Welcome to perhaps the first alternative history on this new website. Any and all suggestions are welcome on either the talk page or my message wall.
The Space Race was a time in the planet's history when countless innovations were created by both sides participating in the so called "race". The United States of America and the Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics fought it out to achieve new firsts and prove to the world they were better to their counterpart. However, Russia's dreams of being the first to the moon were shattered in two main events which took place - the killing of over a 100 of their most prominent scientists in a rocket accident and the death of the father of Soviet Space Program, Sergei Korolev.
Towards the end of the Space Race, it was painfully obvious that America had won, and never again would Russia be in such a strong position it had been just a few years before America got to the moon. However, it is not hard to imagine a different outcome. An outcome which would have lead to a much different world.
And it does, because its 1961 and the Soviets have just got the first man into space. A feeling of panic has set in within NASA, because they and the rest of America knows, It Just Got Real.
Point of DivergenceEdit
The Point of Divergence occurs when over a hundred of the most prominent Soviet Scientists are not killed in a rocket accident called the Nedelin Disaster:
On the 25th of October 1960, a Soviet R-16 ICBM was preparing for a test launch scheduled for November the 7th to coincide with the Anniversary of the 1917 'Soviet Struggle'. On the 23rd, the R-16 was loaded on to launch pad 41 and launch preparations were under way. The leader of the project, Mitrofan Nedelin created the tight launch deadline for the 7th and because of this, many safety precautions were missed out or ignored. While most of Russia's top rocket scientists were doing a walk around of the launch pad, the 2nd stage thrusters randomly ignited. The 2nd stage was located above the fuel tank and would only have been separated in space. Due to the ignition, the Nitric acid and Hydrazine mixture, or 'Devils Venom' exploded, incinerating over 100 scientists and burning many more to death. Only one man survived, as just before the explosion, he went for a cigarette behind a concrete bunker, shielding him from the blast. The families of the dead were told their husbands, fathers, brothers or sons were killed in a plane crash. The truth was not revealed to the public until 1989 in OTL, due to embarrassment if the West found out it had happened, humiliation of the USSR would be caused during these tense times.
The divergence is influenced by the change of character within Nedelin. An early launch failure under his command would make him slightly more cautious when it came to rocket launches. When it would be found out this was due to faulty and damaged parts, Nedelin would have no choice but to ensure from now on all rocket equipment would be well packaged. This would lead to... (more to come)
- The first major butterfly from our PoD is the father of the Russian Space program, Sergei Korolev, has a successful colon cancer operation and comes out alive and well. He would continue to work with many of the prominent minds and gives Russia the edge they had been seeking all along. The biggest effect this would have is that the N1-L3 rocket engine would be completed on time and would not be plagued by the problems of inexperienced scientists trying to work on Korolev's design.
- The second major butterfly from the PoD is John F. Kennedy is not killed in his assassination attempt, and survives to lead America. He is kept away from Dallas in 1963, when he is busy talking to command leaders of the Vietnam War on how to end the war quickly. He would go on to secure another term in office and change the geopolitical situation on the planet. However, by 1968, he would be physically weakened due to a medical condition he had (need to look into this)
- The Space Race between America and Russia heats up faster. The Russians land a two-man capsule on the moon in 1968, becoming the first to reach the moon. The Americans would land on the moon 6 months later, with a two-man capsule of their own. It would save America from the huge humiliation of not getting to the moon.
- The Soviets would funnel their interests toward Venus, while the Americans did toward Mars. Both sides would find their planets to be devoid of life - but in opposite ways. Where Mars would be a cold barren rock, with a weak atmosphere and even weaker magnetic field, Venus would be a boiling pot - geologically active and under a runaway greenhouse effect.
- The Americans would have a slight lead when it came to going to Mars. While the Russians were diverted by Venus, they would plan a landing. The Russians would realise that Mars is a more viable landing spot. The Russians and Americans would become locked to get to Mars first.
- The Soviets would never invade Afghanistan, with all their funds being soaked into their booming Space Program. The Americans would never fund the Mujahideen [and Afghanistan would eventually go on to stabilise itself and receive funding from Asian powers to help it grow?].
- Gorbachov would come to power slightly earlier, and would successfully transition the Soviet Union into a socialist democracy. His "technocratic" reforms would change the way the country was governed and ensure that qualified people who knew what they were doing were allowed into power (bye-bye, Boris Yeltsin!).