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The 1964 Decision

The Decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR of August 3, 1964 No. 655-2681 approved the task of carrying out a flight of the moon by a manned spacecraft using the UR-500K-L1 rocket-space complex and landing an expedition to the surface of the Moon using the H1- rocket-space complex LZ. The start dates of the flight design tests of the UR-500K-L1 complex were set in August 1966 and in the N1-LZ -1966 complex. Work and activities were to ensure the fulfillment of the tasks of flying the moon by a manned ship on the 50th anniversary of the Soviet government and the expedition landing on the lunar surface, bearing in mind ensuring the priority of the Soviet Union in solving these tasks. Lunar expeditions were engaged not only in the KB Korolyev, and the project N1-L3 was not the only one. There was competition and a struggle for financing - and this was in a socialist state. The spraying of forces and resources was in full swing. Korolev, Chelomei and Yangel began to design a complex for landing on the Moon, but without official authority. The design assignment for the complex was received only in August 1964. Three years after America.

At the beginning of the lunar race in the USSR there was no single vision of the flight plan. Three different missiles were projected for the flights to the Moon, the oxygen-kerosene superheavy N-1 and two rockets using the toxic pair NDMG-AT - the heavy R-56 and the ultra-heavy UR-700. There was also the parallel development of three spacecraft related to each other by the orbital 7K-OK (later named Soyuz) and the lunar 7K-LOK, as well as the multi-seat Voskhod, which was hastily redesigned from the Vostok, was being developed.

In different design bureaus, there were a number of lunar flyover projects, including several launches and assembly of the spacecraft in near-earth orbit (before the appearance of the Proton rocket) and direct flight around the moon. The project from the newly created in the Soyuz family OKB-1 Korolev 7K-L1 and the Prokon OKB-52 launch vehicle, which was created earlier, was selected and brought to the stage of the last unmanned reconnaissance launches and flights.

The Central Committee of the CPSU decided to accept the challenge of the Americans. In 1960, the decree issued by the Government Resolution of June 23, 1960, "On the Creation of Powerful Missile Launchers, Satellites, Spacecraft and the Exploration of Outer Space in 1960-1967." design study and the necessary volume of research in order to create in the coming years a new space rocket system with a starting mass of 1000-2000 tons, providing for the orbit around the Earth of a heavy interplanetary space a ship with a mass of 60-80 tons, powerful liquid rocket engines with high characteristics, liquid hydrogen liquid rocket engines, nuclear and electric-reactive engines, high-precision systems of autonomous and radio-technical control, space radio communication systems, etc.

A number of various projects for landing on the Moon were considered: several launches and assembling of a lunar ship from the compartments in near-earth orbit, direct flight to the Moon (without undocking in the near-moon orbit), etc. For a "direct" flight OKB-52 Chelomey proposed to develop its own ship -700 on the basis of its carrier UR-700. This project was more technically complex.

By this time, the split between the main designers has already become evident. Glushko, who had designed all the engines for Korolev before, because of various vzlyadov to propellant, went to Chelomeyu. Together with Chelomey, they countered the UR-700 in counterbalance to the Korolevskaya N-1. This dispute was ultimately a major cause of the incomplete ending "Lunar" race.

And the only one of the main designers who tried to correct the situation was Mikhail Kuzmich. He correctly showed that the level of development that was able to one firm went through, and to achieve the goal the Soviets needed to unite the efforts of everyone. But this project was rejected by both Korolev and Chelomey. They pointed out that the R-56 that Yangel designed had half the payload of the N-1, which means that several launches of the R-56 would be required to accomplish the flight to the moon, with subsequent docking and assembling in orbit. In some ways they were certainly right, but forgot that if the R-56 was half the capacity of the N-1, then there will be less difficulty with its design, and Soviet designers still had to work out the docking. And this is excepting that the R-56 had ample opportunities to put into orbit the most diverse satellites.

According to Glushko, the creation of an engine of the required dimensionality on oxygen could drag on, encountering problems of pulsating combustion and protecting the walls of the chamber and the nozzle from overheating. In turn, the use of long-term components, which give a sustained combustion in the chamber with a temperature of 280 - 580 deg. With lower than oxygen fuel, will allow to accelerate engine development. In addition, the LPRE was structurally simpler.

Evaluating the arguments of Glushko, Korolev wrote in a memorandum to the head of the expert commission: "The whole argument about the difficulties of working out the oxygen engine is based on the experience of OKB V. Glushko in working with the LPRE of the open circuit. It should be specially emphasized that these difficulties have nothing to do with the engines of the closed circuit adopted for the N-1 missile, in which the oxidant enters the combustion chamber in the hot and gaseous state, and not in the cold and liquid, as in the usual non-closed circuit. Indeed, when starting a closed-circuit engine, the ignition of components in the combustion chamber takes place due to the heat of the hot oxidant gas-oxygen or AT. This method of starting an oxygen-kerosene engine of a closed circuit was experimentally tested in the OKB-1 engines and adopted for the last stage of the Molniya LV, and also in OKB N. Kuznetsov in the development of oxygen-kerosene engines NK-9V and NK-15V for the N-1 missile."

The expert commission took the side of Korolev. Glushko did not forgive Korolev. He supports the general designer Chelomey, in his project of the giant rocket UR-700, an alternative to the N-1 on engines of its own design. But the scientific commission under the leadership of Academician Keldysh gave preference to the project N-1 of OKB-1, since the design work by then on the N-1 has almost been completed.

Only in 1964 did the CPSU Central Committee pose a new goal - to make a manned expedition to the Moon before the US delivers its astronaut to the moon. In order to ensure the delivery of the astronaut with one launch, Korolev adapted the N-1 to new conditions practically. Project L3 took the form that did not change until the closure of the lunar program. From the previous scheme (with a direct landing without dividing into the orbital and landing modules) the new variant favorably differed in its mass. Now it was enough to start one N1, but for this it was necessary to raise its load capacity by 25 tons. An 91.5-ton complex L3 would be output to an intermediate near-earth orbit with a height of 220 km and an inclination of 51.8°.

In the Decree of August 3, 1964, for the first time it was determined that the most important task in the study of outer space with the help of the N1 launch vehicle is the development of the Moon with the landing of expeditions to its surface and subsequent return to Earth.

August 3, 1964 Khrushchev signed a secret decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Council of Ministers on the exploration of the Moon and outer space. So there was a specific task: in May-June 1967 to fly around the Moon, and in September 1968 make a soft landing on the lunar surface and return. This "lunar program" was to be the answer of the United States and prove Soviet superiority in space and on Earth.

The main developers of the L3 lunar system were:

  • OKB-1 - the main organization for the system as a whole, the development of rocket blocks G and D, engines for the D block and the development of the lunar (LK) and lunar orbital (LOK) ships;
  • OKB-276 (ND Kuznetsov) - on the development of the engine of the G-unit;
  • OKB-586 (MKYangel) - on the development of the missile block E of the lunar ship and the engine of this block;
  • OKB-2 (AM Isaev) - on the development of the propulsion system (tanks, PG system and engine) block I of the lunar orbiter;
  • NII-944 (VI Kuznetsov) - on the development of a control system for the L3 system;
  • SRI-885 (MS Ryazansky) - on the radio-measuring complex;
  • GSKB Spetsmash (VPBarmin) - for a complex of ground equipment of the L3 system.

Korolev said that in 1964 he had a meeting with Chelomey. He proposed to supplement the program of flying with the UR-500K with a docking in the Earth's orbit. But Chelomei said that he would do without docking and will make a new heavy carrier UR-700.

In general, the project N1-L3 was completed on December 30, 1964, at the same time, preliminary terms for the completion of all stages were assigned. The first launch of the N1 was due in 1966, and the first cosmonaut on the Moon could have landed already in 1967-68, which would have preceded the Americans who landed for 1969. Chelomey, inspired by Khrushchev's support, refused to cooperate with the N1 program and was carried away by the moon's flight to the UR-500K. Chelomei managed to convince Khrushchev that his "lunar project" could be realized in just three years. Neither Korolev nor Yangel did not guarantee such terms and they paid for their honesty: the work on N-1 of Korolev and R-56 of Yangel was stopped.

The Lunar case began to slump when the two whales on which the Soviet space rested, Korolev and Chelomey, began to sail in different directions, unable to agree on what the lunar rocket carrier should be. It became clear: we can still fly around the Moon first, but we will not be able to land on the Moon before the Americans. The main reason was not even a shortage of money, but the wrong or untimely course to create a new “N-1” carrier instead of using a bunch of repeatedly tested in the “Protons” case that Chelomey suggested.

Chelomey "built" their carriers on dirty fuel - nitric tetroxide. Korolev was categorically against it and tried to develop Kuznetsov's engines working on kerosene and oxygen. And in the rocket "N-1" he generally planned to use oxygen and hydrogen. But to bring this eco-friendly project was not enough life. The royal plan caused admiration, but those decisions, due to which it was attempted to be implemented, ended in disappointment.

By 1965, the Soviet Moon program had split into two parallel strands: one, the N1-L3 to land cosmonauts on the Moon, and another, the L1 to send cosmonauts around the Moon. Intrigue, a special opinion of KB Korolyov on the protection of the project in 1965, the removal of Khrushchev (his son worked at Chelomey) - all this led to the closure of the LK-1 in 1966. The L1 circumlunar version of Soyuz was tested under the cover of the Zond program, but was overtaken by Apollo 8 in December 1968.

Their basic manned spacecraft had been successfully tested in earth orbit. The manned lunar landing complex consisted of two distinct spacecraft. The first was the LOK lunar orbiter (or L-2) and was similar to the American Apollo Command and Service Module complex. The second was the LK lunar lander (or L-3) and was similar to the American Lunar Module.

The LOK lunar orbiter was based on the successful Russian Soyuz spacecraft design and had overcome early failures like the Soyuz 1 disaster which had killed the cosmonaut, Vladimir Komarov. The LK lunar lander had been tested in earth orbit under the Russian Cosmos series, similar to what the Americans did with the Apollo 9 flight.

The Russian could never get their large lunar booster, the N-1, to work. In size, the N-1 was comparable to the American Saturn V. However, in four launch attempts between 1969 and 1972, the N-1 failed to even get into earth orbit. When in July 1969, the Soviet Union lost the race to get a man on the moon first, they did not completely dismantle their lunar program.

V.N.Chelomei proposed in November 1966 his version of the conquest of the moon (traditionally the bearer of the lunar ship was engaged in the phillial No. 1 of the OKB VN Chelomey - now the Khrunichev Scientific and Production Center, the project as a whole - the basic design bureau in Reutov, now - the JSC "MIC" NPO Mashinostroeniya"). The creation of the ultra-heavy UR-700 rocket, the LK-700 and the direct flight to the Moon (the first in 1973), no docking in near-earth or near-moon orbits.

Soon the insolvency of the Chelomeev project became obvious, but time and money went away irrevocably. In 1966 Korolev died on the operating table, after which OKB-1 was headed by his permanent deputy, Vasily Pavlovich Mishin. It was already clear to everyone that in 1968 it will not be possible to get to the moon and in 1969, apparently too. In 1967, Yangel notified Mishin that the lunar ship would be ready no earlier than 1971 (that is, three years late).

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Page last modified: 18-04-2019 18:51:08 ZULU