Unseen N-1 reference photos. Part 1.

Stitched image of the L3 section of the N1-5L moon rocket

I was dithering over what to title this N-1 post. New photos? Not exactly new, as they are based on old video, and (in most cases) stitched together from video that panned around.

Anyway, here are some photos I put together from video. If you are interested in the Manned Soviet Lunar program, it’s worth following Roscosmos on YouTube – they seem to be slowly restoring and releasing the various bits of N-1 footage at higher quality, and releasing it piecemeal in the items on the history of space exploration.

The quality of these photos is highly variable, (by which I mean that some are awful!), but given the shortage of N-1 references, I hope they will prove useful.

Let’s start with the banner image, showing the L3 (upper) section, of the N1-5L This is a pretty good shot of the farings that cover the parts that would reach the moon.

Stitched image of the L3 section of the N1-5L moon rocket
Stitched image of the L3 section of the N1-5L moon rocket

It’s worth noticing the crew escape system on the left:

escapeholesNote how the exhaust holes near the tip are two different sizes. This is so that, if it is used, it will carry the crew to one side, and away from the main rocket.

Here’s another, this time of the whole N1-3L launching:

compound2And here’s a stitch of the N1-3L arriving at the launch point, nearly ready to be erected.px3


I suspect the video was manualy tinted – in fact there was no green anywhere on the N-1, despite many musuem models that have it green. The Soviet Union only used olive paint to camoflage missiles when they were in wooded areas.


Finally, a note on terminology, for those unfamiliar. The booster, (lower part) was the N1. The upper sectioins, including the lander, orbiter, and upper stages was the L3. So the collective term is the N1-L3

Four of these huge rockets were launched, the N1-3L, the N1-5L, N1-6L and N1-7L. At the time the program was cancelled there was an N1-8L, which had been rolled out to the pad, and fuelled up, (so close!), and many others in verious stages of construction, (estimates vary). I am unaware of a single genuine photo of the N1-8L, though parts of it, (and the other later rockets), were broken up and repurposed around Baikonur. It is from these relics that we have information about these later rockets.

Finally, there was the N1M. This was the weight model, a full size mockup used to test pad systems. It changed as the program progressed, but can be identified by the lack of a proper escape system at the tip.


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