Copyright 2012 Robert Clark
Very interesting article on The Space Review discussing a recently
discovered copy of a 1963 TV interview with Arthur C. Clarke:
The perils of spaceflight prediction.
by Jeff Foust
Monday, December 5, 2011
In the interview Clarke gives some predictions of the future of space
exploration. From the standpoint of the beginnings of human
spaceflight, he suggests a manned Mars mission within 25 years, which
would have been by 1988, and Moon bases by the end of the 20th
This turned out to be too optimistic. But as I argued in this blog, this
could indeed have been technically and even financially feasible: if
it had been recognized that reusable SSTO's are possible and in fact
aren't even really hard, we would have had routine, private
spaceflight by the 1970s.
Such wide spread, frequent launches using reusable spacecraft would
have cut the costs to space by two orders of magnitude, at least. This
would then have made the costs of lunar bases and manned Mars missions
well within the affordability range.
The important point is that the required high efficiency engines and
lightweight stages for SSTO's already exist and have for decades. All
that is required is to marry the two together. An expendable test SSTO
could be produced, like, tomorrow. Just this one simple, cheap test
would finally make clear the fact that routine spaceflight is already