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One Giant Leap | An Alternate History of Space Exploration


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Posted (edited)

My Collection

     NASA can only say their prayers as the first SDLS rolls out to 39C on June 19th.  They've cut it scarily close to the upcoming Mars transfer window, which will be needed for the first 2 operational launches of SDLS. Those payloads being the first 2 of the Mars Collection, which we'll introduce when the time is appropriate. This first test flight is simply to demonstrate the vehicle in its 423-A configuration. The 4 meaning 4 core stage engines, the 2 meaning 2 boosters, the 3 meaning they're 3 segment boosters, and the A meaning the standard upper stage. There are B, C, and D options for IUS, Centaur, and the High Energy Stage respectively. This variant will carry a 42 ton mass simulator to Low Earth Orbit before de-orbiting. It will also be used on the next flight for the first Mars Collection spacecraft. NASA is confident in the vehicle, but figures a test flight is necessary before entrusting crucial interplanetary payloads to SDLS. Speaking of SDLS, it has since 1983 been known as Jupiter SDLS, the name Jupiter being given in a subtle nod to Saturn as these vehicles replace them. So Jupiter 423-A as it is known, arrives at a freshly upgraded LC-39C on June 19th, 1984.

     The pre-launch campaign will fit into 2 weeks, with a launch slated for July 3rd. On June 22nd, a Wet Dress Rehearsal is attempted, but is cut short due to a hydrogen leak being detected in the second stage umbilical. The umbilical systems of the LUT have been drastically simplified compared to Apollo, with only 3 swing arms now. This tower, atop MLP-3, was used for the Saturn A07, but now will be the platform for SDLS, with NASA having converted MLP-1 for SDLS as well. But, despite all of these simplifications, nothing can truly stop the mischievous nature of the hydrogen molecule. The leak is fixed on June 24th by technicians, and the WDR is given another go on June 28th, with it succeeding this time. The launch is pushed back to July 5th as a result, but the schedule for getting MLP-3 refurbished, and SDLS stacked again will hold. The SAB has truly been a lifesaver in this tight schedule, with the SRBs already stacked, and the SDLS core stage fully prepared for stacking. MLP-1 is already stacked with the core stage and SRBs for the third flight in High Bay 4. With the WDR complete, NASA performs a countdown rehearsal on July 1st, and final tests are done over the next few days, before the countdown begins at T-72 hours on July 2nd. Then, in the early afternoon of July 5th, America's newest launch vehicle embarks on its maiden flight.

"We have a go for Auto Sequence Start, Jupiter's onboard computers now in control of the countdown."

"T-15 seconds, Sound Suppression Water System is activated."

"T-12, 11, 10, 9, We have a GO for Core Stage Engine Start."

"7, 6, 5, 4, We have Core Stage Engine Start."




"We have a roll program."

"Trajectory is nominal, all parameters look good."


Higher and higher, into a new era.

"Good SRB cutoff and nominal jettison confirmed by the booster officer."



"2 engines confirmed shutdown."

"Ladies and Gentleman, we are in orbit!"


     As good stewards of spaceflight, the second stage is started up 5 minutes later to de-orbit for a re-entry over the Indian Ocean.

"We have engine star-"

"Propulsion shows Engine 1 not started."

"Guidance shows stage unaligned."

"Stage is spinning."

"RCS is slowing down the vehicle."

     The team would review their data, and found that the hydrogen inlet valve on Engine 1 had gotten stuck in a roughly 82% closed state. The teams were puzzled as to why this had happened, as the RL20's service up to this point had been marked by unprecedented ignition reliability, which is why it was trusted in favor of engines like the J-2 and RL10. Over the next few orbits, the team slowly coerce the valve into opening using some upstream pressure and some command shenanigans to get it to open and close quickly. Eventually, 3 hours later, they get it open enough to de-orbit the stage safely, and it comes down east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

     Overall, the mission's main objectives are fully completed and it is a rousing success. However, with the next two missions carrying interplanetary payloads of the utmost importance, and ones that will require the second stage to restart to boost them to Mars, NASA is a little concerned, and they consult with Pratt & Whitney over the issue. It turns out the valve issue has happened before in testing, and even occurred  on the final A07 launch in the center engine of the second stage. Although in that case it opened roughly 95% before becoming stuck. Engineers from the SDLS team visit Pratt & Whitney's RL20 team on July 9th to go over data and figure out if this was a situational or engine issue. After a 3 hour meeting, it is determined that the pneumatic system for opening the valve did not achieve proper pressure, and this is why the valve was able to be coerced into opening over a few cycles. It is concluded that the pneumatic system needs no modification, but it should be tested extensively to figure out if this was a random failure or an actual issue.

     Puzzling pneumatics aside, NASA is committed to meeting this transfer window, because they do not feel like storing 2 very expensive spacecraft until late 1986. Speaking of those spacecraft, let's introduce them properly.

     The first is one of 2 Mars Collection orbiters. This one is the general purpose orbiter, named Mars Scout


     Mars Scout will be doing general study of Mars. Including topology, surface chemistry, atmosphere study, and visiting Phobos and Deimos a few times. This is the jack of all trades for the Mars Collection.

     The next is the first of the Orbiter/Lander combo spacecraft. These are based on work from Surveyor and Viking, and inspired by earlier proposals for Mars missions launched on ASLV rockets. These spacecraft will have unique names, this one being named in honor of the Viking who may have very well been the first European to step foot on New World soil, Leif Erikson. The Erikson spacecraft as it is called is quite the big one, but will provide a whole host of new scientific capabilities from orbit and the surface.


     Erikson will be launched first on a 423-A, while Mars Scout is light enough to be launch on a 500-A, that will just barely have the thrust to get off the pad with a slight under fueling. This variant isn't exactly useful beyond these light interplanetary missions, but NASA considers it perfect for that niche use case, which is the advantage of a modular rocket family.

     MLP-3 is rolled back to the park site for refurbishment on July 9th. The Mars window lasts almost the entirety of August, so there is plenty of time to do a quick refurbishment, and get the vehicle for Mars Scout stacked. On July 25th, the SDLS slated to launch Erikson is rolled out to 39D. With all pre-flight activities complete a week later, it lifts off into the Cape Canaveral skies on August 1st, 1984.



"Roll program is in."

"Trajectory is nominal."



     A few hours after launch, the SDLS second stage would boost Erikson on its way towards Mars. The spacecraft is expected to arrive sometime in May of 1985.

     With Erikson launched, Mars Scout will be the final SDLS launch for its debut year. This launch will feature some tweaks to the rocket. Most notably improved second stage tankage that gives a larger fuel mass, and the removal of paint on the spray-on foam insulation that covers the stage's propellant tanks. This will also be the first flight of a variant other than 423-A, as previously mentioned. The unique 500-A variant with 5 core stage engines and no boosters won't exactly light up the night sky like the variants with SRBs, but it will provide a mesmerizing view as it rises into the sky on nearly transparent exhaust plumes.

     Late on the night of August 23rd, 1984, the 5 engine rocket takes to the skies with another mission to Mars.

"3, 2, 1... hold-downs release and LIFTOFF of the Jupiter rocket with the Mars Scout orbiter destined for the Red Planet!"


     Even with it's 5 mighty engines, the rocket slowly heads skyward, before disappearing above the clouds. The flight proceeds nominally, and Mars Scout is sent on its merry way. The orbiter will arrive a few weeks after its companion mission, and begin operation with a 5 year initial lifespan.

     With Jupiter SDLS now operational, NASA shifts back to the Shuttle to finish out the year. While the British are set to debut a new rocket of their own.

     With her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in attendance at Scapa Flow, the British send off their new upgraded Comet rocket, rather creatively named Comet B, off into the skies on a test flight with a simple mass simulator. Comet B is intended to mostly replace Comet A, with its much simpler construction reducing costs and hopefully increasing its value on the commercial market, while Ariane and the Shuttle stake larger claims.

     Markets aside, the cream colored rocket jumps off the launchpad on September 3rd, 1984.

"1... ignition and liftoff of our nation's newest launch vehicle! The Comet B taking off now!"


     Just like it's predecessor, Comet B uses 12 SRBs in 2 pairs of six. This staging taking inspiration from Delta rockets.





     Successfully in orbit, to the thrill of the UKSA and Her Majesty, who gives a speech to the press and the employees of the agency and the contractors who build the rocket. She commends their efforts, and dedicates the nation to future efforts in space.

     But ESA are quick to take the spotlight again, as the first operational mission to Coelus Lab launches on September 30th. The crew, composed of 2 Frenchman, an Englishman, a German, and an Italian, will be staying onboard the Lab for 80 days before returning in the MPCS spacecraft.


     The crew will return in mid-December after completing their stay.

     The Shuttle finally gets some time on the news, as Atlantis launches a very important mission on October 15th. You see, the LunaComm satellites placed into orbit around the Moon for Phase 2 Apollo missions are aging, and they've already gone well past their lifespan. So NASA has been working on a replacement since 1981. This new series of spacecraft will be called the Lunar Communications Network, or LCN, and will be composed of 4 satellites launched by Shuttle-Centaur over the course of the next few years. This is the first satellite, LCN-1. This mission is also notable for another outstanding reason.

     This is the 50th Space Shuttle mission.

     After over 7 years of flights, the Space Shuttle has done what many doubted it could do. 50 flights is an outstanding accomplishment for the program, and countless NASA executives and foreign dignitaries are here to witness the monumental event.

     Under partly cloudy October morning skies, Atlantis takes flight on STS-71H.

"SOLID ROCKET BOOSTER IGNITION AND LIFTOFF! LIFTOFF of Atlantis on the 50th Space Shuttle Mission with the first of a series of new lunar communications spacecraft!"




     Once in orbit, LCN-1 is deployed 4 hours after launch, and sent towards the Moon where it successfully enters orbit on October 20th, 1984. A day after Atlantis lands at the KSC concluding STS-71H.



     With the year winding down. NASA executives, including Administrator Young, hold a meeting with President Reagan and several high level DoD officials at the White House. Over several days, they outline plans for the Strategic Defense Initiative, including NASA's part to play within it. The DoD wants flights on SDLS, in addition to the Shuttle flights out of Vandenberg. NASA is uneasy to give the DoD these flights, as they see SDLS being prioritized for their own uses. But the Strategic Defense Initiative has immense plans for orbital spacecraft, and will need the heavy lifting capabilities of SDLS. They eventually agree to 5 flights for the DoD to be carried out over the next few years. Without the presence of NASA executives, the DoD officials and the President further discuss how the Soviets have responded to SDI. The main worrisome trend is the buildup of the Soviet military even further, and there are rumors spreading of spaceplanes and space-based weapons projects from the Soviets. But there is no telling what the Soviets are truly up to right now.

   What they are actually up to, is some experimental flight testing of their brand new Orbiter.

     Come fly with me.


Первый полет BTS-02 прошел с ошеломляющим успехом, пилоты Станкявичюс и Волк остались довольны полетами самолета и готовы к более высоким и продолжительным полетам.

Edited by track
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1 hour ago, BeastHunter said:

Amazing! I can’t help but ask, what visual mods do you have installed, especially for clouds/ atmosphere and engine plumes.

The clouds are from the early access of a new Environmental Visual Enhancements update available on blackrack's patreon. I believe the forums don't like the discussion of "paid" add-ons but he definitely deserves the small sum of money for the incredible work he's done.

I'm also using scatterer, and my own TUFX profile which is based on @AmateurAstronaut1969's that he graciously provided to me last year. And I'm running KSRSS Reborn with the 64K Earth addon. Engine plumes come from Waterfall, the Stock Waterfall Effects mod, and SRB Waterfall Effects.

Thank you for the kind words! :)

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Posted (edited)

Return to Luna

     "So help me God."


     A new year for the world, a new year for America, and a new year for NASA. The agency will be undertaking many critical events this year, The most notable of which, of course, being Orpheus 1. This mission will end what NASA hopes will be the last "Moon Gap" of years without manned lunar missions. Orpheus is primed to be a sustainable program, one with the capability to achieve low-cost, high-return exploration of the lunar surface. Cost projections for Orpheus 1 are around 312 million dollars (875 million today) which is the sub-billion number NASA has been anticipating for the program. As SDLS and the Shuttle will get cheaper, and combined with ACOV reuse, NASA thinks they can get the cost permission below 180 million dollars (around 500 million today) which would be a monumental achievement.

     Cost aside, all of the pieces are being brought together at the Cape, with the mission slated for late May/early June. But that is dependent on the first Shuttle mission of the year following through successfully. Atlantis will launch with the second ACOV spacecraft for the final test flight of the vehicle on STS-81A. As previously mentioned, this is a circumlunar flight that will utilize a free return trajectory. This is because there have been a few delays with the Tranquility station, and its core Power and Propulsion Module (PPM) won't launch until the end of February, with the first propellant module to launch soon after it. 

     There is a lot to cover as we start 1985. A pressing issue for NASA is overcrowding at the Michoud Assembly Facility. The building is handling the construction of Shuttle ETs, SDLS core stages, and the LTV Mk2. As the first LTV Mk2 is finally completed and rolled out on the cold morning of January 3rd, there is work being done just a few hundred yards away to address the problem. With a new ample budget from Magellan for infrastructure additions and upgrades, NASA will be building a second building (or "campus") at Michoud to accommodate construction of the LTV Mk2, and eventually, vehicles for Magellan. Ground is broke on January 2nd with John Young being there to contribute to the first shovelings of dirt. 

     NASA isn't the only one gearing up for the year though. This is set to be a major 12 months for the Soviet space program. They are planning to debut 2 new rockets this year. The first being the long awaited revamp and upgrade of Sokol, dubbed Sokol-K. This introduces 4 RD-190 engines on the core stage to replace the NK-33s, and the RD-170 on the boosters in place of the aging and rather inefficient RD-100. The RD-170 is a behemoth of an engine with 4 combustion chambers fed by one turbopump, and it is more powerful than the original F1 engine. The RD-190 is a single combustion chamber version of the engine. This is a positive simplification for manufacturing, and will help reduce costs. On top of this, Proton's second stage is no more, it has been replaced by a new Hydrolox second stage. The idea with Sokol-K is to make it better for higher energy orbits and trajectories, as the heavy lifting capabilities will be accomplished by Energiya and its variants. For the second rocket, it is essentially an Energiya Zenit booster turned into a rocket, and it is named Zenit of course. It has an RD-170 engine on the first stage and an RD-120 on the second stage. A simple no-nonsense rocket for smaller payloads.

     With these new capabilities the Soviets hope to ramp up robotic efforts in the future, which was one of the main tenants of their re-focusing following the cancellation of the lunar program. The falling out after SSTP and Apollo 29's cancellation was only worsened by the tragic shootdown of Korean Air Lines Flight 007, which strained US-Soviet relations overall. The Soviets aren't in a good leadership position either, after Andropov's death in February 1984 he was succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko, who has been in poor health for most of his tenure. The Soviets are navigating a difficult situation, and some are already predicting the USSR to dissolve within the next few years. Change will be needed for the survival of communism in the Soviet Union.

     But we're not here for politics, are we? No no no we are here for spaceflight. Although they may be as intertwined as ever, nothing beats a good old fashioned rocket. The DoD knows this, and they are now working on their Complementary Expendable Launch Vehicles (CELV) program even harder. They have finally downselected to two rockets. The first being Martin Marietta's Titan IV rocket. The DoD selected this over Atlas CELV because of Martin Marietta's plans to vastly simplify Titan infrastructure, and also the many tweaks to the vehicle and changes that will improve it. The main thing being switching back to RP-1 and Liquid Oxygen for the Titan core propellants as American aerospace is beginning to shift away from hypergolics in launch vehicles. On top of this there will be no stretched UA120 booster as previously planned, they will fast-track development of the "Solid Rocket Motor Upgrade" or SRMU booster. All of this is intended to lower costs and increase the launch rate. For the second rocket, the DoD selected McDonnell Douglas and their Delta II rocket, the next evolution of the Thor-Delta family. This rocket will fulfill smaller payloads such as GPS, which is now publicly available in the wake of the previously mentioned KAL 007 tragedy. NASA has interest in both vehicles as supplements to the Shuttle, but that is still a developing interest so we will have to wait and see what comes of it.

     With all of our bases covered to begin the year, we kick things off with ACOV's second test flight on January 26th, 1985.

    "Solid Rocket Booster ignition and liftoff of Atlantis and the second flight of the ACOV spacecraft!"



     Once in orbit, the 4 crew of ACOV (consisting of Robert Gibson, Shannon Lucid, Guion Bluford Jr, and Anthony England) enter the spacecraft, and deploy from the Space Shuttle 5 hours after launch.



     3 days later, as ACOV is just hours from closest approach, Atlantis lands at Edwards Air Force Base, concluding her 11th mission. This flight ties Atlantis with Columbia for the title of most flown Space Shuttle. In Columbia's absence due to her being in Palmdale for OMDP 1, the other 3 Shuttles still at the Cape have had to split flights, with Atlantis taking many important missions as the newest and most capable Orbiter.



     Just a few hours later, ACOV swings past the Moon at closest approach. For the first time since 1977, an Apollo spacecraft is around the Moon.



    Another 3 days later, after swinging past the Moon and back to Earth on the free return trajectory, ACOV re-enters the atmosphere for landing in the Pacific on February 1st, 1985.




    Bobbing around in the waters of the Pacific, the second ACOV vehicle has wrapped up the new spacecraft's test flight campaign, clearing the way for Orpheus 1 at the end of May.

     Following things up just a few days later, Jupiter SDLS rolls out for its third flight. This is for the launch of the much anticipated first component of the Tranquility Space Station. The station has undergone a downsizing to reduce rising costs and keep it focused on the idea of a small lunar orbit station. The initial station doesn't need any habitation capability, just the Power and Propulsion Module (the first component) and one of the refueling depots. Despite finally getting to launch, the station's future is already in jeopardy after the downsizing. Many within NASA are advocating for a modification of the architecture that will result in ACOV getting a bit larger and not needed to be refueled, thus defeating the primary purpose of Tranquility. This is being studied now as a potential "Phase II" of Orpheus for further cost reduction and simplification.

     The future aside, in the here and now, the Power and Propulsion Module is primed for launch and delivery to lunar orbit, with Jupiter 500-A lifting off on February 24th, 1985.



     You may have noticed the new docking port on the PPM, this is a larger docking port called the Modular Docking Adapter System, or MDAS. MDAS is a very wide docking port optimized for space station modules. Tranquility is the first to use it, and NASA hopes to also use it on the successor space station to Skylab, whenever that comes around.

     After a week long transit. The PPM arrives in a polar orbit of the Moon on March 1st, 1985. The first lunar space station is now under assembly. Although the first habitation module won't arrive until next year.


     In between the launches of the first two Tranquility components, the Soviets send the first Sokol-K rocket into the skies on February 29th, 1985.




     Successfully reaching orbit, the first of two new Soviet rockets this year has made its debut. Zenit is expected to first launch in May, shortly after Orpheus 1.

     Now, on March 3rd, the second module of Tranquility is launched on a Jupiter 423-A. This is the first of two fuel depot modules, that will be for refueling ACOV, and perhaps eventually the ALSM.



     A modified Apollo SM is used to transport the depot module to Tranquility, it then separates from the SM tug and docks to the PPM on March 9th, 1985 after reaching lunar orbit.


     With Tranquility now in its initial operating configuration, the path is clear for Orpheus 1 preparations to begin at the start of May. Orpheus is now a simpler 2 launch profile, with the LTV and ALSM being launched together aboard a larger Jupiter 524-A rocket, and then the Shuttle launching with ACOV. The mighty 524-A rocket lifts off into the sunset on May 2nd, 1985.

"We have liftoff of the Jupiter rocket and the start of America's next moon mission!"


     Upon reaching orbit, the LTV and ALSM separate, and head for the Moon.


     Now on their way towards the Moon, the crew of Orpheus 1 will not be too far behind, as Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off with the crew  of Orpheus 1 consisting of Loren Shriver, Frederick Gregory, Sally Ride, Mary Cleave, and Norman Thagard on May 6th, 1985.

"Liftoff of the next American crew to the Moon and the Space Shuttle Challenger with the third ACOV spacecraft!"



     Once in orbit, the same standard deployment procedure follows, with Super Centaur boosting ACOV towards the Moon.



     3 days later, as the ALSM and LTV enter orbit around the Moon, ACOV follows as well just a few hours later. With rendezvous being set up for the next day on May 10th, 1985.


     Once docked, the crew enter the ALSM, power everything on, and prepare for descent. They ensure all supplies are in the lander, and they extend the landing legs. However, there is a problem...

     The RCS thrusters on the ALSM's ascent stage are mounted on rotating booms. These booms fold in for launch to ensure a proper fit inside the fairing for launch. Now at the Moon, they need to be unfolded and ready so the ALSM can move away from ACOV, and then dock with it again upon returning to orbit. The booms will not fold out. This delays landing by several hours, and many fear this will result in an abandoned landing. However, NASA and Grumman, who built the ALSM, believe they can easily perform the mission with the booms folded. ACOV will simply have to perform the docking itself in automated mode once the crew return to lunar orbit.

     Near mission abandonment avoided, the ALSM receives the GO for landing. Powered descent begins about 10 minutes later. Millions tune in on CBS to witness the first Moon landing since December 1982.



"1000 feet. You're right on the money, ALSM."

"Copy that Houston we concur. Right on the money."

"750 feet and nominal descent rate."

"We're pitched over."

"Move a bit forward here... Got a rocky patch there we want to avoid."

"Alright we're easing her over."

"400 feet and nominal descent rate."

"Bit more forward."


"200 feet."







"CONTACT light."

"Houston, ALSM, we are on the surface!"

"Great to hear, ALSM, we copy."

"Solar arrays out."


     Houston erupts in cheers, America is finally back on the Moon once again, this time to build a sustainable presence for decades to come.

     President Reagan speaks to the crew 30 minutes after landing. Re-iterating his administration's support for NASA, and congratulating them on the thrilling achievement.

     Festivities aside, EVA 1 begins 2 hours after landing.



     The flag planted, the crew will now begin to set up their surface experiments, and patiently await the final piece for the mission: the EERM rover.

     As the crew of Orpheus 1 explore the surface of the Moon, some programs back on Earth are gearing up for major progress, and potential returns of their own.


После приземления американского корабля «Орфей» мы осознаем, что потенциал новых пилотируемых лунных программ является интересной областью исследований в будущем десятилетии.

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  • 2 weeks later...


     Hey everyone! It's been a while. I've been taking a break from KSP but I am still actively writing new parts (minus all of the screenshots of course) for when I start playing again. Thank you for the continued support, it means a lot. :)




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  • 3 weeks later...

No Mountain High Enough

    Before I start, I just wanted to say thank you all so much! The thread has reached an incredible 10,000 views! I would've never expected such a positive reception, and your support and kind words mean a lot to me as I continue to write this story. :D

 Beautiful desolation, as Buzz Aldrin put it. As the crew of Orpheus 1 stand in awe of the lunar landscape, they are reminded that they have a busy surface stay ahead of them. EVA 1 is dedicated to the crew setting up the first set of surface instruments and experiments. On top of this a few deep surface samples are taken. The EERM for this mission is rather different than the original unit used on Apollo 27. After the blatant stability and performance issues, the vehicle's chassis, suspension, and drivetrain were given a complete overhaul. Now looking more like a 6 wheeled lunar pickup truck, the EERM is expected to handle much better for this mission, and NASA expects the crew to put it through its paces.

     Launched 2 days after ACOV departed from the Moon on a Jupiter 423-A, the EERM will be landed once again by an automated LM descent stage. Although this isn't the optimal landing setup, it is the only available option as Grumman begins to jointly study new landing vehicle designs with NASA for missions beyond Orpheus 3. Once the crew complete EVA 1, they are allotted a rest period, as the EERM and its descent stage reach the Moon. The crew begin preparing for EVA 2 after they awake to the song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", as the rover begins its descent to the lunar surface. The landing site is an area roughly 2 kilometers north of the ALSM's location. The astronauts will take a slower pace walk to conserve oxygen until they reach the EERM.

     Upon landing, the EERM is autonomously rolled off and deployed. The descent stage purges and safes itself, and the crew begin their 1 hour walk to the rover.

     Reaching the rover, the crew step onto the back, as it depressurizes and allows entry for the astronauts. Hatch closed, the rover re-pressurizes and the crew are able to take off their helmets for a much more relaxing ride back to base camp.

     Once they have returned to the ALSM's landing site, they disembark the rover, and conclude the EVA by deploying the second and final set of surface instruments.

     The crew are then given the next 2 days to focus on scientific work on samples and other materials inside the lander, before embarking on Geology Expedition 1. This covers a total of 50km around Mare Crisium, with many stops to collect samples and record data from portable instruments.

     There are 4 such trips throughout the course of the mission, on top of 3 more EVAs. Each of the 4 trips takes a different direction from the landing site, effectively trying to form "quadrants" of exploration around the landing site, with each GE being dedicated to a quadrant. This leads to a staggering total distance covered of nearly 180km. The redesigned rover holds up exceptionally well, and is definitively a necessary component of Orpheus missions going forward.

     But after 2 fruitful weeks on the lunar surface, for the crew of Orpheus 1, their time on the lunar surface comes to an end. Departing from the surface on May 26th in the early morning hours back on Earth, they are content in their job well done on the Moon.

     Rendezvous with ACOV is successful 3 hours later, the crew dock to their spacecraft, transfer all of their equipment and samples, along with themselves, and bid farewell to the ALSM. ACOV then performs a rendezvous maneuver of its own, to reach Tranquility for refueling before the return trip home.

     Arriving at Tranquility, an anxious 2 hours pass as ACOV is slowly refueled. The fueling job is accomplished by a deployable mechanism on the side of the tanker module that attaches to a fueling port on the service module. The same pressure differentiation process, on top of some assistance from pumps on the mechanism, permits the transfer of propellants. There are two mechanisms and two ports to accommodate the transfer of both fuel and oxidizer. As mentioned, the process takes about two full hours, after which ACOV undocks another 30 minutes later, and gains distance from the station before performing the Trans-Earth Injection maneuver.

     The cruise back to Earth is rather uneventful, only characterized by a few (just a few) hiccups with ACOV's new navigation and star tracking system, which is largely derived from the Space Shuttle's. The computer which controls the system has a bad habit of shutting down and rebooting itself with even small errors. This will likely be fixed to make it a more robust system before Orpheus 2.

    Screaming through Earth's atmosphere 4 days later, a gentle thud and blast from the retro rockets concludes Orpheus 1 as ACOV performs the first ever touchdown of a US crew capsule, on the dry lakebed of Edwards Air Force Base. Touchdown, as opposed to splashdowns, are an essential part of reusing ACOV, and will minimize the refurbishment and maintenance necessary between flights.

     With the first of a new era of lunar missions complete, next up is the all-important first half of the Mars Collection finally arriving at the Red Planet. On May 26th, Mars Scout successfully inserted itself into an elliptical orbit between the planet itself and Phobos, the innermost Martian moon. This orbital location is ideal for planned flybys of Phobos and eventual flybys of Deimos as well.

     Following it up, on May 28th, the Erikson lander separates from the orbiter stage a few hours before its insertion maneuver, and comes screaming through the Martian atmosphere, before deploying parachutes, and separating out of its aeroshell, making a soft landing on the Martian surface in the Srytis Major region. However there are some major issues... To start, although yes it is a successful landing, two of the instruments immediately fail after landing, one of these being the main television camera on the lander. This means that the Erikson lander cannot return back color images of the Martian surface, on top of the other failed instrument being the internal hydrometer that was to detect moisture content in collected soil from the onboard scoop.

     Thankfully the rest of the lander is functioning as intended, and will continue to perform the planned scientific mission. The orbiter stage and Mars Scout are also working as intended, and will return their own images of Mars. There is also still a second identical Orbiter/Lander with the second half of the Mars Collection. Keeping the Viking name trend, it is named after the King of Norway during the invasions of England in 1066, Harald Hardrada. The Hardrada mission will launch at the end of 1986 during that transfer window.

    With these missions out of the way, the rest of 1985 is comparatively sleepy. The headline Galileo launch has been postponed to next year due to an issue with one of the spacecraft's electronic buses during environmental testing at JPL. With that major delay and minor PR crisis, NASA looks forward to a positive few Shuttle missions, as Columbia returns to flight on STS-81E with a new crew to Skylab. This flight ties Columbia with Atlantis for the record of most flights by a single Orbiter, and this race continues to heat up as Challenger and Discovery are not far behind and both seeing regular use.


     Speaking of Discovery, the next flight just a few weeks later, STS-81F, performs the second deployment of the Long Duration Exposure Facility. Retrieved back in January 1984, it has proven to be a fascinating platform for space science, which pushed NASA to deploy it a second time as soon as possible. This mission is short and straight-forward, concluding successfully after 3 days in space.


     With all this talk of NASA's accomplishments, the Soviets decide they'd like a bit of the limelight. The world's foremost communist nation has been undergoing quite a lot of turmoil in this part of the 80s. Their leaders keep passing, with Chernenko dying in March of this year. But the newest head of the USSR is different. A man by the name of Mikhail Gorbachev. He brings a new attitude to the world superpower, he stops to talk to civilians on the streets, he is far less threatening and aggressive, and his wife is one of his closest advisors. The Reagan Administration remains weary, but the two are scheduled to meet at a summit in Geneva this November.

     Politics aside, Gorbachev is supportive of the restructuring of the space program, and pushes them to finally select 2 new robotic spacecraft to be launched by 1991. After much deliberation, they choose the unique route, in order to snag a few firsts.

     The first spacecraft, Tserera 1, will be a Ceres orbilander (orbiter/lander spacecraft) that will be the first to visit, orbit, and land on the largest object in the asteroid belt. It is expected to be launched by 1989 or 1990 if all goes well.


     The second spacecraft, Merkuriy 91, will be the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury, the innermost planet. As the name suggests, it is expected to launch in 1991.


     Both spacecraft are expected to launch on Sokol-K, where its new hydrogen upper stage will be very useful.

     To conclude the year, as Reagan and Gorbachev shake hands at the Geneva Summit for the first time, NASA holds a press conference to detail its progress on the Magellan mission architecture. It is, in total, a 3 hour long conference, but a summary is published in the major newspapers the next day.

  • Magellan 1 is now NET 1992
  • Michoud expansion is expected to be completed in 1988
  • Good progress on early architecture pathways, teams are still submitting designs and refining options
  • Funding is above threshold, no delays expected from budgetary constraints
  • Looking into Japanese and European partnerships
  • Long Duration Skylab Endurance Mission (LDSEM) will be conducted next year to study the long term effects of the transit time to Mars.
  •      With this promising update, 1985 is concluded. As everyone looks forward to an incredibly busy 1986.

Компонент 1 станции доставлен на Байконур, график запуска остается в соответствии с ожиданиями.

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A Busy Year

     1986 is set to be one of the most action-packed years for spaceflight in a long, long time. There are 3 major science missions set to launch, a moon mission, and a new space station to begin assembly. On top of that, there are several major announcement coming that will determine many key components of the next decade of spaceflight.

     Kicking off the year, NASA makes an important announcement regarding Skylab. In a press conference on January 5th, the final extension of Skylab is declared. The station will be visited for the last time at the end of 1990. This will be followed up by a controlled de-orbit into the Pacific Ocean early in 1991. At that point, the station will be 17 years old, and the Prosperity OWS is already showing signs of aging. After Skylab's retirement and de-orbit, Low Earth Orbit science will be in a limbo phase, but there are already concept studies in the works as to how to move forward through the rest of the 1990s.

     The first quarter of the year is rather slow in terms of spaceflight, with the Shuttle getting off the ground for 2 flights in January as Enterprise launches on another classified mission from Vandenberg in February. ESA also launches the first 100 day crew to Coelus Lab on February 10th. 


     On the government side, a sense of hope for better relations between the US and Soviet Union is brewing after the development of friendship between Reagan and Gorbachev following the Geneva Summit at the end of last year. There are still many points of contention, including Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative program, derogatively nicknamed "Star Wars" by its detractors. The program has lead to a massive buildup of Soviet missiles and their overall nuclear arsenal, appearing to make the situation even worse. This has been a bit of bad press for Reagan's space policy, which has otherwise flourished in the spotlight.

     But government shmovernment, we know what we're here for. May is set to be one of the most exciting months of spaceflight ever. It will host 2 major science missions launching, and the first launch to assemble a new space station. That's right, after many... many years in development, Space Station Mir is finally set to begin assembly. With its new fresh design, a total of 2 modules will be launched this year. The assembly timeline has completion slated for 1991-1992, which by that point Skylab will be in the Pacific Ocean, leaving Mir as the sole modular space station in orbit.

     The 2 science missions are the high profile Galileo mission to Jupiter, which was delayed from last year as you may remember. But it is finally set to launch aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis with a Centaur G'  boost stage, this will be the first use of the G' (G Prime) variant, optimized for deep space probes. Galileo is set to arrive at Jupiter in late 1988 with this launch trajectory, for an initial 4 year science mission. The second spacecraft has kept a low profile, but is also set to visit Jupiter, but not to stay...

     The Ulysses spacecraft was manufactured in Germany, and is being jointly operated by NASA and ESA. This probe is designed to study the polar regions of the Sun, using Jupiter gravity assist to raise its inclination far above the ecliptic to allow for this to be done in any reasonable manner. The responsibility falls on another Centaur G' boost stage to get it to Jupiter, with an arrival also expected in 1988.

     With these 3 major headliners to carry us through May, we get things underway with the launch of the Mir Tvin A module, the first of 2 (nearly) identical modules that will make up the 1986 configuration of the station. Interestingly, both will be launched on Proton, not Sokol. The hypergolic launch vehicle has stubbornly refused to get itself out of service, and it's still expected to fly until at least 1989. That out of the way, it is a beautiful launch at around 2AM from Baikonur Cosmodrome.



    Tvin B is set to launch later in the year, completing this initial configuration. In terms of the first crewed flights, there will be an outfitting crew slated to arrived in mid-June, which will be followed up by the first Mir Expedition set to launch in July. For the future, the large module set to be lifted by Energiya will likely be launched towards the end of 1987, following that vehicle's expected demonstration flights.

     The two headlining Shuttle missions for May launch on the 15th and 20th, respectively. First up is Ulysses, launching aboard Challenger under mission STS-91D. It is a picture perfect afternoon launch, with Ulysses boosted successfully on its way to Jupiter.

"Booster ignition and liftoff of the Shuttle Challenger and the Ulysses spacecraft!"





     After a flawless launch and deployment, Ulysses is on its way to a flyby date with Jupiter in 1988.

     5 days later, on the 20th, Space Shuttle Atlantis takes flight with the Galileo spacecraft. In fact it's almost exactly 5 days later as the launch times are only different by a few minutes. Regardless, it is a successful mission, despite Main Engine No.1 shutting down about .8 seconds early. The SSME may have grown into a reliable engine, but it often proves that it is still an immensely complex and advanced engine, that has many, many failure points.



     Even with one slightly early shutdown, there is negligible impact to the trajectory and performance of Centaur as it successfully boosts Galileo towards Jupiter. At last, the successor to Perdix is on its way towards the Jovian system, with scientists awaiting arrival in 1988.




     With all of these missions out of the way, there is a bit of a summer lull for June and July, only getting major media attention for one announcement.

     In a joint press conference held in London, the UKSA, and NASA, officially announce their joint "Lunar Exploration Program" which will build several robotic landers and rovers to study the South Pole alongside Orpheus missions. The spacecraft will all be built in Britain, and most likely NASA intends to strike a deal with the Air Force to get them launched aboard their newly selected Titan IV and Delta II rockets from CELV. The announcement is received well in both countries, and is a further strengthening of the two nation's growing cooperation in space, as NASA also begins to forge ties with its Japanese counterpart, NASDA.

     The second half of the year looks to be extremely exciting. The Hubble Space Telescope will finally take flight and begin its studies of the cosmos, the second half of the Mars Collection will launch, and a wintertime mission to the Moon will take place with Orpheus 2.

     All of this, as the Soviets begin to restructure themselves silently, planning for the future, and the long term...

      В последних сообщениях указано, что 1.01 будет завершен этой осенью, график держится.

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Hubbleing, Launching, and Landing

     The second half of 1986 is set to be one of the busiest in NASA's 28 year history. It is packed with 3 major scientific missions, and the whole Orpheus 2 mission which will take up the first 3 weeks of December. It's not just an important time for NASA either, as the Soviets will launch the second module of Mir, and make final preparations for their most important year of spaceflight since the N1 first took astronauts to the lunar surface in 1970. ESA is also preparing to launch the second Coelus Lab at the start of 1987, upgraded and improved from its original predecessor.

     For NASA, this busy schedule kicks off with the much anticipated launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis. The venerable Orbiter, once the newest in the fleet but now one of the most experienced, is rolled out to LC-39A on August 10th. Several rehearsals and countdown tests with the crew (consisting of Story Musgrave, Charles Bolden, Bruce McCandless II, Steven Hawley, and Kathryn Sullivan) are performed before Hubble is loaded into the payload bay on August 16th, 4 days before launch. The crew are interviewed by CBS on August 18th, with NASA's own press conference taking place on the 19th. The crew are on the cover of every major American newspaper the morning of launch, as millions tune in from work and school to watch Atlantis take flight with the largest space telescope ever built.

     "T-12, 11, 10, 9, We have a GO for Main Engine Start."

    "6, 5, 4, 3, We have 3 engines running, 1..."

     "Solid Rocket Booster ignition and liftoff! Liftoff of the Shuttle Atlantis and the Hubble Space Telescope, ushering in a new era of space-based astronomy!"





     Upon reaching orbit, the crew are given a few hours of rest, until they spend the last bit of Flight Day 1 working on experiments brought up with the Shuttle, as well as speaking with President Reagan. Flight Day 2 begins with operations to extend the Canadarm, and deploy Hubble. However, a few minutes in, they quickly run into issues with the Canadarm's primary pivot joint. It appears to be severely jammed, and unable to move further upward. On top of this, the elbow joint appears to have rattled about quite a bit during launch, and has sustained damage, making it inoperable too.

     The Canadarm is (supposedly) necessary to deploying Hubble, and after several hours of troubleshooting to no avail, the crew and teams on the ground are stuck between a rock and a hard place. The Shuttle isn't balanced to return with Hubble, and the telescope wouldn't take too kindly to it either. Therefore, there is only one viable solution. The latching mechanism holding Hubble in the payload bay will be released, and the Shuttle's RCS will be used to move the Orbiter away from Hubble, allowing it to deploy its solar arrays and power up. The Shuttle will station keep during this process, before moving away following full deployment.

     So at the start of Flight Day 3, majorly behind schedule, the latches are released, and the Shuttle's RCS begins a ballet to guide Hubble out of the payload bay.



     With some absolute mastery of the manual controls, and proper assistance from Houston, Hubble is safely deployed and powered up, opening its telescope door for the first time 3 days later, to begin calibration and testing before scientific operations begin at the start of 1987.


     As Hubble floats free in orbit, Atlantis comes to a stop at Edwards on Runway 22, concluding STS-91G.




     With Hubble finally in orbit after many years of development, the autumn rush begins to truly kick in, as the final 2 spacecraft of the Mars Collection, and Orpheus 2, are preparing to take flight. These final two spacecraft of the Mars Collection will complete an incredible program, that is paving the way for Magellan and future exploration of the Red Planet. The spacecraft, Hardrada, an exact copy of Erikson, and MaSORN (Mars Sounding Orbital Radar Network) will be launched aboard Jupiter 423-A, and Jupiter 500-A, respectively. Hardrada is up first, and is launched on a chilly Florida night on October 11th, and is successfully boosted on its way to Mars with the TMI maneuver 2 orbits after launch.

"Liftoff of the Jupiter rocket and the Hardrada mission to Mars!"



     Hardrada will arrive at Mars in July 1987, hoping to land on Mars once again, although preferably this time with a working camera.

     MaSORN follows up this launch on October 26th, 15 days later. This launch is in quite the opposite conditions, it is a humid, warm Florida morning, as Jupiter 500-A rises into the skies on those beautiful nearly transparent hydrogen plumes.

"We have liftoff once more of the Jupiter rocket, as another mission to Mars gets underway!"






     Although spectators left with many mosquito bites, covered in sweat, and maybe a little bit of a sunburn, they were treated to quite the spectacle, and MaSORN is now on its gentle coast towards Mars, slated for an early August arrival at the Red Planet.

     With these 3 major science missions now in space, the focus is solely on wrapping up the year with Orpheus 2. This will be to an area near the South Pole, but not quite in the geographic area of it, still firmly in the sunlit areas of the surface. Orpheus 2 is also scouting this location as a potential place to set up a robotic outpost, which is one of the potential long term goals of the partnership with the UKSA.

     It all kicks off on November 26th, as Space Shuttle Challenger takes flight with ACOV once again, with a veteran crew in tow.



     The 5 crew aboard ACOV are successfully boosted on their way towards the Moon, while Challenger returns 2 days later to land at Kennedy, concluding STS-91H.



The next day, on the 27th, a Jupiter 524-A launches the ALSM and accompanying LTV Mk2.




     ACOV arrives around the Moon on November 29th, with the ALSM arriving the next day on the 30th. Once their orbits are aligned, ACOV sets up for a rendezvous on December 1st. But on the 30th, the EERM is launched aboard a Jupiter 423-A once more, an Orpheus mission simply isn't complete without the lunar chariot for its astronauts.


     Early in the morning hours of the 1st, the ALSM comes into visual contact with ACOV, docking at 6 AM Eastern, as they move into orbital nighttime. The crew are given 2 hours to rest, before they begin transferring their equipment, and themselves, into the ALSM. Commander John Blaha receives the GO for undocking at 10 AM, and at 11:16, the 2 descent engines of the ALSM fire up, beginning the descent to the lunar surface.

     Millions watch live, as the 5 astronauts slowly descend to the surface of the Moon, the atmosphere in Houston is calm, but tense. At 1km above the surface, the lander pitches over, and acquires its landing sight about 200m to its northeast. Dancing across the lunar skies, the ALSM gracefully touches down at 11:33, to applause and cheers from Mission Control.

     3 hours after landing, Blaha steps foot on the lunar surface, as his fellow astronauts follow behind him. As there is a non-American on this flight, that being Swiss astronaut Claude Nicollier, the flag of both the US and Switzerland is planted at the landing site. EVA 1 is then spent as usual, setting up surface instruments and obtaining some early samples of the surrounding area. Once they are back in the ALSM after 4 hours outside, Nicollier is interviewed by a Swiss television network, which is broadcast back in his home country to his 6 and a half million countrymen.

     The next day, the crew embark on the same journey as did the crew of Orpheus 1, their glorious march to the landing site of the EERM, which has safely touched down half a kilometer north of them. They are very pleased when they hear of the relatively short distance they must walk, as opposed to the 2 kilometers for the aforementioned Orpheus 1 crew. Reaching their rover after a brisk 30 minute walk, their 6 wheeled chariot carries them back to the landing site, where they complete their work started on EVA 1 by deploying the last surface instruments that remained stowed away.

     The general Geologic Expedition plan is similar to Orpheus 1, five total trips, each covering roughly 60 kilometers total. Over the span of their 19 day stay, the crew cover a total of 303km in their mighty lunar rover, collecting 500kg of samples, and obtaining valuable data. On top of this, they find a prime location for the previously discussed robotic outpost, located 5 kilometers away from the ALSM's landing site. Data is shared heavily with the UKSA and ESA, the former of which concurs on the prime location discovered.

     But all lunar missions come to an end, and Orpheus 2 is no exception. After a very bountiful 19 days on the surface, the ALSM makes for orbit to rendezvous with ACOV on December 20th. Arriving just 4 hours later, the crew transfer their samples, equipment, and themselves once again into their spacecraft, and depart from their lander to make for Tranquility to refuel. During the summer lull, Tranquility was in fact refueled by an ALRV vehicle launched aboard a Jupiter 424-A, these hypergolic propellants are happy in the lunar environment, which allows Tranquility to be refueled at practically any time.



     Refueled and ready to go, ACOV performs its Trans-Earth Injection maneuver, and begins the 4 day coast back to Earth. The crew will arrive home just in time for Christmas.



     "We have 3 good main chutes."


     "Feet deployed."

    "Good start on all landing motors."

     "Confirmed soft touchdown, we welcome home the crew of Orpheus 2!"


     With a gentle touchdown on a dry California lakebed, Orpheus 2 is concluded, and so is the year 1986. One of the busiest years in spaceflight for the world as a whole. The rise of a new space station, 5 major scientific missions launching, and major steps taken towards the future of exploration once again. 1987 may not be as action packed, but it is still filled with excitement across the board, especially for a country that is now ever-changing, and facing many dilemmas that it must solve if it is to survive the next decade.

Завершена окончательная сборка 1.01, машине присвоено рабочее наименование «Буран», сейчас она проходит испытания в МИК ОК. Мы придерживаемся графика и ждем окончательного отчета от руководства «Энергии».

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A Subtle Reminder

1987 is, well, it's sleepy. Besides Orpheus 3 at the end of the year, this is a pretty standard 12 months for NASA. Although the importance of Orpheus 3 should not be understated, it is the mission that will scout out Amundsen Crater for the exact location of the upcoming lunar base, which we will talk about shortly. The EERM will be essential for this task, and it will require up to 7 expeditions throughout the planned 25-day surface stay. Once the proper location within the massive crater has been found, ideally close to the permanently shadowed regions which contain water ice, it will be mapped out, surveyed, and will be incorporated into all future planning for the lunar base.

     Amundsen was chosen as the location for NASA's lunar base because of its (relatively) shallow sides, and very flat crater floor, it also has permanently shadowed regions which, as previously mentioned, are home to considerable amounts of water ice. These favorable characteristics were identified in the early 70s, and since then it has been the #1 choice for NASA. But let's talk about that lunar base.

     NASA has been "planning" a lunar base since the beginning of Apollo, but a singular design and plan emerged, beginning in 1980. After some delays as Magellan begins to get more and more of the budget for its Martian ambitions, the base is finally a completed design, with funding underneath it and a proper roadmap to its construction laid in front. The base will consist of "common modules" that are linked via pressurized hallways, with each module being outfitted for different purposes. They will be landed by a "sky crane" lander of sorts, the same one that is in the works for the EERM. The base's name has been kept a total secret, for many years at this point. It's a name that has been decided on by both NASA, its Administrator John Young, and the collective Astronaut Corps. But finally, on January 10th, 1987, in a press conference held at Johnson Space Center, the name of America's lunar base is unveiled.

     Lunar Outpost Virgil

     In honor of one of the greatest astronauts who ever lived, Virgil "Gus" Grissom, who tragically lost his life in the Apollo 1 disaster.

     This name pays homage to a man who inspired every astronaut in the Corps today, and a man who John Young himself flew with on the very first crewed Gemini mission over 20 years ago.

     The name is loved by the public, and NASA further announces that the first module is set to launch in 1988, with Orpheus 4. It is in fact now in assembly at Marshall Space Flight Center and is expected to be delivered to the Cape in the spring of next year.

     The Space Shuttle gets off to a pretty normal year starting in February, with Columbia delivering a new crew and supplies to Skylab on STS-101A. That mission is also the second in recent years focused on minor refurbishment of the station in its final years, with now under 4 years left until America's space station is de-orbited into the Pacific Ocean. Then in April, the beginning of many joint US-Japan Shuttle flights, Atlantis launches the Sutāraito (Starlight) spacecraft in April. It has been heavily delayed, originally intended to launch in 1984, but it has finally made its way to space. Sutāraito is designed to make observations of star clusters and observe our Sun as well. NASDA remains heavily interested in robotic spacecraft, and potential exploration missions, and they continue to negotiate with NASA on potential joint spacecraft in the coming years.

      However, in March, just as Enterprise returns from a classified West Coast mission, she is flown back to the Cape just for a little while, to bring all 5 Space Shuttles together as NASA celebrates the 10-year anniversary of STS-1. Reagan gives a speech, as well as John Young, Bob Crippen, and Story Musgrave, who were the crew of that historic test flight. On top of this, the occasion is marked by the opening of the Space Shuttle Pathfinder display at the Smithsonian. The structural test article which performed tests at both Vandenberg and the Cape for the launch sites, and was essential in the development of space-worthy orbiters. It is on display with the prototype Spacelab that was presented to NASA in 1976 by ESA, as well as some components recovered from the S-IC boost stage by a diving expedition. That expedition occurred in 1985, and the Smithsonian scrambled to get them for the display and anniversary celebrations.

     With some early spring festivities out of the way, NASA settles down for a calm year of Shuttle flights. But meanwhile, it is no standard year for the Soviets. 

     The bear has awakened again.


     After 10 years of arduous, and costly development, the Soviets have their replacement for the failed N1. This rocket has quite literally taken the Space Shuttle's STS stack, and given it a characteristically Soviet spin, a rocket whose name simply means "Energy" and a rocket that will propel the aspirations of a reforged Soviet Union for the coming decades. All Hail Energiya.

      But what's scarier, is what it carries on this first flight. In fact, it is so scary, there is an emergency meeting of the top Pentagon and NASA officials alongside President Reagan. A spacecraft carrying a one-megawatt carbon dioxide laser, capable of destroying any US satellite at will. The Soviets call it Polyus, and it has, quite literally, put the US in check.

     They may not be going to the Moon again anytime soon, but the Soviets are still here, and they're still a threat, and they cannot be ignored any longer.

     Reagan will get his Star Wars.

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