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

Anyways, back on topic.

I have been thinking more about how you actually get the US to Mars by the end of the 20th Century. I think what may be needed is a very different Cold War. Let's say Stalin slips on a banana peel and experiences a fatal fall at some point in early 1945. Whoever replaces him (initially I would bet on a Molotov-Beria double act, but either or both could be sleeping with the fishes by the end of the power struggle) plays the early part of the Cold War much more cautiously and cooperatively (for example, the whole of Eastern Europe, while forced to be Soviet allies, have Finland-level control of their internal affairs). As such, while relations do deteriorate, they do so much more slowly and with much less fear that the Cold War will turn into a hot war - instead the fear is much more that one system will out-compete the other. This means military budgets are lower on both sides, and the desire to demonstrate that their system can lead humanity into the future is much stronger. Meaning there is more money for space exploration, more percieved utility for those in power on both sides, and enough time to plausibly arrange the state of both the Soviets and US rocket programs so that both can be competitive. (Both sides spent enough on nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles to pay for more Mars programs than you could shake a stick at.)

fasquardon
I dunno, without Stalin and the fear he created it's likely the US may fall even further behind. For example would Molotov-Beria really care about what happened in Asia for example? Would Kim have enough of a relationship with the new Moscow to even consult them anymore? Mao probably wouldn't which would bring an earlier split. The downside is with no Korean war Truman has longer and less resistance to HIS agenda which would end up gutting the US military and very serious consequences to our future missile and rocket program. One of Dewey's percieved 'advantages' that made the race seem to be his, (and allowed it to be somewhat close in any case) was the perception that Truman was being played by Stalin as he seemed to stumble from crisis to crisis. Talking 'plain' and 'tough' during his train tour is arguably what got him re-elected as he was far better getting his point across in person than through the media.

Keep in mind our rocket program was pretty much dead by 1948 and getting worse as Truman ramped back up with the cuts post-48 election. (The Air Force had to make choices with what little money they were getting, and they were bound and determined to see the Army and Navy broken which was fine with Truman) No Korean war and/or a lower grade Cold War and WVB and the Germans are gone by the early 50s. People seem to forget 90% of the "Paperclip" people were only supposed to be in the US for about 5 to 8 years or until their 'knowledge' was considered 'stale' enough for them to be released back to Europe. The US military was in fact not using them at all and they were hardly consulted or given real work to do. (In fact American work had progressed beyond their own work in several areas before the budget cuts came along)

And would Molotov-Beria see rockets and missiles as much as force multipliers as Stalin did? Would they instead fall back on long-range aviation or push for 'allied' forward air bases? A less intense Cold War may in fact greatly degrade interest and/or support for rockets and space travel rather than open opportunties for it :)

Randy
 
And would Molotov-Beria see rockets and missiles as much as force multipliers as Stalin did? Would they instead fall back on long-range aviation or push for 'allied' forward air bases? A less intense Cold War may in fact greatly degrade interest and/or support for rockets and space travel rather than open opportunties for it :)
Ummm. Stalin wasn't a great fan of missiles I thought? Indeed, Stalin dying probably means less resources are funneled into the Soviet bomber programs and rocketry probably does better in the benign neglect.

Keep in mind our rocket program was pretty much dead by 1948 and getting worse as Truman ramped back up with the cuts post-48 election.
Right. I figure tensions would rise over the 50s as both sides grapple with the practical problems of occupying Germany and inevitably piss each other off.

But we could see a US rocket program that's 5-10 years behind OTL, which helps make the space race more competitive from the outset.

fasquardon
 
Ummm. Stalin wasn't a great fan of missiles I thought? Indeed, Stalin dying probably means less resources are funneled into the Soviet bomber programs and rocketry probably does better in the benign neglect.
I'll have to look but IIRC he was fascinated by the V2 so supported early research, not in a steady way but more so than anyone had planned. He was also aware that the USSR didn't have an effective method to deliver nuclear weapons to the continental US and that it's aviation industry wasn't likely to be the effecive way of doing it. It was, granted, the most obvious way but Stalin wasn't shy about alternatives. (aka trying to kidnap the Sanger's from France for example)

Right. I figure tensions would rise over the 50s as both sides grapple with the practical problems of occupying Germany and inevitably piss each other off.

But we could see a US rocket program that's 5-10 years behind OTL, which helps make the space race more competitive from the outset.

fasquardon
Hmm, not so sure. Keep in mind that despite everything the US rocketry efforts were significantly hampered by the Truman cuts and later Eisenhower's "New Look" and attempts to keep space from becoming a 'front' in the Cold War can be argued to have had a significant effect. And if the Russian's aren't going as far, or as fast the US has even less incentive to do so. A possible upside though is we'd likely see a more effective and sustained "X-Plane" program but also keep in mind the Air Force wasn't that enthusiastic about the research programs outside of very specific and narrow focuses.

Also there's the 'popularization' of Space Travel that isn't as likely to happen as it did OTL since WVB isn't likely to stay in the States past around 1950 TTL. Dornberger might rope him into working for Bell but most of the 'team' will be gone by that point since the US quite obviously doesn't want them. I don't subscibe to the "one-man-changes-history" trope but in WVB's case he was litterally the 'one' man in the right-place/right-time OTL to get Colliers and Disney to popularize space travel like no one else had. TTL he's very likely never in that position.

'48 is probably "too early/ late" for this thread but I'm going to have to maintain that having Dewey actually defeat Truman would probably be a better POD given his planned increase in military spending, more balanced planning and such. The US might have a more capable, (less utility as an ICBM but the same can be said for the R7) Atlas by the mid-to-late '50s which would make the Space Race closer.

RAndy
 
A thought occurs to me on 'slowing' the US down and making them more complacent towards the Moon race...

The USAF/NASA tiff over the Titan "Gemini Launch Vehicle" version gets more heated as the Air Force isn't willing to spend the money to fix all the problems NASA is insisting on. (After all, what are they gonna do about it huh? :) )

So NASA dumps the GLV for the Saturn 1 to launch Gemini... Overkill? Oh heck yes and it requires some substantial changes to the Gemini itself but along the way NASA realizes that they can now grab some 'firsts' from under the Soviets noses. By adding a "Mission Module" below the Gemini they can claim the first rendzvous in space, (maybe) first docking, (again maybe) but they can get the "first space station" and an endurance record or three out of it. (Maybe)

Randy
 
The USAF/NASA tiff over the Titan "Gemini Launch Vehicle" version gets more heated as the Air Force isn't willing to spend the money to fix all the problems NASA is insisting on. (After all, what are they gonna do about it huh? :) )
Hmm. Slight tangent: do you think the Titan missile would have been adapted into a launch vehicle if there'd been no Dynasoar program?

I'll have to look but IIRC he was fascinated by the V2 so supported early research, not in a steady way but more so than anyone had planned. He was also aware that the USSR didn't have an effective method to deliver nuclear weapons to the continental US and that it's aviation industry wasn't likely to be the effecive way of doing it. It was, granted, the most obvious way but Stalin wasn't shy about alternatives. (aka trying to kidnap the Sanger's from France for example)
True. I also seem to remember something about Beria being sceptical about missiles, so if he is a major player in the late 40s, that could mean the Soviets are slowed down too. But I do forget where I read that about Beria, so not sure how reliable the information is.

fasquardon
 
Hmm. Slight tangent: do you think the Titan missile would have been adapted into a launch vehicle if there'd been no Dynasoar program?
Odd thing about that is the Titan was always going to boost the "Dynasoar" even when it was the Titan 1 and "future-BoMi" as a concept :) The only reason the Saturn 1 got into the mix was ARPA, (not the Air Force) figured they needed:
A) A "mission" for Saturn
B) Dynasoar was going to be too heavy for the Titan 1 and likely Titan II

So ARPA instructed WVB and team to put 'appropriate' sized fins on the Saturn 1, which they did. Then the Air Force politely said "Oh HECK NO! We'll just add more boosters to a Titan to get the Dynasoar flying" and since it was an Air Force not an ARPA project that was how it was going to be. So WVB and company were stuck with a Saturn 1 with these huge but useless, (it hadn't been designed to have them at all initially) fins on it and a quickly approaching launch date. So what to do? Grab the saws, cutting torches and slide rules! They literally hacked them down to size on the launch pad a week before the test flight :)

Back to the question, the Air Force was pretty clear that they were going to 'switch' from Atlas versions for heavier payloads but there was always a question for manned launches. The Air Force felt the 'issues' (pogo, end of boost thrust levels and such) were 'manageable' and didn't want to deal with them until and unless they were flying the Dynasoar as they felt, (arguably correctly) that such modifications would hinder the production of the Titan II as a missile. They had pretty much planned on making the Titan 'some' sort of LV for their own use but I'm on the fence if that would have worked in the end for manned use if they and NASA hadn't cooperated enough on Gemini.

Oddly enough from what I've read the Titan SRM's were actually a lot 'smoother' to ride than the Shuttle SRB's due to the propellant mixing and formulation. In part this was to offset some of the issues with the higher power Titan LV designs and in part it was because satellites themselves were becoming more sensitive to LV dynamics. The Shuttle SRB's could have had similar characteristics but this would have both cost more and required the manufacturers to share what they considered propitiatory information that NASA could not force on the private companies. (Not to mention the AF of course backed their SRB company :) )

True. I also seem to remember something about Beria being sceptical about missiles, so if he is a major player in the late 40s, that could mean the Soviets are slowed down too. But I do forget where I read that about Beria, so not sure how reliable the information is.

fasquardon
Yep I know that feeling, all to well in fact :) Wasn't Beria's son in on the kidnapping plan?

Randy
 
Yep I know that feeling, all to well in fact :) Wasn't Beria's son in on the kidnapping plan?
Say what? Which kidnapping?

Oddly enough from what I've read the Titan SRM's were actually a lot 'smoother' to ride than the Shuttle SRB's due to the propellant mixing and formulation.
Do you remember where you read this? (And wasn't their smaller size also helpful in making the ride smoother? I've heard that bigger solids have more trouble with vibration.)

Odd thing about that is the Titan was always going to boost the "Dynasoar" even when it was the Titan 1 and "future-BoMi" as a concept :) The only reason the Saturn 1 got into the mix was ARPA, (not the Air Force) figured they needed:
A) A "mission" for Saturn
B) Dynasoar was going to be too heavy for the Titan 1 and likely Titan II
Hmmm. Drat. So much for that idea.

fasquardon
 
Speaking of US manned Mars mission concepts:
Not real I know but what are the odds?

Randy
That's quite interesting.

Counter-proposal:


(Seriously KSP is awesome)

Korolev had brought up a Lunar mission right after Sputnik, and pushed it again after Gagarin and while Khrushchev was in general supportive he was pretty clear the budget would be limited due to military needs. On the other hand he was also demanding more space stunts and firsts but without a new LV development program and a heavier payload capability they were stuck with variations of the R7 and Vostok. The early 1962 meeting essentially DID authorize a vague Lunar program as the development of the N1 was greenlit at that meeting but that support was tertiary to the development of the R36 ICBM, and the UR500/Proton as a military ICBM/LV. So the 'support' was already split three ways since an 'assumption' was that work would continue on the UR700 for the Lunar mission alongside the N1 development.
Actually I could see that but it would take someone looking at the whole from a somewhat 'outside' perspective to see how badly organized the Soviet space "program" was. Someone would need to organize and select a committee that would review the space and ICBM efforts and make a report on how each would be 'better' organized and run which would essentially feed into that particualr meeting. Essentially it has to come out from there that the "space" program needs a seperate and more cohesive organization and support structure in order to keep gaining 'firsts' and spectecles in space as they are reaching the limits of the current sysems and capability. While some long term goals and plans are discussed here but no solid plans are made. The N1 is authorized for further study, (if Chelomie is still around) the UR500 authorized as a Heavy ICBM and LV and Yangel gets priority for the R36. We'll assume that Korolev doesn't lose any influance to Chelomie so that he is undesputed "Chief Designer" of the "space" program.

Once Kennedy announces the US Lunar goal the Soviet's at least take him seriously even if they don't belive he'll stick to the goal. So an early 1963 decision is made to 'match' the American effort as long as the ICBM program is moving forward. The N1, LK, and Soyuz projects are given a higher priority and support along with the UR500. Still, it's going to be hard to free up enough resources to cover all this and the ICBM program as well.
Korolev and Glushko had been butting heads since the early days. Yangel used to work for Korolev who felt somewhat betrayed when he was moved out and given his own beuro. (The military had a saying {paraphrased} that Koroleve worked for space, Chelomie worked for Khrushchev, and Yangel works for Us, see: https://falsesteps.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/the-r-56yangel-works-for-us/) And then there was Chelomie who figured he had an 'in' with hiring Khrushchev's son, (he wasn't wrong) and was clearly out to take over the whole rocket and spacecraft development program which Korolev had issues with but he found a kindered sprit in Glushko and Yangel since they advocated storable propellants. Glusko had also failed to deliver on several 'promised' engines for the early R1 and R7 which forced Korolev to devote resources to design and build the engines and upgrades which did not endear the two.

Convince (or force) Glushko to crack the combustion instabilty issue or maybe Korolev that large H2O2/kerosene engines are viable and have them become a closer team. Have Yangel present first and use his time to point out the flaws in the current space and ICBM program. Maybe get rid of Chelomie?
Modification? Have Glushko also build the requested upper stage engines to improve the R7 though I'm not sure keroxide would provide the needed performance it might. Glushko could pitch the fact that decomposed peroxide auto-ignites kerosene which would avoid the combustion instabilities he's encountering in the large kerolox engine designs.
Ok, that setup sounds great. So have Glushko get a breakthrough in H2O2/kerosene engines, pitch it to Korolev, and have the N-series and UR-series rockets redesigned around them. Then have all of the designers meet in 1960 and have one of them state that competing would only reduce the chances of them getting funding for their own projects and that they should work together. I'm guessing at first they would reject that, but have Glushko say he would build a standard set of engines for all of them using H2O2 propellent, and they might agree. At this point, Chelomei would probably abandon the UR series of rockets and work with Korlev to develop the N1/N11/N111. Have Yangel present first at the meeting with Khrushchev and point out that by pooling their resources they were able to create a family of rocket vehicles better than if they had competed with each other, and that continuing that collaboration is paramount to their success.

Khrushchev, after seeing how standardizing their engine configurations helped speed up the development of the vehicles agrees to create a unified controlling agency that the bureaus would report to, in the hopes of reducing the amount of money wasted designing multiple competing vehicles in the future. By the end of the meeting, the N-series would have been selected for further development into SLVs and heavy ICBMs, and the R-36 have been selected as a light ICBM.

Then let's have Chelomei, Glushko, and Korolev agree to try and standardize their rocket fleet. Korolev's N1 rocket would still be used as the super-heavy lifter. Chelomei's UR-series of rockets would have most likely died on the drawing board two years prior, so the N11 would fill the role of the heavy lifter. The medium lifter would be provided by the R-7, and later the N111. Yangel would be appointed to coordinating the entire operation, being assisted by Korolev. Glushko would build the engines, Korolev would design the rockets and Soyuz command vehicle and Chelomei would assist Korolev and also design the other orbital spacecraft and space stations.

By early 1964 the N-series designs would be frozen and proper development on it would start. By early 1966 the Soyuz spacecraft would have been finished and would start flying uncrewed test missions, and by the end of the year the N11 would be ready and the Zond program would start sending Soyuz capsules uncrewed around the Moon. Soyuz 1 would probably fly in early 1967 and a crewed circumlunar mission would be attempted sometime in late 1967. By early 1968 the N1 rocket would be ready for flight, and without the 30 engines on its first stage, it would be more successful. A crewed Lunar orbital flight would probably fly in late 1968, and a Lunar landing in early 1969.

N111 "Vulkain"? And the 'standardized' or "Universal" rocket fleet was Chelomie more than Glushko and was part of his attempt to take over all rocket production.
Good name! And sorry, I did mean Chelomie.

Well without an earlier POD that might effect US missile development then it's likely that Congress still mandates the US develop an IRBM which the Army had already done with Jupiter which was the basis of the USAF's Thor. Now it's possible a more confident USSR makes more protests of the planned deployment in Italy and Turkey, enough that they actually stand firm about not wanting them deployed in their countries. If they don't get deployed then there's less pressure on Khrushchev to 'counter' the deployment by putting missiles into Cuba.
Ok, so no missile crisis. How does that affect history? A lot of things are going to get butterflied by that.

By the mid-60s no one really took a 'military' use for the Moon seriously anymore. Like orbting nuclear weapon the reality of the them compared to any other more plausible, (and affordable) terrestrial alternative was clear. I won't repeat most of the already mentioned arguments but the main one is there is no stealth in space, (your radar mirror won't work because they are also optically tracking the warheads/station and even if it 'disappears' it will remain going in the same direction and speed unless there is a very visible and obvious application of a LOT of thrust) and your warheads have only limited utility over most of their flight path. Oh, and I see no one mentioned the BIG thing that 'killed' this idea... Mainteance and operations costs and utility. Those warheads have to be maintained and they degrade over time due to cosmic and solar radiation. You have to have a large orbital infrastructure to care and maintain those orbiting assets all of which is highly vulnerable to any surface launched area-effect attack.

Korolev and others tried to interest the military in orbital bases and constellations of 'battle satellites' along with satellite inspection and interception mission but the military wasn't biting. Even the US efforts there quickly lost interest. Just about anything you need done in space can be done easier and cheaper with an unmanned platform and most of it can be done from the ground anyway.

The ONE possible utility has always been a deep-space/Cis-Lunar command and control station which both sides studied extensivly. It just didn't come out as any better than alternative concepts that were cheaper and easier to accomplish.
I chose a mirror system because they are, rather infamously, the only known exception to the 'no stealth in space' rule. However, now that I'm looking at that it seems that they would only work in deep space, where you don't have any light sources nearby. In LEO you could just track the Earth's reflection on them. Solar radiation would also be a big issue, like could you imagine if their computer got set off accidentally by a cosmic ray or something? Actually, that sounds like a good plot for a movie.

Anyways, there are solutions to those issues. The real problem here is whether or not a military presence in space would help get the Lunar program more funding, which was why I originally brought it up. By the way, the US didn't lose interest in them, they kept working on them but classified everything. In fact, a lot of stuff on US military space-to-space weapons development and operation is still classified. I'm not a conspiracy theorist or anything but I do find that rather interesting. At the very least we know that the US is still looking into concepts for the crewed inspection and destruction of satellites.

There's a LOT of preliminary work that needs to happen that wasn't just falling behind because of the Proton. The N11 and N1 would still be essentially flight tested rather than ground tested which will inevitibly lead to more rather than fewer failures. N11 failures would be less of an issue than Proton or N1 failures but even in the best case they ORIGINALLY hoped to land on the Moon by 1968 and that slipped to 1969 before they began having major problems. The only succssfully space tested part of the LK system was the lunar module engine OTL everything else was behind schedule and slipping even further. TTL they are going to have to perform orbital docking, manuevering, and rendezvous operations with the whole and parts of the complex that are going to be obvious to the Americans
The first N11 would probably fly around early to late 1966, so it would have had 4 years of development. I'm not sure if that's enough to get the reliability higher than the OTL Proton though. But without Korolev's death and with a more unified agency they shouldn't have a problem getting all of the other technologies tested out in time. Soyuz 1 & 2 can practice rendezvous in early 1966, and in late 1966 Soyuz 3 and 4 can practice docking. By 1967 they should have that down, and the LK will probably be test-flown uncrewed by the end of that year. Also in late 1967 would be a crewed Lunar flyby, and by 1968 they can start doing orbital crewed test flights of the LK.

Now as you said, the Americans will probably figure out what's happening. The Soyuz spacecraft could be written off as a space station service craft, but once they see an LK fly they're going to have the best flight analysts in the country trying to figure it out. The early solo LK flights would be written off as satellites, but once they rendezvous a Soyuz with it they'll know exactly what it is. Even if they can't get images of it there's a decent chance they'll realize its a Lunar lander from its flight profile, and if those flights happen in early 1968 they will have enough time to accelerate their program, and maybe get Apollo 9 to land on the Moon in February or March of 1969. Still, if the Soviets land in January it'll be too late. Also keep in mind the Americans are going to see LK-3 literally blow up on their radar screens, which might make them think the Soviets aren't progressing very fast.

Nope, three (3) crew without space suits, modified to two to the Moon, (since the crew had to wear space suits both for the trip and to perform the EVA's needed to get to and from the LK-lander) but standard three. Put an ejector seat in there and I'm not sure you'd have enough room for two cosmonauts :)
I was originally imagining that only the first, one-man flight would have one, but upon reflection having Soyuz 2 rescue him would be better.

The "Zond" is supposed to have more delta-v than the Lander can even think about so it should be no issue and you want to remain in visual range just in case of problems like this one. (Not to mention getting good video/film of the whole evolution :) ) You'll move out of visual range on one of the later test flights but that would likely be over the Moon ala-Apollo 10 or something.
The Soyuz 7K-LOK needed only about one km/s to break out of Lunar orbit, the LK needs twice that, even without the crasher stage. Plus, doing two burns at once with spacecraft practically right next to each other is all but asking for them to collide. Then again, having good footage of it would be awesome.

Ahhh, not so fast! One of the 'advantages' of an unmanned sample return mission is that the chances of contamination are a lot lower than with an astro/cosmonaut involved. We actually DID discover that there was more water on the Moon than we'd originally thought but because it tested as essentialy chemically similar to terrestrial water it was ruled as contamination due to the sample cross-section size. (See instead of a 'coreing' drill the Apollo crews 'duel-used' a drill made to bury sensors in the regolith. Since the cross-section was only about an inch in diameter and the sample case seals had dust and regolith all over them it was assumed the 'water' came from either the astronauts suits or some Earthly source. Later studies determined that several of the sample were NOT contaminated and that in fact the regolith had a higher water contect than had been assumed) Once it's determined that the regolith itself has more H2O than assumed then it follows that there are either sources on the Moon for water or it is an ongoing process. The 'heat-trap' concept follows pretty rapidly from there.

Re-fueling or other Earth orbital operations would help of course but the N1/LK program was aimed at being as close to a single launch mission as possible because that was the fastest way. Once you start expanding operations you really no longer want single person missions anyway so you wait on the later series to do such tasks and take more than one person to the surface.
In the original TL for this thread, I had the N1-LK-LOK refuel in Earth orbit, with Leonov attaching a transfer line to a refueling stage launched by a Proton. They did ullage burns simultaneously to settle the propellents for the transfer. But, I would imagine in real life they would wait until they had more capable landers like the TLK.

You know depending on the overall situation a joint mission to the Lunar poles would make a 'better' analog to OTL's Apollo-Soyuz mission...
It would be, but that would make the chances of continuing the race to Mars all but disappear. Of course, they might do a joint Mars mission...

No that's actually worse :) You'd simply wait for another crew member, (or two) to be along before you do anything like this
Ok, so no water ice early on then. I guess Zvezda will have to make do with baking the water out of the soil.

Ya I noted that but thought I'd either misread or a mistake :) The main issues as I understand it was less "Tereshkova" herself but a general lack of ability to put multiple females throught the training, (her flight was supposed to be a dual female mission but the second launch was scrubbed) and a lack of interest in repeating what was upfront a 'stunt' mission. These were essentially 'military' pilots assigned as cosmonauts and like the American program the initial requirements were pretty exclusive. Essentially if the American's plan or succeed in putting a woman on the Moon they might consider doing so.
6 females applied to Astronaut Group 5 in 1966, so if we have one of them get in, maybe as a political stunt or something, the Soviets would probably respond. So basically the exact opposite of what happened in For All Mankind.

Unfortunately, I cannot find the names of the women who applied, so if I ever mention them it will have to be using a random name generator.

Actually Astronautix says they left from LEO in both missions. The only reason to go to HEO was they could use less propellant to break free of Earth to do the TMI burn. The crew would likely go up second so that you could save mass in the Launch Escape System and some other 'crew-only' requirments that you can add to the mass of the complex or save propellant, and to avoid long exposure to the Van Allen belts.
Okay, so launch one is the flyby spacecraft, and launch two is the crew, and they would depart from LEO. Got it.

The "one-launch" was if the TMK-1 went up manned or not and predicated on the assumed (at the time of around 1959/1961) N1 capabilities. The problem with it being a "Lunar" station is the same in that there weren't very many, (or good) Lunar orbits to put them in. Add in you've got a booster with over 45 tonnes (metric) of propellant and it's likely not going to the Moon no matter what they say :) The Venus swing-by reduced your total trip time, (which in turn reduces your on-board supply requirements) somewhat going from a bit over 37 months (three years, one month, two days) to a little under a year and a half IIRC my figures correctly. Normally that would be about half you consumables but the TMK had an bio-regenerative life support system so the mass was somewhat fixed. (Though lower than an non-regenerative LSS to start with)
How would they know how much of the spacecraft is fuel or structure? And even if they could, reaching Lunar orbit takes 3950 m/s, while getting to mars takes about 4270 m/s. The excess propellant could be to compensate for the mascons.

"Hard, you say? Hold my beer there son..." :)
I will admit that the US could just strap 50 boosters to their ship and call it a day, but I dought in reality they would actually do that. Then again they are Americans, they don't exactly know the meaning of overkill.

Ion has delta-v to spare AND a huge ISP, the downside is the enemic thrust ratio. Still propulsive trip times can range from 777 days to a little under a year depending on the power and drive type. (See: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19870014259.pdf) Your biggest issue is you can't put the crew on-board until you're almost out of Earth's influance due to those pesky Van Allen belts again as the ship has to spiral out of LEO or be boosted by a high thrust booster of some kind. (NERVA/Ion Hybrid can be found here: https://www.wired.com/2012/04/ernsts-ions-week-concludes-nerva-ion-mars-mission-1966/, and other nuclear ion concepts here: http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/realdesigns3.php#stuhlingerion, http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/realdesigns3.php#lrcion, http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/realdesigns3.php#marsnep, and the classic; http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/realdesigns3.php#umbrella, "In Thrust We Trust" even if it's only ounces for forever :) )
Interesting, I didn't know that. Thanks.

Happy Endings... It's a thing you know ;)
Yes, it is. In fact, I did consider many alternatives to the way I wrote it in that draft. For instance;

- The US and Soviet landers land next to each other safely and do Apollo-Soyuz but on Mars
- The Soviets crash and use an emergency ascent vehicle to get back into orbit (aka some fuel tanks and engines strapped together with duct tape)
- The Soviets crash and the Americans rescue them
- The Soviets half-crash and the Americans help with the repairs

I might change it in the next version of the story, whenever I get around to writing it.

I would also like to write some sort of sequence where they find life. I'm not entirely sure if that counts as ASB though...
 
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Say what? Which kidnapping?
Stalin was "interested" in the Silverbird bomber concept so he tasked some folks with kidnapping Sanger and his wife from France. (I was wrong it appears to have been Stalin's son that was tasked to try and convince him to come to the USSR. When he refused Stalin allegedly ordered the NKVD to kidnap them but they never managed an opportunity or will to actually do so. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugen_Sänger#Postwar)

Do you remember where you read this? (And wasn't their smaller size also helpful in making the ride smoother? I've heard that bigger solids have more trouble with vibration.)
A discussion on NSF that referenced several industry and NASA/Air Force studies... None of which I can lay my hands on ATM of course :)
Yes in fact larger solids, especially segmented solids, have more trouble with vibration but it seems that this was something that could be overcome as even the largest Titan solid, (and IIRC they were segmented though in a different manner than the Shuttle SRBs) were smooth as silk compared to the Shuttle SRBs.

Hmmm. Drat. So much for that idea.
It depends on what you want as an outcome per-se. If you don't want Titan as an LV there are probably work arounds that can 'happen' :) My favorite personally is that the Air Force manages to sell it's "SLS-1960" concept (http://www.astronautix.com/s/sls.html) as a general purpose space launch system from light to heavy, which, while it means that the Saturn 1 is the only model of Saturn and likely not used very much it means that NASA can concentrate more on the 'spacecraft' (including a possible reusable 'shuttle' based on the Dynasoar or a lifting body) end of things. What did you have in mind?

Randy
 
Ok, that setup sounds great. So have Glushko get a breakthrough in H2O2/kerosene engines, pitch it to Korolev, and have the N-series and UR-series rockets redesigned around them. Then have all of the designers meet in 1960 and have one of them state that competing would only reduce the chances of them getting funding for their own projects and that they should work together. I'm guessing at first they would reject that, but have Glushko say he would build a standard set of engines for all of them using H2O2 propellent, and they might agree. At this point, Chelomei would probably abandon the UR series of rockets and work with Korlev to develop the N1/N11/N111. Have Yangel present first at the meeting with Khrushchev and point out that by pooling their resources they were able to create a family of rocket vehicles better than if they had competed with each other, and that continuing that collaboration is paramount to their success.

Khrushchev, after seeing how standardizing their engine configurations helped speed up the development of the vehicles agrees to create a unified controlling agency that the bureaus would report to, in the hopes of reducing the amount of money wasted designing multiple competing vehicles in the future. By the end of the meeting, the N-series would have been selected for further development into SLVs and heavy ICBMs, and the R-36 have been selected as a light ICBM.

Then let's have Chelomei, Glushko, and Korolev agree to try and standardize their rocket fleet. Korolev's N1 rocket would still be used as the super-heavy lifter. Chelomei's UR-series of rockets would have most likely died on the drawing board two years prior, so the N11 would fill the role of the heavy lifter. The medium lifter would be provided by the R-7, and later the N111. Yangel would be appointed to coordinating the entire operation, being assisted by Korolev. Glushko would build the engines, Korolev would design the rockets and Soyuz command vehicle and Chelomei would assist Korolev and also design the other orbital spacecraft and space stations.

By early 1964 the N-series designs would be frozen and proper development on it would start. By early 1966 the Soyuz spacecraft would have been finished and would start flying uncrewed test missions, and by the end of the year the N11 would be ready and the Zond program would start sending Soyuz capsules uncrewed around the Moon. Soyuz 1 would probably fly in early 1967 and a crewed circumlunar mission would be attempted sometime in late 1967. By early 1968 the N1 rocket would be ready for flight, and without the 30 engines on its first stage, it would be more successful. A crewed Lunar orbital flight would probably fly in late 1968, and a Lunar landing in early 1969.
H2O2 does have cost and storage advantages, I think you need an earlier PoD to get the Soviets to adopt it though. Say, if Glushko cracks a keroxide modification to the R-7's engines during prototype stage. Meaning the R-7 can sit fueled in its siloes for long enough that the military like it... A keroxide R-7 ICBM would actually be a super interesting PoD all on its own.

I also can't imagine Chelomei playing nice with the other designers here. Not without someone sitting on him from a great height. He was aiming for full control of the Soviet space program.

What did you have in mind?
Well, given how dominant the Titan was for so much of its history, I've always been rather curious what the US programs would look like without it.

I also think about what a MORE dominant Titan would have been like. At some point I may write a TL about that... I was thinking of calling it something like "Titans all the way down".

fasquardon
 
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H2O2 does have cost and storage advantages, I think you need an earlier PoD to get the Soviets to adopt it though. Say, if Glushko cracks a keroxide modification to the R-7's engines during prototype stage. Meaning the R-7 can sit fueled in its siloes for long enough that the military like it... A keroxide R-7 ICBM would actually be a super interesting PoD all on its own.

I also can't imagine Chelomei playing nice with the other designers here. Not without someone sitting on him from a great height. He was aiming for full control of the Soviet space program.
What sort of timeframe are we looking at here, and are you sure there's no way to make them adopt it later?
 
That's quite interesting.
He's got quite the interesting channel actually. International Skylab, (Salyut/Skylab as an advanced Apollo/Soyuz project) N1 to the Moon and others using RSS and Kerbal. Of course this one glosses over a HUGE amount of issues with the concept but it's a neat and possibly plausible concept. Probably far to risky for anyone to approve but ... :)

Counter-proposal:
[/quote]

Very nice, looks like a version of the "Voyage" all-chemical mission though without the outbound (or any actually) Venus encounter. SEVERAL questions though...
-No heatshield on the lander? I like the design though they'd jetission the 'shroud' during descent as in the 'real' world doing it after landing could easily come back to 'bite' you... As in bouncing back into the lander :)
- Noted the 'cut' between getting TO the rover and driving it away. Probably like most of my attempts at that set up the rover kept bouncing up and 'crashing' into the lander :)
- Ok, the question MUST be asked, about 12:50 after exploring the "Phobos-Hole" why is that astronaut "twerking" all the way back to the ship? Could it be ... Aliens? The truth is out there! (But really why bother when we can make up so much MORE interesting stuff? :) )

(Ohhh, and hey fasquadron, the content site on youtube has a "Direct Ascent Apollo to the South Pole" video :)
)

(Seriously KSP is awesome)
You're username is "Bill Kerman" I would be highly disappointed if you did NOT feel that way :)
Had I the talent/time/ability-to-blackmail-someone-into-doing-it-for-me that I could wish there are thousands if not hundreds of alternate-scenerios I'd love to explore using KSP. I'd messed around with Orbiter since it's a 'bit' easier to do special vehicles and mods but I'm must not enough of an artist/tech to do what I want. So I just keep launching and flying around gaining science... When I'm not doing my thousand-plus "other" games on daily's, farming, etc. Oh look a squirrel!

Ok, that setup sounds great. So have Glushko get a breakthrough in H2O2/kerosene engines, pitch it to Korolev, and have the N-series and UR-series rockets redesigned around them. Then have all of the designers meet in 1960 and have one of them state that competing would only reduce the chances of them getting funding for their own projects and that they should work together. I'm guessing at first they would reject that, but have Glushko say he would build a standard set of engines for all of them using H2O2 propellent, and they might agree. At this point, Chelomei would probably abandon the UR series of rockets and work with Korlev to develop the N1/N11/N111. Have Yangel present first at the meeting with Khrushchev and point out that by pooling their resources they were able to create a family of rocket vehicles better than if they had competed with each other, and that continuing that collaboration is paramount to their success.

Khrushchev, after seeing how standardizing their engine configurations helped speed up the development of the vehicles agrees to create a unified controlling agency that the bureaus would report to, in the hopes of reducing the amount of money wasted designing multiple competing vehicles in the future. By the end of the meeting, the N-series would have been selected for further development into SLVs and heavy ICBMs, and the R-36 have been selected as a light ICBM.

Then let's have Chelomei, Glushko, and Korolev agree to try and standardize their rocket fleet. Korolev's N1 rocket would still be used as the super-heavy lifter. Chelomei's UR-series of rockets would have most likely died on the drawing board two years prior, so the N11 would fill the role of the heavy lifter. The medium lifter would be provided by the R-7, and later the N111. Yangel would be appointed to coordinating the entire operation, being assisted by Korolev. Glushko would build the engines, Korolev would design the rockets and Soyuz command vehicle and Chelomei would assist Korolev and also design the other orbital spacecraft and space stations.

By early 1964 the N-series designs would be frozen and proper development on it would start. By early 1966 the Soyuz spacecraft would have been finished and would start flying uncrewed test missions, and by the end of the year the N11 would be ready and the Zond program would start sending Soyuz capsules uncrewed around the Moon. Soyuz 1 would probably fly in early 1967 and a crewed circumlunar mission would be attempted sometime in late 1967. By early 1968 the N1 rocket would be ready for flight, and without the 30 engines on its first stage, it would be more successful. A crewed Lunar orbital flight would probably fly in late 1968, and a Lunar landing in early 1969.
H2O2 does have cost and storage advantages, I think you need an earlier PoD to get the Soviets to adopt it though. Say, if Glushko cracks a keroxide modification to the R-7's engines during prototype stage. Meaning the R-7 can sit fueled in its siloes for long enough that the military like it... A keroxide R-7 ICBM would actually be a super interesting PoD all on its own.
This is actually a good point as despite it's quirks an early USEFULL keroxide "missile" has a lot going for it in terms of utility. My notes/thinking was someone, (in this case Glushko during his interviews and document research on the German rocket program) notes a trend that the pure peroxide was always a bit easier to 'handle-and-store' during the winter than the summer. This leads to some simple experiments where they find cool temperatures actually stabilize the higher purity peroxide making it vastly easier to store and handle on a general utility basis. (And no worries over using it, I have a DIFFERENT POD for such an event on the US side for a timeline... Scientific sabatoge, {historic btw} meets a simple "planning error" to ensure that hilarity and fun is had by all :) )

So Glushko shows Korolev that an keroxide R7 can be superior and more attractive to the military who then turn around and spend more on the R7 and upgrades than OTL, and likely in this case both Glusko and Korolev are successful in getting a keroxide R series missiles than OTL. Still, he wants performance and he'll want to have kerolox upperstages then more powerful propellants, and Glushko's likely to see peroxide as 'the same' as most other storable propellants so there's some future conflict in the wings.

As part of the 'drama' though I'd suggest still having Yangel and Nedelin aiming towards the more powerful but toxic 'storable' propellants which means that when disaster strikes, (Nedelin disaster in October of 1960) everyone will have to take a hard look at their choices and in this case there is an arguable and pretty proven alternative.

I also can't imagine Chelomei playing nice with the other designers here. Not without someone sitting on him from a great height. He was aiming for full control of the Soviet space program.
Part of the reason I'd see him sidelined or removed somehow because it's going to be a distraction that Soviet's can't really afford.

What sort of timeframe are we looking at here, and are you sure there's no way to make them adopt it later?
The "POD" would be sometime between 1945 and around the mid-50s to get things rolling. Say Glushko develops the techneces but (still, like OTL) isn't able to make a successful engine for the R3 using alchohol and LoX but manages to get a working engine with alchohol and peroxide. (It wouldn't be a GOOD engine mind you the combination is horrible) That leads to him and Korlev incorperating a better kerosene and peroxide engine in the R5 and later R7. By the time 1960 rolls around there's some conflict as Yangel, Chelomei and Nedelin are having luck with the more toxic storables and this is tempting Glushko in that direction since he's having combustion stabliity issues with Korolev's prefered kerosen/LOX higher power engines. Then October rolls around and Nedelin is killed, (and maybe Chelomei is there instead of Yangel for some reason?) and the toxic storable case takes a major hit. (Maybe there was some confusion and a propellant truck was in the area when the explosion happens. While it doesn't burn the tank bursts and the propellant cloud kills and injures even more people TTL making the point even clearer)

Glushko still isn't have luck with the higher power kerolox engines but he throws himself into designing and keroxide engine towards the same levels as Korolev wants and Korolev relents on at least the booster design since it likely solves a few problems along the way. This would open the way for Glusko to design a 'family' of keroxide engines that other designers could use which segs into the concept of a series of "Universal" rockets that have both military and other uses.

The 'problem' with later adoption is by that time there are a number of 'alternatives' that can easily be more justifiable from an operational and utility standpoint as long as you're willing to ignore the downsides. OTL's widespread use of toxic storables to this day is pretty conclusive in that regard.

Good name! And sorry, I did mean Chelomie.
Thanks but I think that's been the 'sequence' in most AH Soviet/Russian space time lines, so I'm just going with the (time) flow as it were :)
And I was pretty sure you meant Chelomie but I can just imagine Korolev's teeth grinding whenever that 'name' comes up :) On the other hand TTL it could be something suggested by Yangel in 'honor' of the deceased Chelomie that everyone adopts and Korolev sighs and accepts it :)

Ok, so no missile crisis. How does that affect history? A lot of things are going to get butterflied by that.
I'm not sure avoiding it would be all that 'great' as it was one of those 'foundational' moments for Kennedy but frankly it was a cluster all around for everyone so there's that.

Frankly Castro was terrified of another US invasion attempt and wanted something to tie Cube to the Soviet Union and when Khruschev was casting around for somewhere to base missiles that could actually threaten the continential US instead of just Europe . He thought that Casto would be controlable and also underestimated the public effect on the average US citizen and the entire affair was a big part of his later removal from power. Take that away and there's a lot less incentive in the general public and government to support his removal. On the other hand the crisis also was instrumental in bringing about some significant changes to US/Soviet relations as the issues that came up during the crisis had bilateral support in finding solutions that otherwise might not have happened. (The Moscow/Washington "hotline" came about because of the communication issues of the crisis for example) On the gripping hand I'd suspect that the main outcome would be a larger Soviet presence in Cuba than OTL and it being more like other 'client' states of Russia rather than the more independent (and less controlled) "ally" is was OTL. Now an odd thought in that scenerio is how likely is it at some point that the more confident USSR 'convinces' it's "socialist brothers" in Cuba to build and support a "Soviet launch port" on their fair island? Vastly closer to the Equator and 'just' because some launches rattle windows in the Capitalist's Playground of Florida ... :)

I chose a mirror system because they are, rather infamously, the only known exception to the 'no stealth in space' rule. However, now that I'm looking at that it seems that they would only work in deep space, where you don't have any light sources nearby. In LEO you could just track the Earth's reflection on them. Solar radiation would also be a big issue, like could you imagine if their computer got set off accidentally by a cosmic ray or something? Actually, that sounds like a good plot for a movie.
Deep inside Russia at a dedicated tracking and control station for the Soviet era Trans-Lunar "Deadhand" automated Comand-and-Control satellite a message falshes onto the main screen. "Activation signal acknowledged, stealth and counter-measure systems activated. Single burst random trajectory program initiated. Countdown to system full activation commenced at 24:00:00 and counting. Warhead and satellite broadcst systems in standby for activation. Long Live the Motherland!" :)

Anyways, there are solutions to those issues. The real problem here is whether or not a military presence in space would help get the Lunar program more funding, which was why I originally brought it up. By the way, the US didn't lose interest in them, they kept working on them but classified everything. In fact, a lot of stuff on US military space-to-space weapons development and operation is still classified. I'm not a conspiracy theorist or anything but I do find that rather interesting. At the very least we know that the US is still looking into concepts for the crewed inspection and destruction of satellites.
In fact I used to "conspiricy theory" as a hobby, mostly to find way to make them even more absurd and see how far the purists were willing to buy in :) It got boring when it became clear there WAS no stopping point... The US isn't actually interested in 'manned' systems, ("Manned Space Command" has a nice ring to it but it always comes down to "Bucks over Buck Rogers") as it's always more expensive, less effective and more dangerous than unmanned. Similarly when the planning for things like SDI was at it's highest it was quickly clear that actual manned operations would be very small to non-existant because the main cost driver was the people and the systems to support them rather than the actual combat systems. US military "interest" in space, (and frankly we're talking the Air Force here for the most part, despite how desperatly people want it to be the Navy :) ) has always been more about having a military 'manned' space flight program as opposed to 'joint' operations with NASA than anything else.

The military really wouldn't have a large interest in or be very supportive of a Lunar mission as there are very few militry advantages or upsides to such a mission. I wasn't kidding when I said the main concept that both the US and USSR actually DID consider was a trans-Lunar trajectory "Command and Control" vehicle since it would be difficult to 'kill' such an asset in anyway that would not immediatly and obviously signal a first strike was in-progress or immenent. In the end the cost-benifit equations simply didn't support such an idea. Now if such a program is ongoing, the military will kick in 'some' support if for no other reason than to gather what prestige and attention they can. (Hence a Navy 'task force' to recover the Apollo missions. You really only needed ONE ship but hey if we're going to use one, why NOT a whole Task Force? :) )

The first N11 would probably fly around early to late 1966, so it would have had 4 years of development. I'm not sure if that's enough to get the reliability higher than the OTL Proton though. But without Korolev's death and with a more unified agency they shouldn't have a problem getting all of the other technologies tested out in time. Soyuz 1 & 2 can practice rendezvous in early 1966, and in late 1966 Soyuz 3 and 4 can practice docking. By 1967 they should have that down, and the LK will probably be test-flown uncrewed by the end of that year. Also in late 1967 would be a crewed Lunar flyby, and by 1968 they can start doing orbital crewed test flights of the LK.
Sounds about right

Now as you said, the Americans will probably figure out what's happening. The Soyuz spacecraft could be written off as a space station service craft, but once they see an LK fly they're going to have the best flight analysts in the country trying to figure it out. The early solo LK flights would be written off as satellites, but once they rendezvous a Soyuz with it they'll know exactly what it is. Even if they can't get images of it there's a decent chance they'll realize its a Lunar lander from its flight profile, and if those flights happen in early 1968 they will have enough time to accelerate their program, and maybe get Apollo 9 to land on the Moon in February or March of 1969. Still, if the Soviets land in January it'll be too late. Also keep in mind the Americans are going to see LK-3 literally blow up on their radar screens, which might make them think the Soviets aren't progressing very fast.
Something to keep in mind though is that once it's clear, (and TTL that's around late 1966 or early 1967 when it's clear the N1 is going to work) the OTL brakes that were being applied since 1965 come off. Even if Apollo 1 still happens the over-sight and re-design is going to go faster since it is now clear that this IS a race which was not clear outside a very small group OTL. An LK blew up? Since it looks like they didn't even lose anyone then it's not even worth thinking about in terms of pacing. The US wouldn't so why would anyone assume it would slow the Soviets down? If you need to slow the US down then I'd suggset Kennedy lives and puts his 'second thoughts' into action. (yes this will trash Kennedy's "space" legacy we know and love OTL but thems the AH breaks :) ) and redirects some of the effort. I'm still thinking Gemini, especially if it looks like the Soviets are going to go around the Moon first then a Gemini to orbit the Moon becomes a much greater temptation. And if follows from there that some might be convinced to go "cheaper-and-faster" (of which it will likely at this point be neither which NASA if no one else will point out) Gemini to the Moon instead of Apollo. That could kick in somewhere after 1967 or as late as 1968 depending.

I was originally imagining that only the first, one-man flight would have one, but upon reflection having Soyuz 2 rescue him would be better.
It makes a better story really AND points out, as was known at the time, that most of the problems were solvable with enough effort and not endemic to the basic design. Sure it also extends the "Happy Ending" trope but I'm pretty sure everything isn't going to always work out along the way despite that. In this case I think it could be justified to allow both learning lessons needed AND an uptick in morale and confidence the Soviet program could use.

Got to break this here to transfer computers. Return comments welcome :)

Randy
 
What sort of timeframe are we looking at here, and are you sure there's no way to make them adopt it later?
Based on this, a PoD in the early 50s is needed. And the issue is R&D spending. Development for rockets is expensive, so if there's already something "almost as good" there, why invest in developing a new propellant mix? In OTL, besides the British, everyone started with LOX/ethanol and moved on to LOX/kerosene and UMDH and NTO, both of which are either "good enough" or "superior". And keroxide doesn't offer big ISP or low cost and storability which made LOX/LH2 and solids attractive to both sides.

Basically, I think to become a major propellant mix, keroxide would need to be developed early and to take the position of UMDH/NTO as the "storable liquids" mix.

Still, he wants performance and he'll want to have kerolox upperstages then more powerful propellants, and Glushko's likely to see peroxide as 'the same' as most other storable propellants so there's some future conflict in the wings.
Well, one potential issue is combustion stability. If it is easy to build big keroxide engines, this could work out fine. If it is difficult, I could see Glushko still pushing for big UMDH/NTO rockets.

fasquardon
 
He's got quite the interesting channel actually. International Skylab, (Salyut/Skylab as an advanced Apollo/Soyuz project) N1 to the Moon and others using RSS and Kerbal. Of course this one glosses over a HUGE amount of issues with the concept but it's a neat and possibly plausible concept. Probably far to risky for anyone to approve but ... :)

Very nice, looks like a version of the "Voyage" all-chemical mission though without the outbound (or any actually) Venus encounter. SEVERAL questions though...
-No heatshield on the lander? I like the design though they'd jetission the 'shroud' during descent as in the 'real' world doing it after landing could easily come back to 'bite' you... As in bouncing back into the lander :)
- Noted the 'cut' between getting TO the rover and driving it away. Probably like most of my attempts at that set up the rover kept bouncing up and 'crashing' into the lander :)
- Ok, the question MUST be asked, about 12:50 after exploring the "Phobos-Hole" why is that astronaut "twerking" all the way back to the ship? Could it be ... Aliens? The truth is out there! (But really why bother when we can make up so much MORE interesting stuff? :) )

(Ohhh, and hey fasquadron, the content site on youtube has a "Direct Ascent Apollo to the South Pole" video :) )

You're username is "Bill Kerman" I would be highly disappointed if you did NOT feel that way :)
Had I the talent/time/ability-to-blackmail-someone-into-doing-it-for-me that I could wish there are thousands if not hundreds of alternate-scenerios I'd love to explore using KSP. I'd messed around with Orbiter since it's a 'bit' easier to do special vehicles and mods but I'm must not enough of an artist/tech to do what I want. So I just keep launching and flying around gaining science... When I'm not doing my thousand-plus "other" games on daily's, farming, etc. Oh look a squirrel!
KSP is honestly one of the best things I ever found out about. I managed to get realism overhaul working, and now I can rapidly prototype out systems like never before!

Here's something I've been working on:


This is actually a good point as despite it's quirks an early USEFULL keroxide "missile" has a lot going for it in terms of utility. My notes/thinking was someone, (in this case Glushko during his interviews and document research on the German rocket program) notes a trend that the pure peroxide was always a bit easier to 'handle-and-store' during the winter than the summer. This leads to some simple experiments where they find cool temperatures actually stabilize the higher purity peroxide making it vastly easier to store and handle on a general utility basis. (And no worries over using it, I have a DIFFERENT POD for such an event on the US side for a timeline... Scientific sabatoge, {historic btw} meets a simple "planning error" to ensure that hilarity and fun is had by all :) )

So Glushko shows Korolev that an keroxide R7 can be superior and more attractive to the military who then turn around and spend more on the R7 and upgrades than OTL, and likely in this case both Glusko and Korolev are successful in getting a keroxide R series missiles than OTL. Still, he wants performance and he'll want to have kerolox upperstages then more powerful propellants, and Glushko's likely to see peroxide as 'the same' as most other storable propellants so there's some future conflict in the wings.

As part of the 'drama' though I'd suggest still having Yangel and Nedelin aiming towards the more powerful but toxic 'storable' propellants which means that when disaster strikes, (Nedelin disaster in October of 1960) everyone will have to take a hard look at their choices and in this case there is an arguable and pretty proven alternative.
Ok, that all sounds great.

Part of the reason I'd see him sidelined or removed somehow because it's going to be a distraction that Soviet's can't really afford.
How did the interpersonal relationships work with Chelomei? Would removing him cause a problem? If not, I'll see if I can do that.

The "POD" would be sometime between 1945 and around the mid-50s to get things rolling. Say Glushko develops the techneces but (still, like OTL) isn't able to make a successful engine for the R3 using alchohol and LoX but manages to get a working engine with alchohol and peroxide. (It wouldn't be a GOOD engine mind you the combination is horrible) That leads to him and Korlev incorperating a better kerosene and peroxide engine in the R5 and later R7. By the time 1960 rolls around there's some conflict as Yangel, Chelomei and Nedelin are having luck with the more toxic storables and this is tempting Glushko in that direction since he's having combustion stabliity issues with Korolev's prefered kerosen/LOX higher power engines. Then October rolls around and Nedelin is killed, (and maybe Chelomei is there instead of Yangel for some reason?) and the toxic storable case takes a major hit. (Maybe there was some confusion and a propellant truck was in the area when the explosion happens. While it doesn't burn the tank bursts and the propellant cloud kills and injures even more people TTL making the point even clearer)

Glushko still isn't have luck with the higher power kerolox engines but he throws himself into designing and keroxide engine towards the same levels as Korolev wants and Korolev relents on at least the booster design since it likely solves a few problems along the way. This would open the way for Glusko to design a 'family' of keroxide engines that other designers could use which segs into the concept of a series of "Universal" rockets that have both military and other uses.

The 'problem' with later adoption is by that time there are a number of 'alternatives' that can easily be more justifiable from an operational and utility standpoint as long as you're willing to ignore the downsides. OTL's widespread use of toxic storables to this day is pretty conclusive in that regard.
Again, that all sounds great. Now I'll have a look and see if I can find more specific dates for all of those events.

Thanks but I think that's been the 'sequence' in most AH Soviet/Russian space time lines, so I'm just going with the (time) flow as it were :)
And I was pretty sure you meant Chelomie but I can just imagine Korolev's teeth grinding whenever that 'name' comes up :) On the other hand TTL it could be something suggested by Yangel in 'honor' of the deceased Chelomie that everyone adopts and Korolev sighs and accepts it :)
I'm not sure avoiding it would be all that 'great' as it was one of those 'foundational' moments for Kennedy but frankly it was a cluster all around for everyone so there's that.

Frankly Castro was terrified of another US invasion attempt and wanted something to tie Cube to the Soviet Union and when Khruschev was casting around for somewhere to base missiles that could actually threaten the continential US instead of just Europe . He thought that Casto would be controlable and also underestimated the public effect on the average US citizen and the entire affair was a big part of his later removal from power. Take that away and there's a lot less incentive in the general public and government to support his removal. On the other hand the crisis also was instrumental in bringing about some significant changes to US/Soviet relations as the issues that came up during the crisis had bilateral support in finding solutions that otherwise might not have happened. (The Moscow/Washington "hotline" came about because of the communication issues of the crisis for example) On the gripping hand I'd suspect that the main outcome would be a larger Soviet presence in Cuba than OTL and it being more like other 'client' states of Russia rather than the more independent (and less controlled) "ally" is was OTL. Now an odd thought in that scenerio is how likely is it at some point that the more confident USSR 'convinces' it's "socialist brothers" in Cuba to build and support a "Soviet launch port" on their fair island? Vastly closer to the Equator and 'just' because some launches rattle windows in the Capitalist's Playground of Florida ... :)
A cosmodrome in Cuba would certainly be interesting... I'll see what I can do. As I said earlier, I don't know how politics works, so if I get something wrong please correct me.

Deep inside Russia at a dedicated tracking and control station for the Soviet era Trans-Lunar "Deadhand" automated Comand-and-Control satellite a message falshes onto the main screen. "Activation signal acknowledged, stealth and counter-measure systems activated. Single burst random trajectory program initiated. Countdown to system full activation commenced at 24:00:00 and counting. Warhead and satellite broadcst systems in standby for activation. Long Live the Motherland!" :)
Now, that's the sort of thing I came to these forums to see! :) And then a few hours later

"Neil Armstrong, Russel Rogers, you by now are probably aware of the developing situation in orbit. So I will be brief"

"At 0330 hours today, the president was contacted via a direct phone line by Leonid Brezhnev. Approximately 7 hours earlier, a soviet nuclear-armed orbital weapons platform malfunctioned, and for some unknown reason, a launch command was issued. At 2330 hours today, or in about 4 and a quarter hours, those nuclear weapons will detonate near several major population centers, with the estimated casualties in the millions. Unfortunately, they have no capability to stop the attack themselves"

"As such, your mission is to pilot the Blue-Gemini 3 spacecraft to rendezvous and neutralize the Soviet nuclear weapons platform. The target will have radar-deflecting systems installed, so your approach will have to be using optical guidance"

"A full mission and target briefing will be given to you on your ride out to the Ascension Island Launch Complex. The launch will be about an hour and a half from now. Good luck, and Godspeed"

In fact I used to "conspiricy theory" as a hobby, mostly to find way to make them even more absurd and see how far the purists were willing to buy in :) It got boring when it became clear there WAS no stopping point... The US isn't actually interested in 'manned' systems, ("Manned Space Command" has a nice ring to it but it always comes down to "Bucks over Buck Rogers") as it's always more expensive, less effective and more dangerous than unmanned. Similarly when the planning for things like SDI was at it's highest it was quickly clear that actual manned operations would be very small to non-existant because the main cost driver was the people and the systems to support them rather than the actual combat systems. US military "interest" in space, (and frankly we're talking the Air Force here for the most part, despite how desperatly people want it to be the Navy :) ) has always been more about having a military 'manned' space flight program as opposed to 'joint' operations with NASA than anything else.

The military really wouldn't have a large interest in or be very supportive of a Lunar mission as there are very few militry advantages or upsides to such a mission. I wasn't kidding when I said the main concept that both the US and USSR actually DID consider was a trans-Lunar trajectory "Command and Control" vehicle since it would be difficult to 'kill' such an asset in anyway that would not immediatly and obviously signal a first strike was in-progress or immenent. In the end the cost-benifit equations simply didn't support such an idea. Now if such a program is ongoing, the military will kick in 'some' support if for no other reason than to gather what prestige and attention they can. (Hence a Navy 'task force' to recover the Apollo missions. You really only needed ONE ship but hey if we're going to use one, why NOT a whole Task Force? :) )
Ok, so no direct military in-space assets beyond spy-sats.

Sounds about right
Good. From there continuing the race onto Mars shouldn't be too difficult for what I have planned.

Something to keep in mind though is that once it's clear, (and TTL that's around late 1966 or early 1967 when it's clear the N1 is going to work) the OTL brakes that were being applied since 1965 come off. Even if Apollo 1 still happens the over-sight and re-design is going to go faster since it is now clear that this IS a race which was not clear outside a very small group OTL. An LK blew up? Since it looks like they didn't even lose anyone then it's not even worth thinking about in terms of pacing. The US wouldn't so why would anyone assume it would slow the Soviets down? If you need to slow the US down then I'd suggset Kennedy lives and puts his 'second thoughts' into action. (yes this will trash Kennedy's "space" legacy we know and love OTL but thems the AH breaks :) ) and redirects some of the effort. I'm still thinking Gemini, especially if it looks like the Soviets are going to go around the Moon first then a Gemini to orbit the Moon becomes a much greater temptation. And if follows from there that some might be convinced to go "cheaper-and-faster" (of which it will likely at this point be neither which NASA if no one else will point out) Gemini to the Moon instead of Apollo. That could kick in somewhere after 1967 or as late as 1968 depending.
So Apollo 9 lands in February 1969? Maybe even Apollo 8 in November 1968?

It makes a better story really AND points out, as was known at the time, that most of the problems were solvable with enough effort and not endemic to the basic design. Sure it also extends the "Happy Ending" trope but I'm pretty sure everything isn't going to always work out along the way despite that. In this case I think it could be justified to allow both learning lessons needed AND an uptick in morale and confidence the Soviet program could use.
I agree. Having Soyuz 1 be survivable and having them get something useful out of it will be very good.

Based on this, a PoD in the early 50s is needed. And the issue is R&D spending. Development for rockets is expensive, so if there's already something "almost as good" there, why invest in developing a new propellant mix? In OTL, besides the British, everyone started with LOX/ethanol and moved on to LOX/kerosene and UMDH and NTO, both of which are either "good enough" or "superior". And keroxide doesn't offer big ISP or low cost and storability which made LOX/LH2 and solids attractive to both sides.

Basically, I think to become a major propellant mix, keroxide would need to be developed early and to take the position of UMDH/NTO as the "storable liquids" mix.
Well, one potential issue is combustion stability. If it is easy to build big keroxide engines, this could work out fine. If it is difficult, I could see Glushko still pushing for big UMDH/NTO rockets.
I don't know how well large H2O2/Kerosene engines fair, so, for now, I'll just have to assume they work. Does anyone else know any useful information on them?
 
Oh, and one more thing; I changed the title of the thread to say "preferably without a POD before 1966" since clearly it will be sometime in the 50s.
 
I don't know how well large H2O2/Kerosene engines fair, so, for now, I'll just have to assume they work. Does anyone else know any useful information on them?
So I am a biochemist, not a rocket scientist, but I suspect combustion stability has to do with reactivity. Since hypergolics ignite on contact with each-other it'll do most of the work getting it all to combust and combusting vapour will mix alot faster than non-combusting droplets as well. By contrast, LOX/kerosene or peroxide/kerosene, you need to give the propellants a kick to get the reaction going, so the designer needs to get the engine to do more work ensuring mixing and ignition. And since peroxide and kerosene react together less readily than LOX and kerosene, I suspect combustion instability would be worse in a keroxide engine.

But again, this is really me guessing, even if it is a guess made with some understanding of chemistry.

EDIT: Reading up on the causes of combustion instability, it's a fair bit more complicated, things like viscosity and the speed of sound in the combustion chamber also have their influence.

fasquardon
 
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Just a 'drive-by' as it's being one of those weeks already :)

So I am a biochemist, not a rocket scientist, but I suspect combustion stability has to do with reactivity. Since hypergolics ignite on contact with each-other it'll do most of the work getting it all to combust and combusting vapour will mix alot faster than non-combusting droplets as well. By contrast, LOX/kerosene or peroxide/kerosene, you need to give the propellants a kick to get the reaction going, so the designer needs to get the engine to do more work ensuring mixing and ignition. And since peroxide and kerosene react together less readily than LOX and kerosene, I suspect combustion instability would be worse in a keroxide engine.

But again, this is really me guessing, even if it is a guess made with some understanding of chemistry.

fasquardon
Actually that's a bit of 'beuty' thing about peroxide :) It's not really consistantly 'hypergolic' with most things, but if you add 'certain' chemicals to your propellants it ACTS like it's hypergolic. The main problem is those addatives are usually toxic, dangerous or both and, (as the Germans foundout quickly) adding a third fluid and/or addative to the mix makes the whole system rather more 'touchy' than without. But there's another and frankly better way to get peroxide to 'react' with other propellants.

A catalyst bed. A fine mesh of wire, (nickle and silver IIRC for the most part but I'll look it up again) that the high purity peroxide flows into and as it flows through it reacts and diassociates into high temperature steam and oxygen. Unlike the addative systems you get a thorough mixing and even combustion due to most fuels, (especially kerosene) combusting on contact. (Also bonus in that no ignition system is needed) Most peroxide research moved towards catalyst beds shortly after the war with the British having the most success and designs but I don't see a reason the USSR couldn't have had similar 'luck' with enough effort and support. Keep in mind that almost everyone would initially use decomposed H2O2 to power the turbopumps of the first ICBMs :)

As an added 'benifit' a keroxide rocket can essentially have a very deep throttle capablity since you can adjust the flow through the catalyst bed and use the decomposed H2O2 as a motor alone and then 'add in' the kerosene with it's own flow adjust ment to allow higher thrust levels.

I mean think of an N1 booste with Soviet equivilent of a turbo-pump powered BA-810's as the main engine:
beal.jpg


Randy :)
 
A catalyst bed. A fine mesh of wire, (nickle and silver IIRC for the most part but I'll look it up again) that the high purity peroxide flows into and as it flows through it reacts and diassociates into high temperature steam and oxygen.
Ahh, of course. The British Gamma actually used that to start the motor. I always forget how hot HTP gets when it dissociates.

Also, I did some reading up on the causes of combustion instability, and edited my last post.

fasquardon
 
Ahh, of course. The British Gamma actually used that to start the motor. I always forget how hot HTP gets when it dissociates.
From: http://www.spaceuk.org/htp/htp.htm, HTP rocket motors.

- I was correct it was silver plated nickel wire in the catalyst bed. The 'bed' lasts about 2 hours before its fouled/damaged and needs cleaning/rebuilding. The "Sprite" motor used an injected catalyst but once catalyst packs came about all future engines used them starting with the Spectre.

- This offers, BTW, a rather large amount of 'throttling' for any engine as you not only have control over the fuel injection rate to throttle the engine, (and even at very low 'flow' rates the fuel will burn due to the temperature of the steam and oxygen exhaust of the peroxide) and then there is the peroxide itself which has it's own 'throttling' capabilty as a monopropellant.

Randy
 
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