AN: Due to several requests after posting Rapture, I hereby post the 'On the Shoulders of Giants' timeline. And yes, I am aware that some people dislike timelines. ------------------------------------ August 4, 1969 In the wake of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing and the national high, closer examination of images from Mars, send back to Earth by Mariner 6, reveal something unusual. On the image taken on the closest approach, west of the largest crater on the image, later known as Flaugergues Crater, a dark blot can be seen. But since the resolution of the TV image is not the best, there can only be speculation about this about seven times five kilometer large spot. But does not present much of a problem, as Mariner 8 and 9 are scheduled to launch in May 1971. September 1969 While the Mariner 6 images are in circulation, some people begin to openly speculate about the existence of an alien city on Mars. This creates huge waves, especially considering the Moon Landing. A direct result of this media echo to a small blot on a low resolution image is that a group of scientists found the Mars Society, trying to promote manned missions to Mars to uncover its secrets. The postulated ‘martian city’ becomes known as ‘Bradbury City’, after Ray Bradbury speculated about it in a New York Times interview. The public discussion about martian cities and manned missions to Mars causes President Richard Nixon to need more time to make a decision about the future of Mars. However, he does ask NASA to land a probe on Mars, should there turn out to be an alien city. October 1969 NASA begins to renew work on the Voyager program, designed to bring an orbiter/lander combination to Mars and do a soft landing. October 1970 Representatives from NASA and the USSR Academy of Sciences met in Moscow to discuss the possibility of a joint piloted space mission, the Apollo-Sojuz Test Program. May 1971 Mariner 9 launches, after Mariner 8 was destroyed earlier in May. The Soviet Union launched the Mars 2 and 3 probes to Mars. October 1971 Just a month before Mariner 9 enters Martian orbit, a NASA task force, including Werner von Braun, begin to story a manned mission to Mars, partially based on the 1969 von Braun Mars mission. November 1971 Mariner 9 and Mars 2 enter Martian orbit. However a massive sandstorm covers nearly the entire planet, making the mapping mission harder. The Soviet probe launches a lander, but it is lost due to a reentry problem, becoming the first man made object to impacting on Mars. December 1971 Mars 3 enters Martian orbit and launches a lander. After a soft touchdown on Mars the lander begins to transmit, but the transmission stops after 15 seconds. JPL begins to work on the Voyager 1 and 2 probes. January 1972 Mariner 9 begins to take images of the Martian surface. February 2, 1972 Mariner 9 returns an image everyone at JPL has waited for is transmitted back to Earth, displaying an area west of Flaugergues Crater. Some NRO specialists on orbital imaging are called in to take a closer look at the structures that previously were only a small dark dot on the Mariner 6 image. Due to a stroke of luck, the approach of the Flaugergues Crater area had been near the perapsis and the resolution of the image is about 200 meters per pixel. The dark blot turns out to be extremely regular in its structure, appearing to be too regular to be natural. February 1972 Many news papers title ‘Martian City discovered’ or ‘Bradbury City real’ as the images are released. While there are talks that those images are a hoax, the Soviet Union squashes most of those voices, when they announce that they will send a man to Mars. The Soviets pull out of the proposed Apollo-Soyuz Test Program. NASA decides that it is better if the Voyager 1 and 2 landers are equipped with RTG units for power generation to get a longer mission time. Meanwhile NASA put together a the Mars Exploration Group to begin working on designs for manned and unmanned Mars missions. March 1972 President Nixon, who is fighting to be reelected as President of the United States, tries to get the public eye away from the Vietnam war and talks about withdrawal and openly talks about increasing the NASA budget to send the first men to Mars. May 1972 Congress and Senate follow through with Nixons promise, increasing the NASA budget to 6 billion US dollar for the next three years. At the same time Department of Energy and NASA are given permission for an operational test of the NERVA engine system in space. The reason is simple and many politicians see it. If ‘Bradbury City’ really turns out to be an alien city, they cannot allow the Soviets to take control over it and any alien technologies in it by landing there first. July 1972 With the decision to go to Mars, NASA realizes that they can’t get there with only the Space Shuttle, which is still in Phase B since there has previously not been any decision on whether to realize the Space Shuttle or to focus on Space Stations. As such the decision is made to follow up on the Boeing Grumman Space shuttle design, the H33, in combination with a reusable version of the Boeing S-IC rocket stage, called B-18, which can land under its own power. At the same time, Boeing announces that they will ensure full compatibility of the B-18 with the S-IC, so that it can be used with the North American build S-II stage. Apollo 17 is canceled as NASA needs a Saturn V for the delivery for the Voyager 1 and 2 probes to Mars. The Skylab mission is extended and modified to be used to develop the long term habitation technologies needed to fly to Mars. October 1972 The DoE and NASA begin to work on a 50 percent scale version of the NERVA engine that is projected to be used on a manned Mars mission to fit in an Saturn IB as payload for late 1973. At the same time an engineer comes up with the idea of a ‘bimodal NERVA’ engine, using the already existing NERVA engine and combining it with a Brayton cycle system to create power with the nuclear reactor the NERVA is in the end. Another idea that appears is an oxygen ‘afterburner’ to increase the thrust of the NERVA engine. November 1972 Richard Nixon is re-elected as President of the United States. December 1972 The DoE publishes a study on the bimodal NERVA engine with a modified Primary Propulsion Module (PPE) from a 1968 study. It incorporates a small liquid oxygen tank and boasts an increased and more important variable thrust with the liquid oxygen ‘afterburner’. NASA decides to further develop the PPE for testing in the late 70s. February 1973 Integration of a Saturn V without upper stage carrying Skylab begins at the same time as the integration of a conventional Saturn V carrying Voyager 1 and 2. May 15, 1973 Skylab launches. The insufficiently fastened external solar/meteoroid shield is ripped off the station during ascent, destroying one of the stations two solar panels in the process. May 25, 1973 A Saturn IB with the Skylab 2 mission launches to Skylab with the aim of repairing the station and making it livable. May 26 to June 5, 1973 The crew of Skylab 2 tries to repair the station, but even repeated EVAs of Paul Weitz fail to be successful in releasing the stations single remaining solar sail. Even as they manage to deploy a parasol to cool down the station’s interior, without energy its impossible to do any work on the station. The mission is aborted on June 6 and the crew returns to Earth. July 21 to 25, 1973 NASA and the Soviets launch four probes towards Mars, each equipped with a single lander. Even if launched between the two Soviet probes Mars 4 and Mars 5, Voyager 1 and 2 will arrive at Mars earlier as their Launch Vehicle, the Saturn V, allows a higher energetic trajectory towards Mars. August 1973 The Skylab 3 mission launches in early August on a mission to try and salvage Skylab. Three EVAs are made by Owen Garriott and Jack Lousma to try and once again get the solar sail to unfold. As it remains stuck, they try something else, connecting the energy systems of the solar telescope with the station through the small airlock where the parasol is unfolded. While it does provide the station with energy, it is too little to be of any use. The Skylab 3 mission is aborted in late August. Following the failure of this mission to repair Skylab, the station is abandoned as Skylab 4 and Skylab 5 are canceled. NASA decides to send up Skylab B, modified using the knowledge gained from the disaster that was Skylab. It will also include an extension of the living space by opening the common bulkhead between the former S-IV stages hydrogen and oxygen tanks. October 1973 Skylab B is renamed to Spacelab by NASA. Later that month McDonnell Douglas is asked to draw up plans for a combined dry/wet workshop, using the original Skylab module in combination with the Douglas build Saturn S-II stage to increase living and working space on board the next space station. Another decision is t o modify the Apollo Service Module to take on multiple mission modules and reduce its delta v as a result. But as it does not need to return to the Moon, that is not seen as a problem and allows consumables to be transported to a space station as a stopgap measure before the Space Shuttle can launch towards a space station. February 2, 1974 Within four hours Voyager 1 and 2 reach Mars and enter an orbit. Subsequent correction burns bring both probes into a 1800 x 2560 km orbit around the planet. February 4, 1974 Voyager 1 is the first to reach a position where the Voyager 1 lander can land near the presumed alien city. The reentry happens without a problem and Voyager 1 is the second probe to land on Mars successfully. And the first to continue operating for more than a few seconds. It begins to transmit images nearly immediately. While the first images do not show much, safe for technical data to calibrate them, the next images are what confirms the existence of alien life. Or rather the remains thereof. It appears that Voyager 1 managed to softly land within a large park like area, surrounded by the ruins of what appear to be large buildings. February 5, 1974 Voyager 2 reaches a position where the lander can be released to land in the alien city. The lander manages to do a soft landing, however where it lands is not fully stable. As the first images and data returns to Earth, the probe is tilted by nearly 60 degrees and while one camera can see a good part of the surroundings, the second camera can only see the inside of what appears to be a large room. Apparently the Voyager 2 lander landed on top of a larger building that partially collapsed when the probe landed on it. The first images from the room, confirm that, yes, there is indeed an alien city on Mars. An alien city that is largely destroyed due to unknown means. February 6, 1974 The JPL releases the first images of the alien city to the public. While there are still people who call it a hoax, most people fall into two camps. Those fearing what the alien city represents and those that see the alien city as a chance for the future. February 10, 1974 Mars 4 reaches Mars, but due to a flaw in a computer chip and its degeneration during the voyage to Mars, it fails to enter orbit. It does however return images and data on a Martian inonosphere. February 12, 1974 Mars 5 reaches Mars and successfully enters orbit. February 13, 1974 Mars 5 releases a lander identical to the Mars 2 and 3 landers to land in the alien city. By chance the Voyager 2 lander is able to catch the final descent of the Mars 5 lander and the subsequent failure of its parachute. The Mars 5 landers engines are not powerful enough to provide a soft landing and is destroyed on impact into one of the larger alien structures. February 1974 With the discovery that ‘Bradbury City’ is real, the alien city and images from Voyager 1 and 2 are all over the news, all but drowning out most other things, especially anything related to Watergate. However it does nothing to return trust into Nixon. Meanwhile most religions try to get the alien city and the proof about alien life to fit into their world view and presenting more questions. Questions people want to have answered. Others are fears. Not necessarily about the aliens, their city has been destroyed for a long time and they have not yet returned to reclaim it, not does it look like they would return to it. Rather both the United States and the Soviet Union fear that the other lands on Mars first to claim the city. And with it potentially very advanced technologies that could be turned into weapons and sweep away the Status Quo. With this information, Senate and Congress increase the NASA budget to 10 billion Dollar, while NASA prepares another set of Voyager probes, this time with more equipment to explore the alien city. In the Soviet Union the N-1 rocket finally launches successfully, delivering a large reconnaissance satellite into orbit. March 1974 The Soviet Union and a number of client nations leave the Outer Space Treaty, in theory giving them the ability to claim extraterrestrial real estate. It is obvious that they intend to claim Mars and the alien city once they manage to land on the red planet. As a result and in delicious irony, as Kissinger will later call it, the United States accuse the Soviet Union of Imperialism. Documents released in the early 21st century makes this a double irony, as the United States have thought about doing the same. Now however the United States decide to take a different approach. Secret talks with other NATO countries are undertaken, planning how to best approach the problem of a possible Soviet Landing on Mars, as any weapon technology discovered on Mars could in fact end the Status Quo in the favor of the nation possessing it. Due to delays in the final integration progress, the Daedalus stage, intended to test a 50 percent scale model of the NERVA engine in space is delivered to Cape Kennedy where it is prepared for final integration into a Saturn IB. April 1974 The European Launch Development Organization and the European Space Research Organization are merged together by their member nations, forming ESA with nine founder nations, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The merger was mostly done to combine the efforts of the NATO member nations, however Switzerland decides to get along for the ride, even if only by providing funds. The Guiana Space Centre becomes the primary space port for ESA after France offers its use. May 1974 The United States officially invite other nations to take part in the effort to bring men to Mars and to deny the sole access to the alien city to the Soviets. However NASA expects that any nation wanting into to be able to pull their own weight. As one of the first official acts the new ESA director asks the US about taking part in the Mars mission. June 1974 The Saturn IB with the Daedalus stage is brought to Launch Pad 39B, where it is launched into a 240 x 500 km orbit at 28 degrees inclination. The initial launch is flawless and all instruments of the stage transmit telemetry and receive commands. No radiation anomalies are reported during launch or near the Launch Pad. Four days after the launch the control drums of the engines nuclear reactor are turned so that a nuclear reaction can start. Several minutes later the pumps are started to begin an engine burn. As it is intended to test multiple starts of the nuclear engine, the burn should have only lasted ten seconds, however the increased radiation of the active engine has resulted in problems in the engine controls. The pumps do not stop and the control drums can’t be turned back to ‘turn off’ the engine. As a result the burn lasts for three minutes, with just enough delta-v to make the Daedalus stage enter a heliocentric orbit. And since the control drums are not reacting the reactor melts two days after the initial burn. NASA notes that they are lucky that the Daedalus is on a heliocentric trajectory at that moment and unlikely to endanger anyone on Earth for the near to medium future. NASA and the DoE begin construction of a second Daedalus stage for testing. August 1974 Large scale construction begins at the Guiana Space Centre and several dozen kilometers south of the town of Kourou. The construction south of Kourou happens to be a French 3000 MW nuclear power plant to ensure the independence of French Guiana from coal power and coal imports from the United States. In Baikonur, the Soviet Union begins to build two more N-1 rockets. September 1974 NASA launches Spacelab. Like the Skylab launch, Spacelab has its own set of problems as the Saturn V begins to go into pogo oscillations sixty seconds into the flight. Turning off the middle engine of the Saturn V however solves the problem. Other problems are of smaller nature and the launch if Spacelab is considered to be a success. The Spacelab 2 mission launches three days later on a Saturn IB and successfully docks with Spacelab. As it turns out the pogo oscillations caused some instruments to be ripped from their mountings and floated inside the station, so the first few days were needed to clean up the station. After that Spacelab 2 resumes without a problem and the crew returns after 48 days in orbit. November 1974 ESA surprises NASA and the United States with the request to purchase three B-18 reusable S-IC stages and two H33 space shuttles. As a direct offer NASA is informed that ESA is already building a Vertical Assembly Building capable of building a Saturn V and a future Saturn V/R, based on the B-18, as well as three launch complexes for launching both the Space Shuttle and the Saturn V/R. ESA will also develop a native heavy launch second stage for the B-18 to be able to launch larger payloads into space. December 1974 The Soviet Union launches Salyut 4 on a single N-1 rocket. Salyut 4 is an enlarged version of previous Salyut stations obviously designed for long term habitation and to test deep space modularity as it is equipped with multiple docking ports and other systems. February 1975 After several month of negotiations between NASA, the US DoD, NATO and ESA, ESA is granted permission to buy three Boeing B-18 reusable S-IC stages and two Boeing-Grumman H33 Space Shuttles, as well as information needed to develop their own heavy launch second stage for the B-18. In return NASA and the US DoD get full rights to launch missiles from the Guiana Space Centre. ESA is also expected to become a full partner in the Mars mission and provide more than just scientific instruments and astronauts. March 1975 NASA and ESA begins to design a Mars mission, tentatively named Ares. However it is expected that the name of the mission changes. Wernher von Braun is part of the design team. The Soviets being to add a second module to Salyut 4 and begin to keep it permanently manned. April 1975 NASA begins final integration of two Saturn V, intended to launch not two, but four Voyager probes to Mars. Two of the probes include a tethered balloon with a camera to provide aerial images of the ruins of ‘Bradbury City’. May 1975 Closer examination of images of the Voyager 2 lander probe from inside the building it landed on, reveal what appears to be a skeleton. This sparks speculation about what happened in the city and how the skeleton could even exist on Mars. It would only exist if there would be biologic life on Mars, aside from the aliens. However no image from either probe lander contains anything that would indicate life as we know it. And no probe contains instruments to search for life, nor do the Voyager 3 to 6 probes. The skeleton itself is only partially visible on the images, but what it shows does not give any information about it, not the creature it does belong to. Only that it is a skeleton. August 1975 For the first time NASA launches two Saturn V rockets within one week, sending four Voyager probes towards Mars in late August. September 1975 The Soviet Union launches an N-1 rocket with two large probes to Mars in early September. October 1975 McDonnell Douglas unveils the Space Base module, a wet/dry workshop based on combining the dry workshop of Skylab/Spacelab with a wet workshop of a Saturn S-II stage. It includes a multi adaptor on top, able to dock with the existing Spacelab, multiple more Space Base modules, Apollo CSMs or a shuttle or even two. Two large solar sails will provide energy for the station and additional micrometeorite and sun shields were added. It will be ready to be launched at the end of the following year. November 1975 Norway, Portugal and Luxembourg enter ESA as full partners. Incidentally they are three NATO members that were not yet members of ESA. Around the same time NASA and ESA present the first plans for the Athena mission, named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, warfare, battle strategy, heroic endeavour, handicrafts and reason, all characteristics for the astronauts that will be selected for the mission. It is different to most previous Mars mission proposals. For one is depends on the combined work of ESA and NASA, and includes the establishment of a permanently manned Mars base to provide the chance for in situ research on the alien city. Three nuclear powered ships are planned to be used on the Athena mission. Two are going to be manned and the last unmanned. The unmanned ship will carry a module for the Mars base with it, protected by a biconic reentry shield and equipped with parachutes and rocket engines for a soft landing. However current technology only allow a remote landing after the crewed landers have touched down. Both manned ships will carry a crew module, one built by NASA and one by ESA, and a single lander with return-to-orbit stage, both built by NASA. Aside from the payload all three ships will be similar. Four bimodal LANTR engines connected to a central main tank, build by NASA, and up to four jettisonable external hydrogen tanks, build and delivered into orbit by ESA. To test the entire rocket stage, the unmanned ship will fly to Mars before the actually planned mission, delivering a single Mars Base module into orbit, before returning to Earth to be refueled and send to Mars again with the manned ships and twelve astronauts, six NASA and six ESA astronauts. After reaching Mars, the second Mars Base module will undock from the unmanned ship which will return to Earth immediately, while both landers land near the alien city to prepare the landing of the Base modules, which are landed from the ground via remote control. Both Base modules will be connected, providing shelter and lab space for six people over two years. It will still need to be determined how to feed the research crew and how to provide more space, but NASA and ESA are sure to be able to come up with a solution. After fifty days on the surface, six astronauts will return to one of the waiting ships and to Earth where the ship will be refueled and together with the unmanned ship fly to Mars again. The ship remaining in Mars orbit will provide the research crew with a way to return home should the need arise, as it will be fueled enough to make a return on most high energy orbits, if needed even with a Venus gravity assist. Back on Mars the new crew will replace the old crew, who will return to Earth in the second ship which was left in Mars orbit, and add another Base module. It is expected that the Athena mission can be launched by 1983, while the unmanned ship will provide the needed test for all critical mission systems for the way to Mars, while the crew modules can be tested in Earth orbit. Another additional plan includes the possibility of using one of the martian moons as docking station for the ships. January 1976 A Soviet N-1 rocket lifts a large scale venus probe, Venera 11, into Earth orbit. Venera 11 is equipped with a high powered radar system to map the surface and three landers. To get the probe on a trajectory towards Venus it is equipped with a prototype RD-0410 NTP engine. After two experimental burns, the probe takes a longer burn that propels it into a high energy trajectory towards Venus. The successful launch and burn of Venera 11 are seen as a major step towards a Soviet manned Mars mission. At the same time NASA/ESA confirms that they will purchase the Athena mission to Mars. February 1976 For the first time in years, NASA can build new Saturn V rockets again and use them on future missions. It happens earlier than expected and there are more than a few people in NASA who think that it was wrong to cancel Apollo 17. Around the same time, NASA presents the Saturn IC, using a new first stage of a more conventional design that is equipped with a single F-1A engine. Crysler, the manufacturer of the S-IB-2 stage think that they will be able to build a S-IB-3 stage with a F-1A derived pressure fed engine to simplify the design and make recovering of the S-IB-3 stage possible. North American Aviation, working together with BAC, also present a study of an Apollo derived reusable 5 man spacecraft. The reason for this study is that there are times when people need to be put into space without needing the full capacity of a Space Shuttle. The capsule, equipped with solar sails as energy supply and capable of 750 m/s delta v, can also be used as free flying laboratory independent from a space station and lifeboat for a space station. It is tentatively named Hermes. March 1976 ESA announces the development of the Ariane Heavy Lift Stage for the B-18. Powered by eight Viking 2 engines it is nearly as powerful as the S-II stage of NASA. April 1976 Venera 11 enters Venus orbit after a successful burn of its nuclear engine and drops three landers into the atmosphere of the planet. The Soviet Union is very forthcoming with their results about their Venus landings and the three hour activity of the Venera 11-3 lander. However after Venera 11 entered orbit and began to photograph and map the planet with a high powered radar system, a large shape drifted into its radar path. Analysis of photographic and radar data comes to the conclusion that a derelict alien spaceship orbits around Venus. Using its radar systems Venera 11 is able to track the derelict and map its orbit, allowing them to rendezvous with it on a later date. May 1976 NASA loses contact to Voyager 3. It’s landers was one of two carrying a balloon for aerial photographs of Bradbury City. June 5, 1976 The crew of Spacelab hears a loud banging sound and experience a sudden loss of atmosphere. With the first thought of a hull breach of Spacelab, the crew tries to get into their Apollo capsule, only to discover that there is a hull breach on the capsule. Only the quick acting of mission commander Michael Collins saves the crew's lives. Collins does an EVA later that day through the stations airlock and takes a closer look at the Apollo CSM. A piece of debris has hit the capsule, punching not only one, but two holes into the capsule. One near one of the windows and one clear through the reentry shield. Thankfully the crew has enough supplies for several more month until NASA can find a way to get them home. It drives home the need for something akin to the North American/BAC Hermes. June 1976 NASA and ESA award North American Aviation and BAC with a contract to fully develop the Hermes spacecraft in the wake of the Spacelab 5 accident. It is expected that the Hermes can make its first unmanned flights in late 1979. July 1976 Based on the 1970 study of an Apollo Rescue CSM, Spacelab 6 is equipped with two additional crew couches and launched towards Spacelab. Spacelab 5 commander exits prior to the docking of Spacelab 6 and undocks the damages Apollo manually and steers it away from the station, before programming a main engine burn that will make Spacelab 5 enter the atmosphere and burn up. He is then picked up by Spacelab 6 before returning to Spacelab. Now with five astronauts, the Spacelab 6 mission continues for two more weeks, before all five astronauts return to Earth. It is the first time that more than four astronauts have been in space at the same time. August 1976 Voyager 4, 5 and 6 enter Mars orbit and deploy three landers. The Voyager 4 and 5 landers make a soft landing, however the Voyager 6 lander crashes into a building on decent and transmits images for thirty minutes before going silent. Voyager 4 and 5 however begin to provide high quality images and other data from their landing sites in Bradbury City, while Voyager 4 returns the first aerial images of the alien city. The images show that there was some sort of dome spanning over the city, based on large walls and beams sticking into the air. However there is nothing seen of this dome anymore. A common theory is that the dome was built from materials that eventually experienced complete structural collapse and that the entire dome was destroyed, explaining the destruction of large parts of the city and killed all life in it by exposing it to the Martian atmosphere. Another less common and not very logical theory is that the city was protected by a force field dome that collapsed after its energy source went offline and then killed all life in the city. That does not explain the damage to the buildings however. September 1976 The last ten minutes of video images of Voyager 6 are analyzed. The probe had been able to look through an open window in the building it collided with and filmed flickering lights of different colors inside the building. Its the first sign of activity in Bradbury City. Some hope that its survivors in hidden bunkers underground scavenging the debris in the city, while other see it as a sure sign of a still active energy supply somewhere that supplies some sort of computer or something along that line. Late September 1976 The two Soviet Mars probes Mars 6 and 7 enter orbit of Mars in late September. Two landers and launched towards Mars and Bradbury City. Designed akin to the later series Luna probes, both landers manage to do a soft landing. One lands within visual distance of Voyager 5, while the other lands within a different part of the City. Both landing were captured on video by Voyager 4 and 5 and analyzed. McDonnell Douglas delivers the first Space Base module to the Kennedy Space Center for integration with a Boeing S-IC. Plans are made to dock the Space Base module to Spacelab allowing the station to be manned permanently. Smaller modifications include an AJ-10 engine to provide capability to raise the station’s orbit if needed. NASA also decides to use the Apollo Rescue CSM as base space craft until the Hermes can be delivered. October 1976 The final study for the Arthemis landers is published. To make development and production easier, station modules and the manned landing/return landers will be designed based on a common base design that replaces the previously proposed biconic and apollo style landers. Instead the landers will use large reentry shields that are jettisoned during the last stages of descent, much like it is done for the current Voyager landers. Since the shields need to be very large to protect the landers from reentry heat and make aero-shells unnecessary. They will be build using the same technologies as the Shuttle reentry shield and assembled in orbit. Multiple sized drag parachutes will be used to slow down the module down to a speed where liquid fuel engines using hypergolic fuels can slow down the landers for a landing. If needed they also provide the power to do a short lift off to relocate a module. To make transport and assembly simpler the modules will have a 8 meter diameter cylinders and a height of twelve meter, standing upright and weighing about 100 tons. With about twenty tons needed for reentry and landing systems, that leaves 80 tons for equipment and other systems. While the Mars base modules will contain three stories of living and working space per module, and one story with an airlock and mechanisms to connected multiple base modules. The landers will be build based on the same base lander chassis, however will be topped by a conical return stage. Since it is expected that the return stage will only weigh about thirty tons, the crew landers will carry needed equipment to the surface, including a SNAP based nuclear reactor and at least two cars that are to be assembled on the Mars surface. An interesting thought that came up during this final study is to produce water, oxygen and fuel for the return stages in situ, using Sabatier and Bosch reactions to locally produce methane as fuel, as well as water and oxygen, bringing only low weight hydrogen. Using this technology allows to get more additional payload to Mars with the crew landers. Remote landing procedures for the base modules is seen as too problematic and expensive both in construction and setup. Alternatively a system using radio beacons is proposed. The 1979 Voyager mission is proposed to include one or two Mars rovers that will explore Bradbury City and find a place allowing to land the manned mission and then place solar powered radio beacons so that these can be used to navigate to the landing zone. A second alternative is to directly integrate the radio beacons into the Voyager 1979 landers and use them for navigation purposes. November 1976 NASA launches the first Space Base module into a trajectory that will bring it close to Spacelab. Only two days later Space Base 1 is launched and a crew of three enters the Space Base module. Using the modules integrated RCS and the AJ-10 engine, they move the large module closer to Spacelab. After the crew of Spacelab 7 has moved to their Apollo capsule and undocked, the Space Base module docks instead of the Apollo capsule, which then proceeds to dock with the now large station. After connecting the Space Base module with Spacelab and after three EVAs and the preparation of the wet workshop part of the module, NASA announces to rename the resulting station into Freedom. It is expected that four more Space Base modules are added to the resulting station using berthing ports within the first Space Base module. The Freedom 1 mission launches on late November carrying two NASA and the first three ESA astronauts to the new station. December 1976 The Soviet Union launches the Venus probe Venera 12. Like its predecessor, it is equipped with a powerful radar system for mapping purposes and a nuclear engine. However it is only equipped with two landers, but with an additional high powered RCS and a number of TV cameras. The RCS apparently is needed to change orbits and test remote maneuvering of probes orbiting distant planets. January 1977 Startling news come from the teams analyzing the images of the Voyager missions. In several images sent back by Voyager 4 there are strangely glassy patches in walls and ground of the alien buildings. It seems that these patches have been heated rapidly and then cooled down. Theories about laser or other beams weapons begin to pop up. February 1977 North American and BAC publish their plans for the Hermes Personal Transport System. Based on the NASA HL-10 lifting body the Hermes will be able to transport four to eight people into orbit and dock with a top or rear mounted docking mechanism. Integrated engines will allow it a delta-v of 1000 m/s and the life support system operational times of up to three weeks with a crew of four. The rear docking port allows to connect a mission module to the Hermes on free flight missions, reducing the delta-v to about 600 m/s, but extending the life support to up to four weeks. The top docking port is meant for docking procedures to a space station, a space shuttle or another Hermes. Additionally the Hermes can be used to carry supplies to a space station that don’t need a Space Shuttle to move. March 1977 Venera 12 enters into an orbit around Venus. After releasing its two landers, it being its remote maneuvering tests, changing orbits several times. During this time it manages to closely approach the alien derelict in Venus orbit, taking close up images and radar images. The derelict seems to have suffered from complete sudden decompression as one side of it is completely opened to space. It also put the derelict into a spin around all axes. Radar measurements place the derelict into a size of about twice the size of a Nimitz class supercarrier. There are also no visible means of propulsion, through extensive damage to one end of the derelict could indicate the loss of the engine section, which either orbits Venus in a different orbit or had entered the Venusian atmosphere. April 1977 Based on the results of the Venera 12 mission the Soviet Politburo decides to follow a two pronged approach. Since the only way to fully deny American access to the alien city on Mars in case of a failure of the Soviet Mars effort is to either use nuclear weapons or try to shoot the American mission down over Mars, the Venus derelict is seen as an alternative to the Martian city. Since it is a space ship is is more likely to contain weapon systems and defensive technologies then the alien city. As such a manned Venus mission is planned for 1983, in case the Mars mission of 1981 fails. May 1977 NASA and ESA announce to standardize their docking port systems to a androgynous system, moving away from the simpler probe and drogue system. The new Androgynous Peripheral Attach System (APAS) will be used on all future systems, such as the Space Shuttle, the Hermes Personal Transport System, Space Base modules and other future systems. June 1977 Salyut 5 is launched by the Soviet Union. Its design suggests that it is the first testing prototype of a Soviet Mars mission. Two Soyuz missions fly towards the station in the same month, but return after a short time and several EVAs. July 1977 Salyut 5 is deorbited by the Soviet Union, the short missions to the station suggests a failure similar to Skylab. August 1977 NASA launches Mariner 11 and 12 to a ‘Grand Tour’ into the outer solar system. Primary goal of the ‘Grand Tour’ is to do fly-bys of Jupiter, Saturn, Neptun, Uranus and Pluto. Secretly its hoped to find alien artifacts in the outer solar system. September 1977 NASA launches Mariner 13 and 14 the sister probes of Mariner 11 and 12, following on the ‘Grand Tour’. October 1977 NASA launches two Saturn V within one week to deliver the Voyager 7 through 10 to Mars. Two of the probes contain landers modified into rovers to test the possibility to place radio beacons within Bradbury City to get a designated landing area. The Soviet Union launches two Mars probes, one of them a rover type lander. November 1977 NASA and the DoE launch a second Daedalus upper stage, this time with a bimodal LANTR engine and directly connected to a Mariner type probe. This time the orbital tests works out, providing NASA and the DoE With a working nuclear engine similar to the Russian design. At the end the Daedalus is send out on a trajectory to do a fly-by of Venus, combined with a test of the so called ‘Oberth Maneuver’ to increase the velocity of the probe with the rest of the propellant. January 1978 Rocketdyne finishes a test series of the new F-1B rocket engine. Based on the already active F-1A engine the F-1B was designed to be reusable as much as possible. Its design however makes the engine weight and performance is on the same level as the original F-1. Multiple engines have been tested and fired up to one hundred times each for a duration of about three hours. Based on the failure rate and other results of the test Rocketdyne guarantees 20 starts before the F-1B has be replaced and serviced for another 20 starts. Boeing notes that this change of events makes the first test flight of the new B-18 reusable S-IC slated for 1980 unlikely and that NASA and ESA will have to use the old S-IC until the B-18 is ready. February 1978 Daedalus 1, the Mariner probe mated to the Daedalus stage, reaches Venus. After taking pictures of the planet and doing several other scientific measurements, the probe turns its LANTR engine towards the planet and fires it at periapsis. This test confirms that the Oberth Maneuver actually works and increases the delta-v by a multiple of what the tanks actually contain. A nominal remaining delta-v the Daedalus 1 of 1000m/s was increased to 4600m/s with this maneuver. Due to the trajectory of the probe, this maneuver acts as a gravity assist, directing the probe onto a trajectory towards Mercury. While there is a strange irregular dot seen on one of the images from Venus, it is explained as an error in the transmission. March 1978 DuPond approaches NASA and ESA with the plans for an inflatable habitat module for space stations or stations on the Moon and Mars. These plans are based on early 60s plans of Goodyear to produce an inflatable two man space station. Back then the plans were not further developed for fear of deflation of the station when punctuated by micrometeorites and other debris. The DuPond plan approaches this problem with the application of multiple layers of Kevlar, insulation and additional bladders to reduce the risk of punctuation to a minimum. Both NASA and ESA are very interested, because these modules would provide a much larger inhabited volume for a given payload capacity. As a result NASA orders a test module for attachment on Freedom Station. April 1978 Daedalus 1 reaches Mercury and begins to take pictures during the approach. A slight miscalculation in the Venerian Oberth Maneuver however has brought the probe too close to the planet and the gravity is sufficient that Daedalus 1 is captured by Mercury. While absolutely not planned, NASA does not see it as a failure, but as a chance to get more informations about the innermost planet of the sun after the Mariner 10 flyby. May 1978 Voyager 7 through 10 reach Mars and enter orbit. With Voyager 7 and 8 this is the first time that a probe has used aerobraking to slow down into a planetary orbit. As a result however, both probes need a longer time to finally settle into an orbit that brings it to the separation point for their landers. For Voyager 8 this also means the failure of the separation mechanism, stranding the lander in space. With Voyager 9 and 10 it is the first time that NASA can look at places not previously seen in Bradbury City as the large landers were modified into rovers able to traverse the surface of Mars at a sedate 20 meters per hour. As another future test, Voyager 10 will be driven to a place outside of Bradbury City, where it will activate a transponder that will hopefully allow a Voyager lander to touch down near the probe. June 1978 The two Soviet probes reach Mars and softly land on the surface. One of them is a rover, however due to a software problem with the release systems from its carrier probe, the rover lands two hundred kilometers outside of Bradbury City. July 1978 The Soviet Union launches Venera 13 towards Venus. Like Venera 12 it’s equipped with an extensive RCS system and two landers. August 1978 After several complaints and a number of problems pointed out at the development team of Project Artemis, it is decided that it would be simpler for automated cargo ships to be send to Mars on a one way mission. It will increase the payload delivered to Mars and add the possility of adding a set of large scale Martian satellites for a better communication coverage after a last burn to place the propulsion stage into an areostationary orbit. Late August 1978 NASA announces that they will be flying the Space Shuttle before the end of the decade. September 1978 After more than four years of construction, ESA finishes with the Guiana Heavy Launch Complex, with four launch pads for Heavy Launch Vehicles and two large Vertical Assembly Buildings. Both VABs can build two Saturns at the same time and the control systems are setup to be able to launch from all four pads over a relatively short time. Especially interesting for NASA engineers however are the ESA crawlers, which are based on the large German bucket wheel extractors and receive their power from the French nuclear reactor only fourty kilometers distant to the Guiana Space Centre. Its more efficient than the American use of a diesel electric system. It is planned to launch first Saturn V with a Space Base module from Guiana at the beginning of the next year. Mariner 11 and 12 leave the Asteroid Belt without encountering any asteroids. October 1978 Mariner 13 and 14 leave the Asteroid Belt. Other then Mariner 11 and 12 they had an encounter with a C-class asteroid along the way. The integration of the first Saturn V launch Vehicle at the Guiana Space Centre begins. November 1978 Salyut 6 is launched by the Soviet Union. Much like Salyut 5, it is a larger version of the older style Salyut, intended to be used as life test model for a manned Mars mission. The first mission towards Salyut 6 also happens to be the first manned mission of the Soviet TKS system. The integration of a Saturn IB begins at Guiana Space Centre. January 1979 Mariner 11 and 12 begin their observation phases of Jupiter. February 1979 Mariner 13 and 14 begin their observation phases of Jupiter. The Saturn V with the Space Base 2 module and the Saturn IB are moved to launchpad 1 and 3 of the Guiana Space Centre. The Saturn V launches a week later. Two men of the crew of Freedom leave Freedom with one of two docked Apollo CSMs and dock with Space Base 2 to move it the rest of the way and dock it with the rest of the station. The docking of the Space Base 2 module to Freedom increases the crew capacity to fifteen. March 1979 The Saturn IB launches towards Freedom, carrying the first all European crew of five to the space station. Mariner 11 and 12 enter and leave the Jupiter subsystem. Mariner 11 takes the first images of an active volcano outside of the Earth. April 1979 Mariner 13 and 14 enter and leave the Jupiter subsystem. Both confirm the volcanic activity as well as the continued activity of two volcanoes. May 1979 Image analysis of images taken by all probes of the Europa encounter indicate that the Jupiter moon is covered with ice. Images from Mariner 13 and 14 even suggest the existence of an ocean beneath the ice, as there is an active crack visible against the ice of the surface. What puzzles the scientists however are apparently moving black objects in the crack. They appear to be image errors. July 1979 NASA launches the first full scale version of the Primary Propulsion Module with a full scale bimodal LANTR engine. Mated to a Mariner based probe, the PPM launches towards Jupiter to do a flyby in early 1981 and then return to Earth in 1983. September 11, 1979 Mated to a conventional Saturn S-IC stage, the Space Shuttle Enterprise launches into orbit, carrying the Astronauts Paul Weitz and Michael Collins are the first to be launched with the first reusable spacecraft. They will return two days later, complaining about the quality of the inflight movie. December 1979 NASA launches four probes towards Mars. Voyager 11 and 12 are carried by one Saturn V, while the new probe types Hephaestos 1 and 2 are launched with one Saturn V each. Both Hephaestos probes are meant to do the first tests of Mars mission equipment on Mars and land close to Voyager 10. Hephaestos 1 carries equipment to test Sabatier and Bosch reactors, using two tons worth of hydrogen to produce Methane, Water and Oxygen, which are stored for a possible later use. The cryogenic storage of Methane and Oxygen is also meant for long term testing. It is not expected to be for very long as Hephaestos 1 runs on radionuclide batteries. Hephaestos 2 carries a large SNAP based nuclear reactor and three small rovers, meant to carry radio beacons to a useful landing position for the manned Mars mission. All three will be tethered to Hephastos 2 to be powered by the larger probe. Additionally, the probe carries a last minute addition in the form of a model DuPond inflatable habitat that will be tested on Mars.