Moon shots

Futurism. Everything new is old. A look at some of the The shuttle’s potential successors. Unbelievably, Boeing’s X-20 Dyna-Soar concept (one of the best spaceship names ever) dates back to 1958, over two decades before the Shuttle project came to fruition. The Dyna-Soar was cancelled just five years later (with the defence budget millions going to the equally doomed Manned Orbiting Laboratory instead). It owed its genesis to a wartime German concept, the Silbervogel: ‘it was still calculated that the Silbervogel would be able to cross the Atlantic, deliver a 4,000 kg bomb to the continental US, and then continue its flight to a landing site somewhere in the Japanese held Pacific, a total journey of 19,000 to 24,000 km.’ More speculation on WWII suborbital bombing at Tabula Rasa, an alternative history portal, and ‘the story of Eugen Sänger’s Silbervogel‘ at Atomic Rockets.

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Related, Deep Cold, ‘the Cold War in space, 1959-1969’, a site rich with rendered speculation about a space-based US-Soviet arms race and the abandoned Russian moon programme (more here at Out of the Cradle) / related, a Music Video / Boeing vs Airbus, which is best (a pilot’s perspective) / Moonbase Central, toys from the golden era of space travel / MeFi Magazine had completely passed us by. Issue 4 has a piece by Brandon Blatcher on Neil Armstrong’s path to the moon and how ultimately, a prosaic reason helped back up long-running and highly complex internal politics: ‘[The Lunar Module exit hatch] was on the commander’s side of the ship and it made sense for [Armstrong] to go out first, especially in the cramped quarters of the tiny LM. Experiments had been done on earth, to see if Aldrin could maneuver around Armstrong in a bulky space suit and life support backpack. It was possible, but the close quarters usually resulted in the astronauts damaging the interior somehow. The decision was sold to the public and press as a practical one.’

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Vertical Urbanism is a new site by Andrew Harris of the UCL Urban Laboratory about ‘the flyovers and skywalks in Mumbai’, and the undercroft culture that has grown up around these concrete ribbons. Unlike the very regulated infrastructure that now accompanies the massive brick railway arches in, say, London, there’s a far more ad-hoc and casual approach to the colonisation of this space. We’re reminded of the issues surrounding the undercroft of London’s Westway, that endlessly fascinating ring road fragment, lauded by Ballard and the psychogeographers and innately revealing about London’s layered history and complex, controversial, desire for land ownership.

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