The role of Lunokhod in Soviet Union manned lunar program.

It was not realised at the time, but the Soviet “Lunokhod” robotic moon rover was also a key component of the plans to put a cosmonaut onto the Moon.

Here’s how the mission sequence would work:

Identify landing sites.

Lunokhod would provide close up examination of prospective landing sites for a manned mission. This required a “Proton” (UR-500) class launcher.

Proton Rocket Ascending
Proton Rocket Ascending

Continue reading “The role of Lunokhod in Soviet Union manned lunar program.”

Some new Soviet Lunar program renders – N1 L3

After chatting to Matt, co-author of “N1 for the Moon and Mars“, I decided to dig out the meshes I did for that, and come up with some new renders. It was a mad dash to get it all out in time for publication, and I didn’t have time to explore all the options.

N1-3L at the launch tower
N1-3L at the launch tower, against a threatening sky.

I decided I have a bad habit of using good weather for most of my environments, this one is different! Continue reading “Some new Soviet Lunar program renders – N1 L3”

New reference information on the UR700

Quick introduction. I have recently been working on Chelomei’s UR-700, his Universal Rocket System, based on a design unit that eventually became the Proton. It was intended to replace the N-1 as the vehicle to take the Soviet Union to the moon.

Thanks to a comment left on these forums, I was refered to a website which had photos of something I never knew was built – a large scale model of the UR700, for vibration testing! It was made at 1/10th scale.

Before we get started, here’s a render I did, which shows you the overall configuration. I think this will help you understand the layout.

UR-700 Rocket, ortho views
UR-700 Rocket, ortho views
UR700 test model
UR700 test model

The rubber hoses were used to fill it with water, for when it was suspended, and given the vibration tests. It was also suggested that alcohol would be the correct liquid to use, instead of water. Continue reading “New reference information on the UR700”

Progress with the UR-700 moon rocket

Right! The launch state version is coming together rather nicely. There are some deails still to be done, and the surfaces need some work, but I’m begining to see how the finished one will look.

It’s not going to be super accurate, but I was really pleased that my Russian friends like it.

The colours are arbitrary to a degree, but I think I have a sound justification for them.

Here’s an exploded view, to show all the elements:

Continue reading “Progress with the UR-700 moon rocket”

Chelomei’s UR-700

Back to the space hardware, and my latest major project.

Project History

This is Chelomei’s UR-700, intended as a universal rocket, (in various configurations), and a competitor to the N-1.

This was a real monster, and basically consisted of a cluster of no less than nine Proton rockets. This was done so they could be comprehensively tested at the factory near Moscow, and shipped on trains to Baikonur for assembly. The Proton started as the UR-500, an element of this design. The engines were built and tested, but there was no appetite to start again, cancelling the N-1.

Continue reading “Chelomei’s UR-700”

Lunar Escape Device

This is a design that was considered for the (much) later Long Stay Apollo missions, where the LEM would be on the Moon for a long time. And there were concerns about reliability.

So they came up with a light weight design that would be a few bits strapped together, to get the astronauts up into munar orbit, where the command module might be able to rendezvous with them.

But it would not have been needed for the cancelled missions, and the ones beyond that were not studied in any great detail, so the design was not taken any further.

There are some interesting variations described on Wikpedia here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Escape_Systems

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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.”