Trek's 20th c--McKinley, DY-ships

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by trekkist, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. trekkist

    trekkist Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Mar 14, 2008
    An essay exploring TOS' 20th century citations, and a derivation of a uniquely TOS timeline therefrom:

    A realistic exploration of how McKinley Rocket Base and the DY-100 might have come to be must begin with a close examination of the real world’s space race, whose key points are as follows:

    • Soviet emphasis on fielding Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) as quickly as possible results in Sergei Korolev’s R-7 “Semyorka.” Impractical militarily due to the necessity of on-the-pad pre-launch fueling, the R-7 will become the world’s first manned space launcher, and remain in use to this day.

    • The U.S. chooses not to build ICBMs until thermonuclear warheads of relatively low weight are developed. The resulting Atlas comes in second to the R-7 in both payload and flight date.

    • President Eisenhower’s desire that the first American satellite be orbited by a civilian booster means the existing Redstone is passed by for the newly-built Vanguard. This delay allows the Soviets to orbit the first satellites.

    • The R-7’s payload permits the Soviets to put the first man in space. Fifty-three days later, President Kennedy declares U.S. intention to put man on the moon “before the decade is out.” NASA’s manned space efforts will henceforth be focused on this single goal, all unrelated projects being deferred or reduced sharply in funding.

    • Multiple “space agencies,” a three-year commitment delay, lack of a full-scale ground test program, and other factors combine to ensure the Soviets’ Saturn V-class manned moon rocket, the N-1, fails each of its four test flights. Such details are known to NASA and U.S. intelligence, but not shared with the general public. Thus, the success of Apollo in a competitive sense is not fully appreciated either in the U.S. or abroad. Although boosters and spacecraft for ten lunar landings have been built, the last three missions are cancelled. A single scientist-astronaut walks on the moon.

    • President Nixon’s request that NASA’s Space Task Force provide a range of options for the next step(s) after Apollo is met by such expensive choices that he chooses none of them, opting instead for the space shuttle alone (in lieu even of a shuttle and space station). The massive, well-proven technological infrastructure built for Saturn/Apollo is all but abandoned, its last gasp the launch and manning of Skylab (whose second flight article ends up a museum exhibit).

    • The Congressional Bureau of the Budget cuts shuttle funding by one-half, ensuring the spaceplane will not utilize a fully recoverable booster, but “refurbishable” solid rockets. A decade’s research and development of a nuclear rocket stage (essential for Mars missions or moonflight logistics) is likewise terminated.

    • Having failed at the moon race, the Soviets develop the first space stations instead. The Salyut series will be followed by Mir, whose basic module designs will later be adapted as Russia’s contribution to the International Space Station.

    • Due to intrinsic design flaws (the solid boosters, and heat shield tiles necessitated by the shuttle’s meeting requirements set by the U.S. Air Force), two shuttles are lost. The remains of the fleet are used to complete space station construction, then retired, leaving the U.S. with no manned launch capability. Save for the Chinese, all humans will for some years reach orbit on the same rocket as launched Yuri Gagarin.

    We know that 20th century American spaceflight in the Star Trek universe included both Project Apollo and numerous actual satellites and space probes of the early 1960s. The Talosians’ rifling of Enterprise’s computer banks in the series pilot, “The Cage,” brought up monitor screen images of Explorer S-55, Pioneer 5, Nimbus 1, Mariner 2, all three Ranger configurations, a diagram of NASA’s three observatory satellites, and an Atlas-Agena flight schematic. Also visible (like the rest, for an instant) were drawings of several presidents (including John Kennedy) complete with their years of his birth and death. The construction of (at least!) two facilities capable of launching Saturn Vs cannot, therefore, have been the result of a two-term Kennedy presidency, and must have left NASA’s unmanned programs a great deal the same.

    In reality, considerable work on both Saturn and Apollo (even to a 1970 moon landing target date) preceded the 1960s. Development of the 1.5 million pound thrust F-1 rocket motor – five of which were to power the first stage of the Saturn V – was initiated in response to a U.S. Air Force contract of 1955. Our world’s USAF lots interest in the F-1, passing the program off to NASA (under whose auspices the engine’s first ground test was conducted in March of 1959). In reality, neither Apollo nor its “Advanced Saturn” booster rocket received much attention in terms of any military potential. McKinley’s use of Saturn Vs – like JFK’s “before this decade” decision – must therefore have been in response to Soviet activities (the franchise’s first glimpse of which did not occur until T’Pol came to Earth in 1957, as seen in “Carbon Creek,” 45 years after Sputnik 1’s launch). Since the base’s construction must have paralleled that of Kennedy Space Center, we must look for a catalyst in what the Soviets did not do, but might have, prior to 1961.

    The most likely possibility is hardly obscure, being one of the most fascinating “might have beens” of Nazi secret projects. While Wernher von Braun’s team was developing the world’s first ballistic missile, the V-2, physicist Eugen Saengar and his wife, the mathematician Irene Bredt, were defining the characteristics of what would come to be known as the antipodal bomber. This vehicle – work on which was mostly theoretical, it being considerably beyond that era’s technical resources – was to have comprised a hundred-odd foot long, flat-bellied machine with stubby wings (not unlike those of the U.S. F-104 jet fighter). A captive booster was to drive the spaceplane along a launch rail, after which the pilot would pull up and accelerate with on-board rocket engines to a velocity of some 13,000mph/21,000 kilometers per hour. According to theory, the bomber was then to perform multiple “skips” into and out of the Earth’s atmosphere, thus achieving (despite its suborbital velocity) a single transit of the Earth. A minimal bomb-load (8800 lb/4000 kg) could be delivered against (say) New York City prior to the machine’s landing as a powerless glider.

    After the war, the work of Saengar and Bredt became known to the U.S. and Soviets alike. The former would pursue similar ends with a series of theoretical designs over nearly two decades, culminating in the U.S. Air Force’s Dyna-Soar, a one-man delta-winged glider meant to be carried to orbit by a Titan III (and cancelled by Defense Secretary Robert McNamera days after Kennedy’s assassination). Stalin was so fascinated by the concept that he sent his son Vasily and scientist Grigori Tokaty to France to kidnap both husband and wife. After this attempt failed (allegedly due to the untimely defection of a Soviet agent), one Mstislav Keldysh was charged with indigenous development of the Saengar-Bredt concept (which was likewise eventually abandoned).

    Also stillborn in the real world was the YaKhR-2, the first large space launch vehicle considered in the Soviet Union. This booster was to have resembled Korolev’s R-7, consisting of a cylindrical core stage encircled by a number of conical boosters – six, to the R-7’s four, and half again larger. By dint its larger size – and not incidentally, the core’s being nuclear powered – the YaKhR-2 was to have a payload capability of 88,000 lb (40,000 kg) – more than twice that of the Saturn I, the most powerful rocket flown prior to JFK’s death.

    In 1949, the YaKhR-2 was dropped in favor of chemically-propelled rockets. Development of the R-7 began in December 1950. In 1957, the first two test flights were failures. Two successes were followed by the launch of Sputniks 1 and 2, the latter orbiting Laika the dog. January of 1959 saw the launch of Luna 1, the first man-made object to achieve escape velocity of the Earth. In February 1961, the first space probe was sent to Venus. On April 12 of that year, Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. On May 5, Alan Shepard became – briefly – the second, a Redstone booster lobbing his Mercury capsule onto a 15-minute suborbital path. Such was the context in which President Kennedy threw his gauntlet on May 25, 1961.

    In December 1957, a then-classified National Intelligence Estimate (the product of the combined U.S. intelligence community) predicted the Soviets would probably achieve a “first operational capability with up to 10 prototype ICBMs” in mid-1958 or ’59. A few months after Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev bragged of “turning out missiles like sausages,” another NIE concluded the USSR had the capacity to field 100 ICBMs by 1960, and perhaps 500 by 1962 at the latest. Some such predictions were leaked to the press, and became an issue in John Kennedy’s 1958 Senatorial campaign. By the time JFK ran for President, the “missile gap” was a major issue. In fact, the gap was in America’s favor; in 1960, the U.S. had a dozen operational Atlas Ds to the Soviets’ 4 R-7s. The latter, however, were rudimentary weapons (a single R-7, its response time 8-12 hours, was armed against the U.S. during the Cuban Missile Crisis). Not until 1962 did the R-16, a two-stage vehicle with storable propellants, enter service as the first practical Soviet ICBMs.

    Imagine now that Stalin, before his death in March, 1953, had ordered development of both the YaKhR-2 and R-7, as well as a YaKhR-boosted version of Saengar’s bomber, and that all three programs had continued under Khrushchev. The first Sputniks would still have ridden the R-7…and been followed to orbit by 44-ton military spaceplanes. America’s overwhelming supremacy in atmospherically-deliverable weapons (some 18 to 20,000 bombs, totaling about 19-20,000 megatons, by 1960) would offer scant reassurance to a public gazing up at huge enemy spacecraft. Few such could have been fielded by the Soviet Union, nor could they have balanced or threatened America’s 1,735 jet bombers – but cold facts would have been trumped by a psychological shock beggaring Sputnik’s and Gagarin’s.

    In the real world, JFK followed the flight of John Glenn with the words

    We have a long way to go in the space race. We started late. But this is the new ocean, and I believe
    the United States must sail on it and be in a position second to none.

    In the Star Trek timeline, a far less measured take on such words would have followed the debut of the Soviets’ space bomber. The only canonical result is of course McKinley’s near-disastrous nuclear weapons platform launch of 1968 – but actual history offers clues as to what other programs a vigorous U.S. military space effort might have included.

    • Missile defense – The concept of destroying incoming missiles predates not only Reagan’s S.D.I. (“Star Wars”) program, but the advent of intercontinental ballistic missiles themselves. A December 1946 report by the Scientific Advisory Group of the U.S. Army Air Forces discussed the use of anti-missiles and some form of energy beam. A month later, the U.S.A.S.F. began Project Wizard, meant to provide 500,000 foot altitude missile interception of V-2-type rockets. Deemed infeasible in 1959, Wizard was succeeded by the far more ambitious Project Defender, gestated by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, in later years the inventor of the internet). ARPA’s initial study was “…rather excessively advanced, including examination of antigravity, antimatter, and force fields…[which] concepts could not be defended from the scrutiny of a PSAC [Presidential Scientific Advisory Council] subcommittee” (B. Bruce Briggs’ The Shield of Faith: Strategic Defense From Zeppelins to Star Wars). Defender, “a veritable research Disneyland” (ibid.) absorbed $100 million per annum at its peak, continuing until 1968, and including examination of everything from ground-based interceptor missiles to maser/laser beam weapons and fleets of hundreds of 58,000-pound missile-armed satellites.

    • Project Saint – Still deeply classified, the Satellite INTerceptor studies dated from the late 1950s to cancellation in 1962, and covered a vast range of technologies for the in-orbit interception, inspection and destruction of enemy spacecraft. Saint I was relatively modest in size, and unmanned; the manned Saint I had an estimated mass of some 4840 lb/2200 kilograms (some 60% that of the nascent Gemini spacecraft).

    • Dyna-Soar – USAF manned spaceplane, boosted to orbit by a Titan III. Also called the X-20, Dyna-Soar was hardly experimental. Its flight tests would have but a pilot, but up to 4 passengers (or cargo) could be carried also. Orbital interception and combat variants were studied, as well as silo-launched, H-bomb-equipped space bombers. Dyna-Soar was cancelled within days of Kennedy’s assassination.

    • Self-deploying space station (1960) – a 21-man, Saturn V-boosted station which when deployed took the shape of a three-spoke, hexagonal wheel of some 150 ft/45 m diameter.

    • USAF “recommended station” (1962) – a three-floor cylindrical space station to be launched by a Titan/Centaur, and staffed by Apollo spacecraft. An artificial-gravity variant retained the booster’s expended upper stage as a counterweight for end-over-end rotation.

    • Manned Orbital Research Laboratory (MORL) – Another 1962 study, continued as “Phase I” (detailed design) contracts to Boeing and Douglas in 1964, which defined it as a Saturn IB-boosted, 29,000 lb/13,500 kg habitat with solar cells, able to receive crews via Gemini and/or Apollo spacecraft. MORL variants comprised the crew sections of numerous manned interplanetary studies of the 1960s.

    • Large Orbital Research Laboratory (LORL) – The Saturn V-boosted LORL (1962) had three spokes that deployed into a Y-shape once in orbit to provide for centrifugal “gravity.” Apollo and/or Dyna-Soar spacecraft were to perform logistics.

    • Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) – successor to the Dyna-Soar, and likewise stillborn, MOL was the nearly-realized version of the USAF’s “recommended station.” Intended for reconnaissance, it would have ridden a Titan III to space, its crew boarding via a hatch cut into the heatshield of their Gemini spacecraft (an alarming concept proven feasible in MOL’s single unmanned launch of 1967).

    Predating all the aforementioned spacecraft concepts was that of the “Outpost” space station, a 1954 brainchild of Krafft Ehricke. This took advantage of the Atlas ICBM’s unique “stage and a half” concept, which left the entire missile (sans its outboard engines’ “skirt”) in orbit upon burnout. Ehricke described how cargo-carrying Atlases could loft elements that astronaut crews could install within the first rocket-body, which would then tumble end over end for the comfort of its four-man crew, whose research, reconnaissance, observation or trans-orbital construction and launch-control duties would draw power from an on-board atomic reactor.

    We feel confident in saying that an America overflown by enemy space bombers would hardly have cancelled Saint or the Dyna-Soar. The latter would likely been tasked to the limits of its capacity, taking flight by 1966 at the latest (as projected in December 1963), shortly thereafter providing manned orbital reconnaissance, perhaps even being fielded as a nuclear strike vehicle. Outpost stations’ near off-the-shelf achievability might have been found wanting due to the unknown dangers and difficulties of on-orbit assembly, with MOL and/or MORL flying instead (followed, perhaps, by stations of the LORL and/or self-deploying sort). The role(s) of such infrastructure – in effect if not in cost a fifth arm of the U.S. military – might reflect those of Sergei Korolev’s TKS military space station proposal of 1961, in which a 330,000 lb/150,000 kg orbiting base would conduct surveillance, communications, electronic intelligence, antisatellite, inter-orbital combat, and nuclear bombardment duties. The TKS went unbuilt, of course…but work on its descendant, the half-sized, nuclear-armed Orbital Station-1, was in fact begun on September 25, 1962 on direct order of Nikita Khrushchev, who with his son inspected a full-scale mockup in 1965…

    Mere citation of so varied a contingent of orbital facilities seems outlandish by real world standards, nor are we suggesting the Star Trek universe saw all such realized – but consider that only 32 years separate the Wright Flier and the 1935 debut of Boeing’s Model 299, prototype for the B-17 Flying Fortress of World War II. Surely the steps taken by an America under direct threat from space would have been at least as great? JKF would have tasked the nation not merely to reach the moon in a decade (so to demonstrate America’s peaceful “conquest” of space), but to use the same majestic hardware to retake the “high ground” of space. As in reality, the Soviet lead would require years to reverse. Chrysler’s Space Division would be tasked with turning out the existing Saturn I boosters like sausages, a stopgap response to the twice-mightier YaKhR-2s. The Soviet Union would find that it had – like Japan years before – awakened a sleeping giant, and filled him with a terrible resolve. All other things being equal, the moonbound variant of Korolev’s Soyuz spacecraft might still take so long to develop as to not reach the moon – or suffered catastrophic failure before or on such missions, as many a preceding spacecraft (and the first manned Soyuz) in reality did. The at-will provocation of Soviet space bomber missions would be ratcheted down by the launch of a robotic weapons platform – the “new deterrence” its justification – which the U.S. would find itself, by 1968, matching.

    Having established its possible origins and context, can we now locate McKinley? The stock footage of “Assignment: Earth” is of course useless, being after all images of Kennedy Space Center (as well as building exteriors filmed outside studio offices). Reference to “Highway 949, ten miles north of McKinley” is of no help either; there is a Highway 949 in Kentucky, and a Route 949 in Pennsylvania, but both are landlocked. However, the episode also features a closeup of part of a map, complete with scalebar, north-pointing arrow, and a section of shoreline not quite a mile long. The angle and shape of the latter do not match that of the real world’s Patrick Air Force Base, home to Cape Canaveral Air Station – nor would it be expected that McKinley would be so near to Kennedy. The base might in fact be anywhere – but save its site be on an island, it must lie on the east coast, allowing its Saturn Vs to fly over the ocean, into which their boosters would fall. As it happens, there is in fact one existing “rocket base” whose general location, and nearby coastline and size, would allow for McKinley – namely Wallops Island, Virginia, once NASA installation, since 1995 the site of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a commercial launch facility capable of sending spacecraft to the International Space Station, or even the moon!

    In the real world, to shut down Apollo and mothball the unflown Saturn Vs was a decision without much political cost. Military procurement, however, tends to persist once initiated. An America with a U.S. Air Force base dedicated to Saturn Vs (or more likely two, given that polar-orbiting payloads could only fly out of Vandenburg, California) is likely to have retained use of that hardware. Whereas the actual space shuttle orbiter was the endpoint of a protracted design process beginning with two-stage, fully recoverable configurations and concluding with a partially-reusable “Space Transportation System” whose external tank fell away to destruction, the solid boosters being “refurbished” at considerable expense, the ongoing Saturn V production line of the Star Trek universe would provide for conversion of Saturn first stages into winged shuttle boosters (as was in fact one of the final designs considered, then rejected in favor of an STS cheaper to build, but more expensive to operate, than what could have been). As for the depiction of an actual space shuttle launch sequence seen in the titles of Enterprise, we see this mode as supplanting (perhaps temporarily) the Saturn-boosted shuttle after its timeline’s equivalent of the Challenger disaster.

    Before addressing events of the 1990s, we must consider an issue suggested by “A Private Little War.” Facing the prospect of arming Tyree’s people, Kirk asks McCoy, “Bones, do you remember the twentieth century brush wars on the Asian continent? Two giant powers involved…Neither side felt they could pull out,” to which McCoy responds “It went on bloody year after bloody year.” On the face of it, this is Vietnam from the perspective of the 23rd century – but is it? In 1968 (the episode’s air date, relevant in terms of when the lines were written), that description could apply to the Korean and Vietnam wars (both of which involved “two giant powers” – but application of the dismissive term “brush war” seems (even at some three centuries’ remove) an understatement in terms of a conflict responsible for 1-3 million Vietnamese (and 4 million or so Cambodians’) deaths alone. Put in more (to Americans) personal terms, is it reasonable to think a man born within the former U.S. territory of 2165’s unified Earth would call the War Between the States “a” civil war rather than the Civil War? A hundred or so “wars” took place between 1700 and 1799, of which a single one – that of 1775-83 – literally remade the world for centuries to come. Vietnam hardly stands up to the American Revolution in significance, but its effects seem at present still quite profound. We find it not unreasonable to speculate, therefore, that Kirk’s “brush wars” were (McCoy’s characterization notwithstanding) not so destructive as the real world’s. Nor can we readily accept that an America so involved in the militarization of space as to employ Saturn Vs could afford so long a conflict.

    Responsibility for a timely winding-down (at least) of the Vietnam war cannot be assigned to John Kennedy, confirmed as having died in 1963 due to “The Cage.” One might strain credulity by positing his death at the end of that year, being as how a White House press release of October 2 did in fact announce that the withdrawal of American forces (then mostly of a training and advisory nature) would begin within 90 days (i.e., by December 31) – but one imagines that President Johnson would have put his own stamp on the conflict whenever he assumed office. It might be that, whereas in our world the space program was overwhelmed by the costs of the war, on the Earth of Star Trek the costs of U.S. militarization of space precluded the full flowering of the quagmire in Southeast Asia. Beyond that, all we know of U.S. domestic politics is Spock’s citation of an “old Vulcan proverb” in “The Undiscovered Country” establishing that one Nixon did indeed go to China. Said trip preceded (in reality) that President’s term, leaving it uncertain who Kirk’s 20th century saw elected in 1972. Indeed, we cannot know when that Nixon took that trip. Any of the following successive Presidential terms (among others) are possible:


    —and indeed, those of a different political bent than ourselves might posit Robert Kennedy (whose survival we simply cannot resist exploring) winning only one term, or none. The latter circumstance is perhaps supported by America’s coming to wall off its city centers as “Sanctuaries” in the 21st century…but that era falls outside our current focus. We can be sure only that, had Vietnam been less of a debacle, Johnson could only have left office in 1968 due to political defeat, not resignation, and that Nixon must have served at least one term eventually. More than that is the rankest speculation.

    More deeply rooted in both real history and that of Star Trek are the origins of those who left their personal mark on the fictional timeline. In 2004, Enterprise held that Khan and his people were “augments,” their physical and mental superiority the result of recombinant DNA surgery (Enterprise episodes “Borderland,” “Cold Station 12” and “The Augments”) – a near-future dystopian vision at the time of those episodes’ airing. Genetic manipulation, however, would be a gross anachronism in the context of 20th century science, remaining well beyond what even the early 21st century has achieved – which suggests the later series’ augments were in fact a creation of Khan’s fellow supermen, whose own actual nature and origins were unknown in the era of Archer. This interpretation, though radical, leaves intact the backstory to “Space Seed,” which evoked not the possible nightmares of decades then to come, but tragic realities of some decades before.

    Eugenics was the 1883 brainchild of Charles Darwin’s half-cousin Sir Francis Galton, who believed “superior” characteristics could and should be identified, and adults displaying those traits paid to have children. Though Galton against the misuse of his work, it was “negative” eugenics that caught on in America. The Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, and other high-minded philanthropic organizations funded the American Eugenics Society and other similar organizations, which spread the concept through lectures, newsletters and state fairs’ “Fitter Families Contests” (whose awards of eugenic superiority were invariably given to Nordic types). Carnegie dollars also founded the Eugenics Recording Office at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which complied files on millions of citizens. Indiana passed the first compulsory sterilization law in 1907, Washington and California following suit two years later. Thirty-seven states in all put such laws on the books. Save in California, sterilization rates remained relatively low nationwide until the Supreme Court held in 1927’s Buck v. Bell that “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for a crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind…Three generations of imbeciles are enough” (Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes).

    At its height, eugenics found favor with the likes of Winston Churchill, H.G. Wells, Teddy Roosevelt, Alexander Graham Bell, among others. Harvard, Yale, and other universities offered 375 courses in the subject. By the 1920s, it was common belief across the U.S. that crime, mental illness and poverty were the results of inherited traits. Over sixty-five thousand Americans were forcibly sterilized. Victims were primarily the retarded and mentally ill, but many state laws also targeted the deaf, the blind, epileptics and the physically deformed. Black and Native American women were often sterilized without their knowledge while hospitalized, often for childbirth. The Oregon Board of Eugenics (later renamed the Board of Social Protection) existed until 1983, and performed its last forced sterilization in 1981.

    World War II turned the tide of public opinion against eugenics – but it should be noted that California’s forced sterilization program (the nation’s largest by a wide margin) was reported on in a book by two leading American eugenicists, which volume was both widely disseminated, and cited by the Nazi government as being of great importance in establishing the feasibility of large-scale compulsory sterilization. One of Hitler’s first acts on taking power was the passage of Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses, the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring in July 1933, which resulted in the establishment of over 200 “eugenic courts.” All doctors were subject to steeps fines should they not report patients who were retarded or mentally ill, epileptic, blind, deaf or physically deformed. All such individuals (as well as alcoholics and those with Huntington’s disease) were to go before a court of Nazi officials and “public health” officers to determine whether or not sterilization should be performed. By war’s end, over 400,000 people had been sterilized.

    In addition to sterilization, American eugenicists had considered the “solutions” of forced segregation and mass euthanasia, but rightly concluded the U.S. unready to apply these. The Nazis, of course, were. In 1939, the regime adopted (by Hitler’s personal decision) ActionT4, the euthanizing of those considered incurable. Lebensunwertes Legen “(“Life Unworthy of Life”) was the designation for those judged unfit to live, the phrase being drawn from the title of a 1920 book by jurist Karl Binding and psychiatrist Alfred Hoche, which latter deemed that the brain damaged, retarded and psychiatrically ill were “mentally dead,” constituting no more than “human ballast,” the “empty shells of human beings.” From seventy to one hundred thousand were thus found wanting by the Nazis, and killed.

    In Nazi Germany, the application of eugenics opened the door for mass murders to come. Sterilization was followed by the killing of “impaired” children, then adults, then “impaired” inmates of concentration camps, ending with the death camps themselves. Those confined, and then murdered included all judged to “deviant” or a “source of social turmoil” – for example, the mentally ill, the disabled, political dissidents, homosexuals, interracial couples, criminals, Communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, the Romani, non-Caucasians, and selected clergy. As Nazi industry converted to slave labor, life itself was put to cost-accounting, it being considered cheaper to slowly starve workers to death, then replace them from a well-nigh inexhaustible supply, than to provide each a “living wage” of calories during their service to the Reich. The absolute toll can never be known, but estimates exceed 13 million.

    The foregoing account of events likely unknown to most Americans – different in both kind and degree from the infamous events elsewhere – is meant neither to denigrate America, nor to draw a false equivalence between U.S. courts’ crimes against humanity and the Nazis’ making an industry of genocide. Rather, it is only by understanding the real world’s practice of negative eugenics that we may address the Star Trek timeline’s application of the positive sort. Any “attempt to improve the race through selective breeding” (Spock, “Space Seed”) must have preceded Khan’s rise to power by generations. How many, exactly, is unclear, likely undeterminable, and perhaps, in fact, the stuff of sheer nonsense; humans mature so slowly that observance of “desired characteristics” might well be impossible even once reproductive age was reached. But the crude knowledge of inherited traits predates eugenics itself. Johann Karl Nestler’s studies of hereditary characteristics in sheep in the 1820s, and Gregor Mendel’s experiments in plant hybridization in the 1850s and ‘60s offered the potential for speculation as to the selective breeding of humans.

    Say that some imaginative – and quite wealthy – individual of the mid-nineteenth century conceived the thought of a “superior” human. To produce such on an individual basis could be done via intensive mental and physical training – but improvement-by-nurture en masse would be a society’s work (ala the Spartans’, depending on one’s definition of “superior”), well beyond the resources of any one person. If, on the other hand, genealogical records could be mined for evidence of past generations’ “superior” traits, living descendants might in theory be identifiable as desirable breeding stock. Such records would in most likelihood be available only for families of some means, which could be offered the services of an elite childhood academy. “Students” would receive an intense indoctrination as to their own innate “superiority,” encouraged to form relationships based upon observed criteria to which they would not necessarily be made fully aware, and instilled upon graduation that their own children should attend the academy in turn. Over decades, such breeding academies would be established in as many nations as possible, the eventual result being a far-flung contingent of “superior” humans, well-ready to take whatever reigns of success or control they might come to desire.

    The motivations of the hypothetical breeder of Ubermenschen might have been nothing more than to sprinkle humanity with the best it could be…or to produce a generation of literal rulers of all. The means used in pursuit of whatever goal might for efficiency’s sake have included semi-forced propagation at the very onset of menarche. One cannot rule out artificial insemination, whose first successful result dates to the late 1700s. As for the most well-known graduate of the program, Khan would have been born circa 1949, were he the same age in 1996 as was Ricardo Montalban in 1967, or as early as 1908, if we apply the statement in Enterprise that his ilk enjoyed twice-normal lifespans (ignoring, for the moment, that those “supermen” were “augments”) – either of which dates imply a pre-eugenics advent of his selectively-bred line.

    Khan no doubt came to power in his native India quite some time prior to his 1992 control of one-quarter the Earth (in strict fact, 30% of the land area, some 60% of the global population). His fellow supermen presumably aided him in so far-flung a conquest, the success of which in turn inspired them (or still others) to, in 1993, “seize power simultaneously in over forty nations.” Khan’s ascension and rule alike apparently differed from the others’; “the best of the tyrants and the most dangerous” (Kirk, “Space Seed”) committed no massacres, launched no wars until he was attacked (Scott and McCoy, respectively). By whom is unclear; Khan was “the last of the tyrants to be overthrown” (McCoy), but since those of the forty nations “began to battle among themselves” (Kirk), we cannot rule out that internecine strife, as much or more than rebellion, or attack from without, brought down the “dozens of petty dictatorships” (Spock) comprising the eugenics empire.

    As for Khan’s means of departure, series sequels showed this vehicle as being lofted by enormous solid boosters (a model being seen in a 1996 office in the Voyager episode “Future’s End,” a launch photo on a barroom wall in Enterprise’s “First Flight”). However, these depictions must be taken with a grain of salt. Khan’s vessel, as seen in “Space Seed,” displayed a flat-faced, off-center semicircle of five wedge-shaped cargo modules (or panniers, in the parlance of designer Matt Jeffries, whose drawings show a full load of sixteen). Botany Bay, if ground-launched, could hardly have taken flight in her un-aerodynamic, as-discovered configuration, but must rather have jettisoned most of her modules en route. Groomed for takeoff, she would have utilized ejectable atmospheric shrouds. Her appearance in the sequel series’ set-dressings was but artistic license, so that an audience unacquainted with a “real” DY-100 (which remains to be seen in any “official” rendering) could recognize what they were looking at.

    The origins of the DY-100 is hinted at by Scott’s reference to “bulky, solid…I think they used to call them transistor units” (“Space Seed”). Scott’s statement does not reflect real-world progress; issues of size, weight, power consumption and durability forced the 1960s development of integrated circuits for both the U.S. and Soviet space programs. Such radical miniaturization might, however, have gone lacking in Star Trek’s Soviet Union given the early adoption of so powerful a launch vehicle as the YaKhR-2. Nor have we any idea as to when the DY-100 first appeared; “the last such vessel was built…back in the 1990s” according to Spock, but Soviet practice in terms of space hardware has always been one of modification and updating rather than (as in the U.S.) outright replacement. The DY-100 may thus date to the 1980s or earlier.

    Nor is technology the only clue as to that ship’s Soviet origins. Khan, after all, ruled an empire stretching “from Asia to the Middle East.,” coming to power in 1992. His conquest preceded those of his fellows, and apparently inspired it; “In 1993, a group of…young supermen…seize[d] power simultaneously in over forty nations” (Spock, “Space Seed”). The U.S. was demonstrably not one of the latter, to judge by its 1996 appearance (Voyager, “Future’s End”). But for a virtual gift of the gods, Khan’s crew can hardly, therefore, have taken flight aboard an American spacecraft at the Eugenics Wars’ closing. The Asian continent, though, includes the entirety of Russia and China, all of whose resources Khan would have had at his disposal.

    Positing that the DY-100 was of Soviet origin raises further uncertainty as to the veracity of the aforementioned “launch configuration” model and image. Given the vessel’s 92-meter length (readily calculable from its position alongside Enterprise, and since confirmed by measurements of the actual special effects miniature), the six solid rocket boosters would be some 244 feet/74.4 meters long (excluding nozzle and nose cone) by 16 feet/4.8 meters diameter. The U.S. test fired an even larger solid (260 inches diameter) in1965, and the fact that actual Soviet solid development was inferior would be of little account by 1980, let alone in the Star Trek timeline. In reality, though, the Soviets concealed the nature of their space vehicles for some time, forcing Western analysts to put forward educated guesses as their appearance (if not performance). It could therefore be argued that what was seen in “Future’s End” was nothing more than a conceptual model, and that the launch “photo” seen in “First Flight” (by which time the actual nature of the DY-100’s launch vehicle would surely be known) was a dated artist’s rendering retained for the sake of nostalgia. Such notions might seem specious, let alone unnecessary…but since the depictions shown cannot be accurate in regards to the spaceship, it seems a small leap to question the booster(s) as well. Could six SRMs of that size orbit a DY-100-sized payload? Would so valuable a cargo be trusted to temperamental solids? We leave these issues as exercises for the reader.

    An alternative launcher, mathematically capable of not merely lifting such a payload to space, but of putting it onto an interplanetary trajectory, would consist of eight first-and-second stage assemblies of the actual Soviet manned lunar booster, the N-1, encircling an enormous squat core stage patterned upon the U.S. Nexus design of 1963. This single-stage, fully-recoverable booster could (depending on size – 164 to 202 foot base diameter, respectively) carry one to two million pound payloads without any assistance, and were projected as being flight-ready by the mid-1970s. It seems at least reasonable that a Soviet state flying YaKhR-2s by 1961 could pull off a “Nexus-ski” three-odd decades later…

    Before turning elsewhere, one apparently-anachronistic aspect of the Botany Bay deserves mention – namely, its use of artificial gravity. This came as no surprise to Enterprise’s boarding party upon their arrival, nor is there any justification within the franchise entire of Federation technology being able to “project” such at a distance (or indeed, to establish one through the use of portable devices, which in any case went unused in “Space Seed”). Use of a “gee field” by a ship of Earth’s 1990s must therefore have been a given – but how could such have come about, and why, if artificial gravity was in use, did that era’s spaceflight not depend upon antigravity rather than rockets? The latter question must relate to issues of power, which 20th century Earth ships could apparently not provide in sufficient amounts to allow for antigravitational hovering. As to the origin of the gee field, that is explicitly stated in the animated episode “The Slaver Weapon.” Spock refers therein to stasis boxes, “the only remnant of a species which ruled most of this galaxy a billion years ago,” then adds, “In one was found a flying belt which was the key to the artificial field used by starships.” Clearly, that particular stasis box was discovered and the flying belt reverse-engineered some time preceding launch of the Botany Bay – subsequent to which that knowledge was either temporarily lost, or kept secret, to judge by the lack of artificial gravity aboard the International Space Agency’s Ares IV of 2032.

    Returning to Spock’s “the last such vessel was built…in the 1990s,” and considering that the Vulcan would surely have known the year had it corresponded with the ending of the Eugenics Wars, leads to the conclusion that DY-100 construction ceased in 1995. That the Botany Bay’s very existence did not telegraph its origins implies its make and model preceded Khan’s rise to power. Taking 1991 as the latest possible first date of service, how many years must be reasonably allowed since project authorization? Real-world space hardware falls so far short as to provide no yardstick, but the 1960s’ most sophisticated aircraft, the B-70 Valkyrie, was defined as a Mach 3 bomber in 1957, and took wing in 1964. Allowance of a few years for a less sophisticated Soviet technological base yields a project authorization date of 1980 or thereabouts. If the Soviets’ early-‘60s space bombers begat the U.S. orbital nuclear weapons platform of 1968, what further American projects of the next decade drove Soviet authorization of a ground-launched, 300-odd foot long modular interplanetary spacecraft?

    It seems an inescapable conclusion that by 1980, the U.S. had taken full possession of the “high ground” of low Earth orbit, and most likely geosynchronous orbit as well. Military (and perhaps scientific) bases must have been vying for “control” of the moon. Manned interplanetary flights would have lain within U.S. capabilities, but gone without attempt for lack of nuclear propulsion (preferable – though not essential – only in that regard, given an open Saturn V production line). As when faced with overwhelming U.S. bomber superiority, the Soviets might see no recourse but to pursue a game-changing leap forward, not to ICBMs or space bombers, but the outright colonization of another planet: the red planet in fact, central to the Soviet imagination since the silent film “Aelita: Queen of Mars” showed that world as a socialist paradise in 1934. No matter if democracy owned near-Earth space or the moon; the DY-100 could in one fell swoop conquer the solar system for communism.

    What progress towards this goal preceded 1992 must have been found wanting, or been laid aside by Khan, who preferred ruling in hell to taking to the heavens. Occupancy of Mars, by whatever fleet of however mighty ships, would be the work of centuries, against the at-hand masses of a fourth the Earth. Postwar – whether laid waste or not (37 million falling short of that save killed in Russia alone, which after all rebounded from the ten million slain of World War II within a decade) – the Soviet Union must have lost or abandoned use of DY-100s. Would the 21st be then an American century? Only time would tell.
  2. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

    Aug 3, 2003
    Brockville, Ontario, Canada

    You must have been giving this a lot of thought for quite some time.
  3. trekkist

    trekkist Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Mar 14, 2008
    Oh yeah…this is in fact the latest thought on a subject I've done various versions of since the animation was on the air.

    However, it wasn't until the penultimate paragraph of another article that I realized that the "seven timelines" (TOS, TAS, TMP, TNG, DS9, VOY, & E) could, in fact, be reconciled as non-contradictory despite their divergent views of contemporary, past, and near-future events:

    "Actual history is of course to some extent chaotic. If one presumes the DY-class ships to be of non-American origin (as implied by Khan’s geographical holdings, and possibly-apocryphal launch site of the DY-500 Mariposa), the aftermath of the Eugenics Wars and the domestic turmoil leading up to and including the Sanctuary Districts and Bell Riots might have put such advanced technologies beyond the reach of the International Space Agency, thus resulting in the Ares spacecraft being (per designer Rick Sternbach) little different in toto from Boeing’s NERVA (nuclear fission) boosted Integrated Manned Interplanetary Spacecraft design of 1968. Subsequent DY classes might be under this interpretation long-delayed, not immediate, successors to the DY-100s of the 1990s. As for the obsolescence of sleeper ships circa 2018, this too might be a non-American issue, suspended animation being unnecessary to reach Mars, and flights beyond Mars lying beyond the range of NERVA-driven spacecraft. There remains Shaun Christopher’s Earth-Saturn probe – which by definition (given the rudimentary Ares) have been conducted outside NASA/ISA auspices as well (John Christopher having presumably become an expatriate due to the Sanctuary Bill, or whatever). Description of NASA’s Charybdis as the third manned trans-solar system attempt would by the timeframe of "Voyager" include the Botany Bay and another unnamed vessel, the third-ever mission having become suddenly practical due a long-delayed American propulsive catchup, and/or the sharing of foreign technologies in the five years since Ares IV. World War III’s global destruction of major cities and governments might leave scattered technological enclaves, of which Cochrane’s was but one. Few inventions or innovations occur to one person alone; why should hyperlight engines have been any different? Given independent development, Valiant’s leaving the galaxy but two years after Phoenix took flight becomes something other than nonsense. The United Earth Space Probe Agency may have been a vaingloriously-titled misnomer, or the real thing (and might in either case exclude America); clearly, the ultra-long ranged Friendship 1 reflected Valiant’s capabilities, not Phoenix’s. The barely-hyperlight Conestoga, however, seems more the product of Cochrane. Did all Earth repel the Kzinti, or were the warcats in conflict with outposts established by DY-class ships? Was the post-atomic horror a global phenomenon, or one confined only to less fortunate regions?"