The Interplanetary Project, How Spaceflight Didn't Happen

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B. Parkinson (2011), JBIS, 64, 349-357

Refcode: 2011.64.349
Keywords: Access to space, infrastructrure costs, political costs, alternative history, reusable launch

In the years before the Space Age, writers imagined that spaceflight would be achieved by the progressive development of an integrated, reusable Space transportation infrastructure. Politics (and military technology) intervened. Instead - fifty years after Sputnik - expendable launch vehicles remain our only way of accessing Space and a return to the Moon after Apollo seems unachievable. This paper examines what might have been possible, using the technology of the early 1960s, if politics had not intervened and the roadmap of the pre-spaceflight visionaries had been followed. The first part describes the way in which an Earth-to-Orbit capability might have been achieved, and the second part continues this onward to establishing a base on the Moon. The conclusion is that the cost of access to Space could have been less than half current values, and while landing on the Moon might have taken longer than Apollo it could have been achieved at about one-third of the cost, and a permanent Moon base might have been achieved in the late 1980s.


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