The large lander looks intriguingly alien with its organic curves and asymmetrical design, while the pods shooting out of its ports look more like familiar machinery, creating interesting diversity in the aliens’ technology. The emerald ovals on the pods mirror the structures near the top of the lander, tying the two designs together.
“Return of the Cities” by David A. Hardy.
NASA’s ambition in 1971 was to build a fully reusable Space Shuttle which it could operate much as an airline operates its airplanes. The typical fully reusable Shuttle design in play in 1971 included a large Booster and a smaller Orbiter (image at top of post), each of which would carry a crew.
The Booster’s rocket motors would ignite on the launch pad, drawing liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen propellants from integral internal tanks. At the edge of space, its propellants depleted, the Booster would release the Orbiter. It then would turn around, reenter the dense part of Earth’s atmosphere, deploy air-breathing jet engines, and fly under power to a runway at its launch site. Because it would return to its launch site, NASA dubbed it the “Flyback Booster.” It would then taxi or be towed to a hanger for minimal refurbishment and preparation for its next launch.
The Space Shuttle Orbiter, meanwhile, would arc up and away from the Booster. After achieving a safe separation distance, it would ignite its rocket motors to place itself into Earth orbit. After accomplishing its mission, it would fire its motors to slow down and reenter Earth’s atmosphere, where it would deploy jet engines and fly under power to a runway landing. As in the case of the Booster, the Orbiter would need minimal refurbishment before it was launched again.
Unlike an expendable launcher – for example, the Saturn V moon rocket - a fully reusable Space Shuttle would not discard spent parts downrange of its launch site as it climbed to Earth orbit. This meant that, in theory, any place that could host an airport might become a Space Shuttle launch and landing site.
NASA managers felt no need for a new launch and landing site; they already had two at their disposal. They planned to launch and land the Space Shuttle at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Florida’s east coast and Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), California. Nevertheless, for a time in 1971-1972, a NASA board reviewed some 150 candidate Shuttle launch and landing sites in 40 of the 50 U.S. states. A few were NASA-selected candidates, but most were put forward by members of Congress, state and local politicians, and even private individuals.
The Space Shuttle Launch and Recovery Site Review Board, as it was known, was chaired by Floyd Thompson, a former director of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. The Board got its start on 26 April 1971, when Dale Myers, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, charged it with determining whether any of the candidate sites could host a single new Shuttle launch and landing site as versatile as KSC and VAFB were together. The consolidation scheme aimed to trim Shuttle cost by eliminating redundancy.
Be sure to check out the link, if only for the retro artwork. Some are by Don Lauer, but most have a signature I can’t read (it looks like “Mirtren”).
Art by Giangi Daverio - “Welcome!”
John Wyndham - The Best of 1951-1960. Unknown artist.
Cover art by Philippe “Manchu” Bouchet for Les Enfants de l’Eternité, a 2002 French edition of Juan Miguel Aguilera’s 1990 novel Hijos de la Eternidad.