Author Topic: Soviet Moon Landing Project  (Read 30046 times)

Offline CarlosMeat

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Soviet Moon Landing Project
« on: 11/06/2009 11:46 am »
Looking at what the US did in such a short time to get to the moon is still amazing to me every time I read about it. The cutting edge incredible engineering work that made it happen. The guts it took and how risky it was and we still pulled it off mutiple times amazes me.

I have to admit though ,the Russians certainly were attempting a much much more risky project. It looked like even if the N1 had worked, it would have been close getting the lunar craft out there ,lift capacity wise, and landing in that thing let alone LOR with what they had and their very limited experience at rendezvous at all to that point. Additionally, most of the US landing was under the computer's control. Did the Russians have anything like the MIT G&N computer for their landing at the time ?

Any comments ?

« Last Edit: 11/06/2009 12:31 pm by CarlosMeat »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #1 on: 11/06/2009 01:20 pm »
When you write "it would have been very close" I assume you mean that it would have been risky, or even impossible for them to succeed?

I agree.  Although much of what has been written about their program focuses on their N-1 Moon rocket, keep in mind that we know much less about the development of their actual lander.  Think about how much we know about the difficulties of designing the LM.  We know that it was a really challenging vehicle on a lot of fronts.  Getting the weight down was extremely difficult.

Now contrast that to how little we know about the Russian lunar module development.  How far did they get in testing?  How good were their tests?  What kind of confidence did they have that it would work as designed?  I think all the information on this is rather blurry.

Offline Downix

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #2 on: 11/06/2009 02:08 pm »
When you write "it would have been very close" I assume you mean that it would have been risky, or even impossible for them to succeed?

I agree.  Although much of what has been written about their program focuses on their N-1 Moon rocket, keep in mind that we know much less about the development of their actual lander.  Think about how much we know about the difficulties of designing the LM.  We know that it was a really challenging vehicle on a lot of fronts.  Getting the weight down was extremely difficult.

Now contrast that to how little we know about the Russian lunar module development.  How far did they get in testing?  How good were their tests?  What kind of confidence did they have that it would work as designed?  I think all the information on this is rather blurry.
There is quite a bit known about the LK lander actually.  It was tested in orbit, three times, on Nov 24 1970, Feb 26 1971 and Oct 12 1971.  All test flights performed well.  There are several LK's on display in various museums in the former soviet block territory, and one was even on display at Eurodisney at one point. 

A good deal of information can be found on the astronautix website:

http://www.astronautix.com/craft/lk.htm

The lander was never the issue.  The only issues they had was the rocket, and that the lunar command capsule (LOK) itself was never tested.

The whole Soviet moonshot, when you boil it down, came to be a case of conflicting Egos.  Glushko in 1961 approached Korolev about a compromize, Glushko would stop pushing for bi-propellants if Korolev would allow for a "packet" scheme, which they had used successfully years before in developing the R-7 "Sputnik".  Korolev rejected the offer, and thus the Soviet moon shot suffered as a result.  Glushko was an engine genius on par with Korolev's rocket genius.  If these two had worked together on the same rocket, instead of Korolev on the N-1 and Glushko on the Proton, I can easily imagine the history of the lunar landing turning out quite differently.

I may add, Glushko, when handed Korolev's old company in the 1970's, helped develop the Energia rocket.
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Offline Danderman

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #3 on: 11/06/2009 03:07 pm »
Here is a great resource on the subject, unfortunately, only in Russian.

Offline Launchpad911

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #4 on: 11/06/2009 03:10 pm »
Are there any good english language books about the Soviet moon program?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #5 on: 11/06/2009 04:06 pm »
There is quite a bit known about the LK lander actually.  It was tested in orbit, three times, on Nov 24 1970, Feb 26 1971 and Oct 12 1971.  All test flights performed well.  There are several LK's on display in various museums in the former soviet block territory, and one was even on display at Eurodisney at one point. 

A good deal of information can be found on the astronautix website:

http://www.astronautix.com/craft/lk.htm

It was never tested with a human aboard.  What fidelity were the unmanned orbital tests?  As for astronautix, I am always wary of using it as a source.  I've encountered serious problems with translation there before.
« Last Edit: 11/06/2009 04:17 pm by Blackstar »

Offline Downix

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #6 on: 11/06/2009 04:51 pm »
There is quite a bit known about the LK lander actually.  It was tested in orbit, three times, on Nov 24 1970, Feb 26 1971 and Oct 12 1971.  All test flights performed well.  There are several LK's on display in various museums in the former soviet block territory, and one was even on display at Eurodisney at one point. 

A good deal of information can be found on the astronautix website:

http://www.astronautix.com/craft/lk.htm

It was never tested with a human aboard.  What fidelity were the unmanned orbital tests?  As for astronautix, I am always wary of using it as a source.  I've encountered serious problems with translation there before.
Well, Vostok was tested unmanned before Gagarin ever flew in it, don't forget.  This kind of Soviet testing was common, 3-4 unmanned tests using dummies, dogs, things like that.  They were pretty good about it, and were gun-shy after the fiasco with Soyuz 1.

I've run into similar issues with Astronautix, but in general it's not a bad site, like Wikipedia, if you use it for generalities.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline SpaceCat

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #7 on: 11/06/2009 05:04 pm »
Are there any good english language books about the Soviet moon program?

Our friend, James Oberg, has certainly written extensively about Soviet space efforts-
http://www.jamesoberg.com/russian.html

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #8 on: 11/06/2009 06:20 pm »
Oberg's stuff about Soviet space is outdated, as even he will admit.

The best place to start is with Asif Siddiqi's Challenge to Apollo:

http://www.amazon.com/Challenge-Apollo-Soviet-1945-1974-history/dp/B0006RDSDS

http://faculty.fordham.edu/siddiqi/sws/written/cta/challenge_to_apollo.html

I believe that the entire thing is available online.  Also, I believe it was split into two volumes and published by U. Florida Press.  A little digging around will answer that.

Offline Jim

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #9 on: 11/06/2009 06:26 pm »
Oberg's stuff about Soviet space is outdated, as even he will admit.

The best place to start is with Asif Siddiqi's Challenge to Apollo:

http://www.amazon.com/Challenge-Apollo-Soviet-1945-1974-history/dp/B0006RDSDS

http://faculty.fordham.edu/siddiqi/sws/written/cta/challenge_to_apollo.html

I believe that the entire thing is available online.  Also, I believe it was split into two volumes and published by U. Florida Press.  A little digging around will answer that.

I second that.  I bought both volumes.  A lot of info.

Offline Danderman

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #10 on: 11/06/2009 06:46 pm »
It was never tested with a human aboard.  What fidelity were the unmanned orbital tests?  As for astronautix, I am always wary of using it as a source.  I've encountered serious problems with translation there before.

The T2K LEO missions are well documented via Russian sources. However, the key systems that were not tested AFAIK during these 3 missions were the digital lunar landing computer and the life support systems. The former was somewhat problematic since it was a very complex system, and since the LK had only 1 pilot, and the landing sequence was much more risky than the Apollo architecture, the computer was particularly crucial.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #11 on: 11/06/2009 08:15 pm »
I second that.  I bought both volumes.  A lot of info.

He's now working on a history of the Indian space program.

Offline CarlosMeat

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #12 on: 11/07/2009 01:29 pm »
My question about it being close refers to the capacity of a functioning N1 to actually get the stack out to the moon. I read some place that it might have been underpowered even as mamoth as it was for the expected lunar vehicle weight.

Additionally, my question regarding the computer for landing,was was it up to the task ? My understanding was getting the Apollo computer finished in time with MIT behind it was touch and go.
« Last Edit: 11/07/2009 01:30 pm by CarlosMeat »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #13 on: 11/07/2009 05:26 pm »
The whole Soviet moonshot, when you boil it down, came to be a case of conflicting Egos.  Glushko in 1961 approached Korolev about a compromize, Glushko would stop pushing for bi-propellants if Korolev would allow for a "packet" scheme, which they had used successfully years before in developing the R-7 "Sputnik".  Korolev rejected the offer, and thus the Soviet moon shot suffered as a result.  Glushko was an engine genius on par with Korolev's rocket genius.  If these two had worked together on the same rocket, instead of Korolev on the N-1 and Glushko on the Proton, I can easily imagine the history of the lunar landing turning out quite differently.

I'd argue that it was more complex than that (surprise!).  Even if these guys had gotten along better, there was still the issue of funding and a clear directive from the leadership.  They didn't have that.  There were military leaders who argued (correctly) that this was taking money away from strategic missile development. 

The US didn't really have that problem.  The US had a lot of money and could spend it on both ICBMs and Apollo.

Offline Downix

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #14 on: 11/08/2009 02:01 am »
The whole Soviet moonshot, when you boil it down, came to be a case of conflicting Egos.  Glushko in 1961 approached Korolev about a compromize, Glushko would stop pushing for bi-propellants if Korolev would allow for a "packet" scheme, which they had used successfully years before in developing the R-7 "Sputnik".  Korolev rejected the offer, and thus the Soviet moon shot suffered as a result.  Glushko was an engine genius on par with Korolev's rocket genius.  If these two had worked together on the same rocket, instead of Korolev on the N-1 and Glushko on the Proton, I can easily imagine the history of the lunar landing turning out quite differently.

I'd argue that it was more complex than that (surprise!).  Even if these guys had gotten along better, there was still the issue of funding and a clear directive from the leadership.  They didn't have that.  There were military leaders who argued (correctly) that this was taking money away from strategic missile development. 

The US didn't really have that problem.  The US had a lot of money and could spend it on both ICBMs and Apollo.
You know Glushko's moon-rocket design was derived from his rapid turnaround ICBM design, yes?  He was brilliant in being able to pair his ambitions with the militarys need.  Which is how they had the R-7 in the first place.

I could easily have seen him push just this kind of solution, adapting Korolev's R-7 approach of throwaway boosters to the moon program.  I highly suspect the resulting craft would have looked nothing like the N-1, and instead have looked closer to the latter Energia or Vulkan design.  The boosters, in this case I'll assume would be a kerolox form of the Proton, would have been ICBM's in and of themselves, and ready in 1964, with the central core approved in 1962, when the N-1 was approved, and ready by 1968.  It would have looked nothing like the UR-700 of Glushko or the N-1 of Korolev.  I truely think that by the marriage of the two, the program would have not only worked, it would have played right into the militaries needs as well, reducing the cost as well as lifting up the world image. 

But this is not what happened.  Ego's conflicted, needs were fighting against each other, and the race was won by the US.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline sbt

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #15 on: 11/08/2009 03:04 am »

But this is not what happened.  Ego's conflicted...

It was rather more than ego.

In 1938 Glushko 'Denounced' Korolev, leading to his torture and assignment to a labour camp (a Gold Mine) where he suffered permanent damage to his health (including the loss of all his teeth).

He was retrieved from there rapidly, re-tried and assigned to a 'sharashka' - a prison where scientists did work for the state. He initially went to Tuplov but moved in 1942 to work in a prison with our old friend Glushko, who had by this time been denounced himself. Glushko was Korolevs boss.

Everybody in Korolevs pre-war group was denounced. Korolev was the only one that didn't end up being shot and he was in constant fear of the same fate during his time in prison.

Glushko was one of the principle instigators of his torture, Labour Camp time and Prison time and was then his boss in prison with the possibility that any criticism of his work would have led to Korolevs death.

So, rather more than a clash of egos.

Rick
« Last Edit: 11/08/2009 03:07 am by sbt »
I am not interested in your political point scoring, Ad Hominem attacks, personal obsessions and vendettas. - No matter how cute and clever you may think your comments are.

Offline Downix

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #16 on: 11/08/2009 04:13 am »

But this is not what happened.  Ego's conflicted...

It was rather more than ego.

In 1938 Glushko 'Denounced' Korolev, leading to his torture and assignment to a labour camp (a Gold Mine) where he suffered permanent damage to his health (including the loss of all his teeth).

He was retrieved from there rapidly, re-tried and assigned to a 'sharashka' - a prison where scientists did work for the state. He initially went to Tuplov but moved in 1942 to work in a prison with our old friend Glushko, who had by this time been denounced himself. Glushko was Korolevs boss.

Everybody in Korolevs pre-war group was denounced. Korolev was the only one that didn't end up being shot and he was in constant fear of the same fate during his time in prison.

Glushko was one of the principle instigators of his torture, Labour Camp time and Prison time and was then his boss in prison with the possibility that any criticism of his work would have led to Korolevs death.

So, rather more than a clash of egos.

Rick
It was a state of "Give up your enemies before they give you up" and both men knew that.  After both were released, they worked together on numerous occasions for the next 13 years. 

I don't think many people can appreciate the state of absolute paranoia that overtook the USSR under Stalin, it became, truely, a "get them before they get you" mentality took over.  A sad section of human history indeed.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline CarlosMeat

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #17 on: 11/08/2009 12:02 pm »
Could we get some comments on the original post regarding the lifting capacity, the lander, LOR experience and computer for G&N and landing rather than the pre-war prison camps ?


Offline otisbow

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #18 on: 11/08/2009 12:34 pm »
The Soviet Union could not beat the US to the moon because of the way the Soviet system works.
« Last Edit: 11/08/2009 12:35 pm by otisbow »

Offline Cbased

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Re: Soviet Moon Landing Project
« Reply #19 on: 11/08/2009 01:22 pm »
http://kuasar.narod.ru/history/ussr-moon-program/lk.htm (in Russian)

Initial weight of LK was 2.2t (and had 2 people). It had to be increased to 5.5t (with only 1 pilot).
Weight reduction problem - for every 1kg that could be saved there were money given (60 roubles)
4-beam radar system was tested on E-8 automatic lunar lander series.
There was automatic landing planned (for unmanned configurations of the lander)
Control system: based on military rockets navigation systems. Control of all 4 major steps - approach, landing, launch from lunar surface, docking on LLO. Main input sources - radar and gyroscopes. All calculations were performed in 3 separate independent streams (to reduce chances of any errors). Speed - 20,000 operations/sec.

 

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