In the late 1950′s, before NASA was created, the USAF, the US Army and even the US Navy each thought that they might lead the American manned space program. The Army produced studies for Project Horizon, a manned Lunar base for military purposes (not just research and exploration, but also offensive nuclear capability). Horizon would have used early versions of the Saturn I to send men and equipment into space. To land on the Moon, large landers such as the one shown below would have been used. This multi-stage monster would have had the Earth return capsule up top (the downward-pointing cone inside the nose), a feature carried forward on early NASA Apollo concepts until Lunar Orbit Rendezvous became the baseline.

  • Michael the Somewhat Civilized

    The Navy had LUNEX; was the USAF expecting the X-20 to be their effort?

    • Anonymous

      LUNEX was USAF. Small error in the post – Horizon lacked offensive nuclear capability. It was intended mainly as a prestige outpost. The Army astronauts who lived there would have had at their disposal a range of weapons adapted to lunar conditions, however, in case the Communists (or Selenites) objected to their presence.

      Incidentally, does anyone know where I can get access to a copy of the Horizon report? My copy is missing whole sections – I was compelled to photocopy it very rapidly, so had to pick and choose which bits to copy on the fly.

  • Publiusr

    You might want to read Countdown to Decision by Medaris. He wanted troop rockets (Bono style.) I wonder what would have happened if the ABMA hadn’t been shut out. There are still some hard feelings over the Jupiter vs Thor deal.

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