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Yul
2003-Jan-18, 03:18 PM
Funding was cut at Apollo 17. If NASA would've been given the funds they wanted after Apollo 20, what was to have been their next project? A lunar base? Mars? More probes? The shuttle? If they would have been given unlimited funds, what would likely have been the state of man in space today?

Glom
2003-Jan-18, 03:47 PM
The Apollo Applications Program, otherwise known as Apollo X.

These super-advanced selenogical missions would employ the use of two Saturn V launches.

The first would be unmanned. It would deliver into Lunar orbit a spacecraft containing a special supply module and the special LM truck. The LM truck had a special ascent stage, that couldn't ascend. It would deliver supplies to the landing site by landing robotically and since it would never have to lift-off again, it wouldn't need all the ascent systems and so would free up a lot of room for habitable space as well as supplies.

The second Saturn V would be manned. A special CSM would be modified to carry four crew members. Two would descend in the LM taxi that they brought along. This was pretty much similar to conventional LMs except hardened up to remain dormant for weeks so that they could enjoy a huge expedition and still have all the systems working for ascent at the end. The two left in orbit would be mucking about, doing stuff and living off supplies in the supply module delivered by the previous flight.

Meanwhile, on the surface, the two selenites would be making use of the mooncopter. A new mini version of a descent stage that would allow them to travel far and fast, much more than the LRV allowed. They would use this to get to the LM truck, where they would live for the two week long expedition. Without the LM ascent systems, the LM truck would allow much roomier living quarters and more room for supplies.

Later on, the LM truck would instead deliver MOLAB, the Mobile Lunar Laboratory. A camper van type thing with a pressurised cockpit that the crew would live in during their expedition.

With the mooncopter, which greater greater freedom of movement, and later MOLAB, which would grant them range, all new landing sites could be explored. The problem with picking landing sites is that they have to be fairly clear in order to be safe for landing. That's why the first ones landed in mare regions. But, the increased mobility would allow them to land in safe plains and small distance away from more exotic targets.

Perhaps the brilliant ray crater Tycho, or Copernicus. Selenogists were interested in Rupes Recta, a huge cliff that extended in a straight line for hundreds of kilometres. There was even talk of using the Titan II rocket (the workhorse for the Gemini program) to establish a network of satellites in Lunar orbit that would enable communications on the far side. This would allow expeditions to go to Tsiokolvsky, a brilliant mare crater on the far side. Jack Schmitt was a strong proponent of the idea.

Even later still, the Lunar Surface Base. A Saturn V would deliver this facility into Lunar orbit, complete with a service module. The service module's powerful SPS engine would be used to soft land it on the Lunar surface and begin Antarctic style exploration with 96 day expeditions.

Von Braun's vision of the Integrated Space Program used S-IVB stages, Skylab modules, and the building blocks of space stations in LEO, geostationary orbit and Lunar orbit. Similarly, more Lunar base modules could be delivered to the Lunar surface to increase the habitable size.

AAP also wanted to investigate soft landing on Earth for reentering Command Modules in order to spare the expense of the huge recovery fleets.

Beyond Luna, the development of Nuclear Energy for Rocket Vehicle Applications (NERVA) would allow the creation of hugely powerful spacecraft that could travel to Mars and set up bases their. Von Braun's plan would allow such a colony to be in existance by 1986.

It would have been glorious. But it didn't happen and why? Because of a certain trumped up disgraced president by the name of Richard Nixon. The Space Shuttle program was conceived as a workhouse between the mainplanet and the Skylab super station, but the dominance would still be with Apollo. Nixon didn't like that as Apollo was a Democrat legacy. He wanted the American Space Program to be defined by his tenure. So he authorised the Space Shuttle, which would be his contribution and cancelled the Apollo program, which involved scrapping millions of dollars worth of perfectly usable equipment. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_mad.gif

ToSeek
2003-Jan-19, 02:14 AM
On 2003-01-18 10:47, Glom wrote:
It would have been glorious. But it didn't happen and why? Because of a certain trumped up disgraced president by the name of Richard Nixon. The Space Shuttle program was conceived as a workhouse between the mainplanet and the Skylab super station, but the dominance would still be with Apollo. Nixon didn't like that as Apollo was a Democrat legacy. He wanted the American Space Program to be defined by his tenure. So he authorised the Space Shuttle, which would be his contribution and cancelled the Apollo program, which involved scrapping millions of dollars worth of perfectly usable equipment. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_mad.gif


I'm no fan of Nixon, but putting the post-Apollo state of the space program solely on his doorstep is, I think, an exaggeration. Even under Johnson there was considerable pressure to cut back the space program, and I wonder if we would even have gotten to the Moon if Kennedy hadn't been shot (so that cancelling the program would have tarnished his legacy). I'd be very surprised if any but the most charismatic president could have found the funding for the sort of space program we'd like to have had. I'm still sometimes amazed that Project Apollo happened at all, considering that if NASA were still funded at the same proportion of the federal budget it would have about $80 billion a year to spend instead of the $15 billion it has now.