Sep 07

Space Rocket History #176 – The First Test Flight of the Soviet N1

Finally, on the morning of February 21, all the population of the N1 assembly area and a residential area, situated just south of the launch pad, was ordered to evacuate. The giant service structure then rolled away leaving the dark-gray rocket with a white payload fairing towering under sunny skies. The weather was extremely cold, with temperatures falling to minus 44 C degrees, and stormy winds.  In the fortified firing control room, the Commander of the 6th Directorate, took the firing command position at the main periscope…

Apollo CSM/LM vs. Soviet L3 Complex. Credit Mark Wade

Apollo CSM/LM vs. Soviet L3 Complex. Credit Mark Wade

N1 image taken by US KH-8 Reconnaissance satellite

N1 image taken by US KH-8 Reconnaissance satellite

N1 on the launch pad

N1 on the launch pad

May 04

Space Rocket History #159 – Zond 6

Trouble began on the sixth day of the flight, November 17. The capsule developed an atmospheric  leak, the pressure first dropping from 760 to 380 mm of Mercury.  With the drop in cabin pressure all the animal test subjects died.  It would have killed any Cosmonaut not wearing a spacesuit.

Proton-K with 7K-L1

Proton-K with 7K-L1

Zone 6 mission profile

Zone 6 mission profile

Zond 6 Double-dip reentry

Zond 6 Double-dip reentry

Mar 16

Space Rocket History #153 – Zond 5 – Tortoises in Space & Nasa Stennis

The first attempt for a Zond 4 follow-up launched on April 22.  It failed when the Launch Escape System sent an erroneous abort command at T+260 seconds and shut down the Proton booster’s second stage. The escape rocket fired and pulled the descent module to safety.

Zond 5

Zond 5

Zond 5 Recovery

Zond 5 Recovery Indian Ocean

Scientist observing lunar Tortoises

Scientist observing lunar Tortoises

Mar 09

Space Rocket History #152 – The Death of Yuri Gagarin

Hundreds of millions of people all over the planet had seen Gagarin smiling joyfully in person or on television. He was theirs, familiar to everyone, and at the same time a “Citizen of the Universe.”

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin

Gagarin's plaque in the Kremlin Wall.

Gagarin’s plaque in the Kremlin Wall.

50th Anniversary stamp for Vostok 1

50th Anniversary stamp for Vostok 1

Mar 03

Space Rocket History #151 – Zond 4

When we left the Soviet Union they had somewhat successfully landed a probe on Venus and they had completed the automatic docking of two Soyuz 7K-OK spacecrafts.  However they did not reach their goal of a circumlunar flight in time for the 50th anniversary of the glorious revolution.

L1 - Zond

L1 – Zond

Mishin, Agadzhanov, & Chertok

Mishin, Agadzhanov, & Chertok

7K-L1 spacecraft on Proton booster

7K-L1 spacecraft on Proton booster

Dec 03

Space Rocket History #139 – Soyuz 1: Preparation

With the success of Kosmos 146 and in spite of the failures of the first three 7K-Ok’s it was now time to plan for a Soyuz manned mission. The planned involved the launch and docking of two piloted Soyuzes. Soyuz 7K-OK production model number 4 was assigned the role of the active vehicle. The active vehicle was supposed to carry one cosmonaut into earth orbit. Twenty-four hours later, vehicle No. 5 (the passive vehicle) carrying three cosmonauts would be inserted in orbit. After rendezvouing, two cosmonauts from vehicle No. 5 would transfer through open space to vehicle No. 4.

Kosmos 146. A 7K-L1 model.

Kosmos 146. A 7K-L1 model.

7K-OK and 7K-L1 Rendezvous Concept

7K-OK and 7K-L1 Rendezvous Concept. Credit Mark Wade

Sketch of Vladimir Komarov by Joe G.

Sketch of Vladimir Komarov by Joe G.