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  • Spaceships and Moon missile bases

    From the '50s to the '80s, it was thought that the U.S. should build nuclear powered spaceships armed with lasers and missiles and nuclear missile bases on the Moon to guard against the "Red Threat." The government actually tried to do part of this with the "Star Wars" plans in the '80s. They called for space stations and satelites armed with lasers and nukes.

    I personally think a lot of it was unlikely to be at all useful. The "nucear powered spaceship" part, though, was actually a realistic concept: the NERVA project (Nuclear Electric Rocket for Vehicular Applications) in the early '60s actually tested many nuclear rockets on the stand, but the environmental scares got the project canned. These engines could be used for peaceful applications, too, like increasing the payload for Mars-bound spacecraft from what we can send with chemical rockets.

    Sorry, I digress. The spaceships were expected to shoot lasers at armies on the ground, and rarely if ever fight another spaceship. The Moon bases were there as redundancy: if the Soviets were able to wipe out our ground missile bases, the Moon bases were to launch.

    Now to the question: What if the United States had, in fact, began to build and launch armed satelites, space stations, and spacecraft starting in the mid '60s? Would there have been a Space Arms Race? Would war with Soviets been more likely? How likely would building a space fleet been in the '60s?

    (If you're a Mars nut, read "The Case for Mars" by Robert Zubrin, Simon & Schuster, 1996. It's an excellent book that thoroughly convinced me of why we should go.)
    "You realize that if I could actually purchase a weapon, I would stab you with it now?" --Roy, Order of the Stick #136

    Governor of South Florida, Cuba, Louisiana, Manhattan, Hawaii, Illinois, Moon and Mars. Chief of Cybernetics Div., S.INC

  • #2
    I think eventually the costs and luster of the weaponized space program would have faded along with the Apollo missions. The amazement of space 'travel' wore off in the mid 70's to be re-born in the early '80's with the Space Shuttle, and then wore off again by the 90's as 'routine'. It's become common thinking to assume we'll have space taxis and space stations eventually, but no one wants to pay for the research today to make it happen several tomorrows from now.

    The expenses of such a program I think would have doomed it anyway even if it had been started in earnest. A small token space force may have been built, but I just don't see it making it past that. Getting stuff into space is the expensive part and at the time, no one knew what the long term effects would be, so it was too riskly and expensive to send up and occupy manned bases in space, much less anything more personnel intensive. As far as weaponized satellites, I'm not so sure there aren't any anyway but what are their capabilities? They're certainly not death ray devices streaming atoms from the heavens, but I bet they could knock out other satellites.

    I'm think the Soviets, and maybe even the UN would have looked at it menacingly and would have fought it politically and diplomatically in every way possible and tried to prevent it's operational deployment as a threat to all mankind. There was something passed in the 70's(?) by the UN regarding space, the Outer Space Treay I believe, that prohibited(?) the weaponizing of space. That way, you're not doing it (wink, wink), we're not doing it (wink, wink), and neither of us has to worry about it.
    If voting could really change things, it would be illegal.

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    • #3
      As a matter of fact, the Soviets had been testing anti-satelite weapons. They were essentially small satelites that would fly up to enemy commo/spy sats, and then use a weapon similar to Claymore mines to destroy them. They were probably also testing laser satelites (just like we probably were) that could knock out sats and ICBMs. Did you ever see "Space Cowboys"?

      However much they denied they had any intention to go to the moon, they were well on their way to developing a Moon rocket called the Proton--problem was, it didn't work. After Apollo 11, they decided to concentrate on their Soyuz space stations.

      What would have happened if they had continued trying to get to the Moon? Would both of us try to establish Moon bases to one-up the other? Would we have put troops up there just in case we wanted to seize each other's bases and space stations?

      The Soviets were pushing the U.N. to allow everyone to examine each other's space and nuclear facilities. A Soviet KBG agent would have a free pass to any building that had anything to do with space or nuclear technology, or he suspected had to do with them. But, if we tried to do the same thing, we would be in so much Red tape (punny, huh?) they could build a space station under our noses and we wouldn't know a thing about it.

      BTW, what are we calling the space station now? ISS, Alpha, Freedom? Does anyone have a cooler name for it?
      "You realize that if I could actually purchase a weapon, I would stab you with it now?" --Roy, Order of the Stick #136

      Governor of South Florida, Cuba, Louisiana, Manhattan, Hawaii, Illinois, Moon and Mars. Chief of Cybernetics Div., S.INC

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Bariman
        BTW, what are we calling the space station now? ISS, Alpha, Freedom? Does anyone have a cooler name for it?
        How about Space Station "Punisher" - after heavy modification to the design and intent of the station, of course, it could then be useful for directing orbital strikes almost anywhere on the planet?

        Sorry, that's my inner voice talking.

        Dr. S.
        Imagine a ball of iron, the size of the sun. And once a year a tiny sparrow brushes its surface with the tip of its wing. And when that ball of iron, the size of the sun, is worn away to nothing, your punishment will barely have begun.

        www.sinisterincorporated.co.uk

        www.tabletown.co.uk

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Doctor Sinister
          How about Space Station "Punisher" - after heavy modification to the design and intent of the station, of course, it could then be useful for directing orbital strikes almost anywhere on the planet?

          Sorry, that's my inner voice talking.

          Dr. S.

          You know, that might work. We could put a nuclear reactor and a powerful laser on the station. It could laze any target under it with fear of getting shot at.

          Have you played the second Command & Conquer game? You could use Ion Cannons and send Dropships full of infantry anywhere you wanted. The Ion Cannon could be as powerful as a small nuke, but without the nasty side effects like radiation.

          Doctot Sinister, do you have anything like that? I'm sure the U.S. government would buy from you--as long as you don't hold the world hostage in the meantime. :nonono:
          "You realize that if I could actually purchase a weapon, I would stab you with it now?" --Roy, Order of the Stick #136

          Governor of South Florida, Cuba, Louisiana, Manhattan, Hawaii, Illinois, Moon and Mars. Chief of Cybernetics Div., S.INC

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Bariman
            You know, that might work. We could put a nuclear reactor and a powerful laser on the station. It could laze any target under it with fear of getting shot at.

            Have you played the second Command & Conquer game? You could use Ion Cannons and send Dropships full of infantry anywhere you wanted. The Ion Cannon could be as powerful as a small nuke, but without the nasty side effects like radiation.

            Doctot Sinister, do you have anything like that? I'm sure the U.S. government would buy from you--as long as you don't hold the world hostage in the meantime. :nonono:
            I've played all the C&C games at some point in time. The Red Alert ones were my favourites though.

            Re' your idea, this is intriguing, perhaps I could turn over a whole new leaf? Find myself a new source of income by working WITH humanity instead of trying to rule it? Hmmm...

            Nah, can't be bothered, world domination it is.

            Dr. S.
            Imagine a ball of iron, the size of the sun. And once a year a tiny sparrow brushes its surface with the tip of its wing. And when that ball of iron, the size of the sun, is worn away to nothing, your punishment will barely have begun.

            www.sinisterincorporated.co.uk

            www.tabletown.co.uk

            Comment


            • #7
              Russian Moon Rocket

              The Russian Moon rocket was the N-1, not the Proton.
              The Proton is very much live and well, and is one of Russia's most successful boosters.
              The N-1 was larger than the Saturn I, but not near the size of the Saturn V.
              The problem with the N-1 was that the Russians had not developed a big rocket engine. So they had to cluster something like 28 engines on the first stage. The plumbing was the weak spot, and all three test launches failed due to ruptured plumbling on the first stage.
              Regards, Gregg

              Comment


              • #8
                Sorry. It's been quite a while since I read that PopSci article. Hey, is it true that Yuri Gagarin ejected from his pod before landing? I think the international agreement at the time was that an astronaut was supposed to launch and land in the same craft in order to be considered "the first man in space." Am I incorrect on this?
                "You realize that if I could actually purchase a weapon, I would stab you with it now?" --Roy, Order of the Stick #136

                Governor of South Florida, Cuba, Louisiana, Manhattan, Hawaii, Illinois, Moon and Mars. Chief of Cybernetics Div., S.INC

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Spaceships and Moon missile bases

                  Originally posted by Bariman
                  From the '50s to the '80s, it was thought that the U.S. should build nuclear powered spaceships armed with lasers and missiles and nuclear missile bases on the Moon to guard against the "Red Threat." The government actually tried to do part of this with the "Star Wars" plans in the '80s. They called for space stations and satelites armed with lasers and nukes.

                  I personally think a lot of it was unlikely to be at all useful. The "nucear powered spaceship" part, though, was actually a realistic concept: the NERVA project (Nuclear Electric Rocket for Vehicular Applications) in the early '60s actually tested many nuclear rockets on the stand, but the environmental scares got the project canned. These engines could be used for peaceful applications, too, like increasing the payload for Mars-bound spacecraft from what we can send with chemical rockets.

                  Sorry, I digress. The spaceships were expected to shoot lasers at armies on the ground, and rarely if ever fight another spaceship. The Moon bases were there as redundancy: if the Soviets were able to wipe out our ground missile bases, the Moon bases were to launch.

                  Now to the question: What if the United States had, in fact, began to build and launch armed satelites, space stations, and spacecraft starting in the mid '60s? Would there have been a Space Arms Race? Would war with Soviets been more likely? How likely would building a space fleet been in the '60s?

                  (If you're a Mars nut, read "The Case for Mars" by Robert Zubrin, Simon & Schuster, 1996. It's an excellent book that thoroughly convinced me of why we should go.)
                  If I recall correctly, the Treaty on Non-Militarization of Space did not come about until the early/mid 70s, so that would not have been an impediment. Still, many nations, including some allies, would likely have objected. Whether friend or foe, they could not help but see an ominous precedent. Even our allies could not help but feel threatened. Initially, nobody, not even the USSR or PRC could match us, probably at least 5 to 7 years would be needed to design, build, validate, and perfect the technology and equipment. During that time we are certainly not sitting on our hands, we are upgrading our systems, making them more modern and lethal. Any number of nations may have branded us despots for deploying a system that so unbalances the global balance.

                  For whatever we may gain, the fallout, the bad blood, would make deployment a Pyrrhic victory.
                  Mens Est Clavis Victoriae
                  (The Mind Is The Key To Victory)

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