The first American trip to the moon will be launched not from earth but from a space station in orbit around our planet. It is possible even now, of course, to send a man to the moon the hard way; a single man cramped into a tiny shell with just enough fuel to reach the moon, land and fire himself back toward the earth.
At the present time his chances of surviving would be slim, so the United States, at least, will not send a single man directly from earth. Our program is set, and does not include anything so wild and frantic. We will build an elegant space station to accommodate about 50 men, then set out in perhaps two personnel ships and a cargo ship. The Russians have a basic, relatively unpretentious moonship. The American ship is more elegant, larger and has a much bigger crew. This, perhaps, is the crux of the whole problem of the U.S. vis-a-vis Russia in space. The Russians think the stakes are nothing less than the cosmos. The Americans say, “Okay, the cosmos. But with safety, comfort, the dignity of man, showers in our space liners, big crew, togetherness, psychological adjustment, compatibility, friendship.” The Russians whip something durable together and shout “Davai! Give, lads!” And off they go. I am certain in my own mind that the first spaceship will land on the moon within five years. And the way things are going at present, the men who emerge to put the first footprints into the ancient lunar dust will not be Americans.
GREGORY BENFORD, Popular Mechanics, (2012), "The Future That Never Was: Pictures from the Past', [online], Available: http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/engineering/future-that-never-was-next-gen-tech-concepts?click=main_sr#slide-1