This page no longer updated from 31 October 2001. Latest version can be found at Project Horizon - Chapter 3

Lunar Ascent
Lunar Ascent - Advanced (Nuclear?) Lunar Landing Vehicle ascent stage departs from Moon as envisioned by Von Braun team in1959.

Credit: US Army. 27,444 bytes. 333 x 252 pixels.

9 JUNE 1959





1. General

Having developed a requirement for the establishment of a manned lunar outpost, we may discuss the operational concepts and facilities necessary to fulfil that requirement. From these, an organisational structure can be evolved. The treatment of the technical concepts and facilities in this chapter will be limited to that detail absolutely necessary to establishment of an organisational / operational structure.

2. Terrestrial Launch Site

In order to accomplish any space mission, a terrestrial launch site will be required. Use of any of the existing sites controlled by the United States has several disadvantages. Among there is the fact that all of these bases are geographically located as to limit firing times to but a few days each month and to require wasteful expenditure of available energy to achieve success. This latter results from the fact that none of the existing launch sites are located close to the equator. Furthermore, once human beings are either placed in orbit or dispatched on planetary missions, there can be no interfering problems regarding scheduling of firings, either regular or emergency; physical space difficulties resulting from supply build-up or other logistic considerations, etc. The terrestrial launch elite is expected to evolve into an operational complex supporting both continued R&D and firing by operational units with orbital or other space missions. Existing United States launching complexes are devoted primarily to R&D firings of weapons systems. Most such complexes are rapidly becoming saturated with such firings in the confines of their present areas. It rapidly becomes evident that a separate site will be required in order to support this national space effort in a more economical manner.

There are a great many factors involved in this requirement. They are discussed at length in Chapter V. Three major factors influencing requirements are:

In addition, of course, there are other factors influencing the attainment of such a site. For example:

For this site to be operational in sufficient time, action is demanded immediately in negotiations required for acquisition. Build-up of facilities must begin at an early date in order to meet the desired operational readiness date.

A terrestrial launch site, which supports the lunar outpost project during the early technical effort, should also support it during the operational phase. There will be practical requirements for the utilisation of the launch site for other projects possibly involving military R&D, military operations, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Practical problems thus raised are subsequently treated under organisational considerations.

3. Orbital Station

In order to successfully accomplish lunar soft landings in the time frame under consideration, firings may be undertaken either directly from the earth's surface to the destination or by means of on intermediate station in orbit about the earth. The former approach requires the expenditure of tremendous amount of energy for relatively small payloads. Therefore, it cannot provide an immediate return capability in the proposed time frame, using the boosters then available. Under those conditions, the orbital station, providing larger payloads and immediate, emergency, return capability from the moon is the most desirable choice for transport of personnel.

During early transit operations through the orbital station, facilities in orbit will be on a minimum essential austere basis. It will have rendezvous, refuelling and launch capabilities but not a vehicle assembly capability. During this period, it will be little more than an interim assembly of fuel tanks and other hardware in orbit. Personnel involved in its operation will utilise their earth-to-orbit-to-earth vehicle as living quarters for the duration of their stay in orbit. Until an orbital station is developed to a higher order of operational autonomy in support of this and perhaps other operations, it will be under the immediate operational control of the terrestrial launch site.

Throughout the operation, assembly of equipment in orbit must be directed toward the eventual establishment of more sophisticated orbital stations. As indicated previously, an early improved station may be constructed from 22 vehicle shells. Prior to any expansion of lunar outpost operations, sufficient tankage will have been placed in orbit to permit construction of two or three such stations. Having more than one station in orbit enhances future operational capability and flexibility by increasing number of possible firing times per month.

Although it is considered premature in this preliminary feasibility study to establish an exact schedule for assembly of more sophisticated orbital stations, the operational requirement must be recognised now. Some considerations which affect implementation of this requirement are that:

Early attainment of more advanced operational capability in the orbital station will contribute to other space activities as well as to this specific operation. Examples of such contributions are:

As the scope of operations at the orbital station increase, so will the interactions with other national space activities increase. Therefore, it can be expected to evolve into an independent agency supporting this terrestrial launch site, and possibly others.

4. Lunar Outpost

This goal of the project is envisioned as falling into several basic areas as follows:

These volumes have focused on the goal of establishing a lunar outpost capable of supporting 12 people. This represents a large capital expenditure. Once established, the cost is shown decreasing as a result of eliminating the capital expenditure and continuing only the life support resupply. In order to realise a full return on the investment involved, it will obviously be desired to establish additional equipment at the outpost in quantity. For example, the use of the moon as a launching site for manned or unmanned planetary expeditions will be highly desirable. As such requirements multiply it is obvious that construction, equipment, and personnel requirements will also multiply.

There exists an immediate requirement, therefore, to initiate an early industrialised expansion of the outpost giving it a capability of self-regeneration, to the greatest extent possible, from materials at hand. Each returning vehicle will bring physical and biological materials and samples back for analysis. Each sample must be critically analysed to determine its utility. Methods must then be determined and equipment transported to the lunar outpost which will contribute to a self-regenerative capability. During this secondary expansion /construction period, the operational outpost will acquire an industrial self-regenerative capability and capabilities will evolve which manifestly justify the entire effort. In addition, this nation will be in the position of having contributed in an early and timely manner to the extension of man's horizon.


1. General

As indicated earlier, it is expected that the terrestrial launch site and the orbital station will have applications in both R&D and operational activities of other projects. The potential scientific applications of the lunar outpost cover a broad spectrum of activities.

The scope of activities which must occur at the locations of the essential elements of this specific operation call for a full range of support including military, technical R&D; civilian (NASA) scientific research; operational logistics; operational space activity. This involves full Military Air Transport Service and Military Sea Transportation Service type support plus possibly civil air lift and merchant marine. One or more of there requirements, will overlap assigned missions of major existing unified commands extending over broad geographical areas.

There will be requirements for support from and to other elements of government. Such requirements will affect both technical and operational elements of any organisation set up for the accomplishment of this specific mission. One case, in point, is support of NASA scientific programs. Examples of other support or guidance requirements from or to governmental departments other than Defence are at follows:

Some would have special responsibilities and delegated authorities peculiar to their particular operational situation. For example, the launch site may have major responsibilities in inter-departmental operations approaching that of one of the existing National Missile Ranges; the orbital station may have a major communications responsibility to the entire project, etc.

Both the project management and terrestrial launch site will require a full range of conventional and space-peculiar operational technical support. Technical support at the launch site must have the capability of cross service support to military and civil departments of government. Technical channels of communication should prevail on technical matters without abrogating or diluting responsibility.

3. Staff Organisation

As previously noted, a full range of technical staffing and support is required. However, special mission-peculiar operational requirements exist and must be clearly identified and treated in future planning documents. It must be recognised that all Planning factors for an operation of this magnitude and significance are not firm, particularly during the early stages of feasibility demonstration and for the operational as opposed to the purely technical.

At least in the early stages of operation of the orbital station and the lunar outpost, a different staffing pattern will prevail. Individuals must have a wide range of carefully selected skills. While this poses no insurmountable problems, it does require very careful co-ordination in all phases of operation from first concept approval until expansion of operations to a considerable degree at some yet undetermined date.

The preceding discussions suggest that early activation, staffing and training of the various agencies is mandatory. Full optimum, most-economical operations will result from a carefully planned activation program. Waiting until the full requirement is imminent would, in any given instance, delay or hazard some facet of operations.



From the viewpoint of national security, the primary implication of the feasibility of establishment of a lunar outpost is the importance of being first. Clearly, we cannot exercise an option between peaceful and military applications unless we are first.

For political and psychological reasons, anything short of being first on the lunar surface would be catastrophic. Being first will have so much political significance that no one can say at this time what the absolute effects will be. However, it is apparent from past space accomplishments that being second again cannot be tolerated.


Any new venture of the magnitude of this study creates an immediate requirement for both general and specific policy guidance. Policy is a product of times and circumstances. Man's experience in space matters is short, and the circumstances of his space activities are extensions of all the complex relations which preceded them. Accordingly, we have not evolved a comprehensive body of even controversial, much less agreed policy.

Both the Executive and the Legislative branches of the United States Government have devoted considerable attention to the subject for approximately one and one-half years. The policy which has evolved from Legislative or Executive action is still quite general. No specific policy directed at the subject of this study was found.

An effort has been made to analyse existing general policy and to summarise it in a form suitable act background for this study. That summary is in Appendix A. There has been no conscious effort at abstraction of points of policy pertinent only to this subject. Rather, the effort was to summarise the general policy. This subject will require an early and continuing effort at immediate development, correlation, and codification of policy.

For the present, then, the policy, as the requirements, must be judged against the background of contemporary international political and military situations. The general policy, however, is sufficiently clear in stating the urgency of the situation.

The intelligence estimates which support statements of national policy credit the Soviet Union with a capability of accomplishing the objectives of this study any time after 1965. Therefore, we may infer a requirement from national policy.


1. Political and Psychological

The political and psychological implications of our failure to be first in space are a matter of public record. This failure has reflected adversely on United States military, scientific, and political leadership. To some extent we have recovered the loss. However, once having been second best in the eyes of the world's population, we are not now in a position to afford being second on any other major step in space. We have already stretched our luck in being second with the space probe and sun satellite. However, the political implications of the space activities accomplished to date have not been nearly as serious as those which will result from failure to be first in this operation.

The results of failure to first place man on extra-terrestrial, naturally-occurring, real estate will raise grave political questions and at the same time lower United States prestige and influence in dealing with this and related problems. The Soviet Union have announced openly its intention that some of its citizens will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the present government (1967) on the lunar surface. The United States intelligence community agrees that the Soviet Union may accomplish a manned lunar landing at any time after 1965. Judging from past experience, it is easy to visualise all manner of political and legal implications which the Soviet Union might postulate as a result of such a successful accomplishment. As is so often the care in points of law, the effect is the derivative of the precedent.

There are possibly other applications of space which will permit earlier derivation of meaningful military capabilities than will a successful lunar outpost provided these applications are pursued vigorously. Individually, however, they will not have the same political impact.

In the still vague body of fact and thought on the subject, world opinion may be expected to view the other applications similar to actions on the high seas and also to view the establishment of a first lunar outpost as similar to proprietary rights derived from first occupancy. As the Congress has noted, we are caught in a stream in which we have no choice but to proceed. Our success depends strongly on the decisiveness with which we exercise our current options. The lunar outpost is the most immediate such case. It is the basis for others more far-reaching such as further inter-planetary exploration

More detailed coverage of legal and political implications may be found in Appendix B. They are directly related to policy discussions in Appendix A.

2. National Security

Volume II of this study indicates that it has the objective of treating the subject up to and including the establishment and maintenance of a twelve-man outpost of which approximately fifty percent (six men) would have the continued functions of life support operations. This would include operation and maintenance of equipment with perhaps minor technical improvements in the outpost. While it may be granted that this achievement will have been a major national accomplishment from the political and diplomatic viewpoint and will provide the know-how for expansion, it will not satisfy all of the foreseeable national security requirements. It is, therefore, merely a point of departure for security considerations.

The total extent of the military applications, which may evolve after the establishment of the initial outpost, is a function of variables which require operational and/or technical evaluation beyond the scope of this study. Some entail National Security Council. type evaluation. Examples are:

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Last update 12 March 2001.
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