Un aller simple pour la Lune

John M. Cord, a Project Engineer in the Advanced Design Division at Bell Aerosystems Company, and Leonard M. Seale, a psychologist in charge of Bell’s Human Factors Division, developed a plan for a desperate mission to put a man on the moon ahead of the Soviets. They unveiled their “One-Way Manned Space Mission” proposal in Los Angeles at the Institute of Aerospace Sciences (IAS) meeting in July 1962.

Cord and Seale explained that, since neither propellants for departing the moon nor parachutes and an Earth-atmosphere-reentry heatshield would be required, their new approach would slash lunar spacecraft mass. This would enable a rocket with between 450,000 and 1.1 million pounds of thrust to launch a one-man moon lander on a Direct-Ascent path to the moon. Such a rocket would, they estimated, be ready in the United States in 1964 or early 1965.

Though they termed it “one-way,” Cord and Seale did not propose a suicide mission. They estimated that a rocket capable of launching a three-man Direct-Ascent Apollo mission to retrieve the One-Way Space Man — that is, a rocket with between 1.1 million and 3.5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff — would become available in the U.S. in the 1965-to-1967 period, between 18 and 24 months after his arrival on the moon. Nevertheless, the mission would be “extremely hazardous.”

C’est juste passionnant de voir comment le désir de damer le pion aux Russes, de prendre la tête de la course à l’espace, a poussé les idées les plus folles ou les plus casse-cou — accessoirement, ça me donne l’espoir de terminer une histoire bloquée depuis 3 ou 4 ans, faute de trouver une explication crédible, heu… au moins à mes yeux, à une situation à peu près similaire : David S. F. Portree: One-Way Space Man (1962).