Author Topic: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission  (Read 3479 times)

Online Phillip Clark

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Quite a few writers have suggested that in order not having to immediately man-rate the Proton-K launch vehicle for the L-1 circumlunar missions, the L-1 would be launched unmanned and then the crew would be launched on a Soyuz a day later and then transfer to the L-1 spacecraft.   Nice idea but I have yet to see an explanation of how this would happen.

First, consider the Soyuz.   At the time of the L-1 missions the Soyuz did not have an internal transfer system.   That did not come along until the space station programme in 1971, after the planned manned L-1 missions.   As an aside, if the taxi-Soyuz had an internal transfer system for docking with L-1, why not use that for the crew transfers between the Soyuz LOK and LK lander on the L-3 complex instead of performing EVAs?

Now consider the L-1 spacecraft.   There is only one way to enter (and leave) the spacecraft and that is using the hatch at the top of the descent module.   If the taxi-Soyuz has managed to dock with the L-1 then the way into the latter spacecraft is blocked.   Maybe you are going to have the crew do an EVA and linger outside while the Soyuz undocks and they can then climb into the L-1?   

Also, can the descent module of the L-1 be depressurised so that the crew can enter and then repressurise?   That was never demonstrated on Soyuz missions - for the Soyuz 5/4 EVA it was the orbital modules which were depressurised and repressurised, not the descent modules which were always fully pressurised.

And ..... is the entry hatch atop the L-1 descent module wide enough to allow the cosmonauts to enter, one after the orher, while wearing their bulky EVA suits?   Going back to Soyuz 5/4, the EVA crew donned their gear in the Soyuz orbital module.

So, how could the crew transfer between the hypothetical taxi-Soyuz and the unmanned L-1 spacecraft have taken place?

Offline Jim Davis

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #1 on: 03/16/2017 10:30 PM »
Would it have been possible to launch the Zond with the orbital module attaches (partial compensation: launch escape system) and once crew transfer had been accomplished jettison it before trans lunar injection?

This is speculation, of course.

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #2 on: 03/16/2017 10:36 PM »
Would it have been possible to launch the Zond with the orbital module attaches (partial compensation: launch escape system) and once crew transfer had been accomplished jettison it before trans lunar injection?
This is speculation, of course.

Too heavy for the Proton-K/Blok D assembly.   Good idea though!

Offline Jim Davis

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #3 on: 03/17/2017 10:11 AM »
If an orbital module is too heavy, how about a Voskhod-type inflatable airlock?

Again, I'm just playing the game.

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #4 on: 03/17/2017 10:40 AM »
If an orbital module is too heavy, how about a Voskhod-type inflatable airlock?
Again, I'm just playing the game.

That might work if it can be launched attached to the L-1: remember that the only attachment point will be the top hatch on the descent module - would it fit inside the inverted cone atop the DM?   But remember Leonov's problems getting back inside Voskhod 2?   The L-1 crew would have the same problem.

Offline Welsh Dragon

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #5 on: 03/17/2017 11:14 AM »
Mark Wade speculates on this: L1: The Podsadka Problem, but I've also heard people call this nonsense, so your mileage may vary.

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #6 on: 03/17/2017 02:38 PM »
Mark Wade speculates on this: L1: The Podsadka Problem, but I've also heard people call this nonsense, so your mileage may vary.

I have always tended to disregard what Mr Wade claims because he never quoted sources and would intermingle fact and speculation without differentiating between the two.   Of course, he might have changed over the years.

Offline Jim Davis

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #7 on: 03/17/2017 04:20 PM »
That might work if it can be launched attached to the L-1: remember that the only attachment point will be the top hatch on the descent module - would it fit inside the inverted cone atop the DM? 

It goes without saying that this is far from a trivial problem. Indeed, continuing work to man-rate the Proton would probably have been faster and that had to be done anyway with the TKS-VA in prospect, though, like Zond, it ended up never flying manned. But I think if it absolutely had to be done it could have been managed somehow.

Quote
But remember Leonov's problems getting back inside Voskhod 2?   The L-1 crew would have the same problem.

I don't think the problems with the Voskhod airlock were endemic to inflatable airlocks in general, just that particular rushed design.

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #8 on: 03/17/2017 04:55 PM »
But remember Leonov's problems getting back inside Voskhod 2?   The L-1 crew would have the same problem.
I don't think the problems with the Voskhod airlock were endemic to inflatable airlocks in general, just that particular rushed design.

The problem wasn't with the Voskhod 2 airlock, it was that Leonov's EVA suit ballooned far more than expected and he had to reduce the inside pressure which reduced the suit's ballooning to get into the airlock.

Online Stan Black

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #9 on: 03/17/2017 04:55 PM »
Zond had a hatch in place of one of the Soyuz parachutes, and an additional cone section on top that was dropped before flight to the Moon, so I suppose those were the seeds of the idea?

http://www.gctc.ru/print.php?id=232
« Last Edit: 03/17/2017 04:56 PM by Stan Black »

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #10 on: 03/17/2017 07:26 PM »
Zond had a hatch in place of one of the Soyuz parachutes, and an additional cone section on top that was dropped before flight to the Moon, so I suppose those were the seeds of the idea?
http://www.gctc.ru/print.php?id=232

I refer to the inverted cone in my original post.

I am not aware of the entry hatch in place of a parachute compartment - can you give me a reference to that please?   It does not appear to be mentioned in the link which you provided.

Offline Danderman

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #11 on: 03/17/2017 09:18 PM »
It is not too difficult to imagine architectures that made a lot more sense than what was really flown. To have a separate Zond and Soyuz program when there wasn't time or money to do either right made no sense.

Both Proton and Soyuz launch vehicles were a tad too small to conduct the most important missions, but money was wasted on N-1 instead, rather than upgrading the smaller vehicles.

Anyway, that was then and this is now.

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #12 on: 03/17/2017 10:06 PM »
Let me first point out that the dual-launch L-1 manned circumlunar mission is not just speculation (as Phil's original post might suggest). Many Russian sources (like Kamanin's and Mishin's diaries, the RKK Energia 1946-1996 history) confirm that this scenario was seriously considered. Unfortunately, none of them have described in detail how the Soyuz-to-L1 EVA transfer would have been conducted. I'll sum up here in chronological order what Russian sources (at least the ones I'm aware of) have said about the transfer procedure.

The RKK Energia 1946-1996 history (published in 1996) says the cosmonauts would have entered the L-1 via a side hatch. I've attached a cut-away diagram of the L-1 from the book that does show something reminiscent of a hatch, although it may just as well be something else.

In his 1998 book "S.P. Korolyov i ego delo" RKK Energia historian Georgiy Vetrov says that since the L-1 did not have a back-up parachute, the hatch of the back-up parachute compartment was used as an "entry hatch". This could refer to entry on the launch pad or entry via EVA or to both. He doesn't specify that. I suppose the hatch would have had to be made wider than it was on Soyuz to allow cosmonauts to pass through it.

RKK Energia's docking mechanism expert Vladimir Syromyatnikov briefly talked about the "podsadka" option in his 2003 book "100 rasskazov o stykovke" ("100 Stories About Dockings"). He says a new docking mechanism for such a mission was developed by a factory in Kazan (Kazanskiy OMZ). That at least confirms the plan was to do the EVA with the two vehicles physically connected and not flying in close proximity as some have suggested. Presumably, the docking mechanism would have taken the place of the inverted cone. This was mainly needed to provide an interface with the emergency escape tower, which would not have been needed in the dual-launch scenario because the Proton was unmanned.

In 2003 Springer Praxis published the book "Russian Spacesuits", written among others by specialists of the Zvezda company (the sole Russian spacesuit manufacturer). They claim that the Yastreb EVA suits worn during the Soyuz-4/5 EVA were originally designed for the Soyuz-to-L1 EVA transfer. Performance specifications were issued by OKB-1 to Zvezda in June 1965 and a formal government directive was issued on 18 August 1965. A government decree on 27 April 1966 specifically ordered Yastreb suits for the Soyuz-to-L1 EVAs. These had the backpacks mounted on the spacewalkers' legs to give them the needed clearance.  The same design was later used for the Soyuz-4/5 EVA.

In 2007 RKK Energiya veteran and former cosmonaut candidate Vladimir Bugrov described his involvement in the "podsadka" plan in his book "Marsianskiy proyekt S.P. Korolyova" ("The Mars Project of S.P Korolyov"). He says that mock-ups of a Soyuz orbital module and L-1 descent module were placed inside a plane to simulate the EVA during parabolic loops and that he himself took part in those simulations. As it turned out, the first crew member managed to take his seat in the L-1 without too much trouble, but the second crew member found it much more difficult to get inside. It wasn't until the 5th or 6th flight that they found a way of solving that problem. Still, there was no guarantee the plan would work in actual space conditions. Moreover, after each simulation there were 1.5 cm deep dents in the back of Bugrov's helmet. All this was enough for spacesuit chief designer Gai Severin to advise Mishin to abandon the idea of a Soyuz-to-L1 EVA. The cosmonauts involved in the tests concurred and that, according to Bugrov, sealed the fate of the dual-launch scenario.

That's what I've been able to gather, but obviously many questions remain with regard to the design of the side hatch, the need to depressurize the descent module etc. However they would have gone about it, it would have been extremely difficult and dangerous and ultimately it was decided it was not worth the risk and effort.

Based on Kamanin's diaries, the plan was abandoned sometime in the spring of 1967 (the Soyuz-1 accident may have played a role in this as well). It's interesting that on the Kosmos-146 and Kosmos-154 L-1 test missions in March and April 1967 the Block-D escape burn was planned to take place about 24 hours after launch rather than after a single orbit as on later L-1/Zond missions. It's been speculated that this was a simulation of the dual launch plan where the Soyuz presumably would have been launched a day after the L-1. By the way, Anatoly Zak has made a new analysis of the Kosmos-146 mission on his website :

http://www.russianspaceweb.com/l1-2p-kosmos146.html

 

   

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #13 on: 03/18/2017 04:22 AM »
Thank you Bart - it is good to have Russian sources for this issue.   I am sure that Chertok also talks about the dual launch option in his books, but the point behind my post was "how would the Russians have done this?".

If entry to the L-1 was to be via a side hatch then the DM must have been capable of being depressurised and then repressurised.   That would have been interesting.   

Way back at the first BIS Technical Forum in 1980 Ralph Gibbons speculated that the reason that the proposed Soyuz 2/1 and the actual Soyuz 5/4 EVA missions had two "military"men on board with one (Khrunov) doing the EVA with the civilian (Yeliseyev) was to simulate the transfer of a two-man crew with a military commander to a Zond for a piloted circumlunar mission - of course we didn't know as much about Zond aka L-1 then as we do now.

It would be nice to have a good Russian description of how the crew transfer would have happened, though.   And it was Anatoly's article that got me thinking about this once more.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #14 on: 03/18/2017 07:21 AM »
Quote
The RKK Energia 1946-1996 history (published in 1996)

Was the document ever translated in English ? where could I buy it ?

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #15 on: 03/18/2017 11:40 AM »
Quote
The RKK Energia 1946-1996 history (published in 1996)

Was the document ever translated in English ? where could I buy it ?

It's actually a 670-page book. Available online here :
http://epizodsspace.airbase.ru/bibl/energia46-96/01.html

To the best of my knowledge it's never been translated into English.

RKK Energia has since regularly published such books. Volume 2 covered the period 1996-2001, volume 3 covered 2001-2011 and volume 4 2011-2015.


Offline Danderman

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #16 on: 03/18/2017 02:31 PM »
Is it the case that the "inverted cone" on the front of L1 was a duplicate of the bottom of the orbital module, so that the interface with the escape tower would be duplicated? Was this inverted cone jettisoned before lunar departure?

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #17 on: 03/18/2017 03:51 PM »
Is it the case that the "inverted cone" on the front of L1 was a duplicate of the bottom of the orbital module, so that the interface with the escape tower would be duplicated? Was this inverted cone jettisoned before lunar departure?

I have always thought that was its function and yes, it was supposedly separated before TLI.

Offline Flying Spaghetti Monster

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #18 on: 03/18/2017 11:12 PM »
I would like to add to Bart Hendrickx's comments with some of my own.

a)--Iit seems that the "Podsadka" (translates to "Transplanting") mission lasted beyond 1967.  This can be learnt via looking at both the Russian-language and English-translation versions of Vladimir Syromyatnnikov's 100 rasskazov o stykovke i o drugikh prikliucheniiakh v kosmose i na Zemle. (“100 Stories about Dockings and Other Adventures in Space and on Earth.”) The Russian version published in 2003, the English translation in 2005.

In there (one should go between both versions to understand what I am telling), there is an explicit discussion about "Podsadka," (with the Russian version actually using the exact word) and in the English-translation version.  Indeed,  in the English-translation version of the same section about Podsadka, Syromyatnnikov adds a sentence that .   “Actually one of them [that is, a set of “Podsadka” equipment] flew in space in 1969, but Soyuz 8 failed to rendezvous with Soyuz 7.” page 247.

So "Podsadka" lasted into late 1969.  Based on Syromyatnnikov's statements.

b)--Indeed, a little birdie has told me that perhaps later this year new information about "Podsadka" may become published, from an unexpected angle.  I personally cannot tell more (as I do not know more), and  one can interpret that statement as one wishes.

c)--As to "speculations" in regards to Podsadka, independent scholars and researchers Peter Pesavento and Charles Vick had published in Quest: the History of Spaceflight Quarterly (back in 2004 no less!) technological guess-timations/estimations on "Podsadka," and the examination of both  textual and photographic evidence for such equipment to be found on the Zond circumlunar spacecraft.  The bibliographic citation for that article is thusly:

The Moon Race “End Game”:  A New Assessment of Soviet Crewed Lunar Aspirations.  Quest: the history of spaceflight qrtrly Part Two: 11(2):6-57, 2004. 

One thing in regards to Russian sources is that one must always look at what they actually build/built versus what they say or claim that they built (actual photographs of actual hardware is immensely helpful in this regard); additionally, one must look at what they actually do in regards to activities and actions (versus hand-waving and paper plans), minus the face of their printed or officially declared Russian/Soviet statements--if that can be had, but sometimes can't be had for all a historian has to go on is the paper plans (or recollections of same).

c)--I take great offence at Phil Clark's impugning Mark Wade's character and negative allusions to Mark's ability to engage in high-quality space history scholarship.  I know Mark Wade personally, having spent time with him and his wife when they visited me in southern California back in 1990s, where we spent most of the day engaged in in-depth discussions about Soviet space technology history.  Just so that you know, Phil Clark, Mark Wade speaks and reads Russian fluently (as well as at least one other language outside of English).  Can you make the same claim?

d)--One huge beef that I have with a burgeoning trend that I am seeing is that technology and space history historians alike (both "old hands" as well as newly minted ones coming into the field at "first light") are doing  is that too many (I will not say all--but let's say a significant plurality) do not engage in "due diligence" before making statements (akin to those as Phil Clark has displayed here in this thread).  Near-dogmatic proclamations in a near-information vacuum are neither helpful to me, nor to anyone else for that matter who read these threads for education and scholarly enlightenment.

Let's keep a huge damper on the "dogma," and keep wide open the quest to investigate and question, and re-research (yes, "search again").  Space history will only benefit.

« Last Edit: 03/18/2017 11:24 PM by Flying Spaghetti Monster »

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Proposed "dual launch" L-1 manned circumlunar mission
« Reply #19 on: 03/19/2017 10:53 PM »
Mark Wade did a new analysis of "podsadka" on the basis of the Mishin diaries that were released two years ago or so :

http://pausanias.blogspot.be

His conclusion was that podsadka was the "main scenario" for the L-1 programme until January 1969 (with the Soyuz-4/5 docking mission). The only problem is that he does not really provide any quotes from the diaries to back up that claim. The last clear reference to "podsadka" comes in the entry for 5 May 1967, when the Council of Chief Designers discussed a proposal to abandon the dual-launch scenario.

The Soyuz-4/5 EVA in itself is no evidence that the Soyuz-to-L1 podsadka idea was still alive at that point. While the EVA originally planned for Soyuz-1/2 in April 1967 may very well have been related to "podsadka" (as I pointed out in my earlier post, the development of the Yastreb spacesuits apparently had its roots in the podsadka programme), the priorities had very likely shifted by the time the same EVA was eventually performed on Soyuz-4/5 in January 1969. It may just as well have been seen as a dress rehearsal for the spacewalks from the LOK mother ship to the LK lunar lander in the N-1/L-3 lunar landing programme.

Syromyatnikov's note about podsadka equipment having been on Soyuz-7/8 is intriguing, but by all accounts the manned portion of the L-1 programme was dead by October 1969 (almost a year after Apollo-8). Whatever goal that equipment may have been intended to serve on that mission, it is unlikely to have been flown in support of a Soyuz-to-L1 mission. 

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