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

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History of Manned Spaceflight, The Essential Books.

There are a huge number of books out there covering space exploration, but in my opinion, very few that manage to combine definitive coverage with an exciting read. So, here is my shortlist for books you should read if you want to enjoy finding out more about the history of manned space exploration.

I’ve included Amazon links, (I get nothing from these). Continue reading “History of Manned Spaceflight, The Essential Books.”

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.

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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.

Continue reading “Unseen N-1 reference photos. Part 1.”

N-1 For the Moon and Mars – Part 1

Introduction:

I’m surprised to see I have not mentioned this yet here on my blog!

A few years ago Matt Johnson approached me with the idea of  putting together a book on the Soviet moon rocket, the N-1. I had previously given him some references for making a flying model, and he thought it would be cool to put together a book gathering the research, and using my CGI to illustrate it.

Here’s what we came out with!

N_1_Cover_front__66962.1401032885.1280.1280

(The picture links to the store at ARA Press, where I think you can still buy a copy).

The concept, and my role

The idea was that it would combine a history of the program with a detailed modeller guide. If I had known the effort it would take I would probably never have signed up! But with the help of some Russian friends, notably Axenadart Schliadinsky, we set about it. Continue reading “N-1 For the Moon and Mars – Part 1”

Cosmos Museum, Chisinau, Moldova

On my last visit to Moldova, I was lucky enough to go to the Cosmos Museum. Not a conventional museum, this is set in a scheel, where children are encouraged to make accurate models of rockets, (at ;least the older ones!)

The lady who runs it, Mrs Lubov, is extremely knowledgeable and helpful, and was kind enough to show me the collection of photographs of cosmonauts visiting the city.

They have a pressure suit, lots of samples of space food, and full size detailed plans of Korolov’s “GIRD09” liquid fueled rocket!

I sent them a large print of a set of N-1 rockets, in the hope it will help inspire the next generation.

cosmos-museumI think the children are very lucky to have such an enthusiastic and well informed expert they rto encourage and help them!