What If The Space Race Never Ended? | Unveiled

What If The Space Race Never Ended? | Unveiled


What if the Space Race Never Ended? A large part of the twentieth century was
occupied with the Cold War, the tense and dangerous diplomatic conflict primarily between
the USA and the USSR. These two global superpowers spent years aiming
to out-do each other via their militaries, industry and technology, with a particular
focus – especially during the early stages – on the space race. But, this is Unveiled, and today we’re answering
the extraordinary question; What if the space race never ended? Are you a fiend for facts? Are you constantly curious? Then why not subscribe to Unveiled for more
clips like this one? And ring the bell for more fascinating content! NASA’s iconic Apollo program was discontinued
in the 1970s, having achieved its main goal in putting an astronaut – an American astronaut
– on the moon. That particular piece of history may have
played out differently, however, had the Soviet scientist Sergei Korolev not died in 1966. Korolev was considered the driving force behind
early Soviet space efforts, guiding his country to various milestones during his lifetime
including launching the first successful satellite, the first animal into orbit, the first human
into orbit, and staging the first spacewalk. NASA beat the Soviet Space Program to the
holy grail of space travel, though, when they landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the
lunar surface in 1969. And yet, after 1969 – or at least after 1972,
when the final Apollo mission ended; Apollo 17 – the space race somewhat fizzled out. The Cold War continued, but the emphasis on
off-Earth endeavours grew less and less. Interestingly, although both sides were reportedly
developing “space weapons”, the prospects of a space war breaking out were mostly quite
low – thanks to the Outer Space Treaty (signed in 1967) which upheld the moon and space in
general as somewhere for everyone, stating that no nation could claim territory outside
of Earth’s atmosphere. In our own universe, no one has yet tried
to break that rule… so had the space race continued in the same vein, we’ll assume
that space itself remains neutral ground. But, in many other aspects, the world might’ve
been a very different place! Had both sides continued competing against
one another toward more space milestones, and had public interest in space travel remained
high (rather than dipping as it did, post Apollo 11) a logical next step forwards from
sending people to the moon for a few days would have been to send them there for a lot
longer. Moon colonies have for decades been spoken
about and dreamed of but without there ever really being the funds available to make them
happen. With money and enthusiasm, though, the competition
to build a city would have given both sides the chance to really make their mark in space
– and to set space colony trends for the future. There were plans in motion, too. The Soviets, for example, were reportedly
aiming for a moon base called “Zvezda” up until 1974, but a series of problems and
general lack of enthusiasm for it led to the project being delayed and ultimately shelved. Today, Roscosmos is again planning to build
a colony on the moon, but this time by 2040 – almost seventy years after Zvezda might’ve
been completed! Had the space race never ended then we may
have had Zvezda by now, with it becoming an iconic and integral location in space exploration. While the Soviets had plans to build mini
moon cities, however, one Princeton professor, Gerard O’Neill, was also working in the
‘70s to design satellite cities. These sprawling structures – known as O’Neill
Cylinders – were planned to include vast hydroponics systems and to make ground-breaking use of
centrifugal force for artificial gravity – and they’re still held by many as our best bet
for creating orbital cities, today. Again, a lack of interest and funding meant
that they ultimately didn’t happen… but in a world where the space race didn’t grind
to a halt, we could well have seen them by now. In fact, the now “retro” designs of O’Neill’s
satellites and Zvezda would have become the blueprint for “what humans in space should
look like”. Another mission we’d have mastered (or be
much closer to mastering) would be Mars. Since the start of the 21st century especially,
getting to Mars has seemed the number one goal for space agencies and aerospace firms. Had the space race of the 20th century never
ended, though, then the world’s sights would have been primarily set on the Red Planet
for several decades more. Say the funding available on both sides of
the Atlantic had actually increased year-on-year, a Mars base might’ve been the next step
after establishing a lunar presence. The Soviet Union’s Segei Korolev was again
ahead of the trend, here. Already in the 1960s, he had drawn up plans
to send cosmonauts to Mars and then to Venus… so, combine the focus of the past with the
know-how of today, and who knows how much of the solar system we’d have explored by
now? But, in reality, the original space race wasn’t
borne purely out of the joy of discovery. And for all the technological advancements
we might’ve made had it continued, it may have also had a profound impact on general
life on Earth. The space race also gave both sides of the
Cold War the chance to display their military might. The same rocket science that enabled space
agencies to launch people off of Earth could also potentially be used to launch nuclear
warheads around the globe… If the space race had continued, then, the
nuclear arms race would have continued, too. While today neither Russia nor America has
denuclearised, the sheer volume of weapons in existence would likely have been much higher,
with the threat of nuclear war in the 2020s perhaps still being as intense as it was in
the 1960s. In fact, while the Outer Space Treaty does
serve to ease potential problems in space, we still would have seen teams from both sides
striving to beat each other (rather than working together) on the lunar surface, in Low Earth
Orbit, or even on Mars. Given that a prolonged space race may have
also heightened political tensions on the ground, there’d perhaps have been less chance
of collaborative projects the like of which we have seen in reality – like the International
Space Station. That said, even in the midst of the Cold War,
one of the biggest and most famous initiatives was the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, in 1975. These were missions involving both the US
and Soviet space agencies with crews of astronauts and cosmonauts. Some actually hold the ASTP as the moment
when the space race originally ended, but in an alternate timeline it might’ve ushered
in a new chapter – with the race itself continuing, but also with the potential for both countries
to team up. We’d then have seen joint efforts in space
exploration but with now-gigantic budgets behind them… a “best of both worlds”
scenario where shared lunar colonies, satellite cities and Martian habitats dwarf what either
side might’ve achieved on their own. Finally, what a everyone else? How significantly would an ongoing space race
really have changed the lives of the watching public? It could still have taken decades before we
all reaped the benefits of space travel, but we would have seen other technologies accelerate
in the meantime. One of the earliest, particularly powerful
computers was the IMB Naval Ordnance Research Calculator, designed for the US Navy in the
1950s. But we now know that computers definitely
haven’t remained only for military use, instead becoming a vital part of modern society. Similarly, it’s often said that today’s
smartphones are actually more advanced than the systems NASA used to achieve the moon
landing. So, in a world where the space race had continued
indefinitely, it would have led to everything else happening earlier, too. Phones, laptops, social media, the internet…
we might have already developed ways to communicate with people not just in other countries, but
on other planets; commercial flights might’ve been venturing not just to different continents,
but to different worlds. All of the tech that today feels cutting edge
would now be old news. Technologically and scientifically speaking,
it’s an alternate reality that promises a great deal. In terms of international diplomacy and ongoing
Cold War tensions, though, there’s no telling the impact that it would’ve had. But that’s what would happen if the space
race had never ended. What do you think? Is there anything we missed? Let us know in the comments, check out these
other clips from Unveiled, and make sure you subscribe and ring the bell for our latest
content.

13 Comments on "What If The Space Race Never Ended? | Unveiled"


  1. i really wanna become an astronaut, and i can do anything to achieve my dream! thanks unveiled for such an amazing video! i wish space race should never end! by the way, do you guys like the movie INTERSTELLAR!? i mean who doesn't?

    Reply

  2. If the space race never ended, countries would have more of an incentive to advance their scientific and technological capabilities. We would be more advanced as a nation and we would have more discoveries about space than we do currently.

    Reply

  3. 1:58, no that old white guy has been "selling" land on the moon to gullible people for years. 🤣

    Reply

  4. Hey weve got offensive words and delusional victimhood to deal with all day for some reason instead! I just say this cause how crazy and scarcely thought out our societal focus is now days and we could be so much more progressed.

    Reply

  5. Somewhere in the world a progressive dictator may rise and push science immensly, because dictatorships prove to be more effective and faster in some aspects.

    Reply

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