Alternate History

To Slip the Surely Bonds of Earth

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Skylab (SL-4)

Note: Under Construction

In 1970 NASA had a choice to make, they could either gamble everything on the Space Shuttle which promised low cost, routine launches every week, or they could continue the Skylab Space Station program and the Apollo Lunar Landings, offering the advantage of building on existing hardware and experience. Ultimatley NASA chose the Space Shuttle and we suffer the results of that decision to this day. But what about the path not taken? Would it be better or worse? You be the judge.


1970: With the last vestige of Thomas O. Paines Space Transportation System, the Space Shuttle, now confined to the wayside of history NASA became confined to use Apollo Hardare for their Human Spaceflight program. With Budget's shrinking NASA opted to continue the Skylab Program with a new Space Station launched every few years and four manned missions launched to it each year. The missions would simply continue the Apollo CSM being launched on the Saturn IB (although with the possibility of upgrades later on). Apollo Lunar landings would continue at the orignal rate of two per year although with all follow up plans cancelled for budgetary reasons.

1971: Apollo 14 and 15

1972: Apollo 16 and 17

1973: Apollo 18, 19, Skylab 2, Skylab, 3, Skylab 4.

1974: Apollo 20, 21, Skylab 5, Skylab 6, Skylab 7, Skylab 8.

1975: Apollo 21, 22, Skylab 9, Skylab 10, Skylab 11, Skylab 12.

1976: Apollo 23, 24, Skylab 13, Skylab 14, Skylab 15, Skylab 16.

1977: Apollo 25, 26, Skylab 17, Skylab 18, Skylab 19, Skylab 20.
Saturn IB

1978: Apollo 27, 28, Skylab 21, Skylab 22, Skylab 23, Skylab 24.

1979: Apollo 28, 29, Skylab 25, Skylab 26, Skylab 27, Skylab 28

1980: Apollo 30, 31, Skylab 29, Skylab 30, Skylab 31, Skylab 32

1981: Apollo 32, 33, Skylab 33, Skylab 34, Skylab 35, Skylab 36

1982: Apollo 34, 35, Skylab 37, Skylab 38, Skylab 39, Skylab 40

1983: Apollo 36, 37, Skylab 41, Skylab 42, Skylab 43, Skylab 44

1984: Apollo 38, 39, Skylab 45, Skylab 46, Skylab 47, Skylab 48

1985: Apollo 40, 41, Skylab 49, Skylab 50, Skylab 51, Skylab 52

1986: Apollo 42, 43, Skylab 53, Skylab 54, Skylab 55, Skylab 57

1987: Apollo 44, 45, Skylab 58, Skylab 59, Skylab 60, Skylab 61

1988: Apollo 46, 47, Skylab 62, Skylab 63, Skylab 64, Skylab 65



Throughout the 1980s the Apollo/Skylab program remained essentially the same. Meanwhile with rising GDP and a Rising Budget NASA's budget in terms of gross dollars recovered to 1960s levels. With the Human Space Program stagnating, funding high, President George HW Bush announced the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) on July 20th 1989. In it he committed NASA to Outposts on the Moon/Mars by
Apollo 2
the late 1990s and Early 2000s. With the Saturn V, Lunar Module, Apollo CSM, SV-IB upper stage, and Skylab station already built up (and with a long track record and reliability) and with over 20 years of Lunar and Space Station experience in Long Duration spaceflight NASA was aptly equipped for the Challenge. Starting in 1989 NASA began building up a permanent Lunar Base with crews staying for 30 days.


Through the 1990s the SEI program came into full swing. Saturn Vs launched piloted Mars/Venus Flybys using the spent Upper Stage as their Skylab like Habitat and CSMs to return to earth. These yearlong missions gave way to true Landing Missions in 1999 that built up a semi permanent base on Mars using Saturn Vs, a newly developed Mars Lander, and Skylab hardware. Meanwhile Apollo crews continued to travel to the Moon, and by landing unmanned LMs with no fuel and extra consumables, long duration stays of 3 for up to 30 days could be made. Then LM descent stages brought down real modules based on the Skylab stations. Crew size expanded from 2, to 3, to 6, to 12, to 18. Stays eventually reached six months as the base became permanent.

Crew Assignment

January 31st: 1971: Apollo 14 Alan Shepard, Commander

Edgar Mitchell, Lunar Module Pilot [[File:]]

Stuart Roosa, Command Module Pilot

July 26 1971: Apollo 15

David Scott, Commander

Jim Irwin, Lunar Module Pilot

Al Worden, Command Module Pilot

April 16, 1972: Apollo 16

John Young, Commander

Charlie Duke, Lunar Module Pilot

Ken Mattingly, Command Module Pilot

December 7, 1972: Apollo 17

Gene Cernan, Commander

Jack Schmitt, Lunar Module Pilot

Ron Evans, Command Module Pilot

February 4, 1973: Apollo 18

Richard F. Gordon Jr, Commander

Vance D. Brand, Command Module Pilot

Harrison Schmitt, Lunar Module Pilot

April 17, 1973: Apollo 19

Fred Haise Commander

William R. Pogue Command Module Pilot Gerald P. Carr Lunar Module Pilot

July 8, 1974: Apollo 20

Stuart Roosa, Commander

Paul J. Weitz, Command Module Pilot

Jack R. Lousma, Lunar Module Pilot

September 18, 1974: Apollo 21

Edgar Mitchell, Commander

Pete Conrad, Command Module Pilot

Don L. Lind, Lunar Module Pilot

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