Lost Futures:From Steam To Steel To Space
This thread is a revival of its old Amarna counterpart. Its mission is the same discuss and post technological  futures that have yet to happen or never did across the ages. From the constantly thwarted efforts to explore the final frontier to proto cindy architecture in the 18th century to canceled 2000s war fighter projects all is welcome!
I will post something more substantial on one of these topics later, for now I will ask you to go forth and post whatever cool technique thing that has yet to exist you wish to share.
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“Power changes its appearance but not its reality.”― Bertrand De Jouvenel
I've had a post about the Space Transportation System/Integrated Program Plan and the Apollo future we were denied saved in my drafts for a long time. Every time I would do research or start writing, I'd get sidetracked and start writing about another thing I wanted to talk about. At this rate I'll never finish it so I'm just going to dump a bunch of links about my favorite lost space futures instead with a small blurb. Paul Drye's False Steps and David Portree's No Shortage of Dreams blogs (and later semi-paywalled Wired column) are the most accessible sources for a lot of cancelled projects and proposals.


A complete infrastructure for manned and unmanned spaceflight from low Earth orbit to Mars. Brainchild of NASA administrator Thomas Paine. Reusability at every leg of the trip from Earth to the Moon: Nuclear spacecraft, modular space tugs, manned stations, orbital propellant depots, fully reusable shuttles. Tantalizingly close to being real - most of the core components were real or created for the program (Saturn V and its derivatives, NERVA, Space Shuttle) before being shut down for budgetary reasons. Only the Shuttle remained, devoid of the purpose it was created for, and the mission name of STS.
False Steps' 4-part series: [1] [2] [3] [4]
Think Big: A 1970 Flight Schedule for NASA's 1969 Integrated Program Plan

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Space Shuttle evolution

The Shuttle program is rightfully criticized for its slow development, higher-than-estimated launch cost, and poor safety record. However, engineers were devising a number of modifications or special projects that, had they come to fruition, may have created a far better vehicle.
Other things I want to mention later:
  • Lenticular Apollo: NASA's Flying Saucer
  • Grumman's Ambitious Spider: Apollo LM variations
  • Lunar Oasis
  • Project Constellation
  • How the VentureStar can still win
  • Visions of #BigelowWorld
  • DIRECT rejects: Shuttle-C, NLS, Jupiter
Sometimes I think about this at night.
new guy here so no clue what is already posted in old amarna


"Imagine a locomotive sized cruise missile, powered by a nuclear ramjet, cruising at mach-3 at tree level. The cruise missile showers the landscape with two dozen hydrogen bombs of the megaton class, or one big one in the 20 megaton class. When it is finished its job of raining electric death mushrooms all over the enemy, it cruises around farting deadly radioactive dust and flattening cities with the sheer power of the sonic boom… for months. In principle, such a device can go on practically forever. If I were to use such a contraption as a plot device, you’d probably think it was far fetched. Such a thing was almost built by the Vought corporation 50 years ago. Click on the link. The Vought corporation thought it was cool enough to brag about it on their website (please don’t take it down guys; anyway if you do, I’ll put it back up)."

You might also like his other stuff on big machines and war. He dunks on stealth fighters somewhere.


Scott is like a polymath and his blog is a goldmine especially the open problems and anomalies posts. Futurist manifesto link so you know he is based right away.

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