually happened and was denied, ITL it goes through thanks to Korolevs people skills. The test stand is finished in December 1968 (a bit of a stretch), and what would have been OTL the first N1 to fly is test-fired. The foreign object ingestion problem is found and fixed, and the next flight in February of 1969. The center engine shutdown causes problems but the first stage is detached early and the mission continued (this very nearly happened OTL on flight 4), kind-of proving the L3 spacecraft (the 7K-L1A skipped off of the atmosphere on reentry). The N1 cannot be modified to use super-chilled propellants in time for the actual mission though, so they have to refuel in orbit using a Proton rocket. It works, and Alexi Leonov lands in June of 1969.
Assuming you can get it to that point, keep in mind that you had a LOT more going on in the background that wasn't done OTL either so needs to be addressed. Orbital rendzvous and docking, multiple spacewalks, vehicle, hardware and operations testing. And you're only 'break' the US gives you is the stand down after Apollo 1 through the first part of 1968. The Saturn V flew successfully the first time and so any delay of the N1 is going to be problematical at best. (This is always a sticking point with such things. Problems with the Saturn V would 'help' but it's a race that Russians started late and weren't fully in OTL. Given a time line where they are both early and supportive you've got a chance but it's still a small one unless they go all in from the start and again what's the actual upside for them?)

I'm going to suggest that Korolev DOES send a letter to Brezhnev but it deals more with the utility of the N1's stages and clearly address the main issue the miltary had with kerolox missiles, (which was the main problem for development priority) as a military launch vehicle for both manned and unmanned flights. Maybe hinting that the "Moon rocket" label is geared towards disinformation towards the west? Anyway, instead of upsetting Brezhnev as per OTL it inspire him to consider the N1 system as a equal or alternative to the UR500 as a miltary launch vehicle thereby gaining his (and the militaries) support rather than opposition. You're still running behind but with the people who are actually able to get you supplemental resources and support that could be vital.

If you read the accounts on Astronautix from the engineers who worked on the project, they still had tiny slivers of hope for a Soviet first landing even by the second N1 launch OTL. When the rocket fell back onto the pad was the moment everyone realized that they were, without a dought, going to lose. In fact, I've heard people say (I cannot confirm it though) that some cosmonauts volunteered to fly that second N1 launch to try and land. Thank god they didn't.
Hope springs eternal but it wasn't really likely as the whole Soviet Lunar mission profile was so much more complex, (even if techincally simpler) than the American one. Again you need a vast more amount of background work that also wasn't present OTL to get to the point where even with a working N1 you have a shot. Do-able, but needs in depth work to make it happen. (As for the vounteers... Well, the US Army had to eegularly keep turning away eager volunteers who wanted to ride a V2 into space. Despite most of them actually working with the V2 and pretty consistanlty watching them fail spectaularly.. and also unsurvivably. People are weird it seems :) )

Those are very good points. I'm still not quite sure what to do with the military in this TL. Maybe Korolev can sell the N1 as a launcher for a military space station or something.
Pretty much needs to happen or you got no chance at all because unlike the US program there was never any question on who was actually 'in-charge' of the Soviet space program. The miltary initally authorized and paid for everything so the sooner they are on-board the better. As I noted above your main issue is while the R7 worked it was a terrible military weapon and the military never forgot this so they trended towards storable propellant and more military applicable launch system. The Nedeline Accident gave everyone a pause but needs-must and it was clear that for military purposes, (and those were paramount) such risks needed to be taken and accepted.

Moved:
Hydrogen peroxide, isn't that an acid or something? I cant imagine it would be a very good idea to use it as rocket fuel.
An oxidizer that has a tendency to 'react' rather enegetically with organi compounds. It leaves burn on you if you get it on your skin but delutes with water rapidly. Unlike most storable propellants it's not immediatly toxic on contact and has no toxic fumes. You DO have to have respect for what it can do and treat it accordingly, (since it looks just like water the tendecy is to forget it's NOT water with consqueces to follow) but the British ran an almost 30 year rocket project handling tons of the stuff with no major accidents due to using peroxide. It was in fact a major industrial chemical until a few years ago when use fell off and manufacturing went dormant. Beal Aerospace was going to use it as an oxidiers with kerosense, (same combination as the Brits) for a low cost LV in the early 80s but that fell through. (They did test the largest liquid rocket engine using it until the Merlin came along)

Now as an aside, I have notes on a "missed" opportuntity from around then that frankly is pretty odd everyone missed. Hydrogen peroxids had a bad reputation and German experiance during WWII didn't enhance it any. Yet the British ran a really succesful program with it right into the 1970s and the Soviets, (Glushko specifically) kept coming back to it all through the period. The problem is it undergoes spontanous decomposition over time which makes long term storage a problem. Hence even in operation, storable propellant ends up being a 'better' if more dangerous option.
But... H2O2 in fact CAN be stored indefiinatly with no decomposition easily, it's just no one tumbled onto HOW until the mid-70s and the wide spread use of air conditioned storage. Long term storage tests in the 70s with 98% H2O2 stored in an air conditioned warehouse at a temperature of 5c/41 degrees expiranced NO decompositon over period of more than 5 years. None. Essentilally if you store a peroxide missile in an environmentall controlled structure, (hint: a silo) just like a storable propellant missile you can leave it fueled up and ready for an instant launch. Similarly a mobile missile with a cooling blanket gets the same effect. You have issues of course if any of these systems fail but they are well known and controlable. The point? This checks 90% of the boxes that both the Military and Glushko had with Korolev's kerolox boosters. Korolev didn't like peroxide for the standard reasons of inexperiacne and lower performance than kerolox but on the other hand your stage, assuming similar size would actually carry more propellant and be a bit more effecient in the initial boost phase.

What this MIGHT, (because I am terrible at math and BotE calculations are even worse) translate into is boosting the N1 performance slightly and giving the kerolox upper stages a bit more efficiency along the way. (Keroxide in a spacecraft upper stage/propulsion module actually is slight better than some storables with some added side benifits possbile) Enough to do the job? Maybe, but probably more important it's a foot in the door to getting the military to initial accept a possible N1 miltary model. YMMV but it's there if you need it :)

Wow... let's hope I don't mess up quite that bad...

In all seriousness though, figuring out the dates for these things is stupidly hard. That's why I stuck close to OTL like my life depended on it, I didn't want to do something and have no idea where to get the dates from. I was already pulling my hair out just over the completion time for LC110L! I still cant believe that no one wrote it down somewhere - that was one of the biggest construction projects in the space program! How do you forget when you finished building several thousand tons of concrete and steel launchpad?
I take it you haven't seen some of the threads where there are 'questions' over the accuracy of the location of a historical figure who may have actually been in the loo at the reqired time of the POD? Ya, don't sweat it and do your best it's not THAT important if you do it right anyway :) As for the pad completion it likely WAS written down... At every single stage where that particular person considered it to be complete :)
If we're going to be pendantic about it it was 'complete' the first time a vehicle was tested on it becauese really that's the only way to be sure. Like I said don't sweat it :)

I know of Atomic Rockets, but I didn't know they had the stuff of the Mars and Venus flybys, ill have a look into that. For now, though, it seems they're off the table.
Regularly checking AR among other sites, (Scott Lowthars "Aerospace Projects Review' blog/document site, http://www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com/) is always rewarded. A HUGE time sink, but rewarding...

As for flybys we should keep in mind while manned ones were quickly rendered obsolete there's still a utility to them :0

....wow. It's literally just KSP in real life. That's insane and really awesome! And yes, the Saturn I was very cool. Its probably my favorite rocket too, just something about the way that the first stage looks like it was cobbled together at the last minute (which, apparently, it was) It looks like the embodiment of the early space age.
Do NOT get me started on fan-boi/geekingout over the Saturn 1, it never ends well :)

Okkkayyy, note to self; never ever go near FLOX.
And that's one of the tamer insanties that were seriously consdidered and sometimes tested.

In that case, then I would image an STS system in this TL being built around a Saturn I. Maybe simplify the upper stage as much as possible, once you get into the 80s replace the first stage, and put a Clipper atop the thing. Maybe add parachutes or wings to the first stage, and fly them back. So, you would have two vehicles, the Clipper-Saturn I that could resupply stations and fix satellites, etc, and the normal Saturn I that would replace the clipper with 20 to 30 tons of cargo. I would imagine that it would be designated the Saturn IC or Saturn II, and a system like that would basically be perfect. If cold-war tensions stay really high, we might even see an Air Force Clipper launched atop Titan IIICs from Vandenberg as well. The military would definitely be interested in such a spacecraft for inspecting Soviet satellites and such. And at the end of it all your left with a partially reusable heavy-lifter (if you went down the parachutes/wings on the first stage route), and a reusable Dreamchaser style spaceplane.
The original Saturn 1 was designed to parachute into the ocean down-range, firing a set of solid rocket motors at the last secon to cushion the impact, and be recovered by a specially fitted LST. Work had begun with the idea of recovering early Redstone and Jupiter test flights and in fact a test Redstone was taken out to sea and the process had been practiced to define the parmeters and issues with good success. Further the H1 engines were dropped in salt water basins for varying lengths of tme and were 'cleaned' to varying degrees, rebuilt and then test fired successfuly. As noted average cost ran around 5% that of a 'new' engine so reusablity was assumed. How WELL such recovery would have actually worked is more questionable but they never got the chance to try.

If you really look at it unless your flight rate is fantatically high you don't really need to get the booster back to the launch site in a short period of time. Down-range landing under parachutes is pretty acceptable really up till you start to need the booster back on the pad in a couple of weeks. And frankly if you're doing this right you have more boosters than you really need, but not enough that you are not putting one together at a rate of a couple a year or so. Requireing RTLS has a penalty and while you CAN pay it for various reasons if you don't have to...

The orbiter (and essentially any reusable upper stage) on the other hand not only benifits from it it makes the mission planning a lot easier so that's kind of a given. So that's why I tend to look towards evolving the S-IVB into a resuable stage since that was also an inital concept that Douglas did a lot of work on. I figure there would be a divergance between the 'cargo' upper stage design and that for 'crew' whereas the latter would become Clipper the former would remain a ballstic reentry, parachute-recovered stage to keep as much performance as possible.

As I mentioned in another response an issue is that Apollo as it ran pretty much killed the need and desire for applications for the Saturn 1 as idea was to save as much of the Saturn V as possible. When it was becoming clear that the S1C wasn't likely to be saved the progresion was to try and use the SII or S-IVB (boosted by large SRMs as the LH2 engines would not work for lift off) and the Saturn 1 left behind. MY take is that, as you suggest it was actually a better option but...

And yes that's how I'd see it run if you had a better organized and more rational post-Apollo space program. Something of Saturn survives and is used to build upon. One challenge is as I mentioned, the Air Force REALLY wanted to use the post-Apollo period to force a re-distribution of space launch responsabiliies and base them around a Titan based system. They had a credible cost effective argument, (beings the Titan was still in low scale produciton and none of the Saturns were) though NASA had a point about the Titans toxic propellants. It was a question since to the politicians the price difference was quite clear, (Titan, on paper was significantly cheaper) and the truth wouldn't come out, (the Titan as only cheaper due to the Air Force cost accounting methods and the fact it was, by the Titan III anyway, reaching a performacne platue that would require a major redesign andn expensive rebuild to overcome) with the Titan IV by which time the Saturn was long gone.

As for the Clipper and/or Dreamchaser I'd more suspect that the Soviets wouid field the latter, it was thier toy initially :) But the Air Force wouldn't do satllite inspections per-se. That's one of those jobs that was talked about a lot but never really viable operationally. Still it might be possible to buy off the Air Force by offering them their own Saturn-Clipper's, it worked OTL :)

Very good points. maybe an early pull out of Vietnam is the way to go. Or start privatizing the launch market, that might lower costs.
Vietnam as I noted is tricky not in specific but in general due to the same circumstances that netted the US getting into the Lunar goal. Need to pick apart the butterflies but it's possible.

Privitizing space, ya I wanted to get into that one but wasn't sure how to broach it as quite obviously it's not going to be a 'thing' in the genera Soviet focused timeline :)
One of the things "promised" by OTL Shuttle was increased access and commercialization of space flight. Contrarty to popular belief NASA didn't "lie" about that aspect but in general nobody asked the right question on what that meant :) The most basic truth of the Mathmatica-TAOS report that was the genisis of OTL's STS was that in order to have ANY chance of being at all economical, (even for the government) then it had to be THE ONLY POSSIBLE US LAUNCH SYSTEM, (litterally) bar-none. In fact it was pretty much neccessary to absorb as much of ALL western launch services as possible to increase the economics as much as possible.

I'm pretty sure you can see an issue with this when there are only four (4) orbiters approved for construction :) (And somewhere along the line it was being discussed that the Air Force would end up with two of them in the end... WTF? :) ) While there was a plausible context where "space" would be more commercialized, the launch industry would consist soley of government built and operated shuttles with all that implies. Quite obvioulsy NASA had no issues with this, the Air Force iinitally had issues with this, (the NRO had MAJOR issues with this) and pretty much everyone else didn't make the connection because no one was going into that kind of detail. Again, the problem was it simply couldn't work as it was being done. Still, there was the idea that once NASA had worked the bugs out that there could be commercial shuttles but OTL that wasn't going to happen with that design and since NASA could never get approval or funding for "Shuttle II"...

Then Challenger came along and it was clear the Shuttle wasn't going to ever reach the point needed to be economical AND other nations (France, Russia, China, etc) had made serious inroads into the world launch market and the US launcher companies scrambling to ramp back up... Ya, it was a mess.

TTL if you have a Saturn-Clipper STS system with semi-regular flights, (especailly to one or more space stations and the possiblity of commercial space stations themselves) and a familiy of small to medium LV's to service the lower end market, (likely Delta derived, though again access and utlity may drive a new, reusable design) your possible commercial applications actually do ramp up and you can 'afford' to let the government "drive" the launch market. A sticking point is trying to get a commercial launch service/market through that kind of subsidized competition. Possible but damn difficult and if it works there's a load of inertia to overcome as well.
(So no Spaceship One, SpaceX or Blue Origins TTL though they may instead be space applications companies)

Maybe, but I'm still convinced that a Voyage style Mars mission is possible somehow.
It is actually and a lot of folks miss that point in "Voyage" :) It's possible, it happens and it never happens again. By the end of "Voyage" you are where Apollo was after Apollo 11 with actually even LESS for the future and less chance of every having the wherwithal to try again for probably more years than it worked out for OTL after Apollo. Baxter specifically wanted a Mars mission, (a chemical one because it was actually more difficult to do so he invented the Apollo-N accident for which he is enternially sorry due to the NTR advocate hate-mail :) ) that was Apollo writ-large to hammer home the success and ultimate failure of that kind of obsession. I frankly have a REALLY complicated love/hate relationship with that damn book, I really do :)

Something to keep in the back of your mind in that vein is that IF you stlll have access to an advanced Saturn-V like LV there is a point where it's going to become evident that you can do some sort of "Mars Direct" type missions with it but at the same time you can also do a BETTER job with a larger program from the start.

If you run it at the same time as the scaled-down STS program I just mentioned you might get a sustainable architecture out of it by the end.
A major point I like to make is that the best outcome is start with what you want to see at the end and work backwards BUT always ensure that what you build can sustain itself if you have any boogles in the path. Part and parcel of Apollo's most major problem, (and if we're honest an equivilent Soviet Lunar program) is that it was a point-design towards a very specific goal that had little utitliy beyond that goal without major investment on the order of the original investment. This makes end-point sustainablity almost impossible really so you end up having to chuck stuff and start againi as being actually, arguably, cheaper. Going back to Mars Direct as an example it is unabashedly based on and copies the basics of the Apollo program with some fiddly-bits tacked on to make it less expensive in the short run. Unfortunatly, that only makes it easier to approve and easier to cancel once it's done the job. Sustainablity, (though it was touted widely) is a wash at best because its still a single use, (really) system, optimized for a single goal. The parts of other Mars programs that had more sustianablity built in from the begining but cost more initially or took longer were thrown out when those at the parts that gave you sustainablity from the start. The definition of 'crazy' is doing the same thing over, and over again and expecting different results they say :)

Propane sounds awesome, I'll see what I can find on it.
It's one of many 'interesting' things you find that are often overlooked for various reasons. Reality seems to like doing that a lot.

Frankly, would it be ASB to just tweak Glushko's character a bit, make him more likely to work with Korolev? Even if it is possible to do that, would it be the best course of action? I'm not entirely sure.
Eh, ASB no, rather difficult? Depends. My reading says they was always a lot of conflict between the two for various reasons but they didn't activily 'hate' each other per-se. Post-gulag there was a lot of anamosity due to assumptions and counter-assumptions but nothing really concrete other than they tended to butt heads over most things. Could just be stubborn men being stubborn. Could have had a kernal of actually conflict that wasn't articulated by either. I tend to want to come down on the side of "if certain circumstances had been different" as it makes a better story/timeline. But there's also the time/place/system they were in which greatly complicates the dynamics. I think I mentioned that I've got a note set where BOTH Glushko and Korolev get the gulag. OTL it's not likely that Glushko was soley responsible for getting Korolev sent away as some suggest, but it's more than likely what he did say had an effect. My thought is he actually doesn't GET to say anything but he WANTED to. (The 'discussion' got a bit more heated and they broke his jaw before he could say anything really bad. OTL IIRC it was a personal intervention AND his 'cooperation' that kept him out of the gulag. Because of that in my mind he gets sent to Siberia with Korolev who assumes it's because he was supportive, and acts accordingly. Glushko in turn is feeling guilty due to having wanted to fold but not being able to. In the end they keep each other alive and get back similar to OTL with a better but still rather dark relationship)

And once again it's not that far fetched to simply impose order from outside. The implied "or else" in top down command is a VERY effective incentive to cooperate :)

I think an N1 could just barely do it, but it would be close. Once they get the N1-U or N1-F working it will be much easier for them. For the very first mission, I assumed they couldn't get the super-chilled propellants to work, and they refueled in orbit with a Proton. I think that would work in real life, but I need to do more research.
On research: Hey YOU at least have something out there. My 'research' (like many of my projects) is vast, deep, and still on a hard-drive "somewhere"... Or more usually several since I keep switching platforms :)

On the N1: Super-chilled IIRC was something they considered and planned since it would have been a good thing to have but FIRST you needed a working N1... Proton wasn't exaclty reliable either so there's that too. In the end that actually sums up the Soviet program: They could possible achieve the goal IF the margins came exactly accuratly and if they could 'tweak' the system to it's limits. The obvious problem is without any spare margin if anything happens... (And you really do have to assume it will and plan accordingly)

In this case as in OTL the main issue is that while it COULD work if everything goes perfectly, once you consider the downsides possible it becomes a real question if the leadership would have actually authorized the attempt. Once again I can see them padding the margins by adopting a different approach than just the N1/Proton plan but it takes some background hustle to get it to work AND the US has to stumble worse than OTL. (Which if frankly possible, but difficult)

Good point. The Saturn-Clipper system I mentioned might eventually turn into the US's Soyuz in that case.
It would be a good system :)

I'm not sure. I think if the president wants to really show the Soviets whos the best in space, he will choose a Mars mission because a Moonbase has almost no real value, and the Soviets could realistically beat them to it. A Mars mission would be expensive, but not too expensive, and it would be very decisive in deciding the winner of the race. It would also immortalize that president more so than a Moonbase would.
One major point while were around this subject: The "President" can make any decsion he wants, that in no way means it will happen of even that he won't be laughed out of Congress. (See SEI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Exploration_Initiative) Nixon was aware of the hostility of Congress to a new (and bigger) space program and spending. He needed to balance that with what amounted to a bailout of west coast aerospace and keep NASA alive. That meant a significant redirection of NASA and a lot of smooth talking to Congress. The Shuttle was the result. Couple that with his feelings over being handed the "Armstrong and Aldrin aren't coming back" speech and Apollo 13's near diaster and he'd had a major revision of his taste for 'high-risk' space activities. (He was still anamoured with astronauts and such in general but he became very risk averse over the PR posibilities) Being "immortalized" can go either way and it's a truism that you can pretty easily end up on the wrong side with what seemed like a logical and low-risk choice.

Maybe, but I think any Mars mission in the 80s will be launched on Saturns. A Shuttle simply won't be ready in time, and won't be economical in any way (they didn't know the latter back then, but still). Once you get into the 90s, then yes, a Shuttle would probably be used.
This again is going to depend on how you define "shuttle" in the context of the overall program. Arguably one of the top concerns with an extended Apollo program was finding a way to lower the costs and one obvious answer was to make something of the system reusable. Now what 'part' to focus on discussions could end up in bloodshed but...

You end with with:
Booster
Upper Stage
Crew/Cargo

At it's core the LV engines were found to be a major chunk of the change requirement. So bring those back but OTL it boiled down to sticking those on the "crew/cargo" carrier to do so which was a problem. Now reusing the booster or second stage had a utility in that if you kept the seperate stages then you increased the overall vehicle efficieny and utility with the ablity to carry different sized payloads. Downside it you can't bring stuff back or effetivly 'save' an aborted launches payload. Now one annoying gem of an idea was to turn the S1C and SII stages into a set of more recoverable stages with a major redsign that of mostly the tanks and external mold line. A gem because it increased payload and still offered expansion possibitlys while keeping most of the existing and planned infrastructure. It also solved the "big" issue that was looming for Advanced Saturns of the VAB being height limited which serioulsy cramped the possible stretches you could put into the Saturn. It did so by essentially making the S1C and SII stage about twice as wide at the base, tapering up to a more narrow profile near the top. Sounds a bit familiar right? The shape was natural stable on reentry and a set of parachutes would lower the landig velocity to an acceptable level. One thing was the stage engines were now more intergrated into the base of the stage which reduced thermal issuse on both ascent and reentry and protected them from water impact damage. Annoying? Because this was litterally a 1.5 page 'addendum' tacked onto the end of the ACTUAL proposal which was that NASA just build an even bigger booster that couldn't be launched from land and would require a whole new launch base but which was in fact NASA had commisioned the study on in the first place.
(So Bill feels right at home see: https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/118828-convair-nexus-super-heavy-historical-launch-vehicle/)

Randy
 
Then again it was the late-70s and I washed my hands in MEK on a regular basis.. No effect I swear :)
Think we are close to same vintage, used to have barrels of Carbon Tet around for degreasing, only to have that replaced by the 'totally safe' Freon TF:biggrin:

Did hear of a place that used a lot of mid strength HOOH 35%, and they discovered they had a leak when everyone close to that lab all went Blonde.:winkytongue:
My GrandMa, she went from raven haired to Redhead while working in a munitions plant during the War
 
Think we are close to same vintage, used to have barrels of Carbon Tet around for degreasing, only to have that replaced by the 'totally safe' Freon TF:biggrin:

Did hear of a place that used a lot of mid strength HOOH 35%, and they discovered they had a leak when everyone close to that lab all went Blonde.:winkytongue:
My GrandMa, she went from raven haired to Redhead while working in a munitions plant during the War
"Better Living Through Chemistry" was an apt tag-line of the 50s, a way of living in the 60s and frankly we only figured out there may be some issues in the 70s... Now we're back to 'meh; it's green it must clean, right?
:extremelyhappy:

Randy
 
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