Aug 31

Space Rocket History #175 – Early History of the Soviet N1 – Part 2

On August the third 1964 Decree number 655-268 was issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. For the first time a command was given for OKB-1 to put one man on the moon and return him safely to earth before the United States (Keep in mind the US already had already begun their Lunar program more than three years earlier, in April 1961).

N1-L3 as per advanced project, 1964. Credit Astronautix

N1-L3 as per advanced project, 1964. Credit Astronautix

N-IF - 1965 design. Credit Astronautix

N-IF – 1965 design. Credit Astronautix

N1 diagram.

N1 diagram.

Aug 24

Space Rocket History #174 – Early History of the Soviet N1 – Part 1

The L-3 manned spacecraft was designed to make a direct lunar landing using the earth orbit rendezvous method. It was a 200 metric ton spacecraft requiring three N1 launches and a single Soyuz 11A5ll launch to assemble in low earth orbit. The first N1 launch would place the 75 metric ton partially-fueled Trans Lunar Injection stage and L3 spacecraft into low earth orbit. Two further N1 launches would orbit 75 metric ton tankers which would rendezvous and dock with the first payload and top off its propellant tanks. Then the Soyuz would be launched for an automated rear-end docking with the entire L3 stack.

Comparison of U.S. Saturn V with Soviet N1/L3

Comparison of U.S. Saturn V with Soviet N1/L3

N-1 draft project design of 1962. credit Astronautix

N-1 draft project design of 1962. credit Astronautix

N-1 Launch Diagram

N-1 Launch Diagram

Aug 17

Space Rocket History #173 – Soyuz 4 & 5 – World’s First Space Station? – Part 2

Vladimir Shatalov would become the Soviet Union’s 13th space traveler, his home telephone number ended in “13” and the launch itself was set for 13:00 hours Moscow Time, on January 13th, 1969.

Model of Soyuz 5 approaching Soyuz 4 prior to the first docking of 2 manned spacecrafts

Model of Soyuz 5 approaching Soyuz 4 prior to the first docking of 2 manned spacecrafts

Soyuz 5 mission patch

Soyuz 5 mission patch

Official portrait for Soyuz 4/5 cosmonauts, OKB-1, militay and government personnel. Credit Boris Chertok

Official portrait for Soyuz 4/5 cosmonauts, OKB-1, militay and government personnel. Credit Boris Chertok

Aug 10

Space Rocket History #172 – Soyuz 4 & 5 – World’s First Space Station? – Part 1

The objectives of the Soyuz 4 & 5 mission were to dock two manned Soyuz 7K-0Ks, transfer two Cosmonauts from Soyuz 5 to Soyuz 4 by means of a space walk, and then safely return both crews to earth.

Soyuz 4 & 5 crew (from left) Yeliseyev, Khrunov, Shatalov, and Volynov. Photo Credit:SpaceFacts.de

Soyuz 4 & 5 crew (from left) Yeliseyev, Khrunov, Shatalov, and Volynov. Photo Credit:SpaceFacts.de

Soyuz 4 launch

Soyuz 4 launch

Model of Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 after performing the first docking of two manned spacecraft on January 16th, 1969

Model of Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 after performing the first docking of two manned spacecraft on January 16th, 1969

Jan 07

Space Rocket History #143 – The First Soyuz Automatic Docking and the Secret Plan

After 1957, the Soviets became accustomed to achieving “world firsts” in space accomplishments. Nevertheless, 10 years later they were not confident that they could pull off the world’s first fully automatic rendezvous and docking of two un-piloted Soyuz spacecraft.  At the time the chance for success was estimated at only 50/50.

Vasily Mishin at Baykonur in 1967. Credit B. Chertok

Vasily Mishin at Baykonur in 1967. Credit B. Chertok

Armen Mnatsakanyan the main designer of Igla. Credit B. Chertok

Armen Mnatsakanyan the main designer of Igla. Credit B. Chertok

Igla docking system antennas.

Igla docking system antennas.

Dec 17

Space Rocket History #141 – Soyuz 1: The Crash

“It’s a terrible scene. Komarov burned up. All the instruments burned. We must quickly find out what prevented the main parachute from unlatching.” Chief Designer Mishin after he arrived at the Soyuz 1 crash site.

Soyuz 1 crash site

Soyuz 1 crash site

Soyuz 1 crash site

Soyuz 1 crash site

Validmir Komarov by Joe G.

Vlaidmir Komarov by Joe G.

Dec 10

Space Rocket History #140 – Soyuz 1: The Flight

“I was the last one to see him alive and I told him ‘See you soon!’” Yuri Gagarin, recalls bidding farewell to his friend Kamarov in Soyuz 1.

Kamarov with Gagarin

Kamarov with Gagarin

Soyuz 1 on the Pad

Soyuz 1 on the Pad

Soyuz 1 shown with both panels extended

Soyuz 1 shown with both panels extended

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.