This was the scenario dreamed up by cold war planners in the 1960's. The US Air Force was considering the use of a top secret orbital weapons system way before Star Wars was even a glimmer in George Lucas' eye. The command post for this "Minuteman in space" concept was the Lenticular Reentry Vehicle, also known as the Manned Bombardment and Control Vehicle.
This little known piece of spacecraft history was kept secret for decades. Details are sketchy, since only bits and pieces of this project have been declassified. The LRV had a crew of four and probably would have used the Apollo Saturn V to boost it into orbit. Then it would park in the vicinity of several weapons platforms, each containing clusters of thermonuclear missiles. The job of the LRV crew was to scrub off alien "Moscow or Bust" graffiti, check for meteor holes, top off the fuel, and otherwise make sure the ultimate doomsday machine was in perfect, shiny working order. And, of course, they had to be ready to push the big red LAUNCH button if the wrong people decided to go all Dr. Strangelove. Then after six weeks, they'd hand off the keys to armageddon to the next shift, and return to earth in their saucer.
Who knows, if a few quantum variables had gone a bit differently, we might have had Air Force flying saucers going back and forth to a nuclear sword of
One real-life possibility is that the LRV actually reached the prototype stage, and could account for some "UFO" sightings. There are even claims that debris from a crashed LRV was found in Australia. Maybe the LRV actually made it off the drawing board and routinely makes trips to the secret base on the dark side of the moon. Only the janitor at Area-51 knows for sure.
With the imminent retirement of the Space Shuttle, maybe we should revive the flying saucer that almost was, and bring back the LRV. Only without the potential nuclear winter part.
Here's to the LRV. It may have a boring name, but it sure looks cool. What other weird things do you think will be eventually declassified?