And the implications of that are an amazingly rich source of ideas and obstacles.
One would imagine that there would be some sort of agreement for launches (like for aircraft flights, with consultation and control), or instead each launch over other countries would be the subject of treaty agreements.
Would we see attempts to acquire rights to African country's ... um, I was going for an "airspace" analogy, but "spacespace" just sounds wrong... ?
Weather forecasting, television, intercontinental telephone, tsunami prediction, impact monitoring, the Vela satellites that wouldn't exist, science that couldn't exist, intelligence satellites that would never have existed (and the potential for misunderstanding being so much greater)... either hugely slowed, made far more expensive by regulation, or non-existant completely. With the knock-on chains of consequence from each of these.
I'm currently going to be taking PoDs from various eras:
- Pre-manned spaceflight and the dawn of space (ie Sputnik, like this one)
- Earliest manned spaceflight, so the Mercury/Vostok era
- Gemini/Voshkod era
- Apollo/Soyuz era
- Late Seventies/early eighties
- Late eighties and the nineties
- 21st century
Not all will be manned spaceflight PoDs, of course; that's just the way the eras I envisage line up.
I'll go through all the eras and then sweep round at least once more.
However, I think having ballistic missiles parked a little off the Florida coast would always panic them. But it does further ask the question of how many incidents like that never actually arose because satellite imagery showed that there wasn't actually a threat.
You've also made me think: would we see successors to the SR-71 take to the skies in order to try to secure aerial photography when space photography won't be an option? Would aeronautics actually improve in these TLs as astronautics fails?
I, hmm. If the US had launched into space first, it does raise the significant question of how freedom of space is handled like you said. One thought at least from myself is considering the kind of... complexity of orbital mechanics you perhaps actually wind up with an initial 'Open Skies' treaty (as proposed by Eisenhower in the 50s) dedicated purely for spaceflight and not just aircraft or something like an earlier Outer Space Treaty on the 'freedom of space'. There would again be the kind of potential refusal by the Soviets on either choice, but considering the kind of issues the Soviets could face because of orbital mechanics when they launch their own satellites... I could kind of see something like that happening to 'establish' the freedom of space standard as an international element?
Because I just... I admittedly don't think either of the superpowers would stop putting satellites into orbit just because there aren't necessarily the agreements considering how much of a useful role it'd play. Like there's sort of the thought that in the case of the Soviet Union, considering they lacked an 'equivalent' to the American reconnaissance aircraft like the U-2 or SR-71 to be able to take pictures of the United States or other important areas, I would think there would sort of be a drive to develop reconnaissance satellites in order to do so. And the net result would be driving some kind of 'freedom of space' into being.
Of course I could just be thinking a bit too much in the line of what happens IOTL has to happen ITTL with the creation of freedom of space and such.
I agree that something would (likely) have been done, but there's a massive vista of possibilities.
From nothing at all/space is forbidden, through specific space launches occur as a result of individual international treaties, through to types of satellite (satcom, weather, manned flights, etc) each being governed under different treaties, through to agreeing multinational agreements with specific countries for use of their space-space (equatorial and tropical countries could clean up here; polar orbits would be very rare indeed), through to agreeing a space framework similar to the aeronautics framework, through to negotiating a limited "Open Skies" agreement, through to separate treaties and agreements for deep space, for geosynchronous orbits, for midlevel orbits and for Low Earth Orbits (the last being the most sensitive), to the Freedom of Space system we have in OTL.
And every scenario has loads of possibilities for stories and ATLs.
I do remember reading a short story where-in it is the British Army and capture the base at Peenemunde. Britain is given a mighty kickboost over both the Yanks and the Soviets, establishing a space dominance before either of them. Mount Olympus on Mares is thus called Mount Elizabeth.