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

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 :) )
I wandered across that very pilot on youtube a few years back. Have you ever watched any of the Ivan Tors' "Office of Scientific Investigation" trilogy? They are similar in terms of being at once B-movie and interesting and serious - at least the two that I've seen.

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.
Well, they also didn't take it seriously because who spends that sort of money on a pure propaganda? (OK, Apollo also had massive spin-offs for pure science and for technology, but that's not what the US was really spending the money on. I might think Apollo was worth the moon rocks we got back and worth it to get an actual geologist onto the moon, but I doubt Nixon, Johnson or anyone in Congress thought so.) Compare to the Soviet space program, where every serious R&D investment was made for military reasons and the civilian fruits were all spin-offs as the idealists managed to convince the Politburo to spend a little more money to sweat some more value out of those military investments. The Soviets spent more proportionally than the US on their space program, but they never went and spent crazy resources to do something just to prove that they could.

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.
Well, an upgraded Soyuz would need different engines than a NK-33 - they need something smaller. Ideally we'd want Kuznetsov to design an NK-33 level engine specially for thr Soyuz. And the N11 and N111 were unfortunately an even longer shot than the N-1 was. The N-1's upper stages were very unsuitable for being anything other than what they were. There's just no way to get enough thrust out of them.

However, there is a cool TL that took this path: https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/red-star-a-soviet-lunar-landing.306694/

For a practical N-11 and N-111, the Soviets need facilities and technologies that could manufacture cylindrical tanks big enough for the N-vehicles, meaning the block B and block V could have wide enough bases to fit enough engines and any extra propellant could be accommodated by the vastly simpler exercise of stretching the tanks - real easy on a cylinder, real hard on a sphere like the OTL N-1 had! Either that, or a completely different sort of design - something more like the Soyuz and Energia, with parallel staging - of course, the N-1 was a direct reaction against the crude Soyuz - it was supposed to be a neat, clean design made from the start to be a launch vehicle, not the bodged together mess that the Soyuz was...

(Arguably, the Soyuz being a bodged together mess was exactly why it was so good as a LV. The US also had similar experience - the Delta-Thor was the most bodged-together and by far the most successful US LV. There's a range of reasons for this, which I can go into if you're interested, but I don't want to divert the thread too much if it's not of interest.)

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.
My "dream team" would be Yangel as chief designer/peacemaker, Glushko as propulsion, Korolev on high energy stages and spacecraft, Chelomei on spacecraft (not the same ones as Korolev works on though!) and space stations, Barmin on Lunar base design.

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)
That sounds familiar... Isn't that how NASA does things now?

Do you know why the USAF adopted this system originally? Have any ideas on why it became such a big part of how NASA did things? I've always put it down to that being the ideological preference of the majority of Congress...

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...
Yes, I see what you mean.

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.
You mean that if the Soviets try more seriously to beat the Americans, their program will end up with a similar management system? Quite possibly. And possibly that could be a bad thing. Possibly a good thing.

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!"
That reminds me of this thread: https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/wi-lunar-water-discovered-during-apollo.450894/

And Sputniks was an awesome TL. ^_^

Okkkayyy, note to self; never ever go near FLOX.
Just as a general rule of thumb: if it is a good rocket propellant, only go near it if you have to, know what you're doing and have good safety measures in place. Even the most forgiving of rocket propellants are serious chemicals worthy of your respect.

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.
Hydrogen Peroxide is basically water with an extra oxygen in the molecule - H2O2. Really high purity H2O2 (like over 95% pure) is a great oxidizer for rocketry, since it is amazingly non-toxic, is relatively stable and easy to handle for a rocket propellant (note that "for a rocket propellant" you would die if you drank this stuff). It also has a high density, which really helps get rocket dry mass down, since less tank is needed to hold the same amount of oxidizing power. Works well with cheap fuels like kerosene, and really well with more expensive fuels like propane and MAPP gas (the stuff used in gas welding torches). Downsides are that medium-purity H2O2 (where it's maybe 30-60% water) is pretty temperamental and it isn't cheap to make in the 50s and 60s since it's not the easiest process and it doesn't have much civilian utility, so there's not gonna be any cost sharing with civilian industry.

The only rocket program to seriously look into this stuff was the British one, since part of their loot from WW2 was all the German high purity H2O2.

In that case, then I would image an STS system in this TL being built around a Saturn I.
The Saturn 1 would have made a really interesting boost stage for a shuttle. A beefed up Saturn 1 stage with a Saturn IVB stage could have launched a c. 30 tonne mini-shuttle (30 tonnes is about what you're looking at for the smallest shuttle that could fit a practical cargo bay 25-ish tonnes of shuttle and 5 tonnes of cargo would make a great space station support vehicle) alternatively, a couple re-usable Saturn 1 first stages could be used in place of the SRBs on a big shuttle like the one we got OTL for about the same cost/shuttle launch.

And if you have a Saturn 1 first stage and a NERVA second stage, you have a Saturn 1 variant with Saturn V levels payload - easily enough to boost something like the Soviet Buran into orbit.

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.
Well, Korolev and Glushko worked together in OTL and eventually Glushko would design the best LOX/kerosene engine so far achieved by humans. It's just that at the most important point for the Soviet lunar program they were of very different minds.

I don't think it is unreasonable for the right PoD to bring out different (more cooperative) aspects out in both of their characters. Keep in mind that both men are at once ambitious idealists and hard-nosed engineers. My read of their personalities is that both of them liked their propellants of choice for good engineering reasons - Glushko thought hypergolics were the fastest way to a big rocket and thought he was such an amazing designer that he could make the risk of the rocket blowing up and poisoning a good chunk of Kazakhstan negligible, Korolev thought hypergolics were too dangerous and thought he was such an amazing designer that he could overcome all the engineering challenges of a big LOX/kerosene rocket easily. They were both kinda right and kinda too full of themselves.

On the other hand, is a character change what's needed? In the 70s, the higher-ups in the ministry of general machine building (which oversaw all space projects) now had an opinion of their own, and Glushko was told that he'd design a rocket with LOX/kerosene stage AND a LOX/hydrogen stage and he'd like it. So that's what he did.

So what if Sergey Afanasyev (head of the ministry) turned against hypergolics earlier? Say, if the Proton didn't enjoy its initial run of successes and kept suffering disaster after disaster... This is too late to get the Soviets to the moon first I think, but maybe it could get Glushko working with a longer-lived Korolev on something like the OTL Zenit system and the Soviets are able to land several missions on the moon before the Apollo program ends. Instead of the Apollo-Soyuz test flight, you might have a LEM-LK joint "moonbase". Umm. Hard to see how this results in a Mars program though.

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.
No real value? Even a temporary moonbase (costing maybe 10 billion 1970 USD for the entire program) would be of enormous scientific benefit. We could have not just one, but a dozen geologists go look at the moon, have industrial trials, serious experiments on extra-terrestrial construction, push forward space suit design, get a decent body of medical research on what the heck happens to the human body (as well as plants and animals) in low gravity (a HUGE deal, since right now we have no idea what will happen to the human body when it is exposed to Martian or Lunar gravity for long time periods). A long-term moonbase would be able to build on these early experiments to actually start small-scale industry on the moon. And that could enormously reduce the cost of a Mars program since anything made on the moon (especially simple bulk items like liquid oxygen) can be launched at Mars for much lower costs than anything launched off the Earth can. There's a reason that scientists and engineers in the 50s were looking at the Solar system and going "first a station in low earth orbit, then a base on the moon, then a base on mars".

By contrast, what does an expedition to Mars get you? If we assume a month spent on the Martian surface exploring... Well, we'd get a wealth of science, no doubt about it. Even today, actual geologists in the field are far superior to robot probes. So we'd know an amazing amount about the landing site, we'd learn a bit of other stuff (like how the human body handled Martian gravity) but that would mostly be swamped in "noise" from the long journey to and from Mars. And for the cost of two moderately competent Mars missions, you could have a couple permanent moon bases. Going to Mars direct from the Earth's surface and without establishing space-based infrastructure just isn't cost effective.

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.
In this scenario, why would the Shuttle and the Saturn V be different systems? The Shuttle almost ended up being launched by an evolved version of the Saturn V first stage in OTL. If NASA had a Mars mission funded, there'd be no need to scrap the Saturn V to develop the Shuttle, because the Mars program is gonna need Saturn Vs anyway (and likely upgraded ones at that) so why not build your shuttle with common parts to the hardware you already know you'll need? There's no need to throw the work from Apollo out in order to give the aerospace companies work in this scenario either, since there'll be more than enough work to do on the Mars mission.

And by the way, here are some mock-ups of LK Shelters and Lunokhod Laboratories I made in KSP: https://imgur.com/gallery/WfyTYl3
Very nice. ^_^

And soon, many would try the Oregon Trail, not as easy as the Newspaper reports made out. Most would make the trip alive, though
Settling the high frontier is a long, long way from settling the American West though. A better comparison is with our ancestors making the first journeys to islands on the African coast by dugout canoe. That technology would, in thousands of years enable the peopling of New Guinea and Australia, tens of thousands of years further on would get people into South America before the end of the ice age and thousands of years beyond even that would allow Christopher Columbus to sail across the Atlantic and eventually even allow reasonably poor people in Europe to reach the Americas on economical steamships.

Or, for another comparison, imagine how the settlement of the Americas would have gone if Christopher Columbus sailed to a patch of open ocean and then had to dredge up sand and pile it up to build Cuba there so he could discover it.

I think we can completely settle the Solar system and be a K2 civilization within 500-1000 years, but we have much work to do before we reach the "American West" analogue of that process.

fasquardon
 
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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 :)
I agree. Any Shuttle program being developed at the same time as Ares will be very scaled-down, or take longer to develop. I would bet on option 1.

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.
My "dream team" would be Yangel as chief designer/peacemaker, Glushko as propulsion, Korolev on high energy stages and spacecraft, Chelomei on spacecraft (not the same ones as Korolev works on though!) and space stations, Barmin on Lunar base design.
Interesting... that could work. It would require a lot of work to get the POD right, but maybe...

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.
I completely agree. A more robust LEO program for testing the LOK and LK is probably a must have.

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.
Huh, that's actually pretty good. I'll have to do more research into it.

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
Ok, thanks. So they weren't flight capable.

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.
Ok, that's a good plan. I would guess that something like that could advance the N1 program at least a few months, if not a year or two. If we can have it flying by 1967 that would be amazing!

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 :) )
Yeah, good points there. I'm still not entirly convinced that they wouldn't still launch it though, even with a super-high chance of failure (just look at Voskhod 2 or Soyuz 1). If they could get even one flight where it worked perfectly unmanned, and if the launch escape tower worked every time it had failed, then I'm sure they would say "screw it, let's see what happens".

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.
So yes, maybe Korolev sells the N1 to the milatery as a huge space station or Lunar base builder. Maybe he can convince them that putting missiles on the Moon would be strategically important for some reason.

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 :)
Ok, that sounds promising. I'll have to do the math on it, but it might just work.

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 actually remember an Enigira-Buran thread where the POD was someone breathing in at the wrong moment, getting ever so slightly too cold, losing his balence, and falling into a lake... and another where someone (Korolev actually) didn't find a piece of bread on some super-specific table somewhere in the gulag and froze to death. Talk about being specific! Anyways I'll probably just keep to my assumption of April 1968.

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 :)
That's really good news, a Saturn I can survive parachuting into the ocean. So maybe a good second or third POD would be somehow keeping the Saturn I series alive, I'll have to think about how to do that.

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)
Saturn-Clipper (I really like how that sounds) is defintly the way to go then. Also, SpaceX definitely happens, I cannot imagne that being butterflied away. I mean, Elon was convinced to start a rocket company by a meeting with Robert Zubrin, so it's possible if he's affected Musk is too, but I would bet it still exists. In fact, SpaceX's entire thing is colonizing Mars (not booster development), so if we've already proved we can go there, and given up on it, all that will probably do is make Elon want to go there even more. Blue origin also probably still exists for the same reasons. And Zubrin too for that matter. Im not sure about Virgin Galactic, paid tourist flights on Clippers might butterfly that away.

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.
I kind of love and hate Mars direct. It just seems too easy. It's like a 'get out of jail free' card. Quite frankly its absolutely brillent, and I'm surprised we didn't see it sooner. But, it's not that interesting. You launch two rockets, and boom, you're on Mars. An Ares mission is better in my opinion, purely because it actually does something interesting. 'It's not about the destination, but the journey' and all that. Plus it was not invented until the late 80s, so as a follow on to Ares it might work, but any earlier and you have to have someone other than Zubrin invent it.

Also, keep in mind Mars Direct needs water ice unless you want to only use the atmosphere for ISRU (which is possible, but less efficient).

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 :)
Actually, Mars Direct is brillent because it is very hard to cancel. Every mission you land a second ERV, so it makes sense to launch a follow-up mission so it isn't wasted. And if you launch a follow-up, you need to launch another ERV for safety, and the cycle continues. Plus, you can land them next to each other and build a base. And the Mars direct spacecraft can be modified quite easily for Lunar missions or even space stations.

It's one of many 'interesting' things you find that are often overlooked for various reasons. Reality seems to like doing that a lot.
I know right?

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 :)
So maybe more (but not complete) collaboration between Korolev and Glushko would be useful. I'll see if I can work that into the POD without going behind the 1960s, it will be hard.

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)
ITL I had them launch in June 1969, so the US doesn't need to change at all. All you have to do is try and keep it secret, which would be hard, but not inpossible. As for the margins, well, thers nothing they can do about that without some major changes to the timeline, maybe even reworking the N1 to use different propellnts (which I really dont want to do because, as I said, figiuring out the timescales would be a nightmare). I could change the N1 program very drastically if I had no choice, but I cannot even pretend that what would come out of it would be guaranteed to be realistic. At least this way I can closely follow real events. But as I said, if I really need to, I can change it more dresticly.

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.
That's a good point. So a Mars mission would need to be politicly viable to get through. That might be workable.

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.co...-nexus-super-heavy-historical-launch-vehicle/)
I would hold off on reusing the second stage since that's a lot of work. Maybe by the 90s, they can start planning to do that, but initially, it will just be the first stage coming back. Hell, for the first couple of launches they'll probably throw away the entire thing.

Well, an upgraded Soyuz would need different engines than a NK-33 - they need something smaller. Ideally we'd want Kuznetsov to design an NK-33 level engine specially for thr Soyuz. And the N11 and N111 were unfortunately an even longer shot than the N-1 was. The N-1's upper stages were very unsuitable for being anything other than what they were. There's just no way to get enough thrust out of them.

However, there is a cool TL that took this path: https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/red-star-a-soviet-lunar-landing.306694/

For a practical N-11 and N-111, the Soviets need facilities and technologies that could manufacture cylindrical tanks big enough for the N-vehicles, meaning the block B and block V could have wide enough bases to fit enough engines and any extra propellant could be accommodated by the vastly simpler exercise of stretching the tanks - real easy on a cylinder, real hard on a sphere like the OTL N-1 had! Either that, or a completely different sort of design - something more like the Soyuz and Energia, with parallel staging - of course, the N-1 was a direct reaction against the crude Soyuz - it was supposed to be a neat, clean design made from the start to be a launch vehicle, not the bodged together mess that the Soyuz was...

(Arguably, the Soyuz being a bodged together mess was exactly why it was so good as a LV. The US also had similar experience - the Delta-Thor was the most bodged-together and by far the most successful US LV. There's a range of reasons for this, which I can go into if you're interested, but I don't want to divert the thread too much if it's not of interest.)
How hard would building cylindrical tanks be? And how would it effect the overall shape of the N1, would it still look like a giant cone? I hope so, I really like the way it looks, but cylindrical tanks would be a huge help. Maybe truncated cone tanks?

The Saturn 1 would have made a really interesting boost stage for a shuttle. A beefed up Saturn 1 stage with a Saturn IVB stage could have launched a c. 30 tonne mini-shuttle (30 tonnes is about what you're looking at for the smallest shuttle that could fit a practical cargo bay 25-ish tonnes of shuttle and 5 tonnes of cargo would make a great space station support vehicle)
That's exactly what I was thinking of. The other stuff you mentioned is probably too expensive to do at the same time as the Ares program. A nuclear Saturn IB might happen, though.

Well, Korolev and Glushko worked together in OTL and eventually Glushko would design the best LOX/kerosene engine so far achieved by humans. It's just that at the most important point for the Soviet lunar program they were of very different minds.

I don't think it is unreasonable for the right PoD to bring out different (more cooperative) aspects out in both of their characters. Keep in mind that both men are at once ambitious idealists and hard-nosed engineers. My read of their personalities is that both of them liked their propellants of choice for good engineering reasons - Glushko thought hypergolics were the fastest way to a big rocket and thought he was such an amazing designer that he could make the risk of the rocket blowing up and poisoning a good chunk of Kazakhstan negligible, Korolev thought hypergolics were too dangerous and thought he was such an amazing designer that he could overcome all the engineering challenges of a big LOX/kerosene rocket easily. They were both kinda right and kinda too full of themselves.

On the other hand, is a character change what's needed? In the 70s, the higher-ups in the ministry of general machine building (which oversaw all space projects) now had an opinion of their own, and Glushko was told that he'd design a rocket with LOX/kerosene stage AND a LOX/hydrogen stage and he'd like it. So that's what he did.

So what if Sergey Afanasyev (head of the ministry) turned against hypergolics earlier? Say, if the Proton didn't enjoy its initial run of successes and kept suffering disaster after disaster... This is too late to get the Soviets to the moon first I think, but maybe it could get Glushko working with a longer-lived Korolev on something like the OTL Zenit system and the Soviets are able to land several missions on the moon before the Apollo program ends. Instead of the Apollo-Soyuz test flight, you might have a LEM-LK joint "moonbase". Umm. Hard to see how this results in a Mars program though.
Those are some very good points. I'll have to think about it.

No real value? Even a temporary moonbase (costing maybe 10 billion 1970 USD for the entire program) would be of enormous scientific benefit. We could have not just one, but a dozen geologists go look at the moon, have industrial trials, serious experiments on extra-terrestrial construction, push forward space suit design, get a decent body of medical research on what the heck happens to the human body (as well as plants and animals) in low gravity (a HUGE deal, since right now we have no idea what will happen to the human body when it is exposed to Martian or Lunar gravity for long time periods). A long-term moonbase would be able to build on these early experiments to actually start small-scale industry on the moon. And that could enormously reduce the cost of a Mars program since anything made on the moon (especially simple bulk items like liquid oxygen) can be launched at Mars for much lower costs than anything launched off the Earth can. There's a reason that scientists and engineers in the 50s were looking at the Solar system and going "first a station in low earth orbit, then a base on the moon, then a base on mars".

By contrast, what does an expedition to Mars get you? If we assume a month spent on the Martian surface exploring... Well, we'd get a wealth of science, no doubt about it. Even today, actual geologists in the field are far superior to robot probes. So we'd know an amazing amount about the landing site, we'd learn a bit of other stuff (like how the human body handled Martian gravity) but that would mostly be swamped in "noise" from the long journey to and from Mars. And for the cost of two moderately competent Mars missions, you could have a couple permanent moon bases. Going to Mars direct from the Earth's surface and without establishing space-based infrastructure just isn't cost effective.
I meant no propaganda value. Plus, it was assumed that a Mars mission could be spun-off into Lunar mission hardware at the end of it. And of course, the president probably doesn't care that much about the cost if we assume that an earlier end to the Vietnam war happened, or they got more funding from somewhere.

Also consider that as far as I can tell, the NASA budget at the end of the 60s was around 5 billion a year. If we assume a Mars landing in 1985-ish and a total program cost of 40 billion (Apollo was 20 billion), then the annual budget on the Ares program would have to be... 1.3 billion for 15 years. Not that much. Actually, that's way less than I thought it would be. I'll have to look into that.

Very nice. ^_^
Thanks!

Settling the high frontier is a long, long way from settling the American West though. A better comparison is with our ancestors making the first journeys to islands on the African coast by dugout canoe. That technology would, in thousands of years enable the peopling of New Guinea and Australia, tens of thousands of years further on would get people into South America before the end of the ice age and thousands of years beyond even that would allow Christopher Columbus to sail across the Atlantic and eventually even allow reasonably poor people in Europe to reach the Americas on economical steamships.

Or, for another comparison, imagine how the settlement of the Americas would have gone if Christopher Columbus sailed to a patch of open ocean and then had to dredge up sand and pile it up to build Cuba there so he could discover it.

I think we can completely settle the Solar system and be a K2 civilization within 500-1000 years, but we have much work to do before we reach the "American West" analogue of that process.
Those are good points. I would say closer to 200 years though. :)

Anyways, it's about time I did some worldbuilding, don't you think?

(For reference, the annual budget for NASA at its height in the 60s was around 4 to 7 billion dollars per year [1969 dollars], and the total cost of Apollo [just Apollo, Gemini and the Lunar probes, nothing else] was 20 billion. The Apollo spacecraft (CSM, LEM, etc) cost around 7 billion, the Saturn rockets around 7.5 billion, and general operations were around 1.5 billion. The rest was engine development [less than 1 billion], and ground facilities).

How much would a Mars mission cost? Firstly, what do we already have? Assuming Apollo stops at 15, we have 5 Saturn Vs left. We also have 8 CSMs, 5 LEMs, 9 Saturn IBs, and 2 Saturn IB first stages. We also have the NERVA program working hard on a flight-ready engine (the NERVA XE), which is technically ready by 1969, but needs 2 more years of development before it can be tested in space.

An Ares Mars mission would utilize as much existing hardware as possible. A habitation module built out of an S-IVB rocket stage would be used for the long voyage, massing at a total of 80 tons, and a propulsion stack built out of an S-IVB with a J-2S engine would push the hab as well as an Apollo CSM back to Earth from Martian orbit. This 'Return Propulsion System' would consist of a shortened and insulated S-IVB stage which would only require 80 tons of cryogenic propellant at launch for the TEI burn, accounting for a hydrogen boil-off rate of 2% per month, with a total loss of 20 tons of propellant. The entire stack just before TEI would mass approximately 190 tons and would mass about 130 tons just after TEI, with a launch mass of 210 tons. The cost to develop this stage would be around 50 to 100 million dollars. Upon reaching Earth's sphere of influence, the CSM would undock and perform a burn of its SPS engine to reduce its velocity by about 2 kilometers a second to reduce its velocity for reentry.

In order to land on the Martian surface and return, a new spacecraft will be needed. The Apollo Lunar Excursion Module could, in theory, be modified to land on the Martian surface and return. This would entail adding an additional 4 descent engines and stretching the propellant tanks. A parachute pack would be attached to the top of the vehicle, and a heatshield to the bottom. The Descent Module Chassis would be deleted, and the propellant tank and landing gear assemblies rearranged and enlarged. The Descent Stage would also be used as a first stage for the ascent from the surface, during which the center engine would be detached to save weight. Overall, while possible, redesigning the LEM for such a task would be extremely difficult and the resulting vehicle would be little more than a taxi, relying on ground infrastructure for extended stays.

Instead, an entirely new Mars Excursion Module will be designed. The vehicle will use hypergolic propellants, potentially even ones involving fluorine to maximize the specific impulse of the vehicle. The MEM will mass a total of 50 tons and would cost 4.5 billion dollars to develop. It would consist of a combined ascent, descent, and surface vehicles, with space for 4 crewmembers for a maximum of 3 months.

To break the Ares stack into Martian orbit, and to complete the Earth escape burn, a nuclear propulsion stage will be used. This Planetry Propulsion Module will use a NERVA Mk-1 Atomic Rocket Motor with a specific impulse of 800 seconds and a thrust of 3000 Newtons. The stage will be built out of an S-II propellent tank and will have a dry mass of 65 tons, of which 18 tons is the NERVA engine, and a total propellant load of 114 tons. The total Ares stack just before entering Mars orbit will have a dry mass of 206 tons (that is, the mass of the PPM, habitat, CSM, MEM, and RPS with 61 tons of propellant in its tanks (1 ton will boil off during the surface stay, leaving 60 tons for the return), and will be carrying 44 tons of cryogenic hydrogen for the capture burn, with a total wet mass of 250 tons. Just after Earth departure, it will carry 52 tons of propellent, to allow 8 tons to boil off during the transit to Mars. The stage, when fully fuelled, will have 114 tons of propellent in it, of which 52 tons will be used for Mars Orbit Capture. This leaves 62 tons for completing the Earth escape burn, at which time it will also be carrying an additional 19 tons of boil-off propellent in the RPS, giving the ship a wet and dry mass at that time of 339 tons and 277 tons respectively. The ship in that configuration will have 1580 meters per second of delta-v available, so for the full Trans Mars Injection burn an additional 2720 meters per second, plus 400 meters per second of margin, will be needed.

That additional delta-v will be provided by two additional PPMs attached to the sides of the first. All three will be identical, and in Earth orbit spacecraft will perform the Trans Mars Injection burn in two parts, first using just the two outside boosters, giving the ship an effective wet and dry mass of 697 tons and 469 tons respectively. After these stages are depleted, they will be cut loose and the center PPM will finish the rest of the escape burn, and 6 months later, the Mars Orbit Capture burn.

The development of these nuclear stages is expected to cost 200 to 500 million dollars. Each masses 179 tons, and in order to launch them into orbit a new launch vehicle will be needed. A Saturn V rocket can place 140 tons into Low Earth Orbit, however, it suffers heavily from gravity losses early on in the ascent. By strapping 4 solid rocket motors to its sides, the payload can be increased significantly. If four 260-inch diameter motors are used, the payload, assuming no S-IVB stage, can be increased to 260 tons. If 4 more traditional Titan series motors are used, the payload can be increased only to 180 tons. The development costs would be around 200 to 300 million dollars and would require launch facility upgrades of around 50 to 100 million dollars for the Titan series SRMs, and 100 to 500 million for 260-inch SRMs.

In addition to the Ares spacecraft itself, a considerable amount of development hardware will be required. The Skylab orbital workshop slated for launch in 1973 will examine the long term effects of spaceflight on the human body, and it will cost an estimated 1.6 billion dollars. After Skylab's launch, there will only be 4 Saturn V boosters left, so production will have to be restarted. One of the currently available boosters would have its S-IVB removed and be used to test the MEM in Earth orbit sometime in the late 1970s, perhaps 1977, with a crew of 3 launching into orbit atop a Saturn IB, and docking with the MEM to perform a test flight. Another would be used to launch two PPMs into orbit, which would be docked together and fired. Each unmanned flight of a Saturn V would cost around 100 to 300 million dollars, each manned flight of a Saturn V would cost around 300 to 500 million dollars, and each manned flight of a Saturn IB would cost around 50 to 200 million dollars.

Three unmanned Saturn V flights will be required for the MEM and the PPM missions, while only one Saturn IB flight will be needed for the MEM, meaning the developmental costs in total will be, assuming average development costs based on the estimates: 75 million dollars to develop the RPS, 4500 million to develop the MEM, 350 million to develop the PPMs, 250 million to develop the Saturn MLVs, 275 million to upgrade the launch facilities, 1600 million on the Skylab orbital workshop, and 1325 million dollars on the MEM and PPM test flights. That gives a total development cost of the spacecraft hardware of around 7.775 billion dollars, plus or minus 40%.

Once these developmental missions have been concluded, the actual Ares missions can start. Each Ares mission will require three Saturn V launches for the PPMs. If 260-inch SRMs are chosen to upgrade the Saturn V, one launch could place the habitation module, the RPM, and the MEM into orbit. If Titan series SRMs are used, two launches will be needed. If 260-inch SRMs are used, a Saturn IB flight will also be needed to launch the CSM. That means an Ares mission will have a launch cost of around 925 million dollars to 1200 million dollars, plus or minus 40%.

Two Ares missions would be required at a minimum, one would have the crew enter orbit, and stay with the habitation module as the MEM descends to the Martian surface unmanned to test that it functions correctly, and one to perform a manned Martian landing mission.

Following the Soviets landing a Man on the Lunar surface in June 1969, a list of possible actions to take in retaliation will land on the president's desk within 6 months. That list will detail what the US should do in response to the 'Red Moon', and will be as follows:

- Continue normal Apollo missions through to Apollo 20, no changes
- Construct a permanently manned Lunar base based on Apollo hardware. The standard Apollo missions through Apollo 14 will fly as planned, then followed by LEM shelters / MOLEMs through Apollo 17, then a LESA base around 1975, with a total estimated cost around 5 to 10 billion dollars through to 1980 (0.5 to 1 billion dollars a year)
- Develop a Space Shuttle and a large space station in Earth orbit, coming online around 1980. The estimated development cost would be, though to 1980, 7 billion dollars (0.7 billion dollars a year) (keep in mind that was the original estimated cost, in reality, it would cost more like 30 billion including launch costs through to 2010)
- Develop a manned Mars program, launching around 1980, with 2 slated landing missions. The estimated costs would be around 20 to 60 billion dollars through to 1985 (1.3 to 4 billion dollars a year)

(Keep in mind, all costs listed here are in 1969 dollars)

If I was the president in 1969, without the benefit of foresight, and had these options, I would pick all three. If I did have the benefit of foresight, I would pick the Moon and Mars, but not the Shuttle. It's just a no-brainer, the total yearly costs could be lower than the Apollo program so people cant yell at you for wasting money, and you get a Moon base and a Mars mission. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've messed something up here with my maths because this is telling me that a Mars mission would be really cheap to pull off. There's no way that's right. Nevertheless, I'm now confident that the president in 1970, faced with these choices, would choose a Mars mission.

What are your thoughts? Have I completely messed up my maths somehow, or is this actually doable?
 
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That's really good news, a Saturn I can survive parachuting into the ocean. So maybe a good second or third POD would be somehow keeping the Saturn I series alive, I'll have to think about how to do that.
The only way I can figure to have the Saturn 1 survive is to have no moon program.

Also, some more Saturn 1 reading for you:

https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/wi-a-better-saturn-ib.389300/
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36040.0

I kind of love and hate Mars direct. It just seems too easy.
It is. While the basic ideas are sound (ISRU and long-term commitment driving down the costs of each trip to Mars) the specifics are screwy and trying Mars Direct as Zubrin first wrote it would not go well (safety margins are way too low and Zubrin is super-optimistic in his cost estimates).

You launch two rockets, and boom, you're on Mars.
Nnnnnooo. No, it's not that easy. They have to spend a while getting there and all sorts can go wrong on the trip. If something like the Apollo 13 disaster happened on a Mars mission it would result in a dead crew, and there's far worse that can happen.

How hard would building cylindrical tanks be? And how would it effect the overall shape of the N1, would it still look like a giant cone? I hope so, I really like the way it looks, but cylindrical tanks would be a huge help. Maybe truncated cone tanks?
The point is to have a more cylindrical design. If you go and taper the tank walls, basically you've lost your ability to re-size the stages so that you could replace the Soyuz and Proton with N-1 derived hardware.

The N-1's pretty profile comes at the cost of it being really impractical. It suffered more drag, couldn't be stretched or shortened to launch other things besides moonships, had a high dry-mass fraction, didn't have hardware commonality with any other Soviet rockets, couldn't take strap-on boosters... Just a big, pretty dead end really.

If you want to see what a better Soviet moon rocket would have looked like, take a look at Glushko's Energia rocket. It could be easily adapted to different jobs, its boosters were the first stage of the Zenit rocket and it could have been developed further into a whole family of related rockets, with proposed designs including the all LH2/LOX propelled Deuteron rocket, the Energia-M, the 11K37 or the later Sodruzhestvo.

I meant no propaganda value.
Well, what's the propaganda value of landing on Mars? Sure, it would matter to people like us. But most people in the world do not look up at night and think "wow, people are working on a manned space station in orbit right now!"

If we assume a Mars landing in 1985-ish and a total program cost of 40 billion
I am very dubious that a Mars program could be done for as little as 40 billion. At least not a Mars program that could bring its crew back to Earth with a reasonable chance of them surviving the whole trip!

Those are good points. I would say closer to 200 years though.
Planets are big things. It's gonna take time to dismantle them all and turn into habs. It will also take a lot of time for humans to breed enough to need all that hab space.

fasquardon
 
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 haven't time to wade in on the technical discussions, but I did want to make a point of endorsing this point. 1966 is simply too late of a point of departure to get the Soviets to the lunar surface first, even with Korolev alive and at full steam.

Now, there's a very outside chance of a first circumlunar flight...

I'm also skeptical of any POD that gets either the U.S. or the USSR to the Moon in this period. If Apollo was breathtakingly expensive, Mars would have been much more so; and it would have required longer development time, putting it at greater political risk in America, at any rate.
 
I've been thinking about what all of you have been saying about the N1 and the Soviet Lunar program, so I took the time to compile some of the options regarding it:

First off is just the standard N1-L3 program as OTL, with a few tweaks. Specifically, Korolev survives and does a better job managing the thing. This basically goes the same way the timeline listed on the OG post on this thread, with an early N1 test flight in 1968, and a test stand built to prove the Block A stages function before they're flown. This leads to a landing mission in June 1969, but it doesn't allow for much in the ways of a Lunar base to be built.

The second option is to have an earlier POD and have Korolev (or someone else) secure more funding from the military. Maybe they can sell the vehicle as a way to place military assets on the Lunar surface. Alternatively, you could have the Soviets respond to the Apollo program earlier than OTL. In either case, the N1 gets more funding early on, and they get it flying by 1967. It will still take a while for them to get all the bugs sorted out, but they will probably make a landing by late 1968 or early 1969.

The third option is to tweak the way Korolev and Glushko interact and get them to cooperate more than they did OTL. If Glushko agrees to build a kerosene/LOX engine for Korolev (see this: http://www.astronautix.com/d/details51217.html) then we could see an N1 rocket that works on the first launch - imagine that! Or, we might see an entirely new vehicle used.

I did the math on the performance of various rocket stages and had a go designing my own: https://imgur.com/gallery/c8Vnruq

As you can see by using a traditional 24 engine N1 core with 2 to 4 boosters similar to those used on Energia and probably derived from Monoblock Proton rockets, you can get a very good launch system. At least on paper.

I did a scetch to show this: https://imgur.com/gallery/lGcj0Ks

My guess for the backstory behind this would be Korolev and Glushko working out some sort of contract where he designed the boosters for the N1, and afterward, he gets to use derivatives of them for an entirely new launch vehicle of his own. The boosters would need angled engines and pretty powerful sep motors but it should be doable. What do you think?
 
Worse than Dead?
What, we talking about 'where we are going,won't need eyes' ala _Event Horizon_?
Hah! No. I mean worse than Apollo 13's oxygen tank explosion.

Don't get me wrong, with a good foundational knowledge of doing long space missions, good technology and a robust Mars mission, going to Mars could be made as safe as going to the moon was for the Apollo crews, but getting all that done in the 20th Century is going to take a buttload of time and money and I don't see anyone being willing to fund that sort of program.

As I remember (but I can't remember a source for this, so take it with a grain of salt) the Soviets looked at whether they could put strap-on boosters onto the N-1, the answer is no-way, no-how. Certainly, looking at the way it was built I can't figure how they'd do it. Look at the angle of the sides to the Block A and consider how the forces would transmit to the core of the rocket and how separation of the boosters would work.

Also, are you aware of this website? http://silverbirdastronautics.com/LVperform.html

Silverbird is very nice for getting rough estimates of paper rocket performance. Though do note, it generally over-estimates the performance of rockets.

fasquardon
 
As I remember (but I can't remember a source for this, so take it with a grain of salt) the Soviets looked at whether they could put strap-on boosters onto the N-1, the answer is no-way, no-how. Certainly, looking at the way it was built I can't figure how they'd do it. Look at the angle of the sides to the Block A and consider how the forces would transmit to the core of the rocket and how separation of the boosters would work.

Also, are you aware of this website? http://silverbirdastronautics.com/LVperform.html

Silverbird is very nice for getting rough estimates of paper rocket performance. Though do note, it generally over-estimates the performance of rockets.
You would need some sort of support struts going from the boosters to the attachment fittings on the Block B, and for separation, you could use sep motors like on Titan SRBs or the Shuttle. With that being said, the numbers I calculated didn't require the rocket stages to be truncated cones, they could be cylinders. The Soviets clearly could make cylinders that big because they made the fairings.

Also, yes I am aware of Silverbird, it's actually how I calculated the performance values of the stages, but thanks for telling me anyway.
 
"Slacker" weekend, so I'm behind. Sorry :)

Bottom, (sort of) to top:
As I remember (but I can't remember a source for this, so take it with a grain of salt) the Soviets looked at whether they could put strap-on boosters onto the N-1, the answer is no-way, no-how. Certainly, looking at the way it was built I can't figure how they'd do it. Look at the angle of the sides to the Block A and consider how the forces would transmit to the core of the rocket and how separation of the boosters would work.
The American's did some work on such a concept when they were studying the "NEXUS-ized" S1C and/or SII (Saturn VR concept) and things like ROMBUS and the Advanced Large Launch Vehicle concept. (Need to find a link to that last)

Essentially you used shorter, squater SRBs/LRBS and had some serious seperation motors to push them away. It's more complicated when the boosters are longer as they have to move 'out' farther since their pivot is likely at the aft connection.

With an N1 you need to move the 'nose' of the booster past the point where it is 'parallel' with the hull and outward enough to keep going over and down. Could get mechancially complex and costly to do right and catastrophic it you don't.

BTW better illustrations of the Saturn-VR here
https://www.oldrocketforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=40213
https://www.oldrocketforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=40214
Something I should have mentioned it that it has a heat-shield under the interstage on the top and lands on that with a retro-thrust just prior to touchdown in the ocean. There was supposedly a land-landing study done but Convair felt it was better to forego the gear and use either the ocean or an artificall pond/lagoon system as towing the stage was easier than lifting it.

You would need some sort of support struts going from the boosters to the attachment fittings on the Block B, and for separation, you could use sep motors like on Titan SRBs or the Shuttle. With that being said, the numbers I calculated didn't require the rocket stages to be truncated cones, they could be cylinders. The Soviets clearly could make cylinders that big because they made the fairings.
Transportation was the reason for the shape. Everything had to fit onto trains as that was the only practial means to transport thing to Biakanore. It's why the tanks were spherical rather than cyclidical and the stages themslevee were 'cone' shaped. And as above any external booster is going to have to have some way of moving the 'nose' far past the neutral (parallel) line with the booster to ensure seperation. Cylinders are easier becaue you are much closer to that line at thrust terminaton where as a 'cone' is 'leaning' into the cone and has futher to go.

If you have fewer engines you can probaby move more towards a cylinder shaped LV. (Though the 'cone' has reentry and recovery advantages :) )

Randy
 
I wandered across that very pilot on youtube a few years back. Have you ever watched any of the Ivan Tors' "Office of Scientific Investigation" trilogy? They are similar in terms of being at once B-movie and interesting and serious - at least the two that I've seen.
"Magnetic Monster" and "Gog" were good, though the latter suffered a bit due to changes in the background which made it less clear it was an "OSI" movie. Never saw "Riders to the Stars" but have seen references and reviews of which most call it the weakest of the trilogy due to the highly different 'focus' of the film and the part OSI plays in the story.

Well, they also didn't take it seriously because who spends that sort of money on a pure propaganda? (OK, Apollo also had massive spin-offs for pure science and for technology, but that's not what the US was really spending the money on. I might think Apollo was worth the moon rocks we got back and worth it to get an actual geologist onto the moon, but I doubt Nixon, Johnson or anyone in Congress thought so.) Compare to the Soviet space program, where every serious R&D investment was made for military reasons and the civilian fruits were all spin-offs as the idealists managed to convince the Politburo to spend a little more money to sweat some more value out of those military investments. The Soviets spent more proportionally than the US on their space program, but they never went and spent crazy resources to do something just to prove that they could.
Well, actually we had intended the money to spent on more than just pure propaganda since it was supposed to install the infrastructure and industrial base to out-compete the Russians on any future opportunity. Unfortunately that same 'focus' came back and bit us in the nethers because we ended up spending most of the money and effort only in certain areas and neglecting many more. That's an issue with crash programs like this.

Going to have to cut this short for the moment, crazy day at work and way to much stuff at home... Holiday's and all that :)
Happy ones to everyone BTW!

Randy
 
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"Magnetic Monster" and "Gog" were good, though the latter suffered a bit due to changes in the background which made it less clear it was an "OSI" movie. Never saw "Riders to the Stars" but have seen references and reviews of which most call it the weakest of the trilogy due to the highly different 'focus' of the film and the part OSI plays in the story.
"Riders to the Stars" is my favourite. "Magnetic Monster" is the one I've not seen.

Holiday's and all that
Holidays are more important to you than discussing rocketry now? Who are you, and what did you do with the real RanulfC? :p

fasquardon
 
Going to have to cut this short for the moment, crazy day at work and way to much stuff at home... Holiday's and all that :)
Happy ones to everyone BTW!
Happy holidays to all of you too! I'm not going to be able to post very often for similar reasons, but I will post more worldbuilding stuff at some point, don't worry.
 
The issue with Soviet vs US here is the same as it often is. The US due to being capitalist has a lot more money to throw around and have a larger skill pool to pull from.

USSR in otl suck up a lot of its money trying to compete against the US militarily and in the space race which often went hand and hand with the military in some way or another.

If the Soviets can get to moon first those I could see them maybe deciding to send a woman first for propaganda reasons and just as another bragging right over the US. Kill two birds with one stone basically. Also I could see them them doing it because women can handle high altitude better which was a practice in USSR since ww2 and because the Soviets would know it would annoy Americans more to get out done by not just a communist by a woman on top of that.

Women can’t even be astronaut in US during this time due to NASA military requirements which de facto bar women from the profession. If the Soviets land a woman on the moon first that’s not just propaganda points for them but makes the US look more bad especially as women’s movement is about to pick up there soon.

The moon landing was often just one big propaganda campaign outside of the clear scientific gains and breakthroughs. It’s hard to convince people to do all this without the competition especially once it becomes clear everything within reach is a dead lifeless rock.
 
If the Soviets can get to moon first those I could see them maybe deciding to send a woman first for propaganda reasons and just as another bragging right over the US. Kill two birds with one stone basically. Also I could see them them doing it because women can handle high altitude better which was a practice in USSR since ww2 and because the Soviets would know it would annoy Americans more to get out done by not just a communist by a woman on top of that.

Women can’t even be astronaut in US during this time due to NASA military requirements which de facto bar women from the profession. If the Soviets land a woman on the moon first that’s not just propaganda points for them but makes the US look more bad especially as women’s movement is about to pick up there soon.
Unless it's a gimmick flight - there is a reason why, despite promoting gender equality and stuff, there was literally a handful of female cosmonauts.
Soviet spacecraft had toilet system not really suitable for needs of women, pretty much "codpiece-centered" solution, not really practical for women.

And for long flights, which the moon flight is by definition, decent toilet system is of great importance.

Somewhat unprofessional behavior of Ms. Tereshkova in first days after landing also put some mysoginistic thoughts into minds of Soviet space program. So nobody thought of improving the toilet facilities of spacecraft/spacesuits.

Offtopic (maybe), but in OTL space was the only (or the most significant) area where the USA had centralized program, and the USSR had a bunch of competing developers too busy talking up their ideas to the higher ups/trying to get rid of competition up to and including "revealing" the competition as "agents of foreign powers/capitalist spies". That lead to sucking of way more money that necessary.

A PoD of brilliant AH book by Mr. Burtakovski (known also as SerB to WoT community) is that Brezhnev notes the WTF-ness of the situation when Americans have it centralized, and Russians cannot into it, and orders the creation of centralized space agency.
 
Unless it's a gimmick flight - there is a reason why, despite promoting gender equality and stuff, there was literally a handful of female cosmonauts.
Soviet spacecraft had toilet system not really suitable for needs of women, pretty much "codpiece-centered" solution, not really practical for women.

And for long flights, which the moon flight is by definition, decent toilet system is of great importance.

Somewhat unprofessional behavior of Ms. Tereshkova in first days after landing also put some mysoginistic thoughts into minds of Soviet space program. So nobody thought of improving the toilet facilities of spacecraft/spacesuits.

Offtopic (maybe), but in OTL space was the only (or the most significant) area where the USA had centralized program, and the USSR had a bunch of competing developers too busy talking up their ideas to the higher ups/trying to get rid of competition up to and including "revealing" the competition as "agents of foreign powers/capitalist spies". That lead to sucking of way more money that necessary.

A PoD of brilliant AH book by Mr. Burtakovski (known also as SerB to WoT community) is that Brezhnev notes the WTF-ness of the situation when Americans have it centralized, and Russians cannot into it, and orders the creation of centralized space agency.
Does it have to be really practical for women? This is the same Soviet Union who likely reckless shot few people into space and hide the information of them dying when mission was a failure and ended in someone dying.

I think one of these cases were a woman too who ship exploded while flying around the earth.

The USSR is more likely to throw caution to wind compared to US especially if their a chance if doing so will possibly get them there first or edge.

The Soviets want a successful return too but I could see them rushing to just beat the US. The US in otl was very cautious compared to USSR.

I wouldn’t say it’s out of the question Soviets with a decent bit of luck and better management then otl could make a trip to moon and back safely. Hell it could even crash and not mess up until they come back to earth but once their in the atmosphere they might be able to get out of failing ship on return and come out of it alive. Not perfect but they made it there and back in one piece
 
Does it have to be really practical for women? This is the same Soviet Union who likely reckless shot few people into space and hide the information of them dying when mission was a failure and ended in someone dying.

I think one of these cases were a woman too who ship exploded while flying around the earth.
No female cosmonauts died on mission in OTL. You're citing a "Maria Gromova" urban legend of suicide pre-Gagarin flight, it seems.
 
Urban legends being urban legends, even in OTL the USSR did not consider "first woman on the Moon" mission (pre-Komarov death, that's it).

If somebody more professional ends up actual first woman in space (not Tereshkova), Soviet space authorities would be more lenient to plan this mission. Tereshkova's mission was what one may name "a successful fail" - it worked as a gimmick, but science program and some other stuff ended up ruined. And some men in high seats, being men, decided to blame the unprofessional woman for this, so there were no other women in space from the USSR until Savitskaya (whom my family (my in-laws actually work in aerospace industry) respects much more than Tereshkova).
 
Urban legends being urban legends, even in OTL the USSR did not consider "first woman on the Moon" mission (pre-Komarov death, that's it).

If somebody more professional ends up actual first woman in space (not Tereshkova), Soviet space authorities would be more lenient to plan this mission. Tereshkova's mission was what one may name "a successful fail" - it worked as a gimmick, but science program and some other stuff ended up ruined. And some men in high seats, being men, decided to blame the unprofessional woman for this, so there were no other women in space from the USSR until Savitskaya (whom my family (my in-laws actually work in aerospace industry) respects much more than Tereshkova).
That always seem grounded in truth somewhat those. The Soviets did remove people who died on missions from the records and photos. They did have first people to die in space.
 
That always seem grounded in truth somewhat those. The Soviets did remove people who died on missions from the records and photos. They did have first people to die in space.
There is one thing to have Komarov cover up (which ruined the plan).
There is another thing to believe urban legends created "because they hid Komarov's death, there must be batallions of suiciders in dog capsules sent to die" and to demonize the Soviets more than we deserve. I too can sprout urban legends that the death of Grissom was organized to shut him up after he called the Moon mission unrealistic. The Gromova hoax is up there with moon landing denial.

Back on topic, for Soviets SERIOUSLY considering first woman on the Moon (in the real life, not in the Fantasy Orksland), somebody other than Tereshkova needs to be the first woman in space. Her "successful failure" caused anti-female prejudice.
 
There is one thing to have Komarov cover up (which ruined the plan).
There is another thing to believe urban legends created "because they hid Komarov's death, there must be batallions of suiciders in dog capsules sent to die" and to demonize the Soviets more than we deserve. I too can sprout urban legends that the death of Grissom was organized to shut him up after he called the Moon mission unrealistic. The Gromova hoax is up there with moon landing denial.

Back on topic, for Soviets SERIOUSLY considering first woman on the Moon (in the real life, not in the Fantasy Orksland), somebody other than Tereshkova needs to be the first woman in space. Her "successful failure" caused anti-female prejudice.
Fair point. Not trying demonize Soviets just saying I could see them jumping the gun on a mission or launching but that might help them get a earlier landing.

What are the Soviets ability in 1966 to 1968? Could they launch a mission to moon somewhat underprepared and get lucky enough to make it back in relatively one piece?

Or could they have worked with other socialist allies more so to get more skilled people and resources? Make it more of a “international” effort. Get some Chinese or socialist leaning people from the west?


Edit: Much of space is still not fully understood by this time. I’m not sure what the exact incorrect ideas or notions the Soviets had about space but US had its fair share of them so I imagine the Soviets did too.
 
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