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The Launch Box: PoD 2 - Alan Shepard, first man in space

RyanF

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Interesting to speculate how much further along space exploration might have been had the US government not felt emasculated at the USSR having the first man in space and NASA not had to put all of their eggs into the basket of getting a man to the moon before the decade was out. Of course, the case could be made that if Kennedy weren't assassinated and the remainder of his first and any second term not gone very well that the promise would have been quietly forgotten amongst a myriad of other issues piling up.

What were NASA's timescales for their original plan? An orbiting laboratory by 1970? A space station by 1975? A lunar orbit by 1980? A moon landing by 1990? Mars by the Millennium?
 

AndyC

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Interesting to speculate how much further along space exploration might have been had the US government not felt emasculated at the USSR having the first man in space and NASA not had to put all of their eggs into the basket of getting a man to the moon before the decade was out. Of course, the case could be made that if Kennedy weren't assassinated and the remainder of his first and any second term not gone very well that the promise would have been quietly forgotten amongst a myriad of other issues piling up.

What were NASA's timescales for their original plan? An orbiting laboratory by 1970? A space station by 1975? A lunar orbit by 1980? A moon landing by 1990? Mars by the Millennium?
I think they were quite fuzzy originally.
NASA worked in 10-year plans and the first one had an aspiration for a circumlunar flyby (not an orbit of the Moon but just out and back without entering lunar orbit) by 1970, with manned lunar flights sometime in the 1970s. Mars was even fuzzier.
At the time in 1960 when they were planning the first 10 year plan, while the Apollo program office had been set up, they hadn't quite got round to appointing a manager for it.
 

Archibald

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Didn't saw your articles back then ! They are pretty good.

Back in 1959 NASA long range plans were as follow.

https://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/report59.html

- No Apollo 11 in sight because a landing is immensely more difficult than flyby or orbit and needs a giant, powerful rocket, even more with Direct Ascent in place of LOR (what's LOR, anyway ? and John Houbolt ? John who ?)

- No Gemini either because no LOR, since NOVA and Direct Ascent until 1962 were the prefered options.

Mercury, block I Apollo to Skylab, block II Apollo achieving Apollo 8 lunar orbit... and that would be it.

The different Saturns were as follow

Saturn 1
Saturn 1B
Saturn C-2
---------------------- Rocketdyne F1
Saturn C-3
Saturn C-4
Saturn C-5
Saturn C-8 > NOVA designs.

The crux of the matter, without the F1 - and with a single Saturn C-2 - it is possible to push as far as Apollo 8 but NOT Apollo 11. Orbit but no landing. And since the F-1 only lived because of JFK committment and massive budget boost... plus the terrific combustion instabilities that made it explode repeatedly.
 
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