What if

What if:

  • We had not landed on the moon in 1969, but given up after the fire on Apollo 11?
  • We had skipped the space shuttle and built a moon base? A Mars Base?
  • President Kennedy had not decisively called us to action in 1962 to go to the moon?
  • We never invented Tang? (which actually had nothing to do with the space program, but think about a world without Tang!)
  • President Kennedy had not been shot, or he had been shot but not killed?
  • The challenger hadn't exploded in 1986?
  • Columbia wasn't destroyed in 2003?
  • We let private enterprises buy Mir and helped them run it?
  • We had built Gerrard O'Neill's space colony?
  • We had picked up the pieces from the Challenger accident in 1986 and turned the space program around then?
  • We heard alien communications on another planet, how would we contact them?
  • War broke out and our planet was permanently ruined, where would we go?
  • We made contact with alien life forms tomorrow, how prepared would we be for an attack? To greet them peacefully?
  • The Apollo 11 astronauts were stranded on the moon and only Michael Collins had made it home?
  • The Apollo 13 crew didn't make it home?
  • The fire didn't happen in Apollo 1?
  • The Vietnam war wasn't going on during the 1960's space race?
  • The Russians had beat us to the moon?
  • We had continued working closely with the Russians following the Apollo/Soyuz docking?
  • The US Govenment had bought Mir from the Russians in 2000?
  • We had continued the Star Wars weapons in space program?
  • We had not lost the plans to the Saturn rocket system?
  • We didn't have computers, primitive as they may have been, to help us get to the moon?
  • We had developed a space shuttle that met the original low cost/high rate of flight specification we originally set out to create?
  • We had developed a space shuttle that did not have such small radius leading edge flight surfaces and been able to use a heat shield system that is not so brittle?
  • What if the answer to the meaning of universe is in fact 42?
  • We had forced large companies that supply parts/design/services to act like small nimble businesses and innovate like them?
  • The Chinese are walking on the moon in 2015 and we haven't flown Ares yet?
  • We could collect power from the sun in space and beam it to the surface of the earth?
  • We found microorganisms on Mars or Europa tomorrow?
  • While building a better rocket to mars, we discovered new technology to take us to Canus Major?
  • We found a cure for cancer in the mineral deposits of the craters of Oberon, Uranus' moon?
  • We gave the world something positive to work toward, together?
  • We found a new way to make delicious food last for years at a time while building a moon base?
  • What if we don't review the successor to the Space Shuttle program and end up building another system that doesn't accomplish any of our goals?
  • What if we abandon the US Space program?
  • What if we Open Source all of the US Space Program technologies and let competitions run for every component we need?
  • What if several of the Google Lunar X Prize teams is wildly successful?
  • What if Virgin Galactic is flying hundreds of people on suborbital flights in a few years?
  • What if there's an accident?  What if there isn't?
  • What if breakthroughs in robotics in space exploration lead to fully autonomous vehicles on earth?