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Hans
2006-Nov-02, 01:23 PM
Say Apollo 8's Saturn had blown up on the pad. How long would it have taken the Soviets to get their Moon rocket N and their landers ready? Anyone want to throw out a date or number of years as a best guess?

antoniseb
2006-Nov-02, 01:32 PM
Interesting question. I don't have enough information about the status of the obstacles the Soviets were trying to overcome to give a good answer.

Larry Jacks
2006-Nov-02, 01:52 PM
My guess is that it depends on the priorities that the Soviet Union would've given to the N-1. They tried launching 4 of them and all failed. Perhaps, with adequate testing, they might've been able to make it work. However, testing requires time and money, something the N-1 was never given. Just as a SWAG (Scientific Wild A** Guess), I doubt they would've been ready to go for a moon landing before 1972, perhaps later.

Eta C
2006-Nov-02, 01:54 PM
A better way to phrase the question is if Apollo 4 and Apollo 6 had failed. These were the two unmanned tests of the Saturn V (http://www.apolloarchive.com/apollo_archive.html) that are more the equivalent of the Soviet's failed launches of the N1. A failure of these tests might have pushed back the first landing into the 70's, or they may have caused the public to lose confidence, especially after the Apollo 1 fire. Who knows?

A review of the sequence of tests also puts the usual HB nonsense about untried hardware to rout. Every piece of equipment was tested unmanned first, then in a manned flight that tested its capabilities in Earth orbit, then in the acutal application. Very methodical.

Bob B.
2006-Nov-02, 01:58 PM
Since the Soviets never did get their N-1 rocket working and eventually abandoned the project, I think it's questionably whether or not they would have ever landed men on the moon. However, the Soviets were very close to a manned circumlunar flight, which would have used a Proton rocket, and probably could have achieved this in 1969.

George
2006-Nov-02, 02:37 PM
However, the Soviets were very close to a manned circumlunar flight, which would have used a Proton rocket, and probably could have achieved this in 1969.
Apparently, the Soviets established dual programs (http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/SPACEFLIGHT/soviet_lunar/SP21.htm): one for circumlunar flight and one for landing.



Thus, by 1965, the Soviet Moon program had split into two parallel strands: one, the N1-L3 to land cosmonauts on the Moon, and another, the L1 to send cosmonauts around the Moon.

Had the N1's been successful, would they not have beaten us? It was a tough race until these behemouths failed.

NEOWatcher
2006-Nov-02, 05:20 PM
Had the N1's been successful, would they not have beaten us? It was a tough race until these behemouths failed.
Considering the first Saturn V launch was 2 years before the first N1 attempt, there would be more than just an N1 success needed.

Hans
2006-Nov-02, 05:28 PM
Continuing the speculation:

Let us say that the unmanned Saturns did blow up as one writer suggest - and N-1 got to Moon first - might that have spurred the Americans to go for Mars (the US lost the first race but we'll get you on the next one)?

NEOWatcher
2006-Nov-02, 05:33 PM
Continuing the speculation:

Let us say that the unmanned Saturns did blow up as one writer suggest - and N-1 got to Moon first - might that have spurred the Americans to go for Mars (the US lost the first race but we'll get you on the next one)?
Considering the public opinion, politics, funding, and other stuff involved, I think the speculation can't go any further. Priorities would just have been shifted around rather than raising the bar (why raise it when you cant get over it now?)
We might have had Skylab earlier. Oooh boy...;)

Sam5
2006-Nov-02, 05:55 PM
If Apollo had failed, thousands of conspiracy theorists today would be claiming that we secretly sent men to the moon and that we have secret bases there today, where we launch things like UFOs and 911 attacks.

BigDon
2006-Nov-02, 08:10 PM
I was just thinking last night, would we even have gone at all if Nixon had won the 1960 election? Kennedy won by the slimmest margin in history.

Larry Jacks
2006-Nov-02, 08:34 PM
I could make a comment on Kennedy's victory margin but that would probably violate the "no politics" rule, even if accurate. Since Nixon was Eisenhower's VP when NASA was founded, I doubt he was opposed to the organization. The Saturn and Apollo programs were started during the Eisenhower administration, so it's quite possible they would've continued. Would we have the goal of getting to the moon before 1970? Probably not, but of course, we'll never know. I have a strong suspicion that there wouldn't be a major NASA center in Houston, though. Johnson pushed that center to the benefit of his buddies.

PhantomWolf
2006-Nov-02, 08:39 PM
Had the N1's been successful, would they not have beaten us? It was a tough race until these behemouths failed.

No they wouldn't have, their second test of the N-1/N-3 was only shortly before Apollo 11. At that time they hadn't tested any of the rest of their Lunar hardware, and wouldn't for over a year. They were too far behind even had the N-1 worked.

Say Apollo 8's Saturn had blown up on the pad. How long would it have taken the Soviets to get their Moon rocket N and their landers ready? Anyone want to throw out a date or number of years as a best guess?

I think that the US still would have won, but the first landing would have been in 1971-1972. Had the US given up, then it's possible the Soviets would have continued, though politically they might still have quit as they did. If they had kept going and funded the N-1 project better then it's conceivable they could have made it by 1975-76.

I was just thinking last night, would we even have gone at all if Nixon had won the 1960 election? Kennedy won by the slimmest margin in history.

Apollo was approved by Eisenhower in 1960, but floundered slightly with the change of government in the 1960 elections. It was only after his disaster with the Bay of Pigs that Kennedy took interest in the Apollo programme, purely because Johnson suggested it as a way to regain lost popularity. Had Nixon won in 1960, he would likely have carried on with the same programmes Eisenhower had approved and Apollo would have happened without the stutter at the start. Of course it might have taken longer because they likely wouldn't have had the funding they received under Kennedy.

PhantomWolf
2006-Nov-02, 08:42 PM
Would we have the goal of getting to the moon before 1970?

This was NASA's goal, not Kennedy's. As early as 1958 they were looking at two options to aim for post-Mercury, either a Space Station by 1970 and then to the Moon by 1980, or to the Moon by 1970 and a Space Station by 1980. Obviously they choose the later.

schlaugh
2006-Nov-02, 09:29 PM
Continuing the speculation:

Let us say that the unmanned Saturns did blow up as one writer suggest - and N-1 got to Moon first - might that have spurred the Americans to go for Mars (the US lost the first race but we'll get you on the next one)?

IMO - unlkely. Vietnam was ramping up in a large way and by the mid-60s the war already consuming significant resources. Catastrophic Apollo failures - combined with the war and numerous domestic issues - might have been the one-two punch to limit space exploration to LEO or more unmanned missions; (an ironic benefit to cancelling Apollo.)

The public interest in space was keen, but the level of spending was always under scrutinty by the voters and congress.

ToSeek
2006-Nov-02, 09:32 PM
Would we have the goal of getting to the moon before 1970?

This was NASA's goal, not Kennedy's. As early as 1958 they were looking at two options to aim for post-Mercury, either a Space Station by 1970 and then to the Moon by 1980, or to the Moon by 1970 and a Space Station by 1980. Obviously they choose the later.

My recollection is that NASA may have suggested the objective, but not the deadline. The deadline was pure politics - there was no reason for NASA to put that sort of limitation on itself. And in fact the sensible thing to have done first would have been the space station, but the belief was that the Soviets could win such a race because they already had most of the technology to do so. So even the decision to go to the Moon first was largely politics.

EDIT: I stand corrected. The NASA administrator, James Webb, submitted a budget in early 1961 that was based on the idea of getting to the Moon before the end of the decade. This was months before Kennedy's speech making this official, and at the time Kennedy wasn't too keen on the idea.

George
2006-Nov-02, 11:23 PM
I thought someone would have commented on a vague memory that lingers with me. Thus, it is probably wrong but I'll ask anyway... was the plan to use the first two launches of the N1 to get them to the moon, or were they only steps to an eventual lunar mission?

PhantomWolf
2006-Nov-03, 07:33 AM
was the plan to use the first two launches of the N1 to get them to the moon, or were they only steps to an eventual lunar mission?

As far as the Russians have admited, they were just tests. There is speculation from some sources that the second was also to launch an LOK with a crew launching afterwards to meet up and do a lunar orbit to try and take away some of the US's glory with Apollo 11. Whether it did or not remains very uncertain and the Russians have never admited it if it did

Kaptain K
2006-Nov-03, 10:36 AM
I have a strong suspicion that there wouldn't be a major NASA center in Houston...
It would have been in Wichita - Eisenhower's home state.

George
2006-Nov-03, 12:53 PM
As far as the Russians have admited, they were just tests. There is speculation from some sources that the second was also to launch an LOK with a crew launching afterwards to meet up and do a lunar orbit to try and take away some of the US's glory with Apollo 11. Whether it did or not remains very uncertain and the Russians have never admited it if it did
Thanks, that is what I once read but it seems more likely a rumor.

ToSeek
2006-Nov-03, 03:54 PM
I have a strong suspicion that there wouldn't be a major NASA center in Houston, though. Johnson pushed that center to the benefit of his buddies.

Could still have been: it wasn't just Johnson who wanted it in Houston, the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee had that district.

R.A.F.
2006-Nov-03, 04:04 PM
...would we even have gone at all if Nixon had won the 1960 election? Kennedy won by the slimmest margin in history.

I wonder what would have happened if Bobby Kennedy hadn't been assasinated in 1968...would his name be on the moon instead of Nixon's??

PhantomWolf
2006-Nov-04, 01:32 AM
I wonder what would have happened if Bobby Kennedy hadn't been assasinated in 1968

Now that is an interesting question. Assuming he had won, then he wouldn't have pushed to have Apollo cancelled as Nixon did, thus we would have had all 14 missions rather than the 11 we had, possibly more. Would we now have a moonbase rather than an ISS? Probably. Would we have people exploring Mars rather than rovers? I believe so. I think that had this happened, space exploration would have been far greater than it is today. Of course we might not have some of the other things that we do, such as Hubble and the ISS, but we certainly would have gone futher in other directions.

ArgoNavis
2006-Nov-04, 04:29 AM
I wonder what would have happened if Bobby Kennedy hadn't been assasinated in 1968

Now that is an interesting question.

Yes it is an interesting question, and there were other things going on at the same time that impacted the funding available for Apollo.

How would Kennedy have handled VietNam ?

and would Johnson's Great Society still have happened?

Both sucked funding away from Apollo, causing a shortened program. I think the original NASA concept was Mars by the 1980's.

Dr Nigel
2006-Nov-04, 09:10 AM
Considering the first Saturn V launch was 2 years before the first N1 attempt, there would be more than just an N1 success needed.

Not only that, but the N-1 was more complex than the Saturn V. If my understanding is correct, the Soviets had no equivalent of the F-1 engine that powered the Saturn V's first stage. Instead they installed many smaller rocket motors (the figure in my head is 39, but I don't recall where this comes from) to lift the first stage. Getting all those rockets to work together without disrupting one another's flow of fuel is a technical challenge that would have required an extensive programme of testing and development.

Also, IIRC, the F-1 itself had a combustion stability issue that was solved by trial and error and luck rather than by understanding the issue and overcoming it logically.

Does anyone have any further info on this?

Where's a rocket scientist when you need one?? :)

Bob B.
2006-Nov-04, 04:52 PM
I wonder what would have happened if Bobby Kennedy hadn't been assasinated in 1968...would his name be on the moon instead of Nixon's??
Let me point out that the respondents to this question have assumed that had Bobby Kennedy not been assassinated he would have went on to defeat Richard Nixon in the 1968 presidential election. We can certainly speculate what might have happened in that circumstance, but we have to be clear we are really assuming Kennedy would have become president and not just avoided assassination.

antoniseb
2006-Nov-04, 08:39 PM
We are starting to sail into some protected waters here. Please avoid the political end of this discussion.