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:

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Krafft Ehrike – 1958 Space Station design

This is a design by Kraft Ehrike, which appeared in “Life” magazine in 1958. From what I understand, the idea was to use the kind of cylindrical hulls and spherical ended tanks from upper rocket stages as basic units of contruction.

ke-tube-station0500xEhrike worked with Wernher von Braun at Peenemunde on the V2 rocket program, and continued to work with WvB after they had moved to the USA.

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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:

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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.”

Opening the High Frontier – the book is out!

The book is out!

I did all the custom graphics for this book, and am waiting for my copy to arrive.

Opening the High Frontier, by Eagle Sarmont.

It is about getting the cost of reaching orbit down to a managable level, and the history of how we have got here. It includes an extensive history or space exploration.

And there’s a considerable amount about the non-rotating skyhook, which was the focus of my graphics work.

I am particularly pround of the video, which shows a complete mission. This includes how a craft would rendezvour with the lower end of the skyhook, and get haulled up to the main station. It would then be transferred to the upper end, and reeled out before being released.

All visuals by me, and the soundtrack, (Done using the SmartSound system).

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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.

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Unseen N-1 reference photos. Part 1.

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.

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