What? Why? Isn't that dangerously like "on-topic" and maybe almost like "work"? Isn't that against some forum regualtion or something? I'm not sure....Anyways, it's about time I did some worldbuilding, don't you think?
Going to hold off and review the rest but:
Ok a couple of items to add: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?
Big one first: Cost to restart the Saturn V production even on a limited basis is several billion dollars by 1969 in fact IIRC correctly NASA recommended the lines be scrapped in 1968 to avoid storage and holding costs to the companies. Worse you actually have NO "Saturn V's" left even if you stop at Apollo 15, why? One for Skylab remains either way but the others are going to be expended in testing to research, design and build you 'up-rated' Saturn V's that has to be done before you restart production since it's going to be expensive enough just re-installing and re-stating the lines. You'll need to expend several SII and SIVBs modified for long term LH2 storage on-orbit as well.
Several things needed to be added to the decision tree on those suggestions:
Continuing Apollo WILL lead to another accident it was something like an 80% chance of an 'incident' if the Apollo program followed through landings to Apollo 20. The chances were high of loosing a crew ON the Moon if the program kept up but 13 had shown they chances were still high despite how 'routine' it had gotten. Worse when the figured out the likely cause of WHY 13 happened rather than from the assumed pogo issues which were actually fixed post-13. That made NO ONE happy.
A Lunar base using Apollo equipment would have required a re-start of Saturn V production as well. Not to mention expending several "Apollo" production Saturn V's to test hardware and required changes. The estimated costs were seen to be low-balled even though BellComm was rarely guilty of that it was found several 'assumptions' were questionable and no one at NASA liked the idea of stopping at 14 since the 'real' work didn't begin till Apollo 15. (Having the Russians there first isn't going to fly as an argument since they really DO have longer and more extensive missions planned post-14)
The space shuttle was at the time of the estimate assumed to be 'leading' to the Space Station which entailed it's own 'assumptions' on costing. The 'initial' shuttle was a personnel transport with the original 'booster' doubling as a reusable Saturn V booster with expendable upper stages ala-"Right Side Up" where as later Shuttle had larger and more complex Orbiters with more in-built capability. In addition there needs to be a clear idea if anything from Apollo can or will be used to build the shuttle or the station as this greatly effects the cost estimates.. Especially if restarting Saturn V production is added in. (Keep in mind that most quotes of 'development' of advanced Saturn V's work assume that either the production is never shut down or don't include re-start costs in the estimates) Then there's what KIND of shuttle we're talking about since the biggest fully reusable two-stage (both manned) space planes while being the most expensive to develop always had the lower 'per-flight' cost than something like OTL's shuttle. And then there's if the Saturn V or Apollo equipment is going to be around which adds in further complications and/or advantages.
Lastly no one that I can find was going to suggest a Mars mission could be cheaper than Apollo, double Apollo's cost to START was a baseline it went up the more differences from Apollo there were. I'm confused how anyone could 'sell' a Mars mission as being cheaper than Apollo? Yes people are going to blame the President for 'wasting' money even if 'public/government' support is around the same as the early/mid-60s it's not much over 51% in general and with no big 'terrestrial' spending projects like there were in the first 5 to 8 years of NASA, (and there won't be) the overall support base is going to be more diverse and spread thinner. And even without Vietnam you still have a lot of hot-button down-to-Earth issues that people will insist could use the money and support on Earth rather than in space. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watts_riots)