The space marine is a tried and true trope in sci-fi and a fixture in games like Warhammer 40,000, StarCraft, Halo (the ODSTs Master Chief inevitably comes to save) and as memorable protagonists in cinema, such as Aliens’ Corporal Hicks.
However, during the Cold War, the technology to make spaceborne troopers a reality was actively being pursued. While the concept wasn’t as high concept as sending fighting men to remote regions of space to fight xenomorphs…er, communists, the idea was to put boots on the ground by rocketing warfighters into orbit and brining them back down anywhere in the world within an hour.
Thought the idea began with Wernher Von Braun in 1956 sending 18-man capsules into space on a Jupiter rocket, the idea shifted to reusable, heavy-lift vehicles when Douglas Aircraft engineer Philip Bono took up the project.
Bono’s vision was to send 1,300 people (or up to 160 tons of cargo) into orbit on a transport using a modified booster system. The transport would utilize an aerospike engine for reentry and to send it to the coast for reuse, once the troops were deployed using jet packs (yes, really).
Concerns arose that the transports would be confused with ballistic nuclear missiles and starting World War III if they were ever used. But ultimately, the price tag of the project ultimately killed the project in the ’60s, which is saying something considering it was the Cold War.
But we are talking about a trip that Virgin Galactic charges $250,000 per person today (check back for our affiliate link), and that’s not counting freaking jetpacks, after all.