Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

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Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by Zor » 2009-03-14 02:30am

One thing that comes up in discussions of the space race is that that the development of space technology is lost opertunities such as the terminated Dynasoar and Spiral programs as well as general stagnation in terms of space development that happened after the heyday of space development such as the slowness to replace the shuttles. The main points of this thread are as follows...

1-Could have Space development been sugnifigantly accelerated during the space race and how?
2-How far could have it been accelerated?

Zor

typo in title of thread fixed -- Shep
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Re: Could space development have been sugnifigantly accelerated?

Post by K. A. Pital » 2009-03-14 03:54am

Don't forget to offer your own opinion, perferrably substantiated, or this thread may get locked. After all, we're not google, information comes through a discussion, and there's not much to discuss here right now.

A better question yet would be which important space programs you think could have come to fruition and pushed the research further (but didn't).
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Re: Could space development have been sugnifigantly accelerated?

Post by MKSheppard » 2009-03-14 07:02am

YES! YES!

It all goes back to Eisenhower's decision to essentially kill all of the US Military Space Projects and give them to NASA -- and NASA was not that great -- they resisted JFK's call to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade until TEH MONEY started flowing into their coffers.

And essentially, Civilian Space Development is a dead end -- no matter what -- once you've landed on the moon, taken a few rocks and photos; that's it -- the public and media will start crying for your budget to be cut, since all that money could be spent on the poor :roll:

Meanwhile, if Ike had let Military space go ahead; things would be much different -- we would have to have a Manned Permament Military Moonbase, lest the Red Commies gain the ultimate high ground on the MOON.

I offer you US Military Requirements for Space; Circa 1959.

US Army
1. Survey and Geodesy Satellite System
2. Meteorological Satellite System
3. Strategic Surveillance Satellite System
4. Combat Surveillance Satellite System
5. Signal Intelligence and Countermeasures Satellite System
6. Manned Lunar Outpost
7. Earth-Orbiting Logistic Base
8. Earth to Earth-Orbit Transportation System
9. Interspace Vehicle
10. Lunar Assault Vehicle
11. Lunar Surface Vehicle
12. Space-to-Earth Weapons System
13. Low Altitude Space Defense System
14. High Altitude Space Defense System
15. Earth-Based Space Surveillance and Control System
16. Space-Based Surveillance and Control System
17. Space Patrol Vehicle
18. Communications Satellite System (Low Altitude)
19. Communications Satellite System (High Altitude)
20. Space Forward Command Post

US Navy
1. Navigation
2. Communication
3. Electronic Reconnaissance
4. Reconnaissance and Surveillance
5. Naval Weather
6. Satellite Surveying (Geodesy)
7. Anti-Satellite Weapon System
8. Air-Sea Launch System for Satellite Payloads
9. Sea-based Manned Maneuverable Interceptor Space Craft System
10. Statement of Naval Requirements for Long Range Programs for Space Technology

------------

MILITARY USES OF SPACE
FROM NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL PAPER (NSC 5814/1)

1. Military Reconnaissance Satellite Utilizing Optical Sensors
2. Military Satellite Utilizing Infra-red Sensors to Provide Ballistic Missile Attack Alarm
3. Military Satellites for Communication.
4. Military Reconnaissance Satellites Utilizing Electronic Sensors
5. Military Satellites for Mapping and Charting.
6. Satellites for Weather observation.
7. Manned Maintenance and Resupply Outer Space Vehicles.
8. Manned Maneuverable Defensive Outer Space Vehicles.
9. Bombardment Satellite.
10. Manned Military Lunar Base.
11. Satellites for Electronic Countermeasures.
12. Satellites as Aids to Navigation.
13. Satellite Defense System. (Including satellite detection, tracking and position prediction capabilities).
14. Manned Bombardment Space Vehicles (or Space Base).
15. Manned Detection, Warning and Reconnaissance Space Vehicles ( or Space Base).
16. Target Drone Satellites.
17. Military Space Logistics Base.
18. Complex Military Satellite Decoys.
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by tchizek » 2009-03-14 01:28pm

Zor wrote:One thing that comes up in discussions of the space race is that that the development of space technology is lost opertunities such as the terminated Dynasoar and Spiral programs as well as general stagnation in terms of space development that happened after the heyday of space development such as the slowness to replace the shuttles. The main points of this thread are as follows...

1-Could have Space development been sugnifigantly accelerated during the space race and how?
2-How far could have it been accelerated?

Zor

typo in title of thread fixed -- Shep
Sure, one way would have been military space applications as MKSheppard pointed out but the other way would have been (and still would be) to allow/encourage civilian space applications. The problem with NASA is that they are really a Research organization and a government research organization at that. Which means that they have a huge bureaucratic aversion to risk and get no reward for taking risks. Which means that the people making the decisions about how to get into space have no skin in the game (so to speak...i.e., they don't get rich if it goes well, they do get fired if it fails). So they are going to take the least risky most Conservative path.

Either military (willing to take risks to get an advantage) or civilian - (willing to sell launch space to the highest bidder, willing to build money making enterprises in or about space to get filthy rich) would have accelerated it over government bureaucrats and scientists.
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by Samuel » 2009-03-14 02:11pm

There isn't really money in space for civilian enterprises- the start up costs are simply too high. Not to mention all you can get is raw materials and energy. Both are much cheaper on Earth. The exception is satilittes, but I don't think there was a large gap on that part.
the public and media will start crying for your budget to be cut, since all that money could be spent on the poor


But if we put it in the military budget, slashing it would be Un-American :lol:
The only downside is that the military doesn't get to set how its budget is spent, but let me guess- that wasn't always the case?

Also, why does your list make me feel warm and wuzzy inside? The only problem would be that it would fold when the Soviets went down.

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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by tchizek » 2009-03-14 02:53pm

Samuel wrote:There isn't really money in space for civilian enterprises- the start up costs are simply too high. Not to mention all you can get is raw materials and energy. Both are much cheaper on Earth. The exception is satellites, but I don't think there was a large gap on that part.
Well, yes kind of. The relative startup costs could be proportionately similar to the "startup costs" associated with trade with India or the Americas in the 1500-1600 time frame. (I am well aware that the place that this falls down is that there is nobody to trade with in space). However...the raw "build a sailing ship" vs. "build a reusable launch vehicle" are very similar as a percentage of GDP.

As for the cheaper on Earth part - frankly we don't know, yes raw materials and energy are more expensive produced in space as things are right now. But the whole worlds space programs have been run by NASA like bureaucracies which are notoriously unable to do anything inexpensively. So right now we don't know what the real payback of a free-enterprise space program would have been. It might have been the next American Auto Industry from the 1920's-1960's or it might have been the next American Banking Industry from 1999-2008.
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by Count Chocula » 2009-03-14 03:00pm

OK, I'll dip my toe in here. In my opinion, John F. Kennedy's call for a man on the Moon is what reduced US development in space. In the 1950's and 1960's, the US military was in the Space Race against the Soviet Union, as well as the Cold War, and ideas were popping up like dandelions in springtime. We had the Thor and Atlas boosters, then the Man In Space Soonest program. I'm not sure, but I suspect internecine warfare among the services and LeMay's AF dominance of the nuclear arsenal (boomers aside) led to the formation of NASA. Then came the Mercury rockets, then Kennedy's call for a Moon mission, followed by his assassination and martyrdom. With his murder, the Moon goal became holy writ at NASA and with the American populace, and the flood of emotions opened a floodgate of money that poured into Apollo. Gemini was the first beneficiary of Kennedy's death.

Into the 1960's, the Air Force...oops I mean NASA...was breaking new ground every month. The XB-70 project was continuing in fits and starts, the XF-108 was proposed then cancelled (late 1950's IIRC), the Dyna-Soar program was started (then cancelled), the M2-F2 and M2-F3 were testbeds for manned reentry vehicles (then cancelled), the Manned Orbital Laboratory was proposed (then cancelled), and the X-15 was kicking rocket ass. Then it, too, was cancelled in 1968.

So in the late 1950's and 1960's America had a smorgasbord of manned high-altitude or space flight programs. What did we get as a result? Apollo 7-17 and Apollo-Soyuz, Skylab - gee where is it now? - the Space Shuttle, Hubble, and the ISS. Worldwide, what do we have? The Shuttle, Ariane (unmanned), Soyuz, China's Shenzhou program, and the ISS. 40 years of development has given the world precisely three manned space programs, and one piddly space station. I'm not counting SpaceShip One or Virgin Galactic, since those aren't fully operational yet - and I have my doubts they'll be allowed to come to fruition. Bah.

What could we have had instead of this half-crippled excuse for a space program? I'll let my imagination wander for a bit. OK, here's one: how about a B-70 with four, more modern, higher thrust engines and a pair of the X-15's XLR-99 rockets? With its fuel load, the XB-70 with heat shielding could have achieved suborbital flights in the 1960s. Or, more radical, what if the nuclear-powered bomber had been developed? A powerplant that generates its own heat would be ideal for igniting propellant in the absence of atmosphere, and once in space you'd have no whining from environmentalists about radiation hazards. We could have had, in the 1970s, a nuclear-powered spacecraft about the size of the Shuttle, but capable of placing a 2-3 ton payload in geosynchronus orbit, or perhaps even going to the Moon and back, while being reusable.
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by PeZook » 2009-03-14 03:43pm

You're not going to the Moon and back with a shuttle sized spacecraft, unless you achieve incredibly radical increase in ISP. A nuclear rocket just won't give you enough ooomph.

Should I be blunt about the OP question? I'll be blunt. In its heyday the American space program wasn't getting very much money at all. The entire manned space program from Mercury to last Apollo flight cost in the vicinity of 125 billion dollars over more than ten years, or about 12 billion per year. That's piddling pocket change compared to the necessary costs. I agree with Sheppard that had the military been involved, the investment would probably be way higher :)

I'm not really sure why people treat SSTO style boosters as the Holy Grail of spaceflight, though. They have the exact same problem as the Shuttle: they have to ferry an aerodynamic frame into orbit every time they launch, with the only savings coming from not having to haul the oxygen for atmospheric flight.

And there is something to get in space: asteroids are massive lumps of raw materials. If we pump enough money into s[ace infrastructure, we'll get access to a wealth of material resources beyond anybody's imaginations. That's the real thing we'd need to develop in order to truly accelerate space development beyond little hops to LEO and vicinity.
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by MKSheppard » 2009-03-14 08:38pm

Here's an excerpt from AFSC Historical Publications Series 62-27 - THE SPACE SYSTEMS DIVISION - - BACKGROUND (1957-1982).
Pages 42 to 43

Lunar Projects

One of the more interesting research efforts stimulated by response to Sputnik began with the 4 April 1958 issuance of Air Research and Development Command System Requirement (Study) No. 183, Lunar Observatory, The purpose of the study was to ". . . determine an economical, sound and logical approach for establishing a manned [DELETED] observatory on the moon." The missile division, charged with conducting the study, assigned the investigation to Boeing, North American Aviation, and United Aircraft Corporation, Other corporations, with highly capable study staffs, participated in the research at their own expense. Among these were Douglas Aircraft, Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Company, and Republic Aviation Corporation.

On 29 August 1958 this particular interest was furthered by issuance of System Requirement 192, entitled "Strategic Lunar System." The purpose of this study was to . . explore the possible advantage of a lunar weapon system and determine the operational problems and effort that would be required to develop and support such a system. " Again, the Air Force paid for this search for ideas by Aerojet-General, Douglas Aircraft, and North American Aviation. At the same time Bell Aircraft Corporation, Northrop Corporation and the Martin Company participated without cost to the Air Force.

During April 1960 evaluations of the lunar studies resulted in preparation of a "Military Lunar Base Program," a two volume summary of the studies already performed leading to a defined logical approach to establishing a manned base on the moon. It would be a gigantic project but within reach of Air Force development and technical resources. Financial resources were another matter. The plan, if undertaken on the scale proposed, would result in an operational lunar base by June 1969.

Yet another study was undertaken to complete the cycle of lunar investigations. On 29 August 1960 the research command issued System Requirement-17532, titled "Permanent Satellite Base and Logistics Study. " The study concentrated on the problems of lunar transport vehicles, supporting a lunar base, and the design of the base itself. The division issued cost contracts to General Electric, North American, and the Martin Company. Chance Vought, General Dynamics Astronautics, and Douglas Aircraft volunteered to participate In the program without pay.

The program was revised in May 1961 to the stature of an Air Force recommended national space goal. It was the view of the Air Force that the lunex program offered the most complete plan for a lunar expedition from which the nation could derive lasting and repeatable benefits. The plan acquired supporters, but not so the proposal for Air Force management. On 25 May 1961 the President called for a NASA-managed moon expedition as a national objective. Within a few months the civilian space agency was embarked on preparations for the vast decade long assignment. The Air Force, aware that it was, for the time being at least, out of the moon race, turned over to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration the studies and plans on which the original proposal had been based.
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by Pelranius » 2009-03-14 09:06pm

How practical was Project Orion?

Wikipedia and the other Internet sources I've found are rather peachy about its prospect for success, so I thought I might get some confirmation on that. It would be nice to through a 4 million ton payload into orbit, though. *sighs wistfully*
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by Samuel » 2009-03-14 11:09pm


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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by MKSheppard » 2009-03-15 01:17am

Wrong, Samuel.

That link is from a thororoughly unreliable and fantasy-based site -- you only need to look at their wiki; specifically their "WW3 holocaust in 1983" story to start laughing, and you won't stop laughing until you have a heart attack.

Orion could work and would be efficient; but it's not the panacea it's supporters make it out to be. Most likely 3-4 Orion launches are attempted and put 25,000 tons of stuff into space; which can be used for a much better expansion of space -- you could move large amounts of machine tools up in one shot -- essentially an entire factory; and who cares if you fry the Sahara desert in doing so.

And EMP once again is grotesquely overrated.
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by K. A. Pital » 2009-03-15 03:32am

Orions do work. They are the best thing for interplanetary ferries, so perhaps bumping up 3-4 heavy Orion hulls into orbit to use as translunar and later possibly Earth-Mars vehicles would be quite possible.
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by Samuel » 2009-03-15 02:21pm

Hey, I thought he was one of your guys- I didn't realize that the Draka Universe was hated that much by so many other people.

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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by Zor » 2009-03-16 08:16pm

Stas Bush wrote:Orions do work. They are the best thing for interplanetary ferries, so perhaps bumping up 3-4 heavy Orion hulls into orbit to use as translunar and later possibly Earth-Mars vehicles would be quite possible.
The tricky bit, however would be getting some of the more bulky components into orbit.

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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by Fingolfin_Noldor » 2009-03-17 11:33pm

Zor wrote:The tricky bit, however would be getting some of the more bulky components into orbit.

Zor
Well, if the Saturn V program didn't die down, or the Vulkan rockets continued to fly, there ought not to be a problem. Assembly is done in orbit, right next to a space station.
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by Big Orange » 2009-03-18 10:57am

Shep, surely you've heard of the US Air Force's X-20 Dyna-Soar? A terrifying space plane that shared some similarities to the Shuttle, only sleek and black, intending to deliver nuclear warheads from its cargo bay. But Secrety of Defense McNamara decided to pull the plug on it, perhaps for the better (but I've see a photo of the X-20's prototype frame).
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by Fingolfin_Noldor » 2009-03-18 12:48pm

Big Orange wrote:Shep, surely you've heard of the US Air Force's X-20 Dyna-Soar? A terrifying space plane that shared some similarities to the Shuttle, only sleek and black, intending to deliver nuclear warheads from its cargo bay. But Secrety of Defense McNamara decided to pull the plug on it, perhaps for the better (but I've see a photo of the X-20's prototype frame).
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The Dynasoar has its uses, no doubt. It would have been great as an anti-satellite/space station platform.
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2009-03-18 01:23pm

So if NASA was turned from a R&D department but into, say, an "aerospace public utilities" department, that would've significantly accelerated space development?

Like instead of just bringing rocks and stuff, NASA could've also done the space equivalent of US Air Mail, bringing us space telecommunications tech a decade earlier?

Perhaps it was a lack of direction? Unimaginative people at the head go "explore space" (which is very safe and risk-free career wise) but can't really direct NASA to have actual futuristic and useful applications that require big things moving (because of a lack of imagination and direction, and because of risk aversion)?

Mang, that sucks. NASA could've totally made more awesome applications, like actually capitalizing on the technology base that got us to the moon and stuff, had they not wimped out, had they actually decided to push the envelope, had they actually decided to make their developments useful and mass-produced.
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by PeZook » 2009-03-18 04:37pm

Actually, there have been plenty of plans to develop Apollo hardware further, to build a base on the Moon, and then even go to Mars. But budget cuts and change in vision killed it all, and got us stuck with the Shuttle.

Though to be honest, the Shuttle really isn't as much of a boondogle as some people make it out to be. It suffers from its design philosophy rather than any real engineering problems: as an example of rocket engine technology, it's pretty awesome.
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by frogcurry » 2009-03-20 08:35pm

I can't believe the extent of the casual bias in some of the posts already made on this. Seriously, can you imagine the costs and risks associated with trying to get something like a working, safe Orion unit that wouldn't spectacularly fail all across its launching continent in the 1960s or even the 70s? They weren't magic engineers back then, and given the quality of materials and technology available plus the lack of modern computers the human cost in fatalities for a much more aggressive space program would probably have been massive. The NASA planned Mars mission involved 3 craft with 3 crew, on the basis that this way they expected to get at least one ships crew back alive.

The original program up to Apollo seemed to work well, and I'd question how well it could be accelerated just by throwing more money at it, so you'd want to spend it on something else. But no new sensible ambitions seem to come forward after that (the other real killer of course is that they didn't start funding a shuttle replacement program, say using post-Soviet military cutbacks). The problem is, once you get up once there you need something to do there to make it worth going again. So what could they do in the event that a time travelled President Shep. was elected somewhere in the 50's - 70's?

- Much of the current space based research is into things that wouldn't be conceived of back then due to a lack of technology in other areas to drive it.
- The launching technology wouldn't advance much by launching much more of the same models of rockets, and I can't see much prospect for improvements in launching technology in the time period discussed anyway due to lack of CAD and computer modelling to do it with. Gas turbines are used all around the world, but until CAD came around the improvements in design efficiency were fairly small. Same concept with plane winglets. Slide rules only go so far.
- Sending satellites to other worlds is only being done at a slow pace and could do with major improving - but you won't achieve much accelerating that save a bit more data for scientists. A nice to have but not a world changer.
- There wouldn't be much pre-1980s demand or use for satellite TV, comms. systems or GPS due to the inability to build the tech. required on Earth or in space. So a lot less useful or innovative satellites. Satellite comm. systems seem to have met demand consistently anyway, as have most other kinds of satellite we use.
- That leaves the Everest excuse - "because its there" which is crap,
- military use - which is a dangerous game to get into the habit of in a Cold War, and
- massive industry/ space colonisation. The latter would be the one thing worth doing that they could have done back then - but the funding required would be astronomical, no pun intended. Plus it'd still take time to get done - a working lunar colony would probably take years to design and test all elements of to ensure it didn't fail spectacularly and kill off the program.

Look at Sheps shopping list again. Much of it is completely pointless crap with no purpose except to give a general something to command - a "lunar assault vehicle" - what the hell is this - a jeep for the moon? A landing craft? Others are impossible or would have a very low effectiveness with the technology of the time - such as space defense systems and anti-sat weapons. Like Star Wars but 20 years before Reagan They might have wanted this stuff - but the idea that the USA could have funded all or it would have worked seems like ignoring reality.


Don't get me wrong - by the 1980's I'd suggest that the picture starts to change and space funding should have gone up to exploit the benefits of technology opening up opportunities. But I don't think we'd have managed to do that much more before then without wasting money and lives for the sake of it.

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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by phongn » 2009-03-22 01:41pm

frogcurry wrote:I can't believe the extent of the casual bias in some of the posts already made on this. Seriously, can you imagine the costs and risks associated with trying to get something like a working, safe Orion unit that wouldn't spectacularly fail all across its launching continent in the 1960s or even the 70s? They weren't magic engineers back then, and given the quality of materials and technology available plus the lack of modern computers the human cost in fatalities for a much more aggressive space program would probably have been massive. The NASA planned Mars mission involved 3 craft with 3 crew, on the basis that this way they expected to get at least one ships crew back alive.
What do you need the advanced computers for? Sure, it's nice to run large-scale simulations, but is it actually needed? The control systems don't need to be incredibly advanced systems. Besides, there are other alternatives to Orion that can help (and failing that, launch over Antarctica so you don't wreck any nearby people, and if it crashes? Big expensive loss, but that's about it)
The problem is, once you get up once there you need something to do there to make it worth going again. So what could they do in the event that a time travelled President Shep. was elected somewhere in the 50's - 70's?
That's pretty much why Shep is going for military domination of space. It's the only real short-term goal that will keep us up there and resistant to chaning political goals.
The launching technology wouldn't advance much by launching much more of the same models of rockets, and I can't see much prospect for improvements in launching technology in the time period discussed anyway due to lack of CAD and computer modelling to do it with. Gas turbines are used all around the world, but until CAD came around the improvements in design efficiency were fairly small. Same concept with plane winglets. Slide rules only go so far.
We're not so much interested in making breakthroughs in rocket launching via technology improvement, but manufacture improvement. Use economy of scale and mass production to reduce costs and incrementally improve to try and take advantage of existing lines.
There wouldn't be much pre-1980s demand or use for satellite TV, comms. systems or GPS due to the inability to build the tech. required on Earth or in space. So a lot less useful or innovative satellites. Satellite comm. systems seem to have met demand consistently anyway, as have most other kinds of satellite we use.
There was plenty of demand pre-1980 for all the things you want above. Satellite communications were well proliferated before 1980 and pretty much were the way to go for international communications before we started laying fibre cable everywhere. Plenty of demand for satellite navigation, too, and we had (much less accurate) systems up there anyways.
military use - which is a dangerous game to get into the habit of in a Cold War, and
You want space, you have to have a need and enough political capital to keep the things funded. The military provides a way. And why is it dangerous?
Look at Sheps shopping list again. Much of it is completely pointless crap with no purpose except to give a general something to command - a "lunar assault vehicle" - what the hell is this - a jeep for the moon? A landing craft? Others are impossible or would have a very low effectiveness with the technology of the time - such as space defense systems and anti-sat weapons. Like Star Wars but 20 years before Reagan They might have wanted this stuff - but the idea that the USA could have funded all or it would have worked seems like ignoring reality.
The LAV was pretty much a moon exploration vehicle couched in Army terms. And, uh, which bits are impossible/low-effectiveness? ASAT, at least, is quite possible. We certainly could've funded a lot, too, if not for the disaster of Vietnam making a great big sucking sound in the budget.
Don't get me wrong - by the 1980's I'd suggest that the picture starts to change and space funding should have gone up to exploit the benefits of technology opening up opportunities. But I don't think we'd have managed to do that much more before then without wasting money and lives for the sake of it.
We could have a continuous space-based presence well before the 1980s with a change of direction and will.
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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by erik_t » 2009-03-22 06:58pm

Stas Bush wrote:Orions do work. They are the best thing for interplanetary ferries, so perhaps bumping up 3-4 heavy Orion hulls into orbit to use as translunar and later possibly Earth-Mars vehicles would be quite possible.
"Works in theory" and "works on paper" are not the same as "works in practice" or "works in service". The actual systems engineering behind such a system is extremely nontrivial, and the assumptions made behind the half-designed systems in existence on paper have never been validated.

Certainly there are some areas of space technology that could be further along than they are. High-speed digital computers are necessary (not useful, but necessary) for the development of a number of advanced topics (eg lightweight high L/D reentry vehicles, high-performance supersonic parachutes, and worthwhile scramjets of any kind). In many of these areas, detailed testing is essentially impossible, because there are many structural and fluid-mechanical volumes of extreme importance that are literally smaller than a device that could measure them, and that cannot be measured without being disturbed by the measurement. Without high-quality data, testing is reduced to a pre-scientific let's-try-this-and-see-if-it-works approach. This high-quality high-resolution data can only be generated by massive computer simulations which even now are only a partially solved problem.

The design of worthwhile TSTO vehicles, in my professional opinion, could not be meaningfully accelerated from current timelines. Scramjets and low-weight lifting re-entry vehicles remain beyond our easy grasp because we lack sufficient understanding of hypersonic aerothermodynamics, and the relevant areas of our understanding are only advancing through computational work. Even quasi-economical landing of large (>500kg, say) vehicles on Mars, likewise, is only now becoming possible.

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Re: Could space development have been sugnifigantly accelerated?

Post by Zor » 2009-03-23 03:35am

MKSheppard wrote:Meanwhile, if Ike had let Military space go ahead; things would be much different -- we would have to have a Manned Permament Military Moonbase, lest the Red Commies gain the ultimate high ground on the MOON.
Even if this was declared, i simply can not see the US being able to enforce a claim on the entirety of the Moon, or the Soviets for that matter. We are talking something with about three million square kilometers of surface area, all of which completely unused. If either side decided to set a moon base, diplomatic pressues (and not just from the Soviet Union mind you) would prevent them from claiming the entire surface as US territory.

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Re: Could space development have been significantly accelerated?

Post by PeZook » 2009-03-23 04:07am

Why is the Moon the "ultimate high ground", anyway? Any missile launched from the surface would take days to arrive at the target. If you use them for first strike, your country will be toast before it arrives ; It can only be used for the ultimate last strike, provided your enemy doesn't simply place an armed satellite in lunar orbit to knock your moonbase out during an exchange.
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