|astronautix.com||Soviet Conquest from Space|
View of Mir in space.
Credit: NASA. 42,663 bytes. 640 x 320 pixels.
When it came to space stations, the Soviet Union started out with big ideas and then progressively reduced them. The N1 itself was originally designed around a conceptual space station not to be placed in near earth orbit but rather on a Mars flyby trajectory. This 1959 project of G U Maksimov's Section 3 of OKB-1 was called the 'Heavy Piloted Interplanetary Spacecraft (TMK).
It was planned that the N1 would put into orbit the spacecraft and its associated rocket stage, which would then launch the TMK on a ballistic trajectory past Mars. After the flyby of Mars the crew would intercept the earth, transferring to a return capsule for re-entry and landing on earth. TMK would have had a mass of 75 tonnes, length of 12 m, maximum diameter of 6 m, a crew of three, and a flight time of two to three years. The spacecraft included an instrument section, (in which was a radioactivity shelter for the crew in the event of solar flares) and a blue-green algae reactor to produce oxygen and food. During flight the TMK was revolved in order to generate artificial gravity for the crew.
Following an August 1962 meeting between Khrushchev and chief designers at Pitsunda, Khrushchev ordered the start of a project to put a 75 tonne manned platform with nuclear weapons into low earth orbit. Korolev was authorised to proceed immediately with development of a three stage N1 launch vehicle with a 75 tonne payload. Concurrently it is said that design and mock-up construction of this 'OS-1' orbital station began.
|TMK Mars flyby - TMK Mars flyby spacecraft|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 20,216 bytes. 324 x 237 pixels.
The OS-1 itself evidently reached the mock-up stage. It is said that the mock-up was visible from the motorway that runs past the OKB-1 premises in Kaliningrad. However with the start of the moon landing project on 3 August 1964 the L3 lunar complex became the priority payload for the upgraded and redesigned N1. With the removal of Khrushchev from power, enthusiasm for the 'Battlestar Khrushchev' evidently waned. The military authorised development of the much more modest Almaz space station by Chelomei's OKB-52. First flight of the Almaz with a one year operational period was planned for 1968. This equivalent to the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) project consisted of two components, the Almaz orbital station and the same-sized TKS ferry spacecraft. Both were to be equipped with 'Merkur' 3-man capsules.
|Almaz camera station - The crew station for the Agat reconnaissance camera on the Almaz military space station. After two successful flights (Salyuts 3 & 5) the it was found that the extra cost of a manned spacecraft outweighed any advantages and the program was cancelled. The operator could manually operate the camera system. Film could be developed and examined aboard the station. Small reentry capsules, mounted around the aft docking collar, allowed film to be returned during the mission.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 70,851 bytes. 575 x 399 pixels.
Meanwhile, Chelomei's project was years behind schedule. The competing American MOL military space station was cancelled in July 1969. Although ten Almaz stations were claimed to be 'in advanced stage of completion' by the end of 1969, no flight tests had yet been undertaken of the new three man capsule. Having lost the moon race, but seeing a chance to beat the Americans in the space station race, Brezhnev ordered Mishin's OKB-1 to undertake a crash program to develop a 'civilian' space station using components from Chelomei's Almaz program. Mishin was given control over the Almaz production line at Chelomei's Khrunichev facility in order to build the DOS-7K civilian station using the Almaz spaceframe but proven Soyuz components. Under the revised plan both the DOS-7K and Almaz stations would use OKB-1's Soyuz spacecraft to ferry crews to orbit instead of the 3-man capsule of the TKS. With the beginning of work on the Salyut station the large, long term N1-launched station was cancelled.
|TOS - 1969 - TOS - N1 launched space station - 1969|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 2,899 bytes. 630 x 198 pixels.
MOK was not a single spacecraft but an integrated collection of earth-based and near-earth orbital systems consisting of:
The MKBS would control all of the linked orbital systems and provide base quarters for the crews, an orbital control centre, a supply base, and servicing facilities for on-orbit systems. Independently functioning spacecraft would dock with MKBS for repair, upgrade, and refuelling. The MKBS would co-ordinate all of the autonomous spacecrafts' activities and manoeuvres, resulting in a unified transport system.
|Salyut 6 - Salyut 6 as displayed in Moscow in 1981.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 29,637 bytes. 640 x 174 pixels.
The primary overall requirement was to define a MOK system which could perform a broad range of tasks while minimising expenditures in the creation of the system and its subsequent use. These requirements were met by the following technical decisions:
|MKBS Orbital Station - MKBS Multi-module Orbital Base Station|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 5,088 bytes. 630 x 312 pixels.
The development of the MOK would been undertaken in two phases: An experimental phase (near earth orbit around 51.5 degrees) and an operational phase (sun-synchronous orbit of 97.5 degrees). In May 1974 the N1 was cancelled, and with it, the MOK.
Technical development of the MOK was the first large-scale space technology study which used combined , earth resources studies, economic analysis to determine the best engineering solutions. Various technical results obtained in the process of this work were used for a long time after. In particular the development of the Progress replenishment spacecraft, Soyuz space station ferries, and special-purpose modules of the Mir spacecraft can be traced directly to the concepts and designs for the MOK. Leading participants in the project were I N Sadovskiy, V V Simakin, B E Chertok, V S Ovchinnikov,, M V Melnikov, A P Abramov, V D Vachnadze, V K Bezberbiy, A A Rzhanov, I E Yurasov, V Z Ilin, G A Dolgopolov, N P Bersenev, K B Ivanov, V C Anfyrev, B G Sypryn , V P Zaitsev, E A Shtarkov, I V Gordeev, B V Korolev, V G Osipov, V N Lakeyev, V P Byrdakov, A A Kochkin.
It is interesting to note that American propulsion engineer Peter James described the MOK in considerable and accurate detail in his 1974 book Soviet Conquest from Space. The book was dismissed by many authorities because the systems described in it never appeared. Only in the last two years has it become apparent that the system described to Mr James was in development, but was cancelled at just about the same time his book appeared.
Continuous elaboration of the Almaz and DOS-7K designs during the Almaz and Salyut programs of the 1970's and early 1980's gave the Soviet Union the pre-eminent lead in manned spaceflight. The ultimate expression of this evolutionary approach was the Mir space station of the 1980's and 1990's, which met many of the objectives of the MOK study. Russian elements of the International Space Station of the next century are still derived from the basic modules designed for Almaz and MOK in the 1960's.