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DLB Module Deployed
DLB Module Deployed
View of the DLB Soviet lunar base modules as they would appear deployed on the lunar surface.

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Code Name: Zvezda. Class: Manned. Type: Lunar Base. Nation: USSR. Manufacturer: GSKB SpetsMash.

The N1 draft project of 1962 spoke of 'establishment of a lunar base and regular traffic between the earth and the moon'. Korolev raised the matter informally at tea with Chief Designer of rocket complexes Vladimir Pavlovich Barmin, head of GSKB SpetsMash (State Union Design Bureau of Special Machine-Building). Barmin was interested in pursuing the subject, but how could such a base be placed on the moon. 'You just design the base', Korolev assured him, 'and I'll figure out how to get it there'. The project was known to SpetsMash as the 'Long-term Lunar Base' (DLB) and to OKB-1 as 'Zvezda'. Consideration was given to using the same elements in expeditions to other planets. Under the DLB studies SpetsMash defined purposes of the base, the principles of its construction, phases of its deployment and composition of its scientific and support equipment. The enthusiasts that worked on the project at Zvezda were naturally known as 'lunatics'.


DLB Stow/UnstowedDLB Stow/Unstowed - View of DLB Soviet lunar base modules as they would appear in short transport configuration and in inflated, telescoped deployed configuration.

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Zvezda would have utilised unmanned spacecraft designed by the Lavochkin OKB to conduct initial reconnaissance of the prospective moon base site. These would use lunar soil core drills to obtain samples of the soil and return them to earth for analysis, and Lunokhod rovers to survey the site. If the site was found to be satisfactory, these craft had radio beacons which would guide follow-on elements of the base to precision landings.

Ambitious articulated mobile nuclear-powered Lunokhod laboratories would take the cosmonauts from the landing sites on long-duration traverses of the lunar surface. The Lunokhods were equipped with core samplers and manipulators so that the crew could conduct collection of surface samples from within the pressurised cab without the need to always exit the ship and conduct surface operations in space suits. One of the main objectives of the base would be the location and mining of Helium-3 for use in nuclear fusion reactors on earth. Rare on the earth, Helium-3 was abundant on the moon, having collected in the regolith from the solar wind.


Soviet Lunar LandersSoviet Lunar Landers - Comparison of Soviet lunar lander designs. Only the LK reached the hardware stage.

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Barmin's lunar base would be crewed by nine cosmonauts and consist of nine modules. These modules would have a length of 4.5 m during launch and transport on the moon. Once position in place on the surface of the moon and inflated with air, they would telescope out to 8.6 m length with a total floor area of 22.2 square metres. Power would be provided by nuclear reactors.

The nine modules would be pre-equipped in the factory for specialised functions: command module, laboratory/warehouse module, workshop module, midpoint module, medical/gymnasium module, galley module with dining room, and three living modules. A prototype of one of these modules was used in 1967 for a one-year closed-cycle living experiment at the IBMP (Institute for Bio-Medical Problems). Based on the results of this experiment it was planned that the units on the moon would have a false window, showing scenes of the Earth countryside that would change to correspond with the season back in Moscow. The exercise bicycle was equipped with a synchronised film projector, that allowed the cosmonaut to take a 'ride' out of Moscow with return. These psychological measures were felt important to maintain the crew's mental health.


Zvezda / DLB baseZvezda / DLB base - Zvezda / DLB long-tern lunar base

Credit: Spetsmash. 14,792 bytes. 320 x 218 pixels.


In later versions, the manned elements apparently used the improved L3 complex (designed for the follow-on two man lunar landings) to ferry manned crews from earth orbit to lunar orbit and then from lunar orbit to the surface and back. The Block Sr LOX/LH2 stage would be used to insert the components of Zvezda into low lunar orbit.

By 1971 the lunar city project was practically complete and Chief Designer Barmin arranged a meeting with Secretary Ustinov, head of all military and space rocketry. He brought along two of this 'lunatics', Aleksandr Yegorov and Vladimir Yeliseyev. The project was defended in a marathon meeting - nine presentations over six hours. At the conclusion, Ustinov agreed that the project should go ahead - but he couldn't decide, at the pace of a walk or the speed of a freight train. In the event, the point was moot. The N1 never successfully flew, and the rocket, and its associated projects, were cancelled in May 1974. In any case, the Soviet economy very likely could never have sustained the cost of the project - 80 billion dollars in 1997 prices.


Zvezda / DLB moduleZvezda / DLB module - Basic module for Zvezda / DLB long-tern lunar base

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Unmanned elements of Zvezda designed by the Lavochkin bureau and using lunar core sampling drills designed by Barmin flew in 1969-1976 under the 'Luna' program. Although these flights were conducted in direct reconnaissance support of a manned lunar landing and lunar base, at the time it was declared that no Soviet manned lunar landing program existed, and that these unmanned flights represented a way to achieve the results of the American Apollo program without such expense and risk to life. After a number of launch vehicle failures this series of probes had some success. Luna 15 had crashed while attempting to land on the moon while the Apollo 11 astronauts were on the surface. But on September 20, 1970 Luna 16 safely soft landed on the moon and then returned lunar soil to Soviet territory. Lunokhod 1 travelled about a small portion of the Sea of Rains and returned photographs. Luna 19 mapped the gravity field of the moon in preparation of later manned flights. Luna 20 returned to earth more lunar soil, and Lunokhod 2 roved around an area representing the transition zone between the lunar maria and the highlands.

DLB Lunar BaseDLB Lunar Base - Models of Elements of Zvezda Lunar Base

Credit: © Mark Wade. 59,585 bytes. 640 x 262 pixels.


Specification

Craft.Crew Size: 9. Design Life: One year. Total Length: 8.6 m. Maximum Diameter: 3.3 m. Total Mass: 18,000 kg. Electrical System: Nuclear reactor.


DLB Module Chronology


01 January 1962 Zvezda Long-term Lunar Base (DLB)

The N1 draft project of 1962 spoke of 'establishment of a lunar base and regular traffic between the earth and the moon'. Korolev raised the matter informally at tea with Chief Designer of rocket complexes Vladimir Pavlovich Barmin, head of GSKB SpetsMash (State Union Design Bureau of Special Machine-Building). 'You just design the base', Korolev assured him, 'and I'll figure out how to get it there'. Under the DLB studies SpetsMash defined purposes of the base, the principles of its construction, phases of its deployment and composition of its scientific and support equipment. The enthusiasts that worked on the project at Zvezda were naturally known as 'lunatics'.



DLB Lunar BaseDLB Lunar Base - Models of Elements of Zvezda Lunar Base

Credit: © Mark Wade. 24,363 bytes. 605 x 191 pixels.



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Last update 12 March 2001.
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