The Collier's Plan

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Here's something we never saw:  Werner Von Braun, Willy Ley, et al's plan as laid out in Collier's. for the first manned lunar expedition.  Not landing, mind you, but expedition.  Where Apollo had the goal of putting a man on the Moon, the Collier's plan was for a beachhead to claim it.  Not to take anything away from the achievements of Apollo, but once Neil Armstrong set foot on the Sea of Tranquility, the mission was over.  But for Von Braun, who was the man behind Apollo, it was an exercise in compromise.  Just look at this behemoth touching down on the Moon.  The Apollo LEM wasn't much taller than this thing's landing legs.

The Collier's plan thought big.  Where the first Apollo landing had one ship carrying two men who would stay on the Moon for a few hours; Collier's provided for a fleet of three ships carrying fifty men, tractors, and provisions for a six weeks of exploration.  Not to mention a prefabricated habitat for future expeditions.  

The interior of the moonships were incredible.  Built in Earth orbit, the crew sphere had five decks, solar power arrays, airlocks, and a galley where it looks like the crew was being fed curling stones.  Take a look at the pilot on the top deck right.   I don't think Von Braun planned to be left behind.

And here is the landing itself.  And these guys were not just popping down to collect rocks.  Two of the ships would return to Earth to be reused for the next expedition while the supply ship was dismantled to provide materials for the first lunar colony.  The total cost of all this was supposed to be $300 million, but I think they might have been just a tad optimistic in light of Apollo's $25 billion price tag.

Artwork copyrightę Bonestell Space Art, used with permission

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