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The Launch Box: PoD 3 - Korolev Lives

Alex Richards

Did Macavity the Mystery Cat commit Warcrimes?
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Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
I suspect if we literally have 'Soviets land on the moon in 1970' there would be a lot of pressure from the top in the USSR to get the first moon base.
 

AndyC

No
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Published by SLP
I suspect if we literally have 'Soviets land on the moon in 1970' there would be a lot of pressure from the top in the USSR to get the first moon base.
Definitely.
And the Americans would have to respond.

A TL where the Soviets get the first circumlunar flight, the Americans get the first lunar landing, and the Soviets start making a lunar base... could get interesting.

Korolev would have to evolve the N-1 further (as was planned, anyway) in order to be able to launch enough mass to make a lunar bas practical - his original planned landing missions were extremely cut-down in comparison to American ones (single cosmonaut outside on a lander that was essentially just an engine and tanks) due to weight limitations.
 

Death's Companion

General Ugg Apologist.
I'm pretty sure if the Americans still landed on the moon first they'd declare victory and leave the Soviets 'the scraps' the seventies were not a decade for spending big bucks on a PR stunt between Vietnam, Watergate, the economy running into a wall and all the rest. Who is going to be pushing for more space stuff on the American side?
 

Usili

Testing Is Underway
Great article! Korolev living is something of an interesting PoD, since you still might've been able to pull off just a bit further then they got (with say being able to get a crewed lunar flyby before Apollo 8 flies for example).

Oh, if I might ask @AndyC, have you ever read this bit on the insights from the Mishin Diaries? It's something rather interesting as it does give some rather fascinating information on what the Soviet lunar planning was like.

A TL where the Soviets get the first circumlunar flight, the Americans get the first lunar landing, and the Soviets start making a lunar base... could get interesting.
This is actually something I've always thought about every now and then, considering what it'd do. One of the big things the Soviets getting a crewed circumlunar flight first would actually indicate the Soviets were also on the race towards the moon and didn't lie about it later on (by saying they were never on the race to the moon because of their effort just failing disastrously).

I'd 100% agree that there'd be the effort by the Soviets to work on a lunar base so they can achieve that 'first', with the US also being sort of faced into contending with that (the US likely looking at longer duration flights with existing hardware, such as the proposed six/seven-day flights with the Lunar Module).

It's kind of amusing in that it sort of just winds up a wee bit like For All Mankind with the 'moon base race' in that scenario.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
I'm pretty sure if the Americans still landed on the moon first they'd declare victory and leave the Soviets 'the scraps' the seventies were not a decade for spending big bucks on a PR stunt between Vietnam, Watergate, the economy running into a wall and all the rest. Who is going to be pushing for more space stuff on the American side?
If the Soviets are about to plonk bases on the moon, I'd expect a push for more space in America but your point on the economy & political strife raises the question: what if the push is crap, half-arsed without enough funding? What would that do for American politics and the national mood if the USSR is proudly building Lunagrad and NASA's stuff is falling to bits? Which of course could mean the Soviets slack off after a vanity base which then sits there, cosmonauts swimming in their own farts for no reason.

(Alternatively, what if the US decides it's too expensive to be this alone but not if it can get friendly nation's space agencies to add some cash for a 'international' mission)
 

AndyC

No
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
I'm pretty sure if the Americans still landed on the moon first they'd declare victory and leave the Soviets 'the scraps' the seventies were not a decade for spending big bucks on a PR stunt between Vietnam, Watergate, the economy running into a wall and all the rest. Who is going to be pushing for more space stuff on the American side?
If the Soviets are about to plonk bases on the moon, I'd expect a push for more space in America but your point on the economy & political strife raises the question: what if the push is crap, half-arsed without enough funding? What would that do for American politics and the national mood if the USSR is proudly building Lunagrad and NASA's stuff is falling to bits? Which of course could mean the Soviets slack off after a vanity base which then sits there, cosmonauts swimming in their own farts for no reason.

(Alternatively, what if the US decides it's too expensive to be this alone but not if it can get friendly nation's space agencies to add some cash for a 'international' mission)
All sorts of possibilities.
If we have:
- Soviets first to loop around the Moon (and claiming "we got there first; getting to the Moon is the important bit, not just the last mile")
- America landing first (and claiming victory)
- Soviets landing afterwards and starting to make preparations for longer stays (and saying that the Americans "can only do brief stunts" while they are the real Space Race victors - ironically given the actual facts of the Soviets going solely for 'spectaculars')

... then both factors will very much be in evidence. Dropping the programme might be simultaneously popular (in the sense of "no longer wasting money") and unpopular (in the sense of "surrendering national prestige to the Godless Commies"). Both messages will be pushed for political benefit - and some sort of half-arsed compromise would probably be most likely.

Which ends up, together with the OTL knowledge that we were pushing our luck with technology at the very edge of its capability, with almost inevitable deaths on the Moon and pushback (either with the "You wasted money and lives"" line or the "They died because you cut corners and made our country look incompetent!" line. Or, given politics in any timeline, both lines at the same time and from the same people).
 

AndyC

No
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Great article! Korolev living is something of an interesting PoD, since you still might've been able to pull off just a bit further then they got (with say being able to get a crewed lunar flyby before Apollo 8 flies for example).

Oh, if I might ask @AndyC, have you ever read this bit on the insights from the Mishin Diaries? It's something rather interesting as it does give some rather fascinating information on what the Soviet lunar planning was like.
Thanks for the link; I hadn't actually seen those before.
This is actually something I've always thought about every now and then, considering what it'd do. One of the big things the Soviets getting a crewed circumlunar flight first would actually indicate the Soviets were also on the race towards the moon and didn't lie about it later on (by saying they were never on the race to the moon because of their effort just failing disastrously).

I'd 100% agree that there'd be the effort by the Soviets to work on a lunar base so they can achieve that 'first', with the US also being sort of faced into contending with that (the US likely looking at longer duration flights with existing hardware, such as the proposed six/seven-day flights with the Lunar Module).
Indeed, a bit harder to credibly say "Moon Race? What Moon Race? Oh, that silly thing you Americans were obsessing about, right? Oh, no, we were only ever going for... um... space stations, yes, space stations. You know, to find out what could be usefully made in orbit and how to live in space for prolonged time, rather than just a silly stunt. Yes, that's it"

So they'd either have to actually admit defeat (psychologically very difficult, given the mindsets of the Soviet Leadership), or take it at least a bit further to declare the "real victory". The former isn't impossible, but the latter is more plausible.
 

Usili

Testing Is Underway
Thanks for the link; I hadn't actually seen those before.
No problem!

Indeed, a bit harder to credibly say "Moon Race? What Moon Race? Oh, that silly thing you Americans were obsessing about, right? Oh, no, we were only ever going for... um... space stations, yes, space stations. You know, to find out what could be usefully made in orbit and how to live in space for prolonged time, rather than just a silly stunt. Yes, that's it"

So they'd either have to actually admit defeat (psychologically very difficult, given the mindsets of the Soviet Leadership), or take it at least a bit further to declare the "real victory". The former isn't impossible, but the latter is more plausible.
Agreed. There's admittedly a weird thought I could sort of imagine a bit when contending with a lunar moonbase in that the Soviets are forced into pursuing a lunar base in order to rival the Americans, despite the potentially growing financial issues (one that is also shared by the US), and eventually you perhaps see either the US or Soviet Union just 'concede' and stop flying lunar flights with the other power following shortly after... Or which might be an even more unique bit (and sort of fitting with detente) you wind up with ASTP on the moon, and that's in a way sort of how the 'lunar race' comes to a close.
 
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