12 episodes

This is the world of “what if”. What if we had continued the space race, what would our space footprint look like? What if we had invested heavily in a transportation infrastructure around the globe, how would that change how we get from point A to point B today? What if we decided as a species that world hunger was not acceptable, how would we have solved it with technology? What if we had solved the autonomous car problem 50 years ago, how would that have changed how we worked and played today? What if sustainable energy was standard practice for a generation, how would that change how we interacted in our world today?

From the space program to high speed trains. From bridges to artificial intelligence. From pop culture to politics. From war to religion.

Belitopia is about the world of what if. What if, different decisions were made in our history? Different priorities held by our leaders? Different politics involved?

Let’s see the world as it could have been, perhaps should have been, and might still become.

Welcome to Belitopia.

This podcast uses the following third-party services for analysis:

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Belitopia Lee Atchison

    • Fiction
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

This is the world of “what if”. What if we had continued the space race, what would our space footprint look like? What if we had invested heavily in a transportation infrastructure around the globe, how would that change how we get from point A to point B today? What if we decided as a species that world hunger was not acceptable, how would we have solved it with technology? What if we had solved the autonomous car problem 50 years ago, how would that have changed how we worked and played today? What if sustainable energy was standard practice for a generation, how would that change how we interacted in our world today?

From the space program to high speed trains. From bridges to artificial intelligence. From pop culture to politics. From war to religion.

Belitopia is about the world of what if. What if, different decisions were made in our history? Different priorities held by our leaders? Different politics involved?

Let’s see the world as it could have been, perhaps should have been, and might still become.

Welcome to Belitopia.

This podcast uses the following third-party services for analysis:

Chartable - https://chartable.com/privacy
Podtrac - https://analytics.podtrac.com/privacy-policy-gdrp

    Apollo +

    Apollo +

    The Apollo space program. The quintessential peak of human kinds manned space program. The funding that went into this program was astronomical, around $120 **billion** dollars, adjusted for inflation.
    But once we landed on the moon, we lost interest in space. With the reduced interest in space came reduced funding...and our future in space suffered.
    But, what if funding didn’t stop suddenly…
    This is “Apollo Plus”.
    For more information, please see https://belitopia.com/apollo (belitopia.com/apollo).
    TranscriptWhat if the world was different? Science fiction is usually utopian or dystopian, either unrealistically good or unbelievably bad. There doesn’t seem to be much in the middle. But what if we looked at science fiction differently? What if we instead looked at a realistic world? A believable world.
    This is the world of Belitopia.

    In this episode of Belitopia. The Apollo space program.
    The quintessential peak of human kinds manned presence in space.
    The funding that went into this program was astronomical, around $120 **billion** dollars, adjusted for inflation.
    But once we established John F. Kennedy’s dream of putting a man on the moon, we lost interest in space. Our society moved on, and the will and drive to do more and more in space went away. With the reduced interest in space came reduced funding. Like having whiplash, the Apollo program was stopped suddenly.
    But, what if it didn’t stop suddenly…
    This … is … Apollo Plus. Welcome to Belitopia.

    From the space program to high speed trains, from bridges to artificial intelligence, from pop culture to politics, and war to religion. Belitopia is about the world of what if. What if, different decisions were made in our history? Different priorities held by our leaders? Different politics involved? Let’s see the world as it could have been, perhaps should have been, and might still become.
    Welcome to Belitopia.
    Start of EpisodeHello everybody, and welcome to Apollo +.
    Apollo, the United States space program that put a man on the moon.
    The Apollo program ended after Apollo 17 returned to earth on December 19, 1972. The Apollo program stopped … abruptly.
    By some people’s thinking, this was the end of the real manned space program. Everything else that came after Apollo 17 was a shadow of what went on before.
    The reason? Well, people lost interest in space. There was enough other things going on in the late 60’s and early 70’s to keep people’s interest. Who cared about going to the moon anymore? It was old news. After losing interest in space, the space program lost funding…no more big Apollo-type programs…nothing. NASA spent the next 50+ years squeaking by on as little money as they could squeeze out of the government budget…it was, really, a national embarrassment.
    The halting of the Apollo program was so sudden that many people believe the whole entire program must have been faked. We never landed on the moon, it was a fake. And so there wasn’t any more “there” there… So went the conspiracy theories.
    But, it did happen. We did land on the moon…and we did so five additional times. Six times in total, human-kind landed on the moon.
    Each flight had accomplished more and more important space objectives. Each flight did something new and different.
    Apollo accomplished many space objectives, including:
    First time we left the vicinity of the earth and entered into the gravitational pull of another object, namely the moon.
    First time we docked two ships together in orbit around an object that was not the earth. A task that was essential if we wanted to eventually complete our mission to land on the moon, and continue our expiration into space.
    First time humans landed on an object that wasn’t earth…namely the moon.
    We left the safety of our ship and walked around on the surface of another astronomical object.
    We brought home rocks and soil samples gathered from the surface.
    And we picked up objects left behind from previo

    • 25 min
    Apollo Applications Program

    Apollo Applications Program

    The Apollo space program was much more than a set of missions to the moon. It was also a technology platform that provided the basis for future space programs. A technology platform that the Apollo Applications Program was created to leverage and enhance. In real life, not much came of the Apollo Applications Program. Very little funding was given to the program, and the program suffered. A stunted Skylab space station, and a Apollo-Soyuz joint docking in space were all that came out of the Apollo Applications Program. At least, that’s what happened in real life. But this is not the real world… This is the “Apollo Applications Program”.
    https://belitopia.com/support/ (Please support our show).


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    • 19 min
    The Venus Flyby p1

    The Venus Flyby p1

    Among the many missions that came out of the Apollo Applications Program, one of the most amazing was the Venus Flyby mission. Imagine, using the same Apollo technology that brought us to the moon, for a long duration mission to fly by our nearest planetary neighbor, the planet Venus. Humans, traveling to another planet in our solar system. It was an ambitious plan.
    Unfortunately, in real life, funding for this mission never materialized. It wasn’t even close. Yes, there was some actual planning that went into a proposed mission, and some early plans were created. But no serious program was budgeted. Given the significant budget cuts after the moon landing, the Venus Flyby mission didn’t really have a chance.
    That was in the real world. But this is not the real world…
    This is…the “Venus Flyby” mission.
    Links and More Informationhttps://belitopia.com/venus (Belitopia Venus Flyby Information)
    https://belitopia.com/103 (Episode Details)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manned_Venus_flyby (Wikipedia - Venus Flyby)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Applications_Program (Wikipedia - Apollo Applications Program)
    https://belitopia.com/space/venus-flyby-feasibility-study (Original 1967 NASA Venus Flyby Feasibility Study)
    https://belitopia.com/support (Please support our show).
    IntroductionIn the last episode, we talked about the Apollo Applications Program, and the future use of Apollo technology beyond its use in landing on the moon.
    During the late 1960’s, one of the missions that was considered for the Apollo Applications Program was a Flyby mission of the planet Venus.
    As we discussed previously, due to lack of support from both the Johnson and the Nixon Administrations, the mission never really was taken seriously.
    But there was some actual planning that went into this proposed mission. In fact, you can check out Wikipedia and other online sources, and you’ll find information about what was proposed in the late 1960’s for this trip. A high level outline of a mission plan was created. A link to that proposal is included in the links above.
    But this is Belitopia. In our world, Johnson and Nixon did support the AAP program, and the Venus Flyby mission was funded.
    This episode describes a significant variation from the initial plans that were created in the 1960’s. Instead, it describes a trip that I believe is more inline with what would have actually occurred, if we were allowed to invest in and create such a mission.
    In our version of the mission, the one that occurred in the world of Belitopia, the mission was named Venus 1 and it sent two astronauts on a planned nearly seven month round trip on a flyby pass around the planet Venus.
    What follows is a fictional documentary about this flyby mission. The documentary takes place in the year 2040, 65 years after the mission took place.
    This documentary, titled “Our World in Space”, describes the Venus Flyby mission in greater detail, as a historical record of past events.
    While fiction, it’s based on much thought and consideration on what it would take to make such as trip possible. This documentary is about the voyage of the first humans to leave the Earth-Moon system and flyby another planet. This documentary is about the voyage of Venus 1 — the Venus mission, in the world of Belitopia.


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    Chartable - https://chartable.com/privacy
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    • 33 min
    The Venus Flyby p2

    The Venus Flyby p2

    Links and More Informationhttps://belitopia.com/104 (Episode Details)
    https://belitopia.com/venus (Belitopia Venus Flyby Information)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manned_Venus_flyby (Wikipedia - Venus Flyby)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Applications_Program (Wikipedia - Apollo Applications Program)
    https://belitopia.com/space/venus-flyby-feasibility-study (Original 1967 NASA Venus Flyby Feasibility Study)
    https://belitopia.com/support (Please support our show).
    IntroductionIn the last episode of Belitopia, we started our story of the Venus 1 voyage. In this episode, we conclude our story of this historic voyage.
    Venus 1, a mission launched as part of the Apollo Applications Program, used Apollo technology with some necessary extensions in order to send a crew of two astronauts on the first ever flyby of another planet.
    This mission never happened in reality, but a version of this mission was in the planning stages before budgets were cut. But this is Belitopia. In our world, funding did occur, and the Venus Flyby mission actually occurred.
    We left off after part 1 in the middle of the mock documentary, “Our World in Space”, as it describes the Venus Flyby mission in greater detail. This fictional documentary takes place in the year 2040, 65 years after the mission took place.
    We left the documentary in part 1 after talking about the Christmas Miracle burn that saved the crew and mission in December of 1975. Now, let’s continue with our story. Let’s re-enter the documentary where we left off. We’ll talk about the flyby itself, the mission home, and the unprecedented and untried process used to slow down the ship in time for reentry into the earth’s atmosphere for a safe and slow splashdown.
    Now back to the voyage of Venus 1 — the Venus mission, in the world of Belitopia.
    Documentary — Our World in Space, 2040ADHello, and welcome to “Our World in Space — The Venus Flyby”. Part 2.
    The rest of the flight to Venus was, indeed, uneventful. After the Christmas Miracle burn on December 29, 1975, the next 43 days of the mission were busy preparing for the flyby. Long before the flyby itself would occur, many scientific experiments and studies were planned involving solar experiments with the sun, deep space experiments, and eventually Venus studies as the ship neared the flyby itself.
    The crew of Venus 1 was very busy.
    In fact, they were too busy to spend time thinking about what almost happened. They were too busy to think about what happened that resulted in the need for the Christmas Miracle burn in the first place, and how lucky they were that they were saved.
    Backlash from the CrisisThat wasn’t true on earth, however. On earth, there was significant discussions, among government leaders, NASA and AAP leaders, as well as among the general public. Their were two concerns.
    The first, would the STS engine continue to function for the rest of the trip, and can the mission end successfully as planned on day T+210? Most people were convinced that the engine would continue to work properly, but, there still were concerns.
    The second was a more actionable concern. While Venus 1 was in process, plans were progressing for a Venus 2 and Venus 3 flight. These two additional Venus flyby missions were similar in nature to Venus 1 using the exact same technology. The research and science they would perform would be different, but the basic flight plan was the same. Venus 2 was set to launch during the second planetary alignment window two years later in July of 1977. Venus 3 was scheduled to launch a year later in May 1978.
    However, the crisis on Venus 1 and the need for the Christmas Miracle brought heightened attention to the fact that there was only one main STS engine on the service module. If that engine were to fail, the mission would undoubtedly end in disaster. The engine was considered highly reliable, but still, it was a single point of failure. Unlike the Apollo moon missions, there was no free retur

    • 23 min
    Skylab +

    Skylab +

    The Space Race wasn’t just about who could get to the moon first. There were other battlefields where the space race was fought. One of those battlefields was in building a permanent manned presence in space in the form of a space station in low earth orbit. Such a station would not only be a great place for space based research, but also a starting point for military use of space. Winning the battle over low earth orbit against the Soviet Union was just as important as beating them to the moon.
    Low earth orbit wasn’t as glamorous as the race to the moon, so it did not receive as much public attention, nor political attention, nor ultimately funding...at least in real life.
    But in the world of Belitopia, the value of the fight for low earth orbit was critical, and the Skylab series of space stations was important for long term American presence in space. Even though it was important, that doesn’t mean we focused on it. In fact, one of the great lessons for America on space exploration came when we lost focus on the value of low earth orbit, and Skylab I, our first space station in low earth orbit, failed to deliver on its plans and promises. Instead, it would take two follow on Skylab space stations, Skylab II and Skylab III, before America would understand what it would take to maintain a long term presence in space in low earth orbit.
    This is...Skylab Plus. Welcome to Belitopia.
    Links and More Informationhttps://belitopia.com/105 (Episode Details)
    https://belitopia.com/skylab (Belitopia Skylab Information)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skylab (Skylab (Wikipedia))
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salyut_programme (Salyut (Wikipedia))
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Applications_Program (Apollo Applications Program (Wikipedia))
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Station_Freedom (Space Station Freedom)
    https://belitopia.com/support (Please support our show).
    IntroductionThe space race was actually fought on two fronts. The first was the race to the moon. This is what Project Apollo was originally created for. The second was the race to a permanent presence in low earth orbit...the permanent manned space station.
    While the former was the more politically important race, due to the very public prestige associated with the voyage, the latter was actually a more important goal. Understanding, driving, and controlling human presence in low earth orbit was critical for many reasons:
    First, it provides long term research opportunity into the impact of space and the value of space based industry.
    Second, it provides research into earth and what makes the planet function, including significant improvements in weather forecasting, climate study, and geological research.
    Third, there are huge advantages to the military and in national security for the purposes of proactive spying, reactive security monitoring, and even — weapon delivery.
    Fourth, low earth orbit is a perfect jumping off point — a transfer point if you will — for future missions into deep space.
    All of these reasons made the race for low earth orbit just as important as the race for the moon. It just was not as politically or socially charged of a mission as the moon race was.
    Ultimately, permanent manned stations that could be used for research and as a transfer station for future missions was the mostimmediate goal. But before we could do that, we needed to understand what it took to create, support, and populate such a station. What we needed were baby steps, and we needed them fast before the Soviet Union could establish their foothold. It was truly a race.
    This is the story of Skylab. Skylab was a program for space stations based on the Apollo technology, and part of the Apollo Applications Program that we’ve spoken about in previous episodes.
    In real life, there was a single Skylab space station, and the results from the stations were…well...mixed. It was a damaged station that limped along, yet still provided huge research benefits for...

    • 29 min
    Apollo Lunar Bases p1

    Apollo Lunar Bases p1

    Links and More Informationhttps://belitopia.com/?utm_source=shownotesandutm_medium=linksandutm_campaign=107 (Belitopia Website)
    https://belitopia.com/lunarbase?utm_source=shownotesandutm_medium=linksandutm_campaign=106 (Apollo Lunar Base - Belitopia)
    https://belitopia.com/106?utm_source=shownotesandutm_medium=linksandutm_campaign=106 (Apollo Moon Bases p1 Episode)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tycho_(lunar_crater) (Tycho Crater (Wikipedia))
    https://belitopia.com/support/?utm_source=shownotesandutm_medium=supportandutm_campaign=106 (Please support our show)
    Not long after the end of the Apollo lunar landings, it was time for the next step in lunar exploration. There was belief, and some evidence from the experiments that were performed on the lunar surface during the Apollo missions, that there were minerals...water...and other scientifically useful resources on the lunar surface. There was also a concern that the Soviet Union would eventually land on the lunar surface, and attempt to claim all or part of it as their territory.
    So, the space race continued. On this front, the race was to the first long duration habitation of the lunar surface, and eventual lunar colonization. The United States created a habitat, a base, designed for the long term exploration and habitation of the lunar surface. In fact, they created two such bases. This allowed the Americans to explore the scientific wealth that awaited them on the lunar surface, as well as make a long term claim of the lunar surface before the Russians. While this is not what happened in real life, it is what happened in the fictional world we have created.
    This is...the Apollo Moon Bases. Welcome to Belitopia.
    IntroductionProject Tycho was the name of the program to create the first long term habitat on the lunar surface. The United States worked hard and fast in order to create this habitat, so that we could continue our exploration of the lunar surface after the end of Apollo 20. After all, the Russians couldn’t be far behind. For the first time since it began, the United States was finally leading in the space race against the Soviet Union. They intended to stay in the lead.
    As it turns out, the Soviet Union had given up on the quest for the lunar surface, and instead had focused on exploring and conquering near earth orbit. This was something we talked about in the past episode, episode number 5, on Skylab. However, the United States was not aware of this fact, and they continued to work under the assumption that the Soviet Union was still trying to land on the moon, so they could claim as much of the lunar surface as possible.
    So, given this information, the United States turned away from the relatively short duration spot landings of single Apollo landing missions, which could only provide them with relatively short stays on the lunar surface. Instead, they turned their sight towards developing and building their first long duration base on the lunar surface. The purpose of the base was to provide a long term habitation of the lunar surface by Americans. The habitation would be by regular astronauts, but also by astronaut scientists that could study the lunar surface in greater detail over an extended period of time.
    How long of a period of time? The goal was to enable stays on the lunar surface of upwards of eight months by any single crew, and provide a total lunar habitation of five years at a single site on the lunar surface by multiple crews. Between the two planned sites, it would create the opportunity for nearly seven years of continuous lunar habitation and exploration.
    This would give astronauts and scientists plenty of time to study long term effects of living on the lunar surface, and time to study the surface of the moon in substantially greater detail. The desire was to prove feasibility for a permanent presence on the lunar surface and provide evidence that such a presence can be financially viable long term.
    A side benefit — but not an...

    • 23 min

Customer Reviews

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3 Ratings

Parnellus ,

Great alternate history!

Folks, if you have even the slightest interest in the space program, (past, present and ALTERNATE HISTORY) and haven't been listening to the Belitopia podcast, you really should be. It is well produced, highly informative and thought provoking. It asks you to imagine, "What if . . ."

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