|L1 Overhead - Soyuz 7K-L1 circumlunar spacecraft.|
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The Soyuz 7K-L1, a modification of the Soyuz 7K-OK, was designed for manned circumlunar missions. With a complex genesis, the spacecraft was flown as a replacement for Chelomei's LK-1. The forward living module was deleted, as was the reserve parachute (in order to add an exit hatch in the side of the re-entry capsule). Special on-board systems were added for interplanetary navigation. The SAS launch escape system, more powerful than that for the earth orbital verison of Soyuz, could pull the spacecraft away from a failing Proton booster up to the point of second stage ignition. A Spacecraft Support Cone (OK) was mounted on the forward hatch of the Soyuz capsule to provide a point of attachment for the SAS. This was jettisoned before Block D ignition for translunar injection. The 7K-L1 never actually demonstrated that it could safely take a cosmonaut around the moon and return him to earth until August 1969, a month after the successful American Apollo 11 landing on the moon. By then any thoughts of a manned flight had been abandoned as too little and too late. The Soviet disinformation organs began disseminating the myth that the USSR had never been in the moon race at all. The project was cancelled in 1970.
Korolev had originally designed the Soyuz A-B-V (7K-9K-11K) spacecraft for the circumlunar mission, usng earth orbit rendezvous to assemble the spacecraft and its translunar injection stage. This began development in 1964, but instead Chelomeiís LK-1 single-manned spacecraft was selected on 3 August 1964 for that mission. The LK-1 was to be placed on a translunar trajectory in a single launch of Chelomei's UR-500K rocket.
On 14 October 1964 Khrushchev was ousted from power, and Chelomei lost his patron. At the same time, at the end of 1964, Korolev reanimated his Soyuz project - not overtly the circumlunar version, but the 7K-OK orbital spacecraft. Korolev's stated purpose was for two of these spacecraft to demonstrate rendezvous and docking in earth orbit. But this was not exactly what he really intended.
|Panel Soyuz 7K-L1 - Control panel of the circumlunar version of Soyuz.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 12,497 bytes. 723 x 288 pixels.
After the death of Korolev OKB-1 was taken over by Vasiliy Pavlovich Mishin. It was decided that the Soyuz 7K-L1 could be lightened enough to be launched toward the moon safely by the UR-500K/Block D combination without an additional ferry flight of the 7K-LOK. This became the final baseline for the mission.
The L-1 was officially developed according to the decrees of 3 August 1964 and 25 October 1965. It consisted of the 11S824 Block D rocket stage and the 11F91 7K-L1 spacecraft, and the Block L-1 SAS (launch escape system). The L1 had a total mass of 27.5 tonnes at ignition of the Block D stage, which occurred at suborbital velocity. The Block D burned for 160 seconds the first time, placing the complex into an earth parking orbit. At translunar injection, total mass was 18.2 tonnes.
|L1 instrument module - The service module of the Soyuz 7K-L1 / Zond manned circumlunar spacecraft.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 42,758 bytes. 478 x 397 pixels.
The 7K-L1 was a modified Soyuz 7K-OK. The forward living module was deleted, as was the reserve parachute (in order to add an exit hatch in the side of the re-entry capsule). Special on-board systems were added for interplanetary navigation. The SAS launch escape system, more powerful than that for the earth orbital verison of Soyuz, could pull the spacecraft away from the failing booster up to the point of second stage ignition. A Spacecraft Support Cone (OK) was mounted on the forward hatch of the Soyuz capsule to provide a point of attachment for the SAS. This was jettisoned before Block D ignition.
In February 1967 the government approved an integrated L1/L3 project plans indicating a first manned L1 circumlunar mission as early as June 1967. Unmanned test flights were equipped with photography equipment, radiation measuring instruments, and biological specimens.
|Zond motor - The Soyuz 7K-L1 rocket engine as developed for the circumlunar flights. This deleted the backup engine (presumably the reaction control system thrusters were powerful enough to accomplish mid-course corrections if the main engine failed).|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 40,443 bytes. 317 x 402 pixels.
As noted in the chronology that follows, the 7K-L1 never actually demonstrated that it could safely take a cosmonaut around the moon and return him to earth until August 1969, a month after the successful American Apollo 11 landing on the moon. By then any thoughts of a manned flight had been abandoned as too little and too late. The Soviet disinformation organs began disseminating the myth that the USSR had never been in the moon race at all. The project was cancelled in 1970.
|Zond rounding Moon|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 21,914 bytes. 640 x 113 pixels.
Craft.Crew Size: 2. Design Life: 7 days. Orbital Storage: 7.00 days. Total Length: 4.9 m. Maximum Diameter: 2.7 m. Total Habitable Volume: 4.00 m3. Total Mass: 5,680 kg. Total Propellants: 700 kg. Primary Engine Thrust: 425 kgf. Main Engine Propellants: Nitric Acid/UDMH. Main Engine Isp: 276 sec. Total spacecraft delta v: 200 m/s. Electric system: 0.80 total average kW. Electrical System: Solar panel span: 9.0 m, area: 11.5 m.
Credit: © Mark Wade. 724 bytes. 148 x 82 pixels.
Vostok-Zh studies conducted for multiple dockings of rocket blocks and payloads in orbit for circumlunar missions, using Vostok rocket. Vostok-Zh spacecraft used to for manual dockings only. Manned reentry vehicle from circumlunar distance is Sever/Soyuz design. Korolev's reaction to Chelomei's exclusive assignment by Khrushchev to circumlunar mission.
First Soviet public announcement of manned lunar goals.
At Khrushchev's decision Chelomei takes over Lavochkin's OKB-301 and Myasishchev's OKB-23. Lavochkin had built objects 205, 207, 400 (SA-1,2,5); Chelomei UR-96 ABM-1.
Credit: © Mark Wade. 4,643 bytes. 297 x 287 pixels.
Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 'On assignment of lunar programs to OKB-52 and OKB-1' was issued.
Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 'On delays in work on piloted lunar programs' was issued.
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.
Credit: © Mark Wade. 2,621 bytes. 275 x 165 pixels.
Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 'On work on the UR-500K-L1 program' was issued.
Korolyov dies in colon surgery in Moscow. He had known he had cancer for some time but kept it a secret from his colleagues. His death at 59 comes as a surprise and his successor, Mishin, does not have the forceful personality and political connections of the original Chief Designer.
Leonov announces that cosmonauts are in training for lunar missions.
|L1 Engine - The circumlunar Soyuz L1 engine installation. Unlike the standard Soyuz, it does not have the redundant twin-chamber main engine installation. The single main engine is flanked by four canted nozzles for roll/pitch control.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 64,181 bytes. 577 x 398 pixels.
In the period 1966 to 1968 there were five simultaneous Soviet manned space projects (Soyuz 7K-OK orbital; Soyuz 7K-L1 circumlunar; Soyuz VI military; L3 manned lunar landing; Almaz space station). Cosmonaut assignments were in constant flux, resulting in many claims in later years that 'I was being trained for the first moon flight'. Additional Details: Lunar flight cosmonauts assignments..
A dummy 8K82K/Block D rocket was mounted at the launch site. The dummy was loaded with imitation propellants (kerosene as fuel and water/ethyl alcohol as oxidiser). The nitrogen tetroxide oxidiser had to be kept above -11 degrees C, and it was originally planned for a thermostatically-controlled electrical heating of the tank walls to achieve this. It was ultimately decided that the risk of explosion of such a system was too great, and the system was abandoned.
|L1 instrument module - Closeup of the service module of the Soyuz 7K-L1 / Zond manned circumlunar spacecraft.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 56,938 bytes. 399 x 570 pixels.
Decree 'On lag of work on the N1-L3 and UR-500K-L1 programs' was issued.
The first flight rocket (serial number 22701) began assembly on 21 November 1966, with mechanical assembly completed by 29 November. Electrical connections and tests were completed by 4 December 1966. Due to New Yearís holidays work did not resume until 28 January 1967. By 28 February the fully assembled booster / spacecraft unit was completed in the MIK, including the 7K-L1P boilerplate spacecraft.
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 115-46 'On the Progress of the Work on the Development of the UR500K-L1 --confirmation of schedule for piloted lunar missions' was issued.
|L1 lunar craft - L1 lunar craft in assembly|
Credit: RKK Energia. 21,398 bytes. 309 x 240 pixels.
First attempted circumlunar flight. The booster crashed 65 km from the pad, but the launch escape system functioned correctly and the spacecraft was recovered.
Second attempted circumlunar flight. Four seconds after second stage ignition the booster went out of control. The launch escape system shut down the engines and the escape tower pulled the spacecraft away from the booster. The Proton crashed 300 km from the pad and the Soyuz was recovered 80 km southwest of Dzhezkazgan.
|L1 lunar craft mated - L1 lunar craft mated to Block D stage|
Credit: RKK Energia. 20,764 bytes. 311 x 240 pixels.
Spacecraft successfully launched into 330,000 km apogee orbit 180 degrees away from the moon. On reentry, the guidance system failed, and the planned double skip maneuver to bring the descent module to a landing in the Soviet Union was not possible. Ustinov ordered the self-destruct package to be set off and the capsule blew up 12 km above the Gulf of Guinea. Kamanin disagreed strongly with this decision; the spacecraft could have still been recovered in the secondary area by Soviet naval vessels after a 20 G reentry. The decsion was made to recover the spacecraft in the future whenever possible.
Officially: Solar Orbit (Heliocentric). Study of remote regions of circumterrestrial space, development of new on-board systems and units of space stations.
|L1S in Shop - Soyuz 7K-L1S systems test spacecraft in shop at Baikonur, in preparation for installation on N1 launch vehicle.|
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State commission sets November as date for manned circumlunar flight. The next L1 flight was set for July, with flights to continue at monthly intervals at each translunar launch window. 3 or 4 unmanned flights had to be successful before a manned flight would be attempted.
NASA decides to conduct Apollo 8 on risky lunar orbital mission by end December 1968. Interestingly enough the CIA warning to NASA came within days of the L1 State Commission's meeting and decision to press for a November circumlunar flight.
|Proton w/ LK - Proton 8K82K Block D launch vehicle with Soyuz 7K-L1 manned circumlunar spacecraft.|
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Block D stage exploded on pad, killing three people. Booster and 7K-L1 spacecraft were still intact however.
First successful circumlunar flight with recovery. Test flight of manned spacecraft; launched from an earth parking orbit to make a lunar flyby and return to earth. On September 18, 1968, the spacecraft flew around the moon at an altitude of 1950 km. High quality photographs of the earth were taken at a distance of 90,000 km. A biological payload of turtles, wine flies, meal worms, plants, seeds, bacteria, and other living matter was included in the flight. Before re-entry the gyroscopic platform went off line due to ground operator failure. However this time the self destruct command was not given. After a ballistic 20G re-entry the capsule splashed down in the Indian Ocean at 32:63 S, 65:55 E on September 21, 1968 16:08 GMT. Soviet naval vessels were 100 km from the landing location and recovered the spacecraft the next day, shipping it via Bombay back to Soviet Union.
|Soyuz 7K-L1 - L1 manned circumlunar spacecraft, consisting of 11S824 Block D translunar injection stage and Soyuz 7K-L1 spacecraft.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 7,028 bytes. 292 x 102 pixels.
Test flight of manned circumlunar spacecraft. Successfully launched towards the moon with a scientific payload including cosmic-ray and micrometeoroid detectors, photography equipment, and a biological specimens. A midcourse correction on 12 November resulted in a loop around the moon at an altitude of 2,420 km on 14 November. Zond 6 took spectacular photos of the moonís limb with the earth in the background. Photographs were also taken of the lunar near and far side with panchromatic film from distances of approximately 11,000 km and 3300 km. Each photo was 12.70 by 17.78 cm. Some of the views allowed for stereo pictures. On the return leg a gasket failed, leading to cabin depressurisation, which would have been fatal to a human crew. The 7K-L1 then made the first successful double skip trajectory, dipping into the earth's atmosphere over Antarctica, slowing from 11 km/sec to suborbital velocity, then skipping back out into space before making a final re-entry onto Soviet territory. After the re-entry the main parachute ejected prematurely, ripping the main canopy, leading to the capsule being destroyed on impact with the ground. One negative was recovered from the camera container and a small victory obtained over the Americans. But the criteria for a manned flight had obviously not been met and Mishin's only hope to beet the Americans was a failure or delay in the Apollo 8 flight set for December. The next Zond test was set for January.
Credit: © Mark Wade. 9,546 bytes. 99 x 274 pixels.
The N1 mockup was again erected on the pad, in order to conduct tests of the L1S payload in advance of the availability of the 3L launch vehicle.
Launch failure - but the abort system again functioned perfectly, taking the capsule to a safe landing (in Mongolia!) Zond 7K-L1 activity now stops; effort turns to launching unmanned soil return vehicle and first N-1 launch.
Planned first manned circumnavigation of the moon. On 24 September 1968 Bykovskiy/Rukavishnikov were the prime candidates for the first Soviet circumlunar flight. Just three days later, when the crews were named, Leonov was selected as commander of the first mission, with Makarov as the flight engineer. Soviet plans to beat America around the moon were upstaged by the sudden decision to fly Apollo 8 into lunar orbit over Christmas 1968. Given problems with obtaining a trouble-free Soyuz 7K-L1 unmanned flight, it would probably not have been possible to make a Soviet equivalent flight until March 1969. It was decided after the American success to cancel any 'second place' Soviet manned circumlunar flights.
Planned second Soviet circumlunar flight. Cancelled after the success of the American Apollo 8. On 24 September 1968 Bykovskiy/Rukavishnikov were the prime candidates for the first Soviet circumlunar flight. When the crews were named, they had been bumped to the second flight.
Planned third and final Russian circumlunar flight. On 24 September 1968 Popovich/Makarov were the prime candidates for the third Soviet circumlunar flight. When the crews were named, Makarov was moved to the first crew and Sevastyanov was named Popovich's flight engineer.
Circumlunar flight; successfully recovered in USSR August 13, 1969. Only completely successful L1 flight that could have returned cosmonauts alive or uninjured to earth. Official mission was further studies of the moon and circumlunar space, to obtain colour photography of the earth and the moon from varying distances, and to flight test the spacecraft systems. Earth photos were obtained on August 9, 1969. On August 11, 1969, the spacecraft flew past the moon at a distance of 1984.6 km and conducted two picture taking sessions. Successfully accomplished double-dip re-entry and landed 50 km from aim point near Kustani in the USSR.
Final circumlunar flight; successfully recovered October 26, 1970. The announced objectives were investigations of the moon and circumlunar space and testing of onboard systems. The spacecraft obtained photographs of the earth on October 21 from a distance of 64,480 km. The spacecraft transmitted flight images of the earth for three days. Zond 8 flew past the moon on October 24, 1970, at a distance of 1,110.4 km and obtained both black and white and colour photographs of the lunar surface. Scientific measurements were also obtained during the flight. Again the re-entry guidance system failed, and a 20 G ballistic re-entry was followed by splashdown at the emergency recovery point in the Indian Ocean.
Despite decision to cancel immediate manned circumlunar flights after Apollo 8, the remaining two L-1 spacecraft were kept in reserve for support of the L3 lunar landing program and possible later manned flights. They were never used.