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Soviet Lunar Landing Programs and Plans

Both the Soviet and the American space program had their roots in the same dream, that began with Jules Verne to Constantine Tsiolkovsky to Hermann Oberth. From these early visionaries, the plan was to go into earth orbit first, then a space station, and finally exploration of the Moon and then Mars. The race into space jumped one of steps by going to the Moon after going into earth orbit.

Brian Harvey wrote "The Soviet moon programme began in an unlikely place - in a children's magazine, on 2nd October 1951. Mikhail Tikhonravov was a veteran rocket engineer from the 1920s and was now convinced that a flight to the moon might soon become a practical possibility. In the paranoia of Stalin's Russia, talking about unapproved projects like moon flights was a potentially dangerous enterprise, so he chose a relatively safe outlet, one unlikely to raise the blood pressure of the censors: the pages of Pionerskaya Pravda, the newspaper devoted to communist youth. There, on 2nd October 1951, he outlined how two men could fly out to the moon and back in a 1,000 tonne rocketship. The article concluded: "We do not have long to wait. We can assume that the bold dream of Tsiolkovsky will be realized within the next 10 to 15 years. All of you will become witness to this and some of you may even be participants in unprecedented journeys."" In the USSR, several projects of manned space complexes were developed to fly around and land a man on the moon and projects of lunar bases. The main ones are the projects 7K-9K-11K, UR500K-L1 (L1, the flyby of the Moon) and "N1-L3" (landing on the Moon), performed under the guidance of S.P.Korolev, and projects of UR500-LK1 (flyby of the Moon) and UR700-LK700 (landing on the Moon), which were performed under the direction of VN Chelomey. Unlike in the USA, where the circumnavigation of the Moon was a preparation for disembarkation, there were two separate programs in the USSR. By decision of August 3, 1964, the creation of a flying ship was entrusted to Chelomey (OKB-52). To the near-earth orbit LK-1 with a mass of 17.87 tons was to be launched by the UR-500K rocket ("Proton").

NASA gave serious consideration to three options: Initially, direct ascent; then, Earth-orbit rendezvous (EOR), and, finally, a darkhorse candidate, lunar-orbit rendezvous (LOR). Direct ascent was basically the method that had been pictured in science fiction novels and Hollywood movies. A massive rocket the size of a battleship would be fired directly to the moon, land and then blast off for home directly from the lunar surface. The trip would be like that of a chartered bus, moving from point A to point B and back to A again in one brute of a vehicle. Strong feelings existed within NASA in favor of direct ascent, largely because it meant the development of a proposed giant booster named the Nova. After the engineers made their calculations, however, NASA realized that any single big rocket that had to carry and lift all the fuel necessary for leaving the Earth's gravity, braking against the moon's gravity as well as leaving it, and braking back down into the Earth's gravity again, was clearly not a realistic option-especially if the mission was to be accomplished anywhere close to President Kennedy's timetable. The development of a rocket that mammoth would just take too long, and the expense would be enormous. The main idea of Earth-orbit rendezvous [EOR] was to launch two pieces into space independently using advanced Saturn rockets that were then in development; have the two pieces rendezvous and dock in Earth orbit; assemble, fuel, and detach a lunar mission vehicle from the modules that had joined up; and then proceed with that bolstered ship, exactly as in the direct flight mode, to the moon and back to Earth orbit. The advantage of EOR was that it required a pair of less powerful rockets that were already nearing the end of their development. EOR enjoyed strong support inside of NASA, especially among those who recognized that selection of EOR as the mode for the Apollo mission would require the virtual construction of a space station, a platform in Earth orbit that could have many other uses, scientific and otherwise, beyond Apollo. In the end NASA selected neither of the first two options: instead, it selected the third: lunar-orbit rendezvous. The brainchild of a few true believers at the Langley Research Center who had been experimenting with the idea since 1959, the basic premise of LOR was to fire an assembly of three spacecraft into Earth orbit on top of a single powerful (three-stage) rocket. The chief problems were the complications involved in requiring a rendezvous with the components left in the parking orbit. On July 11, 1962, after much technical debate and in-fighting, Seamans and NASA Administrator James E. Webb announced during a press conference at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., that lunar-orbit rendezvous had been selected as the primary mission mode for the initial manned moon landing. Considering the strong opposition to LOR during NASA's intensive evaluation of possible mission modes for Apollo, the choice seemed quite unlikely. In the 1960s, both American and Russian programs seriously looked at space stations. The American program began with the Apollo Applications Workshop that eventually led to the Skylab space station. In the Soviet Union, the need for a space station was first looked at by the Korolev Design Bureau in 1962, which would have been launched by the then fledgling N-1 booster. But since the Korolev Bureau was assigned the task of getting a Russian man to the Moon, the Chelomei Design Bureau was given the space station task which later became known as Almaz.

The Soviet Lunar program had 20 successful missions to the Moon and achieved a number of notable lunar "firsts": first probe to impact the Moon, first flyby and image of the lunar farside, first soft landing, first lunar orbiter, and the first circumlunar probe to return to Earth. The two successful series of Soviet probes were the Luna (24 lunar missions) and the Zond (5 lunar missions).

The Zond 6, 7, and 8 missions circled the Moon and returned to Earth where they were recovered, Zond 6 and 7 in Siberia and Zond 8 in the Indian Ocean. 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.

After Valentin Glushko led the TsKBEM (formerly OKB-1), having replaced the disgraced Vasily Mishin, he worked for 20 months to create a lunar base based on the modification of the Proton rocket designed by Vladimir Chelomey, which used self-igniting Glushko engines.

By the beginning of 1976, however, the USSR leadership decided to stop the lunar program and concentrate on the Soviet space shuttle, since the American shuttle was viewed as a military threat from the US. The N-1 program was officially canceled only in 1976. After the bitter national loss, the Communist Party redirected the space program toward space stations and the continued development of its Soyuz spacecraft. Although in the end, the Buran will be much like a competitor, V. Glushko made one significant change that allowed him to keep his lunar program.

After the demise of their manned lunar program, Russia continued their lunar exploration with unmanned devices, possibly as a way to show the world that unmanned probes were cheaper than manned flights. Their unmanned lunar program included both sample return missions and remotely controlled rovers. The Soviets accomplished three successful lunar sample return missions - Luna 16 (1970), Luna 20 (1972), and Luna 24 (1976). Many of the samples recovered were exchanged with both American and French scientists for analysis. They also accomplished two successful remote controlled lunar rover missions - Lunokhod 1 attached to Luna 17 in 1970 and Lunokhod 2 attached to Luna 21 in 1973 - something that the United States was not able to do for over 25 years until 1997 with the Mars Pathfinder mission. Each Russian rover mission lasted between 4 months and 1 year after landing on the Moon's surface returning thousands of pictures.

Work on the fly-around of the Moon was conducted in OKB-1 (now RSC Energia). On March 10, 1962, SPKorolev approved a technical prospectus "Complex for assembling spacecraft in the orbit of a satellite of the Earth. (Theme "Soyuz")". On the ship Vostok-7, equipped with engines for maneuvering, a cosmonaut-fitter was sent to space. He was to assemble in orbit a "space rocket" of three identical accelerating blocks. Then, to this "space train", a special L-1 spacecraft, intended for flying around the Moon, was docked. In May 1963 the project was modified - there was an automatic docking, and Vostok-7 disappeared. The "Soyuz" flyby complex included the ship itself, which received the designation 7K (it was from this development that the modern "Soyuz" grew), the 9K missile unit and the 11K tanker ships. All the elements of the system had to be put into orbit by a modified "seven", Korolev did not plan to use "alien" missiles. The first rocket unit was launched, four (!!!) tankers were automatically attached to it in automatic mode in order to fill with 22 tons of fuel. The last flight was a 7K ship with crew. After docking the ship to the refueled rocket block, the latter separated the unnecessary now (but necessary for docking with the tankers) compartment of orbital maneuvering, the engine of the Republic of Bashkortostan was launched and the ligament departed to fly around the Moon. The 7K was developed in the first place, and by 1964 (when Chelomey was assigned to work on LK-1), it was almost ready. But in late 1965-early 1966, the country's leadership decided to combine the two overflights. Korolev took the upper block D (from the program N1-L3 - the expedition to the moon) and the ship 7K-L1 (created on the basis of developments on 7K), and from Chelomey the UR-500K booster.

Lunar expeditions were engaged not only in the KB Korolyov, and the project H1-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. 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. He worked out his version of the moon rocket and Yangel. In OKB-585 (Yuzhnoye Design Bureau), in the early sixties, they considered a variant of a heavy ballistic missile R-46, but then Chelomeev's "five hundred" (the UR-500, the future "Proton") was given preference. In 1962 a decree was issued obliging the OKB-585 to develop a new R-56 rocket based on P-46 with a starting mass of about 1200 tons and a payload of 35-40 tons . 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.

Yangel Lunar Landing Plans

The most little known facts about Yangel's life are connected with his participation in the Lunar Program of the USSR. These moments are very rare, they usually write something like the fact that Yangel designed the Lunar R-56 launch vehicle, but he was stopped by Khrushchev at the stage of the draft design.

The R-56 for a manned lunar landing would require two R-56 launches in the place of one spacecraft in earth orbit. Yangel gave up the fight. The work on R-56 missile design for 80 Mt nuclear bomb, known as "Kuz'kina mat'" resulted in soviet manned lunar program participation. One of rocket blocks of N-1 (11A52) lunar booster was derived in Yangel design bureau. R-56 remained on paper only - the "Proton" by Bugayskiy-Chelomey won the competition.

The details of the upper stages and the lunar ship are unclear, which suggests that this proposal was not considered as seriously as the other two, being canceled at the end of 1964. OKB-52 did not develop or present plans for the creation of a complex for the flight of the Moon, the scheme of the flight of the ship was not considered and approved.

In America, contracts were concluded, system design began, the flight trajectory began. In the USSR, nothing of this as such was approved, only the plan for flying the Moon was approved. In April 1962, NS Khrushchev signed a decree on the development of missile systems UR-500 (General Designer VN Chelomey) and R-56 (Chief Designer MK Yangel). In September of the same year, a resolution was issued by the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR on the development of the N-1 rocket system with a payload of 75 tons and a starting mass of 2200 tons (chief designer S.Korolev). The leading designer of the R-56 missile complex, Stanislav Konyukhov, recalls: "With the help of the R-56 launch vehicle it was supposed to solve a very important part of the overall program for the development of the moon - providing the lunar expedition at the stage of its preparation and after landing on the lunar surface. The complex tasks of the preparatory stage of the development of the moon included: a survey of the flight route, development of a "soft" landing on the moon, exploration of near-moon space and physical conditions on its surface, large-scale photography of the lunar surface and delivery of special cargoes to the landing site of the expedition. Flight tests of the R-56 missile complex were planned to begin in the first half of 1966, in the second - a "soft" landing of the automatic station to the Moon was to be carried out." 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. Although 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. 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. With the R-56 it was impossible to organize an expedition to the Moon, but only to fly around it or deliver cargo to its surface. But the moon could be visited by assembling the ship in orbit. For this, it was sufficient to have two R-56 carriers to replace the H-1 missile. However, the idea of ??assembling in orbit at that time was so new that it was simply not perceived by many. "It's easy to suggest, but how is it done in orbit?" - argued those who depended on the prospect of the development of rocket technology. On August 26, 1965, the head of the military-industrial complex LV Smirnov assembled a meeting on the analysis of questions: "On the state of work on the exploration of outer space, the Moon and the planets." According to the results of the analysis, it was noted that the work on the implementation, primarily of the lunar programs, as well as communications systems, the research of Venus and Mars, is unsatisfactory, as a result of which there is a serious threat of losing the priority of the Soviet Union in the field of space exploration. L.V. Smirnov decided: because it was decided to land on the moon without intermediate docking in orbit, Yangel should stop work on the R-56 missile, send all the forces and powers of the Dnieper to the creation of an H-1 missile with increased with a payload of 95 tons. The task of developing the moon with landing the expedition to its surface and returning to Earth is considered the most important in the country. Chief Designer OKB-586 MK Yangel disagreed with the proposal to stop work on the R-56 missile and demanded a technical examination of the project. Anyway, the project R-56 was closed. But Yangel still participated in the "Lunar" project. It seems that Yangel's idea did not pass without a trace, Korolev suggested that his design bureau develop a ship for a soft landing on the moon and launch from it. This was indeed a serious problem. And Yangel coped with it with brilliance. 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. 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 H-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 H-1 missile. " The expert commission took the side of the Queen. Glushko did not forgive the Queen. He supports the general designer Chelomey, in his project of the giant rocket UR-700, an alternative to the H-1 on engines of its own design. But the scientific commission under the leadership of Academician Keldysh gave preference to the project N-1 OKB-1, since the design work by then on the H-1 has almost been completed. 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. 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. The terms of the beginning of the LCI - 1966 and the expedition of 1967-1968 were also determined. the development of the Moon with the landing of expeditions to its surface and subsequent return to Earth. Only in 1964 did the CPSU Central Committee pose a new goal is 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 H-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 H1, 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°.">Lunar Ship OKB-586 (Yuzhnoye Design Bureau in Dnepropetrovsk) was commissioned to develop the lunar ship, and Yangel was appointed the head of this part. The propulsion system, which was designated block E and intended for soft landing and take-off from the Moon, was paid very close attention. Initially, Yangel wanted to leave room for the second cosmonaut in the lunar cabin, but still it was impossible. 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 H1 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. 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). Direct ascent was basically the method that had been described in science fiction novels and shown in Hollywood movies. A massive rocket, roughly the size of a battleship, would be fired directly to the Moon, land, and then blast off for home directly from the lunar surface. The trip would be like that of a chartered bus, moving from point A to point B and back to A again in one huge booster vehicle, the proposed twelve-million-pound-thrust Nova rocket. Earth-Orbit Rendezvous involved launching two pieces of hardware into space independently using advanced Saturn rockets that were then under development. The two pieces would rendezvous and dock in the Earth’s orbit. The modules that had joined up during the rendezvous would allow for the assembly, fueling, and detachment of a lunar mission vehicle. That augmented ship would then proceed directly to the surface of the Moon and, after exploration, return to the Earth. The immediate advantage of Earth-orbit rendezvous was that it required a pair of less powerful rockets that were already nearing the end of their development—in other words, twice as many of his early Saturns. The whole reason for doing it via EOR would be because the boosters were still too small. The biggest pitfall, as with direct ascent, was that there was not yet any clear concept of how the spacecraft would actually make its landing. When NASA engineers first suggested the concept of lunar-orbit rendezvous, it had been rejected out of hand for being too complicated and risky. Rendezvous appeared dangerous and impractical to some NASA engineers, but to others it was the obvious way to eliminate the need for gigantic Nova-size boosters. Foremost among the variants in this approach was direct flight's chief competitor, earth-orbit rendezvous (EOR). The von Braun group had revealed an interest in this mode when it briefed Glennan in December 1958 - long before its transfer from the Army to NASA. Von Braun had made a strong pitch for using EOR and the Juno V later Saturn booster, painting a pessimistic picture of developing anything large enough for direct ascent. Agreeing that direct flight was basically uncomplicated, von Braun nevertheless said he favored earth-orbit rendezvous because smaller vehicles could be employed. If rendezvous had to be part of Project Apollo, critics of LOR felt that it should be done only in Earth orbit. if that rendezvous failed, the threatened astronauts could be brought back home simply by allowing the orbit of their spacecraft to deteriorate. But, if a rendezvous around the moon failed, the astronauts would be too far away to be saved. Nothing could be done. In retrospect, LOR enjoyed several advantages over the other two options. It required less fuel, only half the payload, and less brand new technology than the other methods; it did not require the monstrous Nova rocket; and it called for only one launch from Earth whereas EOR required two. Only the small, lightweight lunar module, not the entire spacecraft, would have to land on the moon. This was perhaps LOR's major advantage. Because the lander was to be discarded after use and would not need return to Earth, NASA could tailor the design of the LEM for maneuvering flight in the lunar environment and for a soft lunar landing. In fact, the beauty of LOR was that it meant that NASA could tailor all of the modules of the Apollo spacecraft independently. But in 1962 all these advantages were theoretical. On the other hand, the fear that American astronauts might be left in an orbiting coffin was quite real. It was a specter that haunted the dreams of those responsible for the Apollo program and one that made objective evaluation of the lunar-orbit rendezvous concept by NASA unusually difficult. But it became clear that lunar orbit rendezvous offered a chain reaction simplification on all ‘back effects': development, testing, manufacturing, erection, countdown, flight operations, etc. Following the first space rendezvous in 1965, NASA refined its capabilities in later Gemini missions, achieving the first docking of two spacecraft. From there, Apollo missions honed NASA’s Earth orbit rendezvous skills. Apollo 10 saw the first lunar orbit rendezvous. Academician Vasily Mishin later recalled "Korolyov never said anything about the Moon. We could never have landed there before the Americans.... The fact is that America is a rich country, Americans could outdo us a long time ago. But they needed to return the lost prestige - after the first satellites and Gagarin. And Kennedy spoke in 1961 before the congress and asked for this event $ 40 billion in order to land Americans on the moon and return them to Earth before the year 70. The US at that time could have gone to such huge expenses, and our country, weakened after the war, could not allocate such funds at such a time. That's all." The staff headed by Mishin bore primary responsibility for compensating for the psychological damage inflicted on domestic and world public opinion, which had sincerely believed in the absolute priority of the socialist world in space.">

  • Yangel: Lessons and heritage Lev Vyacheslavovich Andreev
  • In the first half of 1964, the possibility was considered of carrying out a lunar expedition with the help of the R-56 LV Yangel OKB (two-launch scheme). But no one believed that it was possible to dock spacecraft in zero gravity. The scheme proposed by Yangel was like an American one, with a docking in the near-moon orbit. It is not necessary to drag the entire lunar complex as a whole from the Earth: it is possible to deliver an orbital ship with astronauts and a landing in an unmanned mode to the near-moon orbit. There they docked, the cosmonaut went to the mooncraft, and then everything happened, as in the project N1-L3. Yangel suggested that Korolev concentrate on the L-3 complex, and he wanted to take up the missile. For such a project N1 was not needed. Korolyov began to consider a single-launch scheme at the H-1 in March 1964 (before that there was a three-launch option with a direct landing on the Moon), but the final appearance of the L-3 complex (Block G, D, LOK, LK) was approved only by the end of the year. R-56 was closed by government decree of June 19, 1964. What specifically could Yangel suggest during the period March-June 1964? How real was the lunar expedition with the help of two R-56s (purely technically, without taking into account "politics")? The R-56 was somewhat better than N1 in terms of reliability (fewer engines, they are more reliable, and the construction is more solid) and creation (significantly faster).

    General Machinebuilding - Lunar Program

    The Soviet Union did not have a high-level managerial organization that could rationally select the most urgent tasks and distribute them.

    Reports and surveys — “white TASS” articles reporting on the Americans’ successes — appeared. In August 1966, the U.S. press reported on the second successful flight of the Saturn IB carrying an experimental model of the Apollo. Ustinov appealed directly to MOM Minister Sergey Afanasyev and to USSR Academy of Sciences President Mstislav Keldysh with a proposal to review the state of affairs with the lunar program and to determine why the USSR was lagging behind the Americans and failing to meet the deadlines stipulated by the resolutions of the Central Committee and Council of Ministers. Ustinov assigned TsNIImash chief Yuriy Mozzhorin to prepare a detailed and objective report. Even with the most heroic efforts, it would be impossible to implement the project in 1968. It would be possible to assign tasks for the beginning of flight-developmental testing in 1969, but this would require new decisions to dramatically increase funding for this project. The existing plans and timelines for the N-1 at this time were unrealistic.

    Mozzhorin’s report caused an explosion of outrage. For the first time at such a level, officially, a leader of a head institute had, in no uncertain terms, declared that plans dictated by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union were unrealistic. Ustinov was more indignant than anyone. Airing a report like this to the Politburo threatened his personal authority. They might ask him: “And where were you all this time, Comrade Ustinov? After all, you were both minister of the defense industry and VPK chairman.” Mozzhorin was nearly branded an enemy of the people, as in the old days.

    According to established practice, enterprises made everything cheaper on paper so as not to frighten the minister of finance and Gosplan. Everyone knew about this practice but pretended that no one was being deceived. Keldysh proposed reviewing Ministry of Defense expenditures on spy satellites and other military space needs and reducing them in favor of the N-1. However, Mozzhorin had foreseen these proposals. He showed on each poster that the total funding for all the space programs taken together was just one-fifth of the amount that needed to be added on to the expenditures for the N-1. Even if funding were found from other sources, at this time it was not really possible to trim the cycles of construction, production, and subsequent reliability testing. If there were full funding and the necessary funds were transferred for construction and production, the USSR would be looking at the end of 1969 or more likely 1970.

    But Sergey Osipovich Okhapkin answered: ‘Dmitriy Fedorovich, if they help us, then we will fulfill the work within the deadlines set by the Central Committee.’” Turning to Afanasyev, Ustinov proposed that the minister get to the bottom of the “unhealthy attitude” of the director of the industry’s head institute. Mozzhorin was not so naïve that he had not familiarized his minister with the figures beforehand. Afanasyev gave his word that he would “get to the bottom of things” with Mozzhorin. Afanasyev and Mozzhorin understood that Ustinov and Keldysh were playing up their indignation. In actual fact, they had a better grasp of the general situation than the others, but out of “instructional” considerations they could act no other way.

    If the actual status of the programs stipulated by the decrees of the nation’s higher political leadership did not coincide with what they desired, then even individuals with extensive experience in technology like Ustinov could bring down their wrath on the one who dares speak the truth.

    Afanasyev, who headed the State Commission on the N-1, was also appointed chairman of the Lunar Council by government decision.

    Chertok later recalled that "In keeping with longstanding practice, instruments, cables, and all the other production accessories were delivered first of all for the flight vehicles and then—much later, after the developers had howled hysterically — for the experimental test units and rigs on which the developmental tests for these very instruments were supposed to be performed. Everyone considered this procedure to be faulty, but no one could change it. The dates for the deliveries of the standard instruments for the flight rockets were under the strict control of the entire administrative staff. All other deliveries were almost considered to be the developers’ whims."

    After the Apollo 8 moon flight, on 23 December 1968, "Uncle Mitya" summoned the leadership of the "yellow house" - this is how management called Ustinov and the Ministry of General Machine Building [MOM] headquarters building on Miusskaya Square. By the echoes that reached us by evening, the conversation was reduced to standard questions-instructions: "How will we respond to the Americans?"

    Deputy Minsiter Viktor Litvinov, who came to the gathering after meeting with the Central Committee, said: "... the Americans have borrowed from us the main method of work - the planned management and network graphics. They have bypassed us in management and planning methods. They pre-announce the schedule for the preparation of the launch and strictly adhere to it. They actually implemented the principle of democratic centralism - free discussion, and then the strictest discipline in implementation. We, according to Ustinov, have blossomed. We returned to the times of feudalism. Each ministry is its own feudal principality. Chief designers instead of friendly work take an aggressive position in relations with each other, even stop listening to their ministers."

    Chertok later recalled that by 1969 "The N-1 No. 3L rocket was modified in response to all possible comments by the time of the January session of the State Commission. All that remained were deviations permitted by the technical management. On the second stage (Block B), contrary to the design, Kuznetsov’s main engines did not have highaltitude nozzles. The control system’s on-board digital computer, developed at NIIAP in 1969, produced so many malfunctions and such errors that it was impossible to clear it for flight. Deviating from the design, they made the decision to begin flight testing on an analog control system, which did not require an on-board digital computer. This impaired the parameters of the control system and of the rocket as a whole, but it was not possible to wait any longer for the on-board computer to be ready."

    At a meeting on 25 December 1968, Chertok recounts Pilyugin saying "Grechko [Minister of Defense 1967-1976] is completely against it. He now believes that our association with the Moon has been on the whole all for naught, and he’s outraged that at the expense of the Ministry of Defense budget, they’re paying expenses for naval telemetry ships, Crimean tracking stations, all the preparation at Baykonur, and cosmonaut training. Grechko believes that this is Ustinov’s policy, and supposedly he stated flat out in the Defense Council that the Academy of Sciences and interested ministries should pay for space. He, Grechko, does not need the Moon.... The other day Tolubko [First Deputy Commander in Chief of the Strategic Rocket Forces] was sitting in my office here. He said that the generals were riled up: Afanasyev is now in charge of all rocket production, and they are diverting him to lunar problems. Let Keldysh deal with that.... Someone needs to find the courage to say that we are not hurrying to the Moon, but instead we are going to settle down there in around five years the right way. But who is that brave? Nobody."

    On 27 January 1969 MOM Minister Sergey Afanasyev convened a small meeting of the Council of Chiefs to discuss the lunar landing expedition program. Keldysh took the floor and said what neither Mishin, the minister, nor any of them could bring themselves to say: “The status of operations on the N1-L3, in my opinion, is such that we need to postpone the date for the Moon landing to 1972 and make a decision in this regard as soon as possible.... The assignment was decreed, it was written in a government resolution, no one is canceling it, but we need to take a sober look at things.... Today we have two missions: a lunar landing and a flight to Mars.... I am for Mars. We can’t make a complex [launch] vehicle like the N-1 for the sake of the vehicle itself and then look around for a purpose for it. The year 1973 will be good for the unpiloted flight of a heavy spacecraft to Mars.... In 1975, we can launch a piloted Mars spacecraft using two N-1 launch vehicles with a docking in orbit. If we were the first to find out whether there is life on Mars, this would be the greatest scientific sensation. From a scientific point of view, Mars is more important than the Moon.”

    NASA's six manned lunar missions, known as the Apollo program, which was conducted from July 1969 to December 1972, have attracted a great deal of interest among conspiracy theorists who hold that the entire program was a hoax aimed at pulling one over on the Soviets during the Cold War. Some 57 percent of Russians believe that there has never been a manned lunar landing and are convinced that the US government falsified videos, photos and other material evidence regarding the 1969 expedition, a July 2018 poll by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (Russian acronym VCIOM) has revealed.

    The poll, which involved 2,000 random adult respondents across Russia, found that just 24 percent of those polled believed that American astronauts landed on the moon, with another 19 percent saying it was "difficult to answer." Sixty-nine percent of those with a secondary education and 63 percent of those with a secondary technical education said they didn't believe the landings took place; 49 percent of those with an incomplete higher education or above also said they didn't believe that the landings took place.

    The poll, which focused on citizens' trust in the scientific community, also included other questions on similar themes. For example, 18 percent of respondents said that they believed that aliens have visited Earth, but that the authorities have hidden this information from the public. Twenty-seven percent said aliens have visited Earth, but have remained hidden to humanity. Forty-two percent said that visitors from extraterrestrial civilizations have never visited Earth, or do not exist. Thirteen percent found it difficult to answer the question.

    The Apollo moon landings have been subjected to a host of conspiracy theories. According to a 2013 Pew survey, some 7 percent of Americans continue to believe the moon landings never took place. In the UK, a 2016 poll showed that some 52 percent of Brits believed the landings were a conspiracy. Conspiracy proponents have pointed to oddities in photographs and film, mechanical issues, missing data, the presumed technological limitations of the time, as well as the mysterious untimely deaths of a number of astronauts and members of the Apollo program, which they have say is evidence of a cover-up. NASA issued fact sheets in 1977 and 2001 debunking many of these claims.

    One of the most outlandish assertions made by conspiracy supporters is that the US received the support of Soviet scientists in staging the hoax. The moon race took place at the height of the Cold War as part of a broader space race, and the Soviets had made major investments in their own lunar program, sending an unmanned spacecraft to the lunar surface in 1959 and setting up Earth-based tracking facilities, which would have picked up all NASA activity during the time frame in question. Those saying the landings did take place insist that the USSR would not have allowed the US to stage a series of fake landings and get away with it. Furthermore, official Soviet and Russian textbooks and academic programs have praised the US manned lunar program's achievements, while pointing to the USSR's own achievements in exploring the lunar satellite.

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