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  •  Remember 1st 2 Flew On Weapons, and to Some (5+ / 0-)

    extent the manned program was troubleshooting some initially unreliable vehicles. You may remember Glenn's 1st US orbital flight, 1st on an Atlas, didn't launch till about the 11th try.

    Also of course that program made money for the established military contractors.

    The Cold War ran on till the end of the 80's so for those years the notion of equating space with government made a lot of sense to most people; and we had the heavily compromised Shuttle that had to satisfy the military and cope with under-funding and such.

    So in practical political terms we probably weren't able to even consider opening up the private sector before about 1990, and because the Shuttle was still working NASA with such limits to its funding had to stick with it till the 2000's when another disaster spelled the end for it.

    We wouldn't have had the first space program at all without the Cold War, especially the Moon race. If you watch the cable space race history series of programs, everything was severely bleeding edge technology at that time. So if the Cold War kept our efforts from advancing, well when we live by the sword we die by it too.

    It would be interesting to speculate where space flight and exploitation would've been absent a Cold War. There was the X-15 rocket plane thread, and of course we had Von Braun and his V2 team that fled to the US troops in the last days of the world war before anybody knew of a Cold War. He certainly wanted to go to the Moon.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 05:53:19 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  While there is speculation (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      miss SPED, eyesoars, Paulie200

      that the absence of a Space Race would have allowed a more organic, private-sector evolution similar to air travel, I don't think that would have happened.  An emphasis on the X-15 might have produced faster, higher-altitude commercial aircraft than we have today, but the aviation industry was not capable of organically evolving spaceflight.  

      The leap in energies and hazards going from air to spaceflight (let alone orbit) would have simply been too great, too expensive, with not much economic justification.  And even if they were willing to invest such money on something no one really believed to be practical, they couldn't have afforded to absorb the cost of inevitable disasters.  So with no Space Race, there would simply be no spaceflight other than suborbital sounding rockets and perhaps stratospheric aircraft.  And with that, there would never have been even unmanned missions anywhere in the solar system.

      We needed the Space Race to sink the up-front costs, risks, and inspire a generation of engineers, and then we needed that generation to become disillusioned with the ossified infrastructure of that race in order to make an engineering diaspora into the private sector to pursue scale, efficiency, and affordability.  The second part only took this long because there was a temporary diversion of talent to Silicon Valley.

      Ask me if I'm afraid. I say, "Of course not. I'm a fool, and fools never die."

      by Troubadour on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 06:41:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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