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Chelomei LK-1
Chelomei LK-1
Chelomei LK-1 manned circumlunar spacecraft

Credit: © Mark Wade. 23,192 bytes. 504 x 350 pixels.

Class: Manned. Type: Lunar orbiter. Nation: USSR. Manufacturer: OKB-52.

The LK-1 was the spacecraft for the original Soviet manned lunar flyby project. Design was said to have been ordered informally by Khrushchev on 13 May 1961 in response to the American Apollo program. In fact the LK-1 had its basis in a family of manned and unmanned vehicles that reached the draft project stage in the 1961-1963 period under the generic names of kosmoplans and raketoplans.

Authorisation to proceed with development of the three-stage UR-500K launch vehicle and the LK-1 itself was finally included in the omnibus 3 August 1964 lunar project decree. By that time design had been completed. 12 were to be built in 1965 to 1966 with first flight in 1967.

In October 1965 Korolev managed to get the project cancelled and started development of his Soyuz 7K-L1/Block D spacecraft in place of the LK-1.

At launch the spacecraft consisted of the following modules:

The LK-1 would be placed into a parking orbit of the earth by the UR-500K Proton launch vehicle. With proper optimisation of the Proton booster based on early flight tests, it was felt that the LK-1 would ultimately be capable of carrying two cosmonauts.

The capsule of the LK-1 was developed further. It was proposed to be used on Chelomei's LK-700 lunar lander and TKS space station resupply ship. The TKS flew in the 1970's, but never in a manned flight.


Craft.Crew Size: 1. Design Life: 8 days. Total Length: 5.2 m. Maximum Diameter: 2.7 m. Total Mass: 17,000 kg. Total Propellants: 13,000 kg. Main Engine Propellants: N2O4/UDMH. Total spacecraft delta v: 3,300 m/s. Electric system: 2.00 total average kW. Electrical System: Solar panels, 6.9 m x 2.2 m.

LK-1 Chronology

13 May 1961 Soviet response to Apollo program Launch Vehicle: N1.

Soviet Decree 'On the Revision of Plans for Space Objects for Accomplishing Goals of Defence Designations--heavy boosters, course of work on Elektron, and suspension of work of work on the Kosmoplan and Raketoplan with continuation of new Raketoplan work' was issued. The decree set the end of 1965 as the date for the first launch of the N1. It also authorised Chelomei to stop work on Kosmoplan interplanetary probes and instead concentrate on a specific Raketoplan design - the LK-1 manned lunar flyby spacecraft.

Chelomei LK-1Chelomei LK-1 - Chelomei LK-1 circumlunar spacecraft. The 2.8 m diameter Apollo-type reentry capsule was mounted atop a cylindrical service module, which provided power and boosted the spacecraft on a translunar trajectory. The large solar panels would have provided considerably more power than Korolev's competing Soyuz 7K-L1 configuration.

Credit: © Mark Wade. 29,955 bytes. 504 x 472 pixels.

24 April 1962 Approval to proceed with the UR-500 (8K82) was provided in a Central Committee decree Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82.

Council of Soviet Ministers (SM) Decree 'On start of work on the UR-500 missile and carrier-rocket' was issued. The rocket was to be built initially for the GR-2 requirement - a heavy rocket that could be used to launch large military payloads into space as well as act as a ballistic missile for multiple nuclear warheads up to 100 MT in yield. The decree ordered development of this powerful new rocket to be completed within three years. This was a difficult task, considering the factory and launch facilities that would have to be built to allow testing of the rocket to begin. The draft project UR-500 was completed in 1963.

22 May 1964 Kosmoplan and Raketoplan canceled, except for LK-1 manned circumlunar spacecraft.

Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On termination of work on the Kosmoplan and Raketoplan at OKB-52 and approval for the LK-1' was issued.

01 August 1964 Full scale development of Soviet manned lunar flyby and landing projects authorised. Launch Vehicle: N1, Proton 8K82K.

Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 655-268 'On Work on the Exploration of the Moon and Mastery of Space--piloted LK-1 circumlunar and L3 lunar landing projects and the Ye-6M lunar lander' was issued.

03 August 1964 Full lunar program go-ahead Program: Lunar L1. Launch Vehicle: N1, Proton 8K82K.

Command number 655-268 was issued by Central Committee of Communist Party. Chelomei was to develop the LK-1 for the manned lunar flyby while Korolev was to develop the N1-L3 for the manned lunar landing. First launch of the N1 was to be by the first quarter 1966, with manned lunar landings in 1967 to 1968. Reprioritization led to work being stopped on Korolev's Zvezda 6 man orbiting weapons platform by mid-1965, after a huge mockup had been built. Chelomei as usual issued the advanced project for the LK-1 on the same day. The decree also ordered development of the three-stage version of his Proton UR-500 to boost the LK-1 around the moon.

13 October 1964 Khrushchev ousted from power. Launch Vehicle: UR-200, Proton 8K82K.

Brezhnev faction assumes control of Politubro. Brezhnev was adverse to all projects Khrushchev had supported. These included those of Chelomei and his OKB-52.

28 October 1964 LK-1 development authorised. Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K.

Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 'On assignment of lunar programs to OKB-52 and OKB-1' was issued.

25 October 1965 L1 manned circumlunar mission taken from Chelomei, given to Korolev. Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K, Proton 8K82K / 11S824.

Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On the Concentration of Forces of Industrial Design Organisations for the Creation of Rocket-Space Complex Means for Circling the Moon--work on the UR-500K-L1 program' was issued. As a result of a presentation to the Military Industrial Commission, Afanasyev backed Korolev in wresting control of the manned circumlunar project from Chelomei. The Chelomei LK-1 circumlunar spacecraft was cancelled. In its place, Korolev would use a derivative of the Soyuz 7K-OK, the 7K-L1, launched by Chelomeiís UR-500K, but with a Block D translunar injection stage from the N1. He envisioned launch of the unmanned 7K-L1 into low earth orbit, followed by launch and docking of a 7K-OK with the 7K-L1. The crew would then transfer to the L1, which would then be boosted toward the moon. This was the original reason for the development of the 7K-OK.

27 April 1966 Soyuz L1 full scale development approved. Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K.

Decree 10 'On approving the work plan to build the p8loted spacecraft 7K-L1 -- approving the plan for for the UR-500K-L1 and terminating the UR-500K-LK-1' was issued.


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