US intelligence analysts recount Russians actively prepared to send cosmonauts to Moon ahead of Apollos 8 and 11
The Russians actively prepared to send cosmonauts on lunar trips ahead of Apollos 8 and 11, and a KGB "special action" attempted to stop Apollo 8 from launching, according to a new article posted to the website Globalsecurity.org.
These new revelations, recounted in the article "'Deep Politics' and the Moon Race," tell of Soviet activities--both of erecting and launch-preparation testing of rockets on firing pads at the Tyuratam Cosmodrome and via the intercepted communications from the tracking ship flotillas in the world's oceans-which informed US intelligence that manned space missions intended for the Moon in December 1968 and July 1969 were being actively prepared. This new information was garnered via the oral recollections of retired US intelligence analysts. Additionally, the KGB attempted to stop Apollo 8 from being launched by sending a letter to the security officers at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) alleging that the rocket had been sabotaged, which was given wide review at KSC at the time.
According to the author Peter Pesavento, "What space historians previously lacked in examining the Moon race competition was information from the US intelligence component concerning the years 1968 and 1969, describing Soviet actions as they happened. With newly declassified documents, as well as the oral recollections, we now have in hand for the first time a new dimension to this Cold War story." Pesavento additionally mentions that the official Russian histories presently deny any active preparations to upstage Apollos 8 and 11.
This clash between the US information and the Russian information is one of the main themes of the new article written by Pesavento. The author takes present Russian claims and compares them with the newly revealed information that has been uncovered. There is also an examination of two late 1968 government documents (both Soviet and American) that Pesavento has recently acquired, that concern how each nation viewed the other's capabilities in sending space farers to the Moon. The US document felt the Russians were behind, while the Soviet document felt that Apollo 11 was a toss-up between ending up a circumlunar mission as much as a manned lunar landing. Additionally, Apollo 12 was felt by the Russians to have been the first mission to fully be expected to successfully land astronauts.
The recollections of US analysts also describe the arguments within the intelligence community as to what exactly was the prime mission of the intended July 1969 lunar mission-whether a crewed Apollo 8-type mission with lunar module in tow for coplanar tests, or a more sophisticated space shot similar to Apollo 10 where the cosmonauts were anticipated to engage in lunar maneuvering and descent. The information recalled by the retired analysts points to having active spacecraft as the payload of the Russian's super rocket that ultimately blew up soon after launch on July 3, 1969.
Other elements highlighted in "'Deep Politics'" are personalities (such as KGB agent Dalibar Valouschek ,whose efforts included the sabotage letter sent to Kennedy Space Center officials in December 1968, and Dr. Charles Sheldon, a prime consumer of US intelligence who discussed Soviet manned Moon mission preparations in late June 1969), as well as pop culture materials (such as previously unpublished Soviet posters that tied manned exploration of space with the Moon).
Peter Pesavento is a freelance science journalist, who has had articles about both US and Soviet space history appear in periodicals for over two decades. He had previously broke in the press stories about successful US Navy attempts to orbit satellites in 1958 via launching from jet aircraft, as well as detailing elements from the first released-to-the-public National Intelligence Estimate on the USSR's space program (garnered via his efforts with Mandatory Declassification Review) from the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library.
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Contact John Pike (Globalsecurity.org) at John@globalsecurity.org; 703-548-2700 Contact Peter Pesavento at email@example.com.
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