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Yangel R-56 Lunar Landing Plans

The least 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. Yangel worked out his version of the moon rocket. 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.

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."

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 N-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.

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 N-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).

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 N-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.

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.


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 H-1 missile system with a payload of 75 tons and a starting mass of 2200 tons (chief designer S.Korolev).

The center OKB-5 of Yangel, another veteran missile designer, proposed its own version of the lunar rocket: the R-56. S.P.Korolev switched to designing a missile to deliver two astronauts-the N-1 rocket to the moon. In the design bureau of MK Yangel, they begin to develop a missile system with a heavy R-56 rocket, intended for solving a wide range of economic, research and defense tasks. In June 1960, OKB-586 presented a technical proposal for the creation of an R-56 rocket with a starting mass of 1,200 tons. The proposal was accepted. Government Decree of April 16, 1962, OKB-586 instructed the development of a preliminary design of a heavy launch vehicle to launch satellites of up to 40 tons into the satellite orbit.

This was the first attempt by OKB-586 to create a space carrier not based on combat missiles, but on a fundamentally new basis. The leading designer of R-56 was appointed SN Konyukhov. The complex was designed to address the priorities of the preparatory phase of the Moon and the nearest planets of the solar system.

The R-56 missile was to provide launch of space objects with a mass of 40 tons to a circular polar orbit with a height of 200 kilometers, 6 tons to a stationary orbit, and 12 tons to the orbit of an artificial moon satellite. In addition, the R-56 missile could also solve a number of serious defense tasks. In analyzing the design and layout of the missile, three principal missile versions were considered and analyzed:

  1. a four-block with a block case diameter of 3800 mm (close to the maximum permissible from the conditions of transportation without restrictions on the country's railways)
  2. seven-block with a block body diameter of 3000 mm (mastered in production),
  3. monoblock with a case diameter of 6500 mm, provided transportation of the assembled carrier by water.

As propulsion engines, the OKB-456 11D43 development engines and its modification 11D44 with a high-altitude nozzle were considered. Despite the need for the reconstruction of the main manufacturing plant (Dnipropetrovsk), the development of a new type of transportation of media with the use of non-traditional means, complex studies performed with the involvement of specialized institutes showed significant advantages of the R-56 missile in a monoblock scheme.

The outline design of the complex of the R-56 heavy rocket, received the index 8K68, was developed in accordance with the government decree of May 22, 1963. The design was carried out with great enthusiasm, it was a project that was calculated before the end of the century, and the Chief Designer, despite the load the development of military missiles, gave him great attention. On the experimental base of OKB-586 (facility 100) the construction of the hull for testing the future LV had already begun.

The launch vehicle was a two-stage, with a sequential arrangement of stages. To solve space problems associated with the launch of spacecraft to the geostationary orbit and the launch of lunar objects, special stages were developed - the orbital one with a single launch of the engine and the space launch with multiple launches of the remote control, protected by screen-vacuum isolation. All stages used high-boiling components of fuel - nitrogen tetraoxide and NDMG. The diameter of the hull was 6500 mm (the bottom end of the tail section of the first stage is 8200 mm), the length of the launch vehicle is about 80 m, the starting mass is 1400 t.

The fuel tanks of the first stage had a longitudinal and transverse power set of aluminum profiles. At the second stage the tanks were combined into a single fuel compartment of the spacecraft mounted on the transitional frame and protected by the head fairing. Pressurization of the oxidizer tank of the first stage - high-speed pressure of air with subsidence by injection into the NDMG tank. Fuel tanks of the first, second and orbital stages were pressurized with the help of special gas generators. On the space stage, a gas-cylinder supercharging system was applied. At all stages, systems for simultaneous emptying of fuel tanks were installed.

The first stage consisted of 12 main and 4 control motors, made swinging in the tangential plane. At the second stage, the main single-chamber and four-chamber control motors were installed. The orbital stage was supplied with a single-chamber main and four-chamber control motors, which allow starting under zero gravity conditions. DU of the space stage is a single-chamber LPRE with the possibility of a four-time launch under zero-gravity conditions.

Separation of the first and second stages - according to the "cold" scheme, with the running control motor of the second stage and braking of the separating part of the first stage by means of the DD. Separation of the orbital and second, space and orbital stages, as well as separation of the spacecraft - by means of brake TCDs.

The missile control system was autonomous, it was designed by OKB-692 and NII-944, taking into account the maintenance of the task if one engine of the first stage (out of 12) failed and the launch vehicle was launched in any direction from the non-rotating launcher. The SS of the orbital and cosmic stages is of a combined type.

In order to save space objects, in the event of emergency situations at the launch site and the active section of the first-stage flight, an installation of a rescue system was envisaged, consisting of a block of the spacecraft and a system of parachutes. After the separation of the first and second stages, the rescue system was reset.

In view of the fact that the assumed dimensions of the missile did not fit into any railway standards, and there was no question of using aviation at that time, there was only one and the oldest method of delivery of goods - water. The transportation of the missile was to be carried out in stages, regardless of the choice of the test site. The possibility of starting from Kapustin Yar, Baikonur and Plesetsk was considered. In all cases, the carrier was to be delivered from the plant at the mouth of the Sura River at the confluence of it to the Dnieper below Dnepropetrovsk. It was from here that the "journey" of the rocket began in a water way. For this purpose, it was planned to build a special pier. Delivery of the same rocket from the plant to the berth and from the end of the waterway to the start had to be carried out using ground vehicles.

The waterway to the Kapustin Yar test site ran along the Dnieper River, the Black and Azov Seas, the Volga-Don Canal, along the Volga River up to Volgograd. Whence to the place of start - on ground vehicles. The total length of the route is 2030 kilometers, of which 30 are ground roads.

Transportation to the Baikonur area was possible along the Volga River, then the Caspian Sea, the Ural River to the city of Inderborsk. Then - on transport ground facilities. The total length of the route is 4270 kilometers, including 1200 on ground vehicles.

Finally, the carrier was transported to the Rybinsk Reservoir at the Plesetsk site from the Volga River. Then along the rivers Sukhona and the Northern Dvina to Siya station and further 100 kilometers along the ground. The total length of the transport route in this case was the longest - 6200 kilometers.

Conducted comprehensive assessments showed that, taking into account transportation, the most preferred was the Kapustin Yar test site. But the transport efforts did not end there. It turned out that it is not only impossible to remove the missile through the existing gates, and therefore they must be broken down and new ones built; unexpectedly it also turned out that not everywhere it can be transported through the territory of the plant. In particular, when exporting from the shop "out of place" was the corner of a neighboring building. Therefore, it was necessary to provide a gate in another part of the shop.

The launch capabilities of the R-56 LV were studied from all the Soviet test ranges - GPC-4, NIIP-5, NIIP-53. From the point of view of transportation, the most preferable was the launch from GPC-4 - Kapustin Yar. Transportation of the launch vehicle to the test range was planned by waterway on a modified self-propelled barge CT-600 with delivery of LV from the manufacturer to the place of loading on water transport and from the final point of the waterway to the place of launch by ground vehicles. MAZ-537 was intended as a tractor. The shortest transportation to the Kapustin Yar district was planned along the Dnieper, the Black and Azov Seas, the Volga-Don Canal, along the Volga River up to Volgograd, only about 2000 km, then along the soil - about 30 km.

To launch the R-56 launch vehicle, a ground launch position was planned as part of two launch stands [PU], a common service tower and a number of auxiliary structures. Inside the service tower, the necessary temperature was to be maintained. The system of fueling the LV was a pumping system. Refueling tanks, pumping units and fittings are among those available in production.

The Yangel model of the R-56 missile system, similar to the R-16 and R-36 combat missiles, seemed to be very efficient and reliable. In manned flights, reliability is one of the main indicators. The R-56 rocket system in comparison with the multi-engine system N-1 was not only more reliable, but it had undeniable advantages in this regard.

A distant prospect of the main idea was also in the idea of ??constructing a series of carriers on the basis of a projected rocket for launching large manned vehicles, including the landing of an expedition to the moon. Monoblock ?-56, if necessary, was supposed to be used as a working module in the future. By assembling several such modules, it was possible to implement a block diagram and organize a variety of space expeditions using the assembly obtained.

Complex studies carried out at the main institute of the industry and leading institutes of the Ministry of Defense showed that the R-56 carrier in its characteristics, energy capabilities and economic costs in solving problems with the help of heavy carriers was optimal for the implementation of the planned space research programs for a period of at least 15 years. And with the possibility of assembling in orbit - and until the end of the twentieth century. From the positions of today we can say that this term could be extended for the next century.

The preliminary defense of the project in the military department passed, as they say, on a cheerful, benevolent note. The impression of the presented materials of the preliminary design was reinforced by the perfectly executed rocket layout and the whole complex, represented on colorful posters. All noted that the rocket looked good.

Ustinov reassured Yangel: "What are you so worried about? Why do you need this moon? Your missiles are the main shield of the country. As long as we are surrounded by the imperialists, you will have work." On July 19, 1964, an official decree was issued on the termination of work on the missile

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Page last modified: 22-03-2019 04:01:46 ZULU