Alternate History

John McCain (Space Race Didn't End)

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John McCain
Timeline: Space Race Didn't End

Portrait of John McCain

January 2, 1987-January 2,1993

Successor: Paul Allen

Interim Secretary-General
June 16, 1985-January 2,1987

United States Navy

John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936) was the first Secretary-General of the United Communities on the moon. He is now a well respected statesman within the United Communities and throughout the Orbital Habitat Zones.

McCain followed his father and grandfather, both four-star admirals, into the United States Navy, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1958. He became a pilot and started flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he was almost killed in the 1967 USS Forresstal fire. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain was torture, and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. His war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations and because of these limitations he left Earth for the lower gravity of space and the moon.

Early Career


McCain’s grandfather "Slew" (left) and father "Jack" on board a U.S. Navy ship in Tokyo Bay, c. September 2, 1945

John McCain was born on August 29, 1936, at Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, to naval officer John S. McCain, Jr. (1911–1981) and Roberta (Wright) McCain (b. 1912). At that time, the Panama Canal was under U.S. control.

John McCain's early military career began when he was commissioned an ensign and started two and a half years of training at Pensacola to become a naval aviator. While there, he earned a reputation as a partying man. He completed flight school in 1960, and became a naval pilot of ground-attack aircraft, assigned to A-1 Skyraider squadrons aboard the aircraft carriers USS Intrepid and USS Enterprise in the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas. McCain began as a sub-par flier who was at times careless and reckless; during the early-to-mid 1960s, the planes he was flying crashed twice and once collided with power lines, but he received no major injuries. His aviation skills improved over time, and he was seen as a good pilot, albeit one who tended to "push the envelope" in his flying.

Vietnam and Rehabilitation

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The A-4E (BuNo 149959) six days before McCain was shot down with it, landed by another pilot aboard Oriskany

McCain requested a combat assignment, and was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal flying A-4 Skyhawks. His combat duty began when he was 30 years old, in mid-1967, when Forrestal was assigned to a bombing campaign, Operation Rolling Thunder, during the Vietnam War. McCain and his fellow pilots became frustrated by micromanagement from Washington, and he would later write that "In all candor, we thought our civilian commanders were complete idiots who didn't have the least notion of what it took to win the war."

On July 29, 1967, McCain, by then a lieutenant commander, was near the center of the Forrestal fire. He escaped from his burning jet and was trying to help another pilot escape when a bomb exploded. McCain was struck in the legs and chest by fragments. The ensuing fire killed 134 sailors and took 24 hours to control. With the Forrestal out of commission, McCain volunteered for assignment with the USS Oriskany, another aircraft carrier employed in Operation Rolling Thunder. Once there, he would be awarded the Navy Commendation Medal and the Bronze Star for missions flown over North Vietnam.

John McCain's capture and subsequent imprisonment began on October 26, 1967. Although McCain was badly wounded, his captors refused to treat his injuries, beating and interrogating him to get information; he was given medical care only when the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was a top admiral. His status as a prisoner of war (POW) made the front pages of major newspapers. Altogether, McCain was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half years. He was released on March 14, 1973. His wartime injuries left him permanently incapable of raising his arms above his head.

McCain underwent treatment for his injuries, including months of grueling physical therapy, and attended the National War College at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. during 1973–1974. Having been rehabilitated, by late 1974, McCain had his flight status reinstated, and in 1976 he became commanding officer of a training squadron stationed in Florida. He improved the unit's flight readiness and safety records and won the squadron its first-ever Meritorious Unit Commendation.

Space Command

By 1979, McCain's injuries continued to cause him problems and his flight status was threatened because the high-G forces were aggravating those injuries. He was giving an opportunity to join the rapidly growing ranks of Astronaut Corp as a Command Officer, which needed well qualified pilots and commander to shuttle from LEO to higher orbits and the moon. He entered the program knowing that returning to Earth and returning to flight status would be difficult, if not impossible, and any career on return to earth would be a desk job.

McCain entered a six month training program starting April 18, 1979, McCain which was the senior officer (a Captain) in training and 15 years the senior of the next oldest trainee. After ground training, he was graduated to orbital training. McCain was shuttled up to LEO to the Central Transport Station and started pilot training but he was also made a liaison officer between the various military and civilian operating structures. McCain quickly learned to navigate the different SOP's and gained a great amount of respect. Due to his leadership, the Navy give him the honorary rank of Commodore in March of 1980.

Despite his liaison work (there was no "real" desk-jobs in space at this time), McCain started shuttling crews and supplies from LEO to the various lunar bases in November of 1980. During this time he further distinguished himself as a leader as well as a good shuttle pilot. With the formation of a single Joint NASA/ military command structure off-earth in July 1981. McCain was permanently promoted to Rear Admiral (two stars) and as the senior military officer was placed in charge of all military operations, he was under a NASA administrator, to maintain overall command under civilian control. McCain took up residency at Tranquility Base in February of 1982 after Space Command established its Lunar Command Base. With the Pentagon moving both shuttle pilot training and deep- space training to the fast growing bases, McCain was nominated for promotion to Vice-Admiral (three Stars) by President Bush in September of 1982. Though their was some hold-up in the senate by those who believe the rank was to high for the position, it was finally approved and on October 12, 1982 McCain was promoted.

Admiral McCain quickly got both training centers up and running; as well as commanding all military operations in orbit. With the Soviets deploying several orbital missile systems; McCain was placed in command of orbital placement and operation of lunar and high-orbit American defence systems.

By 1984, McCain's command responsibilities had expanded considerably with the addition of the defensive systems, an offensive weapon (top-secret) capability and support for deep space missions to Mars and Venus. McCain was nominated for Admiral and will be placed in command of all space operations including Earth based launch-sited. While many wanted McCain to return to Earth in person for Senate hearings it was decided to be held via video as McCain would find it difficult to return to earth without months of rehabilitation.

While most Senator were very supportive of McCain, some believed as before his rank is too high and that he should be stationed at the Pentagon. Other are resistant because he has advanced though to this rank so fast and over other more senior officers. However, no other officer is as qualified as McCain or as knowlegeble in regards to space operations.

Formation of the United Communities


While Admiral McCain had nothing to do with the initial communications between the different activist groups on the moon or in orbit. He was made aware of their activities and when the first meeting was held and was asked by the President Bush to represent his office in his place.

He quickly establishes himself in a key position in the movement as he strongly believe they had a just cause. He was able to communicate the of position of the activists to the President, who also supported their position. With little resistance to the idea to the creation of an independent government on the moon, McCain was seen as strong leader who could pull together the different groups and create a working single government on the moon.

The creation of the Tranquility Socialist Party and the paranoia about the belief that Earth would cut them off or the Soviets would invade ran throughout the different bases. McCain was able to further prove himself by sorting out the rumours and establishing a process to investigate wrong doings.

McCain's involvement in the formation of the luna government started to overlap his obligations to the military and as he was under scrutiny for his active involvement in the government, some believed he was trying to grab power for himself. However, no evidence supported those claims. With the support of President Bush and congress he would become the Interim Secretary-General, until local governments were formed and elections could be held.

While many thought it was unusual that an American political entity would model themselves after the United Nations, it was McCain that pointed out that each Luna city, town or base of today may at some point in the future grow so large that they may want to became a state on their own and that the newly formed United Communities was simply a way for each community to work together with each other for the common good of the moon colonists.

In June of 1985 the Assembly of Communities, with member from all the larger communities stated debate on the creation of a constitution for the United Communities and plans to elect local governments. McCain nomination to Secretary General by the President was without depute and on June 16, 1985 John McCain was sworn in as the first Secretary General. While Admiral McCain was still on active duty his command of Space Forces was passed onto General Chuck Horner who like McCain joined Space Command as an experienced officer. As the Interim Secretary-General much of McCain's time was devoted to planning the full election of 1986 and to create dozens of agencies to deal with the planned loss of NASA's support and that of the United States Senate and House oversight committees that largely has been running the communities. The creation of a bureaucracy was disheartening to a career Naval officer who was used to a streamlined military organization; and that was organizational experience and belief that showed up with the creation of the United Communities that was designed to be very streamlined.

McCain also had a growing family on the moon. His second wife Cindy came to the moon in 1983 and became pregnant with the couples first child, Meghan. Cindy left the moon and went to the Half-G Pregnancy and Birthing Station in Luna orbit, as research on the development of fetuses in low/Z-gravity was still being conducted.

First and Second Term as Secretary-General

On March 15, 1986 McCain resigned his Naval Commission so he could run for a full three year-term as Secretary General and chose to run on the Republican ticket. While both the democrats and socialist, as well as two independents, run again McCain, most believed McCain was a sure winner.

On November 4, 1986 John McCain was elected to a full term as Secretary-General of the United Communities carrying 69.8% of the vote.

During his first term McCain introduced measures to collect data from the different communities in regards to air production and quality control, a hot issues on a airless moon. This work lead to the Air Quality Act of 1987 that put plants in every possible space throughout every moon city and base. It further led to the creation of design teams to plan how bore massive underground caverns to create "open space" areas. McCain also oversaw legislation that made it easier to migrate to the moon and start a mining operation or business.

McCain was unopposed in his re-election in November of 1989.

During his second term he oversaw some 30,000 people migrate to the United Communities. As dozens of new communities and bases were being authorized by the United Communities, the highest standards were put in place. This was to ensure no further disaster took place after the collapse of a newly build township for 500 people killing all 73 people who had just moved in. The fear that other places may collapse was found to be warranted when a committee headed by McCain found other problems.

McCain also worked to increase the number of electromagnetic rails to open to keep up with the rapidly growing Orbital Habitats, their is still fear that "belt prospectors" will take the lead from them with raw material production and the moon could end up being a "ghost town".

In October of 1993, the United Communities formally set up the barter system which had been used in the "underground" economy for several years. The hope was to better regulate the process and to increase revenues. McCain also show the creation of the Luna Commission, an international organization on the moon for the resolution of problems between communities of different nations.

Senior Statesman

McCain decided not to seek a third term and left office on January 3, 1993 with Paul Allen a democrat replacing him. After leaving office McCain and family toured several Orbital Habitat Communities that were seeking to form their own Communities- like independent groups. McCain openly pointed out that the challenges of the Orbital Zones is far greater than that of the United Communities due to the fact that the stations are all in so many different orbits and travel at different speeds and already have a much larger population then that of the moon. McCain rejected the offer to help organize this groups into a united zone but did suggest in 1990 that they go straight for statehood.

Throughout the 1990 and first decade of the 21st Century McCain has continued to preach good and independent government. He give regular speeches via live-fed video all over Earth. And teaches government and Space History via the internet.

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