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

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

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

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.