NASA had Apollo-era plans to send humans to Mars and Venus


I’m wondering if they knew about bone and muscle loss due to long-term weightlessness, and if they had any plans to minimize the loss.

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Apollo era hardware is much less antiquated than it should be. Yes, it’s been 50 years since it was first designed, but NASA has only had one new spaceship in that time, the Space Shuttle, designed for LEO and now retired. The ships the Soviets use to resupply the ISS are essentially even older. Only Space-X is doing any new designs, and that’s only recently. From what I’ve read, almost everyone seriously looking into going to the Moon or beyond is digging up Apollo hardware. So while it may be 50 years old, it’s not that antiquated. We haven’t put much effort into surpassing it.

Those heady days when the U.S. actually had the capability of launching people into space.

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It ain’t rocket science. No, hang on . . . I’m sorry, it is rocket science. Go on.

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In terms of ‘actual successor hardware existing’ Apollo era hardware isn’t antiquated, since we largely didn’t bother to ever build any successor hardware; but at a component and manufacturing level, there have been some significant changes.

Take this story as an example: the concept could hardly be more ‘everything Apollo is new again’; but the sheer number of changes in design, fabrication technique, and other details, even when handed the goal of ‘Yeah, dust off a vintage F-1 engine and build a new one.’ is pretty significant.

NOTE: These would have been “flyby” missions. No orbiting the planet, no landing. So your astronauts would spend months in space for the chance to watch the target planet zoom by the ship’s portholes over the course of a few hours.

Yes, they could launch probes. But so could an unstaffed mission, at a fraction of the cost.


If you ever want to get really depressed, just dwell on how much money we could have invested in science, technology, the arts, education, and so on, if all of the governments of the world, especially the United States and the USSR, had invested in those areas instead of defense.

Sometimes I think we’ve done pretty well, considering how little we really invest in ourselves as a species. But then I think that if we’ve done all this with such a paltry sum, just imagine what we could have had. Just think how many more things from Star Trek we could have right now.


I notice there’s no mention of radiation exposure from over a year in deep space.

This was the good old days. The astronauts would just be supplied with a cigarette ration and wet bar, to keep their vitality in good order.

I have to disagree here. A major part of the reason we DID invest what we did was because of the Cold War. That was the core reason we sent a guy to the moon – to stick it to Ivan. There is far more cross over between CW peace and war technologies, I think than people realize. ICBMs rest on similar technology bases as rockets that can get us in space…

Think about that - at the same time we were heavily investing in nukes, we were heavily investing in the academic infrastructure that would support our Cold War efforts – computing and engineering, area studies in the humanities, foreign language programs, things like the Fulbright programs— all of these were started BECAUSE of the cold war. Why do you think liberals were so heavily invested in the Cold War-- because it gave them the ability to piggy back an amazing array of social programs (think of the connection between the–admittedly failed–great society and Vietnam for example). And then look at how government has pulled out of such things since the end of the Cold War.

Now I am not arguing that the Cold War was a “good thing”, because I’m not John Lewis Gaddis, but I’m arguing that the line between military and domestic spending is not so clear cut.

It is, unfortunately, the case that an urgent need to keep the away tribe in their place (filthy savages, can’t be trusted) is among the best ways of shaking the purse strings loose; but it is a painfully inefficient one. You end up signing off on a lot of either pure ‘guns’ projects or ‘butter’ projects heavily influenced by the needs of military clients, in order to sneak the plan you actually want in there.

As a matter of political realism, there may not be a better way (at least with the US electorate as it is); but it isn’t pretty to watch such an inefficient system of allocation at work.

On the plus side, the Cold War at least inspired a lot of ‘nationalism through building impressive stuff’ projects, which beat the hell out of The War on Terror’s ‘nationalism through paranoia’ focus…

Obviously I’ve failed to make my point.

Agreed. I don’t think it’s good or wise (I’m just reviewing a book about the costs of such political realism), but it is the reality. I keep reading books on the CW that are all, “well, bad shit happened, but it was necessary…” But then I think about this line from a Mike Davis book, Late Victorian Holocausts-- where he makes the point that while the Victorian era looked like a Golden Age to Europeans and Americans, for much of the global south it looked like, in his words, a “funeral pyre”… I think we can make a similar assessment about the Cold War.

How so? My point was that while the Cold War was happening, we did invest that money is some book learnin’ and social infrastrucure in this country, not just nukes and proxy wars. We had the most wide spread prosperity in history, in large part due to the Cold War. That money train ended with the Cold War… we’ve all been thrown to the wolves now. I think you made a good point, I just was trying to show a bit more nuance to your historical analysis. :wink:

Pick up the book “We Seven” from Time-Life. It was published in the Apollo era and was written (or ghost written) by the Mercury seven. It’s completely obvious that they totally expect to continue right on out to Mars once they’re done with the moon. Gordo Cooper even talks about he’s got the best shot of going to Mars because he’s the youngest of the group.

Really sad.

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