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Race for Exploration: Somewhat Historical

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Race for Exploration: Somewhat Historical - 12/28/2016 12:46:31 PM   


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The idea is to play the campaign in a solitaire mode (sandbox and normal difficulty) to fly all missions (but not all configurations) and explore the Solar System. This is the ''pretty close but not exactly'' historical NASA program.

The ultimate goal is to explore the Solar System. Manned space flights and the Moon race are an important part of the program but not the only thing that matters. Manned flights irrelevant for the Moon race, like extended missions of Gemini and Apollo will be omitted. The Moon program will follow its historical course so Apollo project is the only option. Advanced Gemini may be tempting in a campaign game but not in this one and multiple launches have always been the safest way to fail the mission and kill the crew so they will be used as little as possible.

Since this is the peak of the Cold War and the enemy propaganda will not hesitate to exploit any failures (hybrid war was invented long before 2014) only success will be reported. Failures never happened, were never recorded and are but a conspiracy theory.

The rival in this solitaire campaign is the historical timeline. There can be some deviations for the better or worse in unmanned programs. The Soviets historically never made it to the Moon but they tried so NASA must land on the Moon before Season 2, 1974 when the engines for N-1 were ready for real flights, or so they say. In this campaign I assume that LK-700 was cancelled in the early stages of the project.

And here the story begins...

Wernher von Braun is a well known figure, celebrated by some and ridiculed by some others like Tom Lehrer. What we think about him does not matter. What matters is that he made all those rockets. But there was another man in the agency, and he will be nameless because he was just von Braun's shadow, responsible for planning and logistics. The same planning and logistics that made the Moon landings possible, as well as many other great things.

The Soviets - first of all Sergey Korolev - were serious rivals but we achieved more goals, completed more programs and sent our men and robots to places the Soviets never saw.

At the beginning there was a little agency jokingly called ''pilot training program and postgraduate courses for engineers too busy with girls and rock'n'roll during their studies.'' Then two men arrived, Wernher von Braun and ''his shadow'', the program manager...
(to be continued)

< Message edited by Marechal -- 12/29/2016 1:19:41 AM >
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RE: Race for Exploration: Somewhat Historical - 12/29/2016 1:17:33 AM   


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By the end of the race, around 1972 or so, NASA will have 35 flight controllers, arranged in 2 groups of 15 so that they can launch 2 Saturn V rockets per season, and another group of 5 to launch the last remaining probes like Venus Multiprobe and Viking lander. Launching more than 3 rockets per season is sabotage and will only result in killing astronauts and destroying equipment.

The program is divided in the following stages:
- 1955 to 1958 - a nice little surprise to our good friend Nikita Hruschev in the form of launching Explorer before his Sputnik, as well as space plane and development of Pioneer moon probe to be launched in 1959. By then we should gave a small team of flight controllers capable of launching a satellite and a team of engineers ready to work on the next gift to our Soviet friends; that is...
- 1959 to 1962 - ... launching the first manned flight, although only suborbital. This period will start with the Juno II rocket developed in the first period, then Mercury (Redstone and Atlas rockets) and, at the end, a Thor-Able rocket with another moon orbiter.
- 1963 to 1966 - the Gemini program must not stop the agency from developing Atlas Agena, Atlas Centaur and launching many probes not just to Moon, Venus and Mars, to show our Soviet friends who is THE superpower. These satellites need to be launched at this stage because once we get to Apollo there will be no time or resources to work on them.
- 1967 to 1970 - Apollo project up and running and, if everything goes well, first man on Moon, although the task is very demanding; maybe it will take some more time until 1974;
- 1970 to 1974 - the ashamed Soviets quietly close their N1 program and ban any information on it while the agency finishes the Moon project and lands the last probes on Venus and Mars.
- 1974 to 1978 - everything should be done by this time but maybe there will be some unfinished missions.

(drawing tables with the number of mission controllers needed for each space program and reinstalling the game after messing with some data files, to be continued)

(in reply to Marechal)
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RE: Race for Exploration: Somewhat Historical - 12/29/2016 1:32:18 PM   


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Greetings Marechal,
Looking forward to your continued posts on this Space Exploration strategy.

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RE: Race for Exploration: Somewhat Historical - 1/9/2017 12:25:28 PM   


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Greetings rommel222,

This strategy is best for GSA mode or if you stay somewhat behind the historical dates but that is not interesting. It is possible to race against the real events and beat them but the first 16 seasons are very demanding. You have limited funds and one major failure can bury the whole program.

No plan survives the contact with the reality so I have made some adjustments to the initial plan. The manned flights get a higher priority - running Gemini in parallel with 6 or 7 unmanned programs will either consume or your budget or halt the process for a couple of years. So manned flights first and and other missions will be done ''when we can afford them''.

The first two periods 4955 - 1958 and 1959-1962 are most demanding and need very good planning and some luck. It is possible to launch a satellite early in 1957 and a manned flight in 1960. I have not played Soviets in this mode yet but I believe they can also speed up with the Sputnik as well as the manned mision.

Requirements for the staff.
Mission controllers - we have enough of them so they specialize in one field until they get a rating of 98 or so. Flight directors have ''general knowledge but not so deep''. By the end of the program they will also be close to 90.

Scientists - we have max 30 and there are 5 main themes (rockets, probes, HR rockets, manned spacecraft and EVA suits) so by the end there will be 5 groups of 6 specialising in each field with high ratings. A group of 6 can work with a program and send 2 people to training or work with 2 programs in their field, 3 people with each program.
Hire the best scientists at the beginning and train them in advance. The first years look something like this: Explorer - space plane - lunar flyby - Mercury program - lunar orbiter - while rockets and probes experts work on their program the designers of the manned spacecraft can train for the next project. It will get more tricky from 1962 when things start running in parallel.

Astronauts - leadership training until they reach 90 and then train piloting until 90 etc.

Murphy, a family friend
... siting there and waiting for his chance to wreck the program. Some ideas to reduce his chances:
- When launching something important flight like the first manned flight assign the best scientists to it until it becomes reliable. This is important if you want to beat historical deadlines early in the game, as one major failure is the end of it.
- Avoid unnecessary manned flights. The end of the Gemini program (as well as Apollo) with prolonged flights is a political show and the safest way to get crews killed unless you have too much money and everything is really foolproof. But with this strategy you will always be short of money.

... but altogether trying to beat the historical deadlines of the first manned flight is a very bad idea. There is a ''penalty for playing too fast'', like hardware with maximum reliability suddenly failing (failures are hard coded and replays do not change them), or a lead rocket scientist (100% satisfied just the season before) suddenly quitting due to ''dissatisfaction with the job.'' Our dear Soviet friends must be responsible for that. Next time I talk to the president I will have the FBI director sacked and I want martial law in the county around the base and no mouse can enter the territory without security clearance

Anyway, I guess people back then were doing their best so it may be better to stay with the initial plan, suborbital flight before Q2, 1961 and let the Soviets have the first orbital flight, unless there is a way to start working on Mercury capsule way before the end of 1958. If you start designing Mercury late in 1958 it is already too late because unmanned flights must start latest Q2, 1960 and by that time the (censored) thing is 84% or so. That rating would do for any other mission but not for uncrewed orbital tests.

''Urgency does not mean replacing solutions that work with ones that do not.'' (c) Hani Salaam ''Body of Lies''

Money, a luxury we do not have
There will always be more programs than funds so be careful especially from 1962 when you build Atlas Agena and Titan II but the funds are insufficient for doing every program you could have. Two manned launches per season is a luxury even for 1969 so they will always be exceptional. There is a chance to speed up the beginning of the Apollo project without compromising safety but later only one safe manned launch per season is possible.

...and the story goes...

It was 1955 and Marjorie Grady was 23. At that time science and engineering was dominated by men and a girl engineer was a situation from a science fiction story. But she became one of the nation's best, and was hired by NASA the same month the agency launched its space program. In fact, the recruitment officers did not have much choice - you do not find people with ratings over 60 every day...

(to be continued with a summmary covering 1955 - 1958 and named ''The best years of Marjorie Grady'')

< Message edited by Marechal -- 1/9/2017 3:56:56 PM >

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RE: Race for Exploration: Somewhat Historical - 1/13/2017 5:17:55 PM   


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1955 - 1958 ''The Best Years of Marjorie Grady''

A simple Explorer mission is enough to get the maximum funds for the next period but ''that would be an ordinary battle'' (c) Napoleon before Austerlitz. So the objective is to launch the satellite before the historical Soviet launch of the Sputnik. This is a low to medium risk mission. I have seen 3 glitches per launch but normally this is a safe way to start.

The agency also needs to complete the X-15 space plane and Pioneer 4 Lunar flyby. There will be no time for them later with the space race. We can also gain time because time is a luxury we dont't have.

The work in 1955
starts with Q1 and firing and hiring SET people and putting 3 of them to design the Explorer satellite. Marjorie is one of the recruits with learning potential of 87 and probes rating of 63. Historically 1955 would be a little bit too early for gender equality but if there are girls with rating of 63 why not hire them?
Q2 - hiring a mission controller team.
Q3 - hiring astronauts, up to 7 or less (7 is what you need by the end of 1958) and expanding the SET center to have 14 scientists. The VAB building is done and the agency starts working on Jupiter-C booster. Marjorie gets ge-her first task, the Explorer satellite.
Q4 - the mission controllers start training. They only specialize in one field because we will have enough of them, except for the flight director who needs general knowledge.

- not much happens. Hiring more scientists in Q1 and waiting until they get trained to start the space plane. Everyone working or training.

- our good friend Nikita Hruschev gets a pleasant surprise in the form of Explorer satellite in Q2. (I believe the Soviets can launch their Sputnik by the same date if nothing goes wrong.) As soon as the scientists are done with the first satellite they start working on Pioneer 4 and Juno II.
- since the space plane is not ready yet (and has a 12% setback) the agency launches an extended mission of Explorer that takes the rest of the year.

Finishing the tasks for this period
- last season of Explorer extended mission in Q1.
- X-15 space plane program completed by the end of the year. Since the Soviet space plane has too difficult configuration for the beginning - it rather looks like a Buran space shuttle - this is another small but easy victory.

Starting the Mercury program early in this period is sabotage because you have to postpone something else and the capsule can still go wrong if it wants to, so there is no need and no possibility to hurry because of limited funds.

By the end of the period NASA has completed the Explorer and Space Plane programs aand has a Juno II booster with Pioneer 4 lunar flyby ready for early 1959. Some people start believing we can actually make it to the moon. The agency has 7 astronauts, 5 mission controllers - a team neeced for launching a probe - and 20 scientists, 4 goups of 5 covering all most important fields except for EVA.

The Soviet ''means of mass information'' troll the 11 kg Explorer satellite and Khruschev personally warns his people ''I am not exactly Joseph Stalin but if you do not launch the first manned flight...''

So the first part of the space race can be considered a victory launching the Explorer in Q2, 1957 against the historical Soviet date - Q4, 1957. But this is just the beginning; the Soviets are determined to put man in space in Q2, 1961. The initial objective was to ''launch at least a suborbital manned flight before Q2, 1961 without forgetting all other objectives'' and that will not be easy. From now on, Murphy is not just a close friend, he is a family memeber...
(to be continued with 1959 - 1962 ''Race to the Orbit'')

< Message edited by Marechal -- 1/14/2017 2:48:04 PM >

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RE: Race for Exploration: Somewhat Historical - 1/24/2017 6:28:33 PM   


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It is possible to make historical Apollo landing - if nothing goes wrong - even in the historical deadlines. Since this is the "parade portrait" of space exploration there will be no catastrophic failures in it.

Since the agency cannot do unmanned probes before 1969 and high priority manned missions the plan has been revised again:

- first satellite by 1959
- first lunar flyby by 1960
- earth orbiting satellites by 1967 or so
- all lunar probes before Apollo landing
- exploring the rest of the Solar system to be finished by 1974 because of that Saturn probe.

... and I feel irresistible temptation to go Advanced Gemini. but this is a historical strategy so I am stuck with Apollo.

The ''official'' AAR for the first four years coming out some time at the end of this week. Since the exploration race in this version takes 20 gaming years I will cover it in five AARs with the main events from each period.

I do not know if anyone has played the game in this mode but it gives a pretty close picture of space exploration - as close as you can expect from a game.

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RE: Race for Exploration: Somewhat Historical - 1/29/2017 11:32:49 PM   


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Revised NASA strategy:

Explorer satellite
space plane
Lunar flyby

Mercury program without the extended flight
first Lunar orbiter

Gemini program without extended flights
remaining satellites and lunar probes

Apollo moon race, no extended flights in Earth orbit

remaining space probes

What buries the Advanced Gemini program in this setting? It is too good and too early. First of all, it is a spacecraft without a booster. There is no booster in 1963 that can send it to the Moon. Second, it comes in times of several parallel programs to be financed from insufficent budget because we must complete the remaining satellites and lunar probes before manned landings on the Moon and the regular Gemini program almost drains the budget, so there are no resources for the advanced Gemini. And, third, in times of fast technological progress a solution that would be brilliant in 1963 if there was booster and money has become obsolete by 1967 when Apollo program has started. And, last but not least, call it a political show if you want to but building a lunar spacecraft for 3 men when the rival only has a spacecraft for 2 clearly demonstrates who is the superpower and who is a superpower wannabe.

However, the Soviets will not give up so easily. I am also playing the historical Soviet missions in the same mode to see if they can do better than historically. Soviets have less missions for the early period of space race so Gagarin still is the first man in space; both in suborbital and orbital flights, in 1960; after that he is promoted to capcom for all Soviet manned flights and works in that position for the rest of his career.

< Message edited by Marechal -- 1/29/2017 11:35:17 PM >

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RE: Race for Exploration: Somewhat Historical - 2/1/2017 11:36:57 PM   


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Greetings Marechal,
Enjoying your strategy ideas and will pass on to my students as they start using BASPM for the U.S. space program.
Then they will redo as the Soviets. It will be interesting to see student implementation and their AARs as semester progresses.

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RE: Race for Exploration: Somewhat Historical - 2/9/2017 8:55:13 AM   


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Greetings rommel222,

The Soviet program is easy to start but then turns into a puzzle. There is a choice between two Moon programs and some easy but misleading paths like the circumlunar ''Soyuz light''. As far as I understand from Russian documentaries they rejected this project either because it was unreliable (that is not a problem in game, you can make everything as reliable as you want to) or because it cannot land on the Moon. You will also have to somehow reconcile the lunar Soyuz and the orbital Soyuz, two similar but different spacecraft.

There are three ways to play the Soviets:
- ''Soviet total realism'' - only historical Soviet missions, up to historical Soyuz and probes with Proton K as a booster, no lunar program,
- ''Soviet utopia with N1'' - I play it in GSA mode but with Soviet hardware only. Historical Soviet missions + N1 program.
- ''Soviet utopia with UR700'' - GSA mode, historical Soviet missions + UR700.
Running two parallel Soviet lunar projects is too much even for a utopian world, at least with the funds and staff the player has.

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RE: Race for Exploration: Somewhat Historical - 2/9/2017 8:59:33 PM   


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Soviet strategy v.1.0 "Hero of Socialist Labour"
(the award for chief engineers. Sergei Korolev received it twice. Cosmonauts received the Hero of the Soviet Union award for each space flight and in game a cosmonaut can fly many times. A real cosmonaut with so many flights and Moon landing would be THE national hero.)

Sputnik 2
Korabl-Sputnik (can be launched in 1959)

Vostok, Voskhod, Lunar flyby and impactor

Lunokhod, unmanned Zond and Lunar sample return (to land on the Moon before we send men there)
The Soyuz rocket is designed in this stage - to learn how to build bigger rockets. Orbital flights of "Soyuz Light" can be done if you choose N1.
! Too early for 3 man Soyuz before Moon landing!

Moon landing with N1 or UR700. Pretty good chance beating the historical timeline with N1 if nothing goes wrong, UR700 not tested yet.

3 man Soyuz and Mars/Venus probes.

In game the Soviets with their fewer programs are serious rivals, fully capable of launching a satellite in the first half of 1957, man in space in 1960 and landing on the Moon in 1969 or 1968 with N1 ans 2 man Soyuz. UR700 may be more tricky but the player can scrub all joint launches in Vostok and Voskhod missions and leave docking for 3 man Soyuz to be done after Moon landing.

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RE: Race for Exploration: Somewhat Historical - 3/4/2017 7:50:58 PM   


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The ''official'' AARs for NASA with more technical information
1955-1957 The Best Years of Marjorie Grady a.k.a. The Opening Moves

Q1 Explorer program opened (3 scientists) 2 scientists fired, 4 new hired. Construction of Mission Control Center, Astronaut Center and Vehicle Assembly Building started.
Q2 5 mission controllers hired (Booster, Trajectory, Systems, Crew/Payload, Flight Director)
Q3 Astronaut Group 1 (4 candidates) hired.
Jupiter-C program opened (4 scientists since the rocket is lagging behind) 3 scientists continue work on Explorer.
Upgrade of SET centre started, to hire more scientists;
Q4 Mission Controllers start advanced training.

Q1 7 scientists hired
2 astronauts (Group 2) hired
Q2 no news
Q3 Space Plane X-15 program opened (4 scientists)
1 scientistt added to Explorer group (now 4)
2 scientists in advanced training (rockets and probes)
another upgrade of SET center, to hire more scientists
Q4 no news

Q1 2 scientists hired
Q2 NASA launches Explorer 1, regular mission, 3 flight controllers (boosters, payload, flight director)
A setback for but that does not worry us too much.
Q3 NASA launches Explorer 2, extended mission, 3 flight controllers (boosters, payload, flight director)
Q4 as Explorer 2 mission continues, Pioneer 4 and Juno II programs are opened and the 8 scientists working on Explorer and Jupiter-C reassigned to the new programs. 4 still working on X-15 and 2 on training (satellites and probes): 2 scientists start a human-rated rockets course.

Q1 the last season of Explorer program;
4 scientists hired;
1 astronaut hired (Group 3) and
upgrade of the Mission Control building started.
Q2 Explorer and Jupiter-C programs closed.
The first flight of X-15 (4 mission controllers - booster, trajectory, crew/payload, flight director) (1 astronaut)
Q3 X-15 altitude record (4 mission controllers - booster, trajectory, crew/payload, flight director) (1 astronaut).
The newly hired scientists are sent to human-rated rockets course because we will need to build 2 rockets, 1 for suborbital and 1 for orbital flight)
5 new mission controllers hired for manned flights.
Q4 X-15 speed record (4 mission controllers - booster, trajectory, crew/payload, flight director) (1 astronaut).
Scientists from the X-15 team to crewed spacecraft training course and the space plane program can be closed the following year.
Pioneer 4 is 84.2% ready and Juno II 86.0%. There is a minimum budget surplus of 1453.

This is a plan that has decent chances of success as long as we do not have some form of advanced Murphy like failure of satellite and major setbacks on all programs. Financial problems (sudden health inspections) are not welcome either and we need all staff in place.

< Message edited by Marechal -- 3/4/2017 7:52:36 PM >

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RE: Race for Exploration: Somewhat Historical - 3/18/2017 7:45:31 PM   


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1959-1962 The Magnificent Seven (Race for LEO)

In this period NASA makes faster progress than historically but not much faster, to avoid advanced Murphy. The initial goal was ''to make at least manned orbital flight before Q2, 1961'' and it is done - but not more.

In these years NASA launches the first Lunar flyby, completes the Mercury program (without extended flights), launches the first Lunar orbiter and opens the Gemini program. Even with increased funds of 10 000 per month this is a tough mission and the agency is in constant shortage of funds.

Q1 X-15 program closed; historically USAF continues it for another 10 or so years.
While SET team continues work on Juno II booster and Pioneer lunar flyby, the new Mercury program is opened. 8 scientists sent to HR rocket course because Mercury will need 2 boosters.
Mission control hires 3 more staff and now is ready to launch manned spacecraft.
The 7 astronauts (soon they will be known as The Magnificent Seven) continue leadership training.
The Pioneer lunar flyby with Juno II booster is launched, in this report it is named Pioneer 1. This is the first time a probe mission is controlled by a standard team of 5 (booster, trajectory, systems, payload flight director).
Q2 Pioneer Lunar flyby and Juno II closed. 4 scientists start work on Redstone booster; the rockets and probes teams, 4 in each team, go for advanced training.
The first astronaut starts piloting course.
13 mission controllers continue training.
Q3 SET group opens Atlas program assigning 4 scientists to it; others continue training. 3 astronauts have leadership index above 90 and now have courses in piloting.
Q4 no news
Q1 no news except for 5 astronauts on piloting course
Q2 no news
Q3 no news
Q4 SET opens Pioneer 2 Lunar orbiter and Thor-Able booster program.
Mercury 1 with Redstone booster (uncrewed suborbital) launched with 9 mission controllers - 1 booster, 3 trajectory, 3 systems, 1 operations, 1 flight director.
Q1 Mercury 2 with Redstone booster (crewed suborbital and first man in space racing against the historical deadlines) launched with 10 mission controllers - 1 booster, 3 trajectory, 3 systems, 1 crew, 1 operations, 1 flight director. Another surprise for our dear friend Nikita Khruschev. Since Redstone is oner 96% reliable by now, 4 scientists go to advanced training to prepare for next HR rocket - champagne for the public and news reporters but the engineers and management knows this is just the beginning of the race.
The first astronaut starts EVA training.
Q2 While Soviets launch the first manned orbital flight and deny Mercury 2 as the first manned spaceship because it only made a suborbital flight, NASA proceeds with Mercury 3 and Atlas booster (uncrewed orbital). Redstone booster program closed. Upgrade of the Vehicle Assembly Building also starts to prepare for the next generation of rockets.
Historical event - Moon race officially announced.
Q3 Mercury exceeds 98% reliability and Atlas is over 96%. While 4 scientists continue with Pioneer and 4 with Thor-Able, 4 are sent to HR rocket and 8 to crewed spacecraft course. Upgrade for SET building.
More staff hired, 3 astronauts (Group 4) and 4 mission controllers.
Launch of Mercury 4 with Atlas booster - crewed orbital flight.
Q4 Joint launch of Mercury 5 and Mercury 6 with Atlas boosters. Gemini program opened.
Q1 Mercury and Atlas programs closed.
2 astronauts hired (Group 5) and the mission control team also hires 4 new controllers increasing their number to 21, enabling to launch one manned Moon mission and one probe per season. SET starts work on Gemini EVA suit.
Launch of Pioneer 2 lunar orbiter with Thor-Able booster.
Q2 SET team hires 4 more scientists.
Pioneer and Juno II programs closed. Titan II booster and Agena target vehicle opened.
Q3 Atlas-Agena booster opened while the funds are almost drained with 153 left by the end of the season. But all components for the Gemini program are now under development.
Q4 no news except for someone has upgraded the HQ building to next level which is absolutely useless because there is no possibility to run many parallel programs right now.

First remarkable achievements for NASA together with increasing workload and parallel projects ahead. The Moon race does not mean that any other exploration programs will be cancelled. Discussions over half-done advanced Gemini vs completely fictional 3 man spacecraft are in progress but no booster can lift any of these yet, so the debate remains purely theoretical. Advanced Gemini seems to be very attractive with fewer components. The final decision has not been made and the choice remains open.

(in reply to Marechal)
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[b]Apollo vs Advanced Gemini - the final round[/b] - 3/26/2017 6:06:07 PM   


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Approaching Gemini program and making some final and irreversible decisions...

My current strategy is ''apollocentric'' because it is ''somewhat historical'' and not very much compatible with Advanced Gemini. The EOR version comes too early, in time of almost drained budget; the direct ascent needs Saturn V (although both Saturn V and Gemini direct ascent can be started even before 1967). However, there is one more argument in favor of Apollo - it offers 2 configurations for lunar landing with 2 astronauts and then 2 astronauts and a rover on the Moon and 1 more astronaut in lunar orbit. So a 3 man spacecraft is not just a political show off, it offers the most advanced lunar expeditions that no other program, American or Soviet, has.

However, if you play in the mode ''get to the Moon as fast as you can, opening only the programs you need fir this goal'' Gemini EOR may be the way to go. Direct ascent is an alternative to Apollo and can be played either for curiosity or trying to complete the Moon race and ignore some programs. After all, the direct ascent program is cheaper than Apollo.

Circumlunar programs without lunar landing can be scrubbed as they only drain resources.

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RE: [b]Apollo vs Advanced Gemini - the final round[/b] - 4/2/2017 6:56:11 PM   


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Bullfrogs vs Space Program

It is early 1963 and the easy days of the space agency are over. The following 4 years will be the most demanding - now we have to design the entire Saturn rocket family as well as Titan-IIIC and launch ''those probes''.

By the way did you know that a bullfrog is stronger than a goose? Geese may have saved a city but bullfrogs can easily kill a space program - if wrong decisions are made.

So these are the tasks for the following 8 years -

Project Gemini 8 launches including 4 joint ones to practice docking and EVA

Atlas Centaur (will only be needed in the 1970s but is an important step in the tech tree)
Saturn I
Titan-IIIC (not needed unless you do Gemini EOR but is important for the tech tree)
Saturn IB
Saturn C-3B
Saturn V will not be started before 1967 but we still need the hangar for it ready by the end of 1966 (the first Apollo tests can be done with Saturn IB and Saturn C3-B)

Whatever it is that will take us to the Moon but Apollo becomes more and more obvious as a choice. Gemini program will be done by the end of 1964 and by then Saturn C3-B is the next logical step. Scrubbing the large Saturns when the recon satellites tell us that our dear Soviet friends are building a huge launch pad is not just a wrong decision; it is close to treason. If only the policy makers knew the Soviets will not get their ''tsar rocket'' working...

(On the other side of the globe Soviets face a similar problem. The Proton rocket would be all they need to make a lunar landing if only they had the Gemini EOR technology for spacecraft but they don't...)

Anyway, back to our probes. Although Orbiting Frog Otolith is a space probe it was only launched in 1970 so it can wait. It has a low reliability rate and takes forver to build keeping a team of 4 experts busy. For this period we must build
Pioneer 6 Sun Orbiter
Ranger 3 lunar impactor
Biosatellite (regular and extended)
Pegasus satellite
Lunar orbiter

Although it is hard to imagine scrubbing Apollo in 1966 to go for Gemini EOR, joint launches need smaller boosters and are an interesting concept - and are not that risky if you have good mission control and reliable hardware. In 1960s it is a future technology that came too early, like those Leonardo's tanks.

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RE: Race for Exploration - somewhat historical - 4/16/2017 11:10:11 PM   


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1963-1964 The Decisive Years

Gemini program is about to start but the decision has already been made to go to the Moon in a 3 man spacecraft - that is, Apollo.The mission control will increase to 35 (15+15+5 to handle multple launches) and other teams will also hire some more staff.

Q1 SET team hires 4 engineers and opens Pioneer Sun Orbiter program.
Upgrade of Mission Control Center.
Astronaut Corps hires 2 astronauts (Group 6).
Launch of Gemini uncrewed suborbital mission (9 mission controllers).
Launch of Gemini uncrewed orbital mission (9 mission controllers).
SET team opens Atlas - Centaur booster program.
Historically this booster was in use for veeery long time (until 2004) and I will also keep it until the end of the game, just to have a ''feeling of agency'' where many things happen.
Mission Control hires 5 controllers.
Launch of Gemini suborbital mission (11 mission controllers).
Launch of Pioneer Sun Orbiter (5 mission controllers).
SET team opens Ranger Lunar Impactor program.
Launch of Gemini orbital mission (11 mission controllers).

SET team hires 2 engineers and opens Saturn I boster and Saturn IB booster - the first component needed for a lunar program.
Mission Control hires 5 controllers.
Launch of 2 Gemini spacecraft - orbital rendezvous with a crewed vehicle.
SET team opens Titan-IIIC booster. A necessary component for Gemini EOR mission and a budget drainer in ''Apollocentric'' configuration.
Launch of Gemini spacecraft and Agena target vehicle with Atlas-Agena booster. Docking practice. (11 mission controllers)
Launch of Ranger Lunar Impactor with Atlas-Agena booster (5 mission controllers).
SET team closes Ranger Lunar Impactor and opens Pegasus Satellite.
Launch of 2 Gemini spacecraft - orbital rendezvous in EVA (11 mission controllers). Budget down to 7767,5.
Launch of Gemini and Agena target vehicle - EVA and docking.

The most important parts of Gemini program have been completed and this would be the moment for Advanced Gemini - but the new Apollo project makes Advanced Gemini obsolete. There are funds in 1965 budget only for Apollo and the end of the decade is far enough to go for Apollo program with its more advanced hardware and lunar landings. Since both programs cannot be run at the same time due to insufficient resources and funds, and postponing the Apollo program or scrubbing its lunar part is not an option because of the political/tchnological/arms race, this is the end of Advanced Gemini.

On the other side of the world, Nikita Khruschev is removed from office and that ends the Soviet UR-700 lunar program in a very early stage.

< Message edited by Marechal -- 4/16/2017 11:14:28 PM >

(in reply to Marechal)
Post #: 15
RE: Race for Exploration - even more historical - 6/10/2017 3:17:58 AM   


Posts: 118
Joined: 10/3/2013
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... and finally it is early 1976 and time to write memories.


Period 1, 1955-1958 - by 1958 the agency has 20 scientists, 5 teams of 4, each team specializing in one field - rockets, probes, human-rated rockets, spacecraft and EVA suits. 10 mission controllers, 5 able to control a satellite and 5 more to be added to the team so it can handle a Mercury mission. 7 astronauts a.k.a. The Magnificent Seven - in fact they will do the job.

Period 2, 1959-1962 - by the end 24 scientists (human rated rockets team will never be larger than 4, other teams get reinforced by 1), 12 astronauts and 21 mission controller - a full Apollo team and 6 more to launch a satellite if needed.

Period 3, 1963-1966 - by the end of the period there are 30 scientists - 5 working on rockets, 5 probes, 4 human-rated rockets, 8 spacecraft and 8 for EVA suits. The number of astronauts reaches 20 although the Apollo mission will have to rely on the Magnificent Seven, others have just learned to fly a mission without EVA and there are some who have just been hired. Control now has 2 teams of 15 and 1 of 5 being able to handle 2 Apollo launches and a satellite per season - and one season they actually make 3 launches.

Period 4, 1967-1970 - as Apollo is ready for its mission scientists gradually move to other tasks. The 8 rocket scientists still build rockets but everyone else who has not been trained for building space probes yet takes a course. After the moon race and double Apollo launches - and almost killing the budget - mission controllers are rearranged, 1 team of 15 and 4 teams of 5, to be able to launch 1 manned flight (after the moon race the agency continues with extended duration flights in Earth orbit) and 4 probes per season. They never actually launch 5 rockets at once but at the end of 1970 they do launch 4.

Period 5, 1971-1978 - no changes in the organisation; everyone has lots of training to keep people busy until Pioneer 11 reaches Saturn in 1976.


The rockets were built starting with the less complex ones and the probes and spacecraft in their historical sequence.

Explorer I - Jupiter C
Pioneer 4 - Juno II
Opened Mercury project

Redstone and Atlas boosters
Pioneer 2 - Thor-Able
Ranger 3 - Atlas-Agena

Gemini - Titan II (and resisting the temptation to do transtage)
Pioneer Sun Probe
Pegasus Satellite - Saturn I
Saturn IB
Titan IIIC
Opened Saturn C3-B
Opened Apollo

Saturn V
Lunar Orbiter

Orbiting Frog Otolith
Mariner 5, 6, 9 and 10
Pioneer 10, 11, Venus Orbiter and Multiprobe
Viking 1 - Titan III-E Centaur

In the 1st period I only flew regular Explorer mission and both Mercury and Gemini programs only had ''regular duration'' flights. All other missions were flown, even extended Otolith that was scrubbed in reality but after 1970 you can afford everything you need.

A more detailed list of missions will follow this weekend.

(in reply to Marechal)
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