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Paul Drye
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The impish Max Faget, chief engineer of the Mercury, busybody extraordinaire on Apollo, and designer of the alternative Shuttle "DC-3".

The manuscript for False Steps is done, just a quick read-through to double-check it and I'm printing it and sending it to the publisher I would like to use. That said there's still two "Chief Designer" entries that I've not stuck up on the blog yet.

Here's one of them, Wernher von Braun. A more problematic figure in the history of spaceflight you will not find.


Two more entries to False Steps for you, both "Chief Designers" entries. Two more to go (one written and one halfway there) and that's the manuscript for the book done. I'll be continuing the blog indefinitely, though, with more entries about projects and items that I decided to not put into the book for one of several reasons. Got to keep my profile up while it works its way to store shelves.

For now, though, enjoy Jim Chamberlin and Sergei Korolev.

It's been a while, but I'm getting False Steps back up and running. For your enjoyment I present the 52nd installment of the alternate Space Race blog:

The Reusable Nuclear Shuttle: To the Moon, Again and Again


Again! It's like these guys were overambitious nutbars or something!

Sonnengewehr: The Sun Gun

Some stories on this have circling the web the last few of days (the epicentre appears to be a Gizmodo article), so I figured I'd best pull my notes on it together and say something myself for False Steps. Much more detailed than the other articles you've seen on it, if you've seen them.

Posts, I mean.

Today we look at Kliper, a fairly serious effort by the Russians and the ESA to come to an agreement to build a manned spaceplane. From 2004-2006 things got hot and heavy between the two, but the crush wore off once Europe realized that Russia was talented but skint.

Kliper: Russia and Europe Try a Spaceplane.

Between 1967 and 1969 NASA engaged in quite a large battle over what spacecraft they should build next to get to low-Earth orbit and they space station they were sure they'd be building in the 1970s. Eventually the idea of a winged orbiter won and for better or worse we got the Space Shuttle.

However the other contender was to build another ballistic capsule on an expendable launcher in the line that had gone from Mercury to Gemini to Apollo. Both of the proposals that had any chance on this side were derived from the previous spacecraft: either adapt the Apollo CSM, or co-opt work that McDonnell Douglas had been doing for the USAF's soon-to-be-aborted Manned Orbiting Laboratory.

That second one was the "Big G", and it's the topic for the latest False Steps. Enjoy!

I don't think the Soviets get enough credit for their space station work. The USSR's economy started stalling and eventually contracting sometime around 1970, yet they remained well ahead of the curve in orbital building until about the year 2000. So I think it's kind of interesting that a project they first started thinking about in 1979 is, as I write this, still on the boards in a much-changed-yet-still-obviously-derivative form for completion around 2031.

Today's False Steps is Mir-2: The Once-and-Future Station.

In 1989 George Bush (the first one) told NASA to come up with a new goal in space. They came back with a Mars mission that was going to take thirty years and $540 billion dollars. After everyone stopped laughing they set about cleaning house and trying to come up with a space agency that understood how Earth worked as well as they did things outside the atmosphere.

From this we got a very interesting Moon base proposal, which unfortunately went nowhere since George Bush got knocked off by Bill Clinton and Bill Clinton (whatever his other strengths) was roughly as interested in manned space travel as he was in having sex with Hilary.

The latest installment of False Steps is FLO: The First Lunar Outpost

The USSR had two manned Moon landing programs from 1965-75. Completely mental when you consider that the US had one, was straining to pay for it, and the Russian economy was considerably smaller, but there you have it.

The N1-L3 has become reasonably well-known since the fall of the Soviet Union, but they had a backup as well, the LK-700, which is still coming to light. Here's what I can dig up.

LK-700: The Soviet Union's Other Road to the Moon

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