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.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 )
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.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, 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.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.
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.)
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.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.
That sounds familiar... Isn't that how NASA does things now?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)
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...
Yes, I see what you mean.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...
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.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.
That reminds me of this thread: https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/wi-lunar-water-discovered-during-apollo.450894/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!"
And Sputniks was an awesome TL. ^_^
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.Okkkayyy, note to self; never ever go near FLOX.
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.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.
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.
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.In that case, then I would image an STS system in this TL being built around a Saturn I.
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.
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.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.
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.
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".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.
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.
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.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.
Very nice. ^_^
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.And soon, many would try the Oregon Trail, not as easy as the Newspaper reports made out. Most would make the trip alive, though
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.