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.