It's 1969: the Soviets land on the moon. Now what?

Late June, 1969, 03:55 GMT: Descending the steps of the LK lunar lander, Cosmonaut Alexsy Leonov sets foot on the Sea of Rains. The Soviet Union has landed a man on the moon.

It’s been a hard effort, and despite the miraculous successes with their N1 lunar rocket, not without risk—indeed, the booster used for the third Soviet lunar mission, Vostorg 5, explodes on the launchpad the next April, the crew barely escapes with their lives—but they’ve done it.

Okay, so…what happens next? How does this affect how the US moonshot program goes forth? What effect does this have, politically—on either side of the Iron Curtain? Is this going to make the hippies more insufferable?

I’m curious to see what your takes will be on this—go nuts.

Sorry, next time for a GD, I’ll try and think up something that’ll get people screaming louder. :wink:

Hmmmm. Well, it’s my understanding that the Soviets eventually just gave up because they weren’t ever actually able to make a lunar landing capable rocket; perhaps they might have eventually been able to but everyone just lost interest by then. The US on the other hand didn’t have that problem; we could and did build a two way Moon mission.

My guess is, since we can send people to the moon but have been beaten to it, we’ll try to one-up them. We’ll build or try to build a dinky “moon base” of some kind; they’ll try to match or exceed us. Eventually it will all likely peter out but we’ll get farther than we did in the real time line. We’d at least have gotten quite a bit more Moon data in the process.

On to Mars.

And in point of fact, that was discussed.

Lyndon Johnson goes to bed every night by the light of a communist moon?

Some preacher claims that it’s a sign of the End Times that “the Moon has turned Red!”

It would have hastened the fall of the USSR

You remember that old saying “We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t ___?”

The Soviets really couldn’t do do shit. They had a top-down economic system that often made it cheaper to feed baked bread than raw grain to beef cattle. People lived in tacky, pre-fab apartments that made Cabrini Green look like Trump Towers. Waiting in line for hours for toilet paper, years for a telephone or awful cars.

Since the Revolution, and confirmed by the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet people had had it pounded into them that they’d have to make mateterial sacrifices as well as accept loss of their human rights because they were surrounded by enemies without and spies within. But what the fuck does walking around on the moon have to do with that?

That’s absolutely not true, at least in terms of aerospace. Whatever their (very large) problems with economics and politics, their space program was in some ways better than ours. But we were in a race, they moved too quickly in some areas, made some mistakes and we “won”.

I put that in quotes because our space program didn’t really know where to go once the race to the moon was settled. It largely stagnated, and was poorly served in many ways by the space shuttle. However, the Soviets devoted themselves to long-term missions in space. They have more experience in it than we do. Their hardware was designed so ruggedly and simply that their Soyuz capsule is still in use today.

And guess what happens after the shuttle retires next year - we will be paying through the nose for rides on their Soyuz to the International Space Station.

One might also note the Soviets’ Venera program exploration of Venus. Those are the only photos we have of the planet’s surface. The U.S. never did that.

I remember one description of the space programme, the Americans went to visit, the Russians went to stay.

I think, the odds are really good that the lander would have crashed. Have you seen it? One person lander… completely manual… piloted without instruments. With a REALLY bad field of view. Given that we almost wrecked ours, I can honestly say that it would have shredded on impact.

I agree with Der Trihs and Bosda. The United States would have reacted by creating a new goal, like establishing a lunar base or going to Mars, and the space race would have been on again.

I’m not seeing a huge difference, beyond the reversal of bragging rights and the attendant propaganda. The only practical “prize” in the space race was getting a few strides closer to putting weapons in orbit, right?

Would the US have gone to the moon if we’d beaten the Soviets into orbit? Certainly not on the same rushed timeline, IMO.

Don’t forget, the US lost the space race, twice. The Russians got a satellite into orbit before we did, at which point, suddenly, that was irrelevant, the real race was to get a man into space. Then the Russians did that, too, and suddenly the real race was to get a man to the moon. If we’d lost that one, too, then we’d have just kept on moving the goalposts until we did win.

Ultimately, I see two outcomes: First, we would have landed a man on Mars by now. The technology needed isn’t all that much beyond Apollo; it’s just more expensive and riskier (though well within our capabilities if we really wanted it, and probably not all that much riskier than the Shuttle). Second, it would have been one more internal strain on the Soviet Union, hastening the inevitable eventual collapse.

Yeah, new goal.

Imagine: It’s 1957, and the Soviets send up the first satellite. What’s the US response? “Yeah, well, we’re going to the moon. To the moon, Alice!”

We land on the dark side of the moon and claim it in the name of Pink Floyd.

The Soviets had a bunch of other milestones as well: first vehicle to achieve escape velocity; first to launch a living creature into orbit and recover it alive; first multi-man crew; first space walk; first two vehicles in space simultaneously; first vehicle to land on the moon.

Landing a man on the moon was one of the few major milestones in space that the United States did first.

How’s this for a variation in history: the Soviets go to the moon, but crash-land and no one survives. Then what does the US do? They wouldn’t be the first on the moon, but could be the first to land, survive, and return.

Neil Armstrong: First Man To Bury A Soviet On The Moon.

Buzz Aldrin: first man to punch a jerk… on the moon.

The jerk being brought in for the occasion.

I didn’t live through it, so I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think any of those ever had the same significance in the eyes of the public as Sputnik, Gagarin, or Apollo 11. Before Sputnik, everyone knew that the Space Race was to be the first to put something in orbit, and before Gagarin, everyone knew that the Space Race was to be the first to send a man up, but I don’t think anyone would have ever said that the race was to be the first one to send a vehicle on an escape from Earth’s gravity (or even have known what that meant, for most folks).

But if we’re just listing milestones, the Soviets also had the first woman in space (not that that should logically have been significant, but people are illogical), and I think the first spacewalk, too.

EDIT: D’oh, you already mentioned spacewalk. My fault for skimming.

There is a movie called *Countdown *that’s based on the Soviets’ being ready to sent their guys to the moon. The Americans sent an astronaut to the moon quickly but e has to find the shelter to live in for a year that’s been previously sent. e arrives and as he’s walking towards the shelter find the Soviet craft crashed and te cosmonauts dead.