Cosmic Postage Stamps – 1

I was recently given some postage stamps, mainly covering the achievements of the Soviet Union during the early days of the Space Age.

It occurred to me that they might be of interest to those who read this blog. After all, there can’t me much astronomical art that is more widely seen. And probably no other space art that people get to lick…

Postage Stamp

Early Soviet satellites, on a 1 ruble stamp. Continue reading “Cosmic Postage Stamps – 1”

Buck Rogers – The Original Rocket

I’ve just finished up “The Satellite”, the original 1930’s design for the Buck Rogers Rocket. References were a bit contradictory, so I would not be surprised if you find some that look a bit different.

Buck Rogers Reference Buck Rogers ReferenceHere are some of the more unusual features:

  • It’s a tractor rocket. By which I mean the rockets are at the front and it is pulled by them, rather than pushed.
  • It has four retro rocket tubes at the front.
  • It lands by balancing on it’s tail! Not very stable…
  • It had four weapons blisters with slots down the side.

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“AVIAVEENTO” “АВИАВНИТО” Historic soviet rocket

Finishing up the historical Soviet rocket from 1935, “Aviaveento”.

As usual everything done in Lightwave 3d, this one os based on some old Russian language books I bought on Ebay.

I’m a little unsure abut the long indented areas along the main hull. The references were a bit contradictory. But all those knobbly rivets were really there!

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N-1 Gantry stairways

It’s going slowly, but this is probably the trickiest part. Getting the various stairways done, that dangle under or wind around, the main struts of the gantry.

I’ve not yet finished connecting them up to the walkways, but that’s not too difficult.

View through gantry the stairway plumbing!
View through gantry the stairway plumbing!

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N-1 – Restarting work on the Manned Soviet Lunar Program.

I’ve restarted working on the models I did of the manned Soviet Lunar program, with a view to taking them to the next level.

I’m starting with the rotating gantry, here are the old and new versions of the hub:

hub2 hub1 Continue reading “N-1 – Restarting work on the Manned Soviet Lunar Program.”

Why did the Soviet manned Lunar program fail?

There is still much debate about why the Soviet Union – which was consistently way ahead in the early days of space exploration, failed to beat the USA to putting a man on the Moon. But while there is some disagreement over which factors were the most important, there is considerable consensus about which factors drove this.

They started later.

The USA made putting a man on the Moon the key national objective, from before they had even put a man in orbit. Pretty much the entire space program focused on this objective.  By the time this became a national objective in the Soviet Union, 2 years later, time was very tight to develop a powerful enough rocket, and get the required expertise in flight systems.

Kennedy Moon SpeechAlso, at the time the speech was made, the Soviet Union was so obviously far ahead, they did not take the US intention seriously.

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Identifying the different N-1 variants.

Identifying N-1 variants. I mentioned this briefly in an earlier post, which featured some images I stitched together from video, but here it is in a bit more depth.

You are generally trying to distinguish between 5 different N-1 variants in photographs, the four that flew, and the weight model.  This is most easily done via the colours, though there are several other differences.

This post is not about ALL the differences between the variants, just about how to tell which rocket is which.

N1-3L, the first flight.

This is easy to identify, as it is the only one with entirely grey first and second stages. The third stage is half white, with the white part facing upwards on the transporter, which is the side away from the gantry once the rocket has been erected. It was transported to the pad in winter, and there are photos of it with snow on.

N1-3L being erected at the pad
N1-3L being erected at the pad

Note that there was no green on any of the N-1 variants! This is a widely held misconception, as many museums show it as green, (including the London science museum, and many Russian museums too). Olive green was only used to camouflage missiles, (and green would make lousy camouflage in Baikonur at the best of times). This error has spread to the point where photographs have been tinted to make them look green). And sometimes it was just poor quality film stock.

Continue reading “Identifying the different N-1 variants.”

NK-33 Rocket Engines

The NK-33 engines were originally built for the Soviet Moon Rocket, the N-1. (Under the designation of NK-15, and NK-15V for the high altitude version). This design was a direct result of a blazing row between the Chief Designer, (Sergey Korolev), and the best rocket engine designer, Valentin Glushko. Glushko wanted to use propellants which Korolov considered far too dangerous. So Korolev turned to Nikolai Kuznetsov, who up until that point had only designed engines for jet aircraft. Large rocket engines are notoriously difficult to design, due to combustion instability, so they were pretty much forced into a large number of smaller engines.

Nikolai Kuznetsov with NK-33 rocket engine
Nikolai Kuznetsov with NK-33 rocket engine

Many consider this a key reason for the failure of the N-1 program.

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