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

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Class: Manned. Type: Lunar Lander. Nation: USSR. Manufacturer: OKB-1.

In July 1970 Kuznetsov was given authorisation to design substantially improved versions of the N1 rocket engines. The N1 that would utilise these engines was designated the N1F and would have a payload to a 225 km orbit of 105,000 kg.

Full go-ahead to develop a liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen high energy upper stage for the N1F finally came in June 1970. The decision was made to develop a multi-engine Block Sr with a propellant mass of 66.4 tonnes. This single stage would be used in place of the previously-planned Blocks S and R to insert spacecraft of what was now termed the Lunar Expeditionary Complex (LEK) into low lunar orbit. It was also to be used to insert heavy spacecraft into geosynchronous orbit and on interplanetary trajectories.

L3ML3M - External views of early and later L3M manned lunar lander designs.

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The revised L3M for use with the Block Sr completed design in 1972. In this version the Soyuz capsule is completely enclosed in a pressurised ‘hangar’ (the OB, cocooned habitation block) which provides the crew with accommodation space. In this variant the crew could simply step out of the capsule into the hangar area without having to don space suits and conduct an EVA. This L3M would have had a mass of about 23 tonnes landed on the surface and have allowed stays of up to 90 days by a crew of three. The two-launch scenario would still be followed, with a single Block Sr from each N1 launch taking over duties of both the Blocks S and R in the previous plan. The DU engine block would perform the same ascent stage duties as the Block E of the original LK.

L3M - Cutaway ViewL3M - Cutaway View - Cutaway views of early and later L3M manned lunar lander designs.

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Craft.Crew Size: 2. Design Life: 90 days. Total Length: 9.3 m. Maximum Diameter: 4.4 m. Total Mass: 25,000 kg.

L3M-1972 Chronology

16 February 1972 N1-L3M moon landing draft project work authorised. Launch Vehicle: N1F.

Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 'On approval of work on the draft project for the N1-L3M two-launch lunar landing proposal' was issued.

15 May 1972 N1-L3M development authorised. Launch Vehicle: N1F.

Council of Chief Designers Decree 'On approval of the N1-L3M proposal' was issued.

19 May 1974 N1 launches suspended. Launch Vehicle: N1, N1F.

Ministry of Defence Decree 'On suspension of further launches of the N1' was issued.

24 June 1974 N1-L3 work suspended. Launch Vehicle: N1, N1F.

Energia Decree 'On suspension of work on the N1 -L3' was issued.


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Last update 12 March 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .