Everything Under The Sun... And Then Some!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 27: LOVE DRIFTS AWAY


Iconic Scene: Quite a few really. Just see the following photos.

Quotable Quotes: The entire surface! It's been annihilated!

Best Character: Hikaru for finally giving up on Minmay... for now at least.

Best Death: Bodolza, of course.

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This was supposed to be the final episode of the series and it definitely shows it. The entire surface of the Earth (well maybe not all, see following episodes) gets glassed (a scifi term meaning it was blasted so much it turned into volcanic glass) and it's pretty much up to the Macross and their new Zentradi allies to save what's left. This was something of a leftover from when Macross had its much more apocalyptic 52 episode outline where the earth would be slowly devastated over the course of the series and pretty much only the crew of the Macross would be left. Also, the love triangle is SEEMINGLY resolved with Hikaru formally giving up on Minmay, and even doing a gallant rescue of Misa from where she was trapped in the ruins of the UN Spacy Alaska Base. Then they fly off into the sunset where the Macross stands silhouetted. All's well that ends well, right? RIGHT?!

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If this had been where the series ended, this would have been the ONLY time we would have seen an actual Destroid pilot.







Monster pilots. Perhaps even almost literally.







Is this a regular occurrence?







The mighty UN Spacy fleet... right before being totally annihilated.









War spares no one. Also, I find it hilarious that in the Robotech version of this episode they felt the need to stuff in some dialogue here even though the characters are on screen for all of 2 seconds.






The Grand Cannon is fired way too damn late but at least it gives Britai, Laplamiz and the Macross an opening.






Loli, Conda and Warera wish Minmay good luck. Also, Minmay has a derp face here.






All wings, standing by.






Finally some Nousjaduel-Ger! I'm pretty sure this is the only time besides the DYRL movie that they show up.






We also finally get to see the Macross's other weapons used in concert.






Max and Milia's Super VF-1Js going into battle!






Minmay, you're gonna really wish you were with Hikaru two years from now...






You know Hikaru, that's what the head lasers are for. Jeez, even in the final battle (sort of) he still sorta gets shot down.






The famous Orguss battroid






I don't think this Zentradi ship has any official lineart?






Damage to the Cafe Variation. Apparently the civilian population of the Macross was eventually whittled down from 58,000 to 40,000 and I would bet a lot of that happened here as the Macross took several bad hits.






Not sure why this was done in white and gray...






Go for the power regulator on the north tower, Wedge! Oh wait, wrong thing...






Should have left well enough alone, Bodolza.






Thanks to Star Wars now everyone has destroy large objects in space spectacularly






So if this really is where Macross City will be established... how did they get all that water to fill the lake?









So they're together now, right? RIGHT?




Tuesday, May 16, 2017

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 26: MESSENGER


ICONIC SCENE: The Macross and about 1,200 of Britai and Laplamiz's ships against 4,790,260 ships of the Bodol Main Fleet. Brown Trousers on standby.

QUOTABLE QUOTES: "What is the function of that flimsy garment? [lingerie]

BEST CHARACTER: Exedol, especially for his gloriously awful attempt at My Boyfriend Is A Pilot.

BEST DEATH: The Quamzin squad schmucks that Britai has to shoot down because Quamzin is himself a schmuck.

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The places are set, the roles cast, the deep breath before the plunge is taken. Exedol finally gets to meet directly with the command staff of the Macross, Misa, Hikaru, Max, Millia, Minmay and, unfortunately, Kaifun. Although, I do have to laugh uproariously at how even though this seems to be the exact kind of thing that Kaifun would want, i.e. the military sitting down with one of the leaders of their enemy to talk rather than fight, he remain so self-righteously stubborn about it all. He's even the first one to give up and declare things hopeless when the Bodol Main Fleet shows up! What a little pissant.
Anyway, even though it looks like the Britai/Laplamiz fleet will be calling a ceasefire with the Macross, it doesn't much matter as the massive bulk of the Bodol Main Fleet shows up in Earth orbit. Pants to be darkened.

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 25: VIRGIN ROAD




Iconic Scene: Ya think ya got enough cake there?

Quotable Quotes: Our love is strong enough to conquer all that!!

Best Character: Global for his speech that starts out sounding like a blistering indictment against aliens... and then becomes a call for peace so much better than Kaifun's bawling.

Best Death: Nobody notable

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The various problems with this episode have been elaborated on at length by Richard Clark, so I'll just say that I really am not surprised Max and Milia have problems in their marriage in Macross 7 considering how "whirlwind" their romance is here. Seriously, it goes from attempted murder to matrimony in like five minutes.

Monday, May 15, 2017

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | INTERLUDE THE SECOND



And so the second third of the series ends.

This is where the series really came into its own with a unique story that took the real robot concepts made famous by Mobile Suit Gundam and puts their own twist on it. The only negative would be the appearance of Kaifun. As I said before, if he was designed to be hated, they succeeded in SPADES.

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 24: GOOD-BYE GIRL





Iconic Scene: Not a duck.

Quotable Quotes: Shammy! Launch the Booby Duck!

Best Character: Hikaru because not only does he fly the Super Valkyrie but he seems to finally be getting it that he and Misa have something much more tangible than emotional stress after being trapped for two weeks.

Best Death: Again, the poor Zentradi that messed with Max and his new VF-1J

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The beloved Super Valkyrie makes its debut and Hikaru now has another woman walk out of his life, sort of. At least he sort of seems to be getting that he has a thing with Misa.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 23: DROP OUT




Iconic Scene: Hikaru and Misa have a moment in the Nyan Nyan Cafe.

Quotable Quotes: Who knows? War is the only thing our enemy knows, right? But we'll put an end to it someday.

Best Character: Misa, for just being awesome this time around.

Best Death: Nobody notable.

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There's hope now in the form of the Zentradi defectors... and that Misa has FINALLY given up on that douche-nozzle Kaifun... even though she already did that back in episode 16... whatever.

Friday, May 12, 2017

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 22: LOVE CONCERT




Iconic Scene: Did she have some head trauma? Nope, just animation trauma.

Quotable Quotes: There he is! No doubt about it, that's the ace who beat me!

Best Character: Kaifun for getting konked on the head by a stage light. Pity it didn't kill him.

Best Death: All the poor buggers that likely get killed as the Zentradi start blowing up the city.

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The thing that stood out to me the most about this episode was that this was the first of many, many stupid things that Kaifun will do. Since we're talking fiction I have no compunctions against saying that I kinda hope lots of people got their stupid selves killed listening to him. Oh who am I kidding, he'd just blame it on the military.

Actually no, the first stupid thing that Kaifun did was open his big, fat gob and start talking.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 21: MICRO-COSMOS





Iconic Scene: THIS IS THE LEGENDARY POWER!!

Quotable Quotes: Did you guys do stuff like that [kissing] with Minmay?!

Best Character: Hard to call in this one, Nobody really stands out. Maybe I'll say it's the three spies again, for blatantly lying about making out with Minmay.

Best Death: Again, no actual deaths except for maybe the death of the imaginary relationship Hikaru had with Minmay.

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Another link in the chain leading to what would have been the finale. Minmay and Kaifun's movie Shao-Pai-Long premieres... and somehow Britai and Exedol are able to watch it? What the heck? Last I checked, movies, especially in the 1980s, weren't broadcast. Maybe they are doing it on this occasion so all the crew of the Macross can see the premiere even if they're not actually there? Hikaru can't stomach the sight of Kaifun getting his incest on and runs into Misa (literally) and they get to have another moment. Given that Macross The First retconned in references to the Vajra, I'm actually not surprised that Britai and Exedol can believe that the miclones have the power supposedly demonstrated in the movie. They'll pass this along to Bodolza and it'll lead to his decision to attack Earth.
Incidentally, Shao Pai Long is my least favorite Minmay song, initially because it simply had something to do with Kaifun but now... I dunno I can't really point to anything specific, I just don't like it as much as some of her other songs like Silver Moon, Red Moon and My Boyfriend is a Pilot.

ADDENDUM: Concerning the crack I made in this post about Kaifun and Minmay getting their incest on, it's been brought to my attention that I missed a line of Hikaru in one episode that, combined with other evidence, very possibly means that Kaifun is not the son of Minmay's aunt and uncle but the son of her uncle from a previous marriage. This means that they are not blood cousins. This would make their romance not literally incestual but... it's still kinda squicky anyhow. And I still hate Kaifun.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 20: PARADISE LOST



Iconic Scene: What is this? A rummage sale for ANTS?!

Quotable Quotes: I guess we're Macrossians now?

Best Character: Loli, Conda and Warera for being the secret purveyors of culture. :)

Best Death: None in this episode, as I recall


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And another good build to the plot here. After the last episode where the characters are beat down with the hopelessness of their situation, it begins to spread to the civilians as well but they take a more optimistic view of it. With the Zentradi, Loli, Conda and Warera have begun their tenure as the Heralds of Culture, spreading it amongst the fleet.
Global has to break the news to the Macross's civilian population and his heartfelt speech helps to deflect some of the anger that might come his way and the way of the military crew as well as Minmay's speech and song, probably more on Minmay's part more than Global. Incidentally, the scene where Kaifun pats Global on the back... considering his attitude before now, after and during the after war arc makes me consider this action to be wholly out of character. Must have been a hiccup on the part of the writers' minds or somesuch.
Also, I wonder what the different colored stripes on the three spies' uniforms mean? Likely nothing as you can see more than a dozen and a half variations on the UN Spacy uniform on just the Macross.

Monday, May 8, 2017

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 19: BURST POINT

I  think they must have blurred this out for the BD release.
I remember it being much more... graphic in the ADV dub.

Iconic Scene: So long, Kakizaki.

Quotable Quotes: The barrier is going to overload!

Best Character: Hard to say in this one but I think we can award this one to Kakizaki's widow, 20 oz. Porterhouse. :3

Best Death: Kakizaki is going away this time, although his death here is not nearly as gruesome as it will be in DYRL.

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Now THIS is a twist. Hot on the heels of Roy's death comes the death of Kakizaki and not JUST that but the final dashing of the hopes of getting the Macross's civilian population off the ship. This was a good place for this as we're nearing the end of the second third of the show and Macross was originally supposed to end eight episodes from now. It's time that the characters got kicked down and kicked again before they can rise back up. Hikaru has now lost not just his squadron leader but his sempai and now his wingman. Misa is depressed over various things, Minmay is being driven into exhaustion and generally there is an air of hopelessness. Certainly doesn't help that the UN Spacy brass has decided that a ship full of both thousands of their soldiers and thousands of civilians needs to be their sacrificial lamb.

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 18: PINEAPPLE SALAD



Iconic Scene: The deadliest thing in the universe, an anti-plot armor equation.

Quotable Quotes: Hikaru's lucky, he's got a real ace on his team...

Best Character: C'mon, it's Roy. This is his going-away party and it's great.

Best Death: Do I even need to say?


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What else can be said about this episode except that it likely had a bigger impact here in the west than it did back in Japan. Sempai characters dying is not something new to anime (just looks at Ryu Jose from Gundam) and indeed the trope of mentor characters dying so the hero can stand on his own feet is about as old as stories themselves.
The one thing I do have to wonder about this episode is, why did Roy do what he did? Why go to Claudia's instead of the hospital? My theory is that he figured he was bad enough off that there was as much a chance of dying on the operating table as surviving and if this was his time to go, might as well spend it with his lady love than being cut open by the docs.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 17: PHANTASMS



Iconic Scene: We're flying, E.T.!! (insert John Williams score here)

Best Character: Giant Dream Kaifun for dying

Quotable Quotes: "Today, 1st Lieutenant Hikaru Ichijo, also known as the Crash King, tried to fly his bike into space."

Best death: No ACTUAL deaths but still fun to see Kaifun get the end he should have had in episode 34.


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Back in 1989, as the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation wrapped up, they did a clipshow as the season finale called Shades of Grey. A somewhat appropriate title as the episode involved flashing back to a lot of the worst moments of seasons 1-2 of TNG (and there were a LOT of those). The flashbacks were presented as a kind of coma dream that they were giving Riker and the same sort of thing happens in this episode. Even though it comes just two episodes after the last clipshow, it's presented with new footage that makes for a surrealistic dream of Hikaru's. One thing to note is that in the dream, Dream Kaifun says that he won't let Minmay date anyone from the military. Hikaru doesn't hesitate in ripping off his flight suit to reveal his old civilian flight suit underneath. However, two years later when Minmay herself asks Hikaru to quit the military... he hesitates and ultimately doesn't go through with it.

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If you want to be reminded of how bad Shades of Gray was, here's SF Debris' video review of it!
(His service isn't working ATM. I'll post the link as soon as it's restored.)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 16: KUNG-FU DANDY



Iconic Scene: Kaifun getting just a little bit of what he so richly deserves.

Quotable Quotes: "Wha! Wha! Wha! Wha! (seriously, that's what Kaifun sounds like to me.)

Best Character: Nobody really, just about everyone gets the short end of the stick in this episode.

Best Death: Once again, no deaths but Misa almost seals Hikaru's fate.

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Personally, this episode is one of the worst, not in a general sense but just that it focuses so much on new character Lynn Kaifun. I hate Kaifun. I really, really, really, REALLY hate this guy. I HATE this sanctimonious, smug, self-righteous, John-Travolta-In-Saturday-Night-Fever-Imitating, hypocritical dandy!!!
But then again, you’re supposed to hate him, even staff members hated this guy (I suspect that might be why his role in the franchise is continually reduced; they don’t even feature him in the pachinko footage at all). As other people have pointed out, the primary problem with Kaifun is his pacifism. Not that pacifism is inherently bad or anything (although thanks to Gundam Wing I can now spell pacifism backwards…) but Kaifun just spouts off some good-sounding ideas mixed with a bunch of complete bullcrap such as “soldiers only join the military because they like killing.” Which is then immediately undercut by Misa, Claudia and the bunnie's discussion on why they didn’t join the military for that reason. Everyone is just in a bad mood this episode, I suppose it’s because Kaifun spreads misery and ruin wherever he goes. Oh and to top it all off, why did even Misa have to get caught up with this guy and nearly kill Hikaru? And even though she admits to herself at the end of the episode that Kaifun is not Riber, she’s still going to be mooning over him for several episodes more. ARGH!

Lynn Kaifun: designed to be hated and succeeds spectacularly!

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 15: CHINATOWN


Iconic Scene: NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!

Quotable Quotes: "Our personal relationship has no bearing here!

Best Character: Captain Global, for keeping a stiff upper lip, even when its clear the brass has thrown them to the proverbial wolves.

Best Death: Again, no notables here.


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The waters are beginning to get even more choppy here. Misa and Captain Global deliver their report about the Zentraedi fleet to the UN Spacy bigwigs, who seem remarkably reluctant to believe said report. Global and Misa also find out that the story the brass spun about the Macross's disappearance was that it was destroyed along with the city and all of South Ataria Island and now they won't let the civilians off the ship. This seems to be a very strange attitude to take because their explanation is that they didn't want to cause a panic by revealing the earth was under the attack of alien forces. But doesn't everyone already know that aliens exist? When the Macross crash landed back in 1999 it was not exactly subtle. As a final F-you, Misa's father, who is also one of the bigwigs, gives her a note telling her to get off of the Macross. On the one hand, I can understand why he wouldn't want his daughter in such a dangerous situation. On the other hand however it seems, again, cold-blooded of him to not give two damns about the tens of thousands of civilians on board Macross but want to make sure that his own daughter is safe. Newsflash genius: your daughter's in the military and if you didn't want her to be in danger you should never have let her join!

Friday, May 5, 2017

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 14: GLOBAL REPORT


Episode 14 is the first of two clip shows and isn't as... inventive as episode 17. So, not much to talk about here.

MACROSS MEGA MARATHON | EPISODE 13: BLUE WIND


Iconic Scene: The Macross finally returns to Earth.

Quotable Quotes: "You're wearing a female uniform!"

Best Character: The Three Spies for being completely sincere in all that they do. :3

Best Death: No notables this time.

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Not much to talk about in this episode. The Macross makes its return to Earth, despite more of Kamujin's plotting. The real show in this episode is Loli, Conda and Warera finally moving into the city section of the Macross. Most of the time, the old gag of man-dresses-as-woman usually results in some very low-brow comedy but here it works becuase the three spies are absolutely sincere in everything they do. I mean if you live in a society that has no casual clothes, how would you possibly be able to tell the difference between men's and women's clothes? Also, aren't the Prometheus and Daedalus on the wrong sides in this scene?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What If Apollo Never Died? Part 1



I find myself in the mood to write. In order to flex my writing muscles, if you will, I decided to engage in a bit of speculation, to whit, the title of this article.

Make no mistake, Apollo didn't just die, it was killed. There were many factors contributing to this: the Vietnam War, lack of both government and public interest, political interference. As President Lyndon B. Johnson, the space program's biggest supporter, colorfully put it, it was all "pissed away."
Again, make no mistake, figuratively and literally demolishing the Apollo infrastructure and systems in favor of the built-from-the-ground-up/wholly-new Space Shuttle was extremely costly in both money and knowledge.

In our history, Apollo moon missions ended after only six landings in December 1972 with Apollo 17. Of those landing only three of them had truly begun to scratch the surface of what was on the Moon. The program then gave its last big gasp with Skylab, launched in 1973. The interim space station hosted three crews and actually did accomplish a great many feats of research, endurance and observation. Finally, things sputtered to a close with the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in July 1975. No American astronauts would go into space again until the Space Shuttle was finally launched in April 1981.
The Shuttle had a hard life, don't get me wrong. It's purpose was continually redefined over the course of its development and career and inherent frailties were exposed tragically with the loss of Challenger and Columbia. When it finally came to time to build the massive space base that NASA had been jockeying for since the late 60s, it came at the prices of being reliant on international cooperation and having to use launch vehicles that would take many, many trips to fully assemble the station.  And now, almost 10 years after the station was finally completed, they're talking about de-orbiting it in the early 2020s. And with the Shuttle program ended in 2011, we now wait to see if NASA can get back on the horse, as it were, or will have to become utterly dependent, some would say subservient, to private enterprise for human spaceflight.

But what if things went a little bit differently? What if the government and the American people had chosen to squeeze the $24 billion Apollo investment for all it was worth?


In my mind, at least three things would have to change to guarantee Apollo to continue. These are pretty big historical fudges, I'll grant, but since the very nature of this is speculation, we might as well go all out.

1. The Vietnam War either doesn't happen or is a much smaller conflict that the US is able to exit from without massive civilian ire and/or drain on taxes. 

2. Nixon does not become President in 1968.

3. NASA does a MUCH better job on its PR.

Admittedly, the fudge-iest one of the three is Nixon. I do feel that he needs to be removed from the equation as much as possible however, as he was not terribly interested in the space program, insomuch as it could be a tool for personal prestige. At least Kennedy, with his doubts, felt it should be a tool for national prestige. But as I said, this is speculative anyway, so we'll just say that for this timeline scenario, Johnson runs for a second term and actually does manage to defeat Nixon by a very, VERY slim margin. In fact it goes down as the absolute closest election in US history. As for Vietnam, as much as I would like to spare the soldiers from that hell, it's more than likely it would still occur no matter what in any realistic setting. Keeping it small is probably the most likely of outcomes. I say all this though without saying that I am an expert on history or politics so bear with me.
Now that the stage is set, we enter the Apollo program as it begins in 1967...


1967-1968

Apollo 1 was to launch in February 1967 to test the brand-new Apollo CSM (Command/Service Module). The crew was, however, tragically killed in a fire on the launch pad during a launch dress rehearsal. Manned missions would stop for about 20 months while the spacecraft was rebuilt. Testing of the Lunar Module (LM) and the Saturn V rocket would continue. Just to add a bit of a twist to our alternate history speculating, while NASA did cancel the next two flights that would have been Apollo 2 and 3, they then shuffled those numbers forward to the missions that did fly. Thus we get Apollo 4, first flight of the operational Saturn V rocket, becoming Apollo 2 and etc. The remaining schedule would follow history much as it did.
NASA also used an alphanumeric code system to classify the different Apollo missions

A missions would test the Saturn V
B missions would test the unmanned LM in Earth orbit
C mission would be manned test flights of the CSM
D missions would test the complete spacecraft stack in Earth orbit
E missions would test the CSM/LM combination in a high. elliptical Earth orbit
F missions would be the dress rehearsal for the first landing
G mission would be the first landing attempt (possibly multiple attempts if Apollo 11 had crashed)

After the first landing was accomplished, additional mission types were added.

H missions would be extended stays on the lunar surface of up to 2 days
I missions would be lunar observation from orbit
J missions would be extended stays of up to 3 days on the Moon with an instrument bay in the orbiting CSM and the moonwalkers using the Lunar Rover on the surface.

In our history only the A, B, C, D, F, G, H and J missions were flown. In this alternate timeline, it would go something like this.

Apollo 2 (A1) is the first test launch of the Saturn V (vehicle AS-501) on November 9, 1967

Apollo 3 (B1) is the unmanned test mission of the LM on January 22-23, 1968, using the AS-204 Saturn IB rocket originally meant for Apollo 1

Apollo 4 (A2) is the second test launch of the Saturn V (AS-502) on April 4, 1968. It suffers several major glitches but these are able to be corrected in order to man-rate the Saturn V

Apollo 5, launched in October 1968 on the SA-205 Saturn IB, tests the new CSM in LEO (low Earth orbit) for ten days. The crew is Mercury veteran Wally Schirra and rookies Don Eisle and Walt Cunningham. However, due to certain complications with the crew, especially in the wake of the Apollo 1 fire, NASA management quietly makes sure that none of three ever fly again.

Apollo 6 is launched in December 1968 as the C Prime mission on the AS-503 booster. Due to fears that a recently discovered Soviet superbooster (in reality the N1-L3 rocket) would get cosmonauts to the Moon before the US did, the CSM is launched to and orbits the Moon with the crew of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders.


1969

Apollo 7 (D/E1) is launched on Saturn V AS-504 in March, 1969. After reaching initial orbit, they fire their S-IVB third stage and fly an elliptical Earth orbit with an apogee of 4,000 miles and perigee of 150 miles to test the complete CSM/LM combination. Crew was Jim McDivitt, Dave Scott and Rusty Schweickart. During this mission, NASA revived the concept of naming the spacecraft, which had been abandoned in the Gemini program (with the exception of Gus Grissom's name for Gemini 3, the "unsinkable" Molly Brown). They named the CSM Gumdrop and the LM Spider.

Apollo 8 (F1) launches in May on the AS-505 booster, aiming to test the CSM and LM in lunar orbit and mock descent. The crew of Tom Stafford, John Young and Gene Cernan put Charlie Brown and Snoopy through their lunar paces.

Apollo 9 (G1) makes the first landing in July 1969, fulfilling Kennedy's deadline. AS-506 delivers the Columbia and Eagle to the moon where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first astronauts to walk on its surface... but only for two hours.

Apollo 10 (H1) duplicates this attempt but stays for slightly longer. AS-507 boosts Yankee Clipper and Intrepid to the Ocean of Storms where Pete Conrad and Al Bean land Intrepid within 600 feet of the derelict Surveyor 3 probe


1970-1971

Apollo 11 (H2) is intended to use the AS-508 booster to place Odyssey and Aquarius on course to the Moon with crew of Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise. However, an explosion in an oxygen tank on April 13, 1970 cripples their spacecraft and, well, you know the rest.

Now we start entering the realm of the truly speculative. Apollo had already begun to feel the budget office scythe before Neil Armstrong even made his famous quote. The request for more Saturn V rockets was denied in 1968 and by 1970 the production lines were completely shut down. Not so here. In fact it is in this year of our fictional timeline that the first of the new lot of Saturn V rockets, AS-516, starts production. Also, with more funding and with the PR department playing up the heroism of astronauts and mission controllers in saving Apollo 11 from complete disaster, there isn't as much pressure to stretch out time between missions.

Apollo 12 (H3) resumes moon missions on January 31, 1971. Crew is Alan Shepard, Stu Roosa and Ed Mitchell and spacecraft are Kitty Hawk and Antares.

Apollo 13 (H4) blasts off on the AS-510 booster June 6, 1971 with crew of Dave Scott, Al Worden and Jim Irwin. Crew named their spacecraft Endeavour and Falcon. This mission continues to be an H-class mission because in this timeline, NASA boss Thomas Paine does not engage in an ill-advised attempt at trading with the Nixon White House.

Apollo 14 (J1) is the most ambitious mission yet. Launched on October 31, 1971, the AS-511 booster sends Casper and Orion with crew of John Young, Ken Mattingly and Charlie Duke on a three-day stay at the Moon with Mattingly operating a Scientific Instrument Bay in the Service Module and Young and Duke driving the Lunar Rover on the surface for the first time.



1972

Apollo 15 (J2) is launched by the AS-512 booster on March 6, 1972, the program's first night launch. Spacecraft America and Challenger, with crew of Gene Cernan, Ron Evans and Joe Engle conduct a three day mission tot he Taurus-Littrow Valley, one of the most spectacular sites on the Moon so far.

Now things begin to change even more...

Without heavy cutbacks, President Johnson still supporting, and more public support in general (and even some in Congress!), the Apollo Application Program moves ahead. More Saturn Vs are being built and the Skylab space station moves forward faster than it did originally.

On May 14, 1972 (exactly one year earlier than it was originally launched) Skylab (SL1) is lofted into orbit by the AS-513 Saturn V, the third stage of which had been converted into the Orbital Workshop. But in a case of the number 13 perhaps biting NASA in the hindquarters again, the station is damaged on ascent and the Skylab 2 crew (SL2), launched on the SA-206 rocket, had to effect ad-hoc repairs. They then stayed for 28 days, the longest a US crew had been in space to that point. The only difference with the real-life Skylab is that this version launched without the Apollo Telescope Mount, which had been created out of a LM that never flew to the Moon.


On July 4, 1972, Apollo 16 (J3) created spectacular Fourth of July fireworks in the program's second night launch. The AS-514 booster propelled the spacecraft Independence and Liberty to the Moon with crew of Dick Gordon, Vance Brand and Dr. Harrison 'Jack' Schmitt. Gordon and Schmitt's mission was ambitious. In addition to the fact that Schmitt would be the first professional scientist/geologist to walk on the moon, their target was the Tycho crater, one of the brightest on the Moon and also the landing sight of the Surveyor 7 probe. They spent three days exploring the rim of the crater before returning to their CSM in orbit.

Later that month, the Skylab 3 mission (SL3) has an astronaut crew stay for twice as long on the station, a total of 58 days, breaking yet another record.

The last Skylab mission (SL4) was lofted by Saturn IB SA-208 on November 16, 1972, delivering a crew that would stay for a record 84 days, clear to February, 1973! It would also be the first time that NASA would have to use both its Mission Control rooms (officially called the Mission Operations Control Rooms or MOCRs) to control two missions because Apollo 17 (I-1) would end the year with a mission launching on December 5, 1972. Launching on AS-515, the last of the original lot of Saturn Vs, the Apollo 17 CSM, named Endurance by the crew, entered lunar polar orbit for a long-duration mapping mission. Unlike previous Apollo missions, this mission was flown with only two crew, the Mission Commander and Command Module Pilot. They arrived in polar orbit on December 7 and begin full operations the next day. Another objective of the mission was to fully test the capabilities of the CSM, which was designed to have active operations up to 14 days. Previously, the longest missions had only stayed up for a maximum of 12 days. And so, from December 8 until December 16 they orbited the moon's poles, returning to Earth on the evening of December 19. Crew was Bruce McCandless and Anthony England.


We've now reached the end of the Apollo hardware that could have actually been used. Next time we'll start speculating about where new plans and technologies could have gone...