National Geographic : 1969 Dec
more about our solar system from unmanned probes. Several already are scheduled for the 1970's. These include flights to orbit Mars, others to land there, flybys of Jupiter, and the first multiple-planet flight, for which the targets will be first Venus, then Mercury. All these are exciting prospects. But they raise the most fundamental of questions: To what goals in space should we now commit ourselves as a Nation? My own belief is that we should press for ward vigorously with a balanced program scientific and technological development as well as exploration. Of course our goals, and the pace at which we strive to attain them, must reflect our national will, and there are well-informed and reasonable men who feel we should proceed more slowly. Rewards of Program Already Great It has been said that we should concentrate all our resources on problems here at home. But I believe it would be a tragedy to fore close our future in space. I believe our Nation can and must do these things simultaneously -not just one at a time. Space exploration already has made life better on earth. Satellites, to mention just one development, have been of enormous benefit. They provide more accurate data to weather forecasters, aid mariners and air craft pilots in fixing their positions, and give map makers hitherto unobtainable details of the earth's surface. In the years ahead, they will find undiscovered mineral deposits and sources of fresh water; make global agricul tural surveys and detect diseased crops; and even help in the fight against pollution of air and water.* And the conquest of space is everywhere lifting men's horizons and spirits. Not only have global satellite communications brought nations closer, but-as Col. Frank Borman's warm reception in the Soviet Union showed - space achievements are crossing the bar riers that divide men on earth. Although other targets will come within reach, the moon will occupy man for many years. The eight additional Apollo flights that are scheduled into 1973 will land our moon explorers in areas that are quite different geo logically. Next March, Apollo 13 is scheduled to be launched toward a highland region, the Fra Mauro. Other Apollo destinations include supposedly volcanic peaks, rilles, and the craters Tycho and Copernicus. *See "Remote Sensing: New Eyes to See the World," by Kenneth F. Weaver, GEOGRAPHIC, January 1969. 794 We have other immediate tasks: to make space travel simpler, more reliable, and much cheaper. How can we achieve these goals? First, we must develop re-usable rocket planes, able to shuttle hundreds of times be tween earth and earth orbit. Even a Volks wagen would be prohibitively expensive if we threw it away after each drive-and each Saturn V rocket costs $150,000,000. Second, we should harness the great poten tial of nuclear power for deep-space flight that is, beyond earth orbit. Our most power ful chemical rockets cannot deliver to far-off destinations the heavy payloads manned flight demands. Nuclear rockets can. Third, a permanent station in earth orbit would enable us to conduct needed research in many fields and would serve as an opera tions base for deep-space ventures. Designers already can envision the re usable craft we will need to shuttle between earth and the orbiting space base. These large rocket planes would take off vertically from earth, fly to orbit, discharge their cargo, re turn to earth, and land horizontally, using wings, like conventional aircraft. They could carry a dozen passengers-physicists and Setting up shop in space IN 1972, NASA plans to launch a rocket with a historic payload: Instead of fuel, its third stage will contain a prototype space station. It will orbit earth 250 miles up. Portrayed with its three-man crew (lower), the station sprouts winglike solar panels for power; others extend from a solar telescope like stationary windmill vanes. Shields pro tect the 50-foot-long cylinder from meteor oids. Inside are instruments for astronomical studies, devices to test man's capacity for prolonged space travel, and living facilities. Forward of the station rides a command and service module to return the crew to earth. In a mock-up station at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama (upper), a technician rides a bicycle exer ciser for registering metabolism. Another demonstrates shoe cleats that hook into the deck grating, giving traction in the weight lessness of space; the crew also will try jet powered shoes as a way of controlling move ment. At the rear, a third technician tries out a rotating and reclining chair that will test man's ability to keep his balance during long periods without the aid of gravity to tell him up from down. PAINTINGBY ROBERTC. MAGIS,GEOGRAPHIC ARTDIVISION; EKTACHROME BYNATIONALGEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHER EMORYKRISTOF© N.G.S .