Author Topic: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?  (Read 7425 times)

Offline shuttlefan

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Did the Soviets put a cosmonaut team onboard a Zond spacecraft, only to decide it wasn't safe enough to send them on the mission--seems to me I may have read this once. ;)

Offline mlorrey

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RE: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #1 on: 05/28/2006 04:32 AM »
Quote
shuttlefan - 27/5/2006  5:52 PM

Did the Soviets put a cosmonaut team onboard a Zond spacecraft, only to decide it wasn't safe enough to send them on the mission--seems to me I may have read this once. ;)

The Zond flights were test flights of the translunar Soyuz system, minus the orbital module of the standard Soyuz system. It had seats and everything in it, but were flown unmanned because they felt it was too dangerous to fly people in an untested and unproven system. Soviet capsule systems operated by a different methodology than US capsules did. Everything was totally automated in the soviet capsules, the cosmonauts were little more than passengers. This was the problem with the Zond flights, because the capsule systems were so complex that it was impossible to anticipate every possible failure mode, while American missions accepted that failure was  real potential and trained the astronauts to be able to deal with failure (and equipped their capsules so the astronauts could override and reprogram systems). This is why Apollo 13's unforseen LOX tank failure did not result in loss of crew, while Zond had maybe one successful flight out of at least a half dozen. Since then, Soyuz has had a lot more human control built into it.
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Offline shuttlefan

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RE: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #2 on: 05/28/2006 02:59 PM »
Thanks for the detailed answer! :)  :)

Offline mlorrey

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Re: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #3 on: 05/28/2006 07:25 PM »
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slipstream - 28/5/2006  10:21 AM

Hmm.. mlorrey, you are apparently mixing Vostok and Soyuz. Pilots for the latter system were trained to manoeuvre and dock manually starting with the very first Soyuz-1 disastrous mission (expected to dock manually with Soyuz-2 launched on the following day). Not to say about dealing with failures and overriding the automatics demonstrated in the same flight - the system that finaly lead to tragedy was out of Komarov's reach - the chutes container.

The pilot controls and other overrides in the Soyuz-1 system were a result of lessons learned by the various Zond failures. There is no doubt that while the Zond vehicles had identical physical architectures to the Soyuz vehicles, in terms of control systems, the change was even greater than the change between Apollo 1 and Apollo 11 after the fire in Apollo 1. Zond was constructed under the same total automation philosophy of Vostok and Voskhod capsules.
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Offline Anu

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RE: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #4 on: 06/01/2006 08:37 PM »
Weren't Alexei Leonov and Oleg Makarov slated for a late-1968 circumlunar flight ( not lunar orbital) at one stage?

Offline mlorrey

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RE: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #5 on: 06/02/2006 02:27 AM »
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Anu - 1/6/2006  3:24 PM

Weren't Alexei Leonov and Oleg Makarov slated for a late-1968 circumlunar flight ( not lunar orbital) at one stage?

There were plans, but the Kremlin decided that the best propaganda strategy was to deny that there ever was a space race, that they were never seeking to land on the moon (this was after their attempted and failed landing of an automated probe on the Moon on the same day as the Apollo 11 landing). This propaganda avenue required, of course, that they not be seen as in a rush to reach the moon, to wait for the N-1 development to be complete. The failures forced them to focus on the space station strategies of the Soyuz/Salut/Mir progression, especially considering that the US was lofting Skylab.
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Offline wannamoonbase

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RE: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #6 on: 06/05/2006 03:49 PM »
Russia never has been all that imaginitive in their direction or development.  Copied plan for the Moon, space stations, copied the shuttle (but knew enough to stop.)

No question they have world class ability and talent but come creativity wouldn't kill.

Given the N-1 failures I think its safe to say the Soviet manned landing was a long long way off.

Getting 30 liquids all running right is no small feat.  (Keep that in mind SpaceX Falcon 9 fans)
Jonesing for a copy of 'Tales of Suspense #39'

Offline imfan

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Re: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #7 on: 06/05/2006 09:16 PM »
but the fact is that N1 was getting better flight after flight. there were no testing stands for whole stages so there was minimum testing before each flight.

Online hop

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RE: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #8 on: 06/05/2006 09:35 PM »
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wannamoonbase - 5/6/2006  8:36 AM

Russia never has been all that imaginitive in their direction or development.  Copied plan for the Moon, space stations, copied the shuttle (but knew enough to stop.)
Huh ?

Buran was absolutely a deliberate copy (mandated by the politicos, not the engineers, who would certainly have preferred to build their own designs), but the Salyuts and Mir weren't copies of anything American. Nor was their moon program. The Americans going to the moon gave them the political will, but the actual rockets and spacecraft weren't copied like Buran. The chief designers wanted to go to the moon well before the leadership accepted it as a political goal.

There is some argument that the basic Soyuz layout might have been 'stolen', but this is far from certain, and in any case, the US didn't end up using it.

Offline CarlosMeat

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RE: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #9 on: 09/23/2006 03:50 PM »
Without having had one single successful N1 flight I think we would have to assume that they were a ways away.

Offline emarkay

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Re: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #10 on: 09/23/2006 04:42 PM »
Remember they had large lunar rovers already there, so they COULD have done something if the pressure was on, but I think common sense prevailed as well as other more pressing political priorities sealed the fate of a Russian manned moon landing and crew return plans.

I imagine the N1 could have been ironed out, but then getting enough launched to do aven a minimal testing phase and 1 or 2 actual missions would have been a drain for the USSR in resources even if it was a priority.  But that's not to say it COULDN't have happened, IMHO.
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Offline Jim

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Re: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #11 on: 09/23/2006 04:50 PM »
No ground testing doomed it.  They would have never worked out the kinks

Offline meiza

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Re: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #12 on: 09/23/2006 04:57 PM »
I don't think there were engine malfunctions per se, something else like aerodynamic problems, foreign objects in the feedline, computer going wonky, other feedline problems were the reasons it wasn't successful.
A full-up boattail test should have been done. (SpaceX is going to do stage 1 holddown firing for Falcon 9.)

Offline NotGncDude

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RE: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #13 on: 09/24/2006 02:42 AM »
Quote
wannamoonbase
- 5/6/2006 11:32 AM
Russia never has been all that imaginitive in their direction or
development. Copied plan for the Moon, space stations, copied the
shuttle (but knew enough to stop.)
No question they have world class ability and talent but come
creativity wouldn't kill.
Given the N-1 failures I think its safe to say the Soviet manned
landing was a long long way off.
Getting 30 liquids all running right is no small feat. (Keep that in
mind SpaceX Falcon 9 fans)
Uh... what?!? I don't think this can even be suggested. Let's see,
Sputnik, Vostok, the R7, Proton and other launchers, Salyut and MIR
were definitely not a copy of anything, neither Soyuz (regardless of
some questionable claims on the contrary). Aww c'mon. If anybody would
have made it to the moon out of 3 soda cans, a lighter and old clock
were the Russians.

Offline NotGncDude

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Re: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #14 on: 09/24/2006 02:47 AM »
Now seriously. I don't think they came close. The N1 was not close to a reliable flight (they would have probably made it work eventually, at a huge cost) and the  circumlunar Zonds were too unreliable as well. Perhaps they would have made it, but it seems from all their documented problems that they were not close.

Offline Wolverine

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Re: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #15 on: 09/24/2006 04:23 AM »
I find it comical that you can take any model kit of the space shuttle and turn it into Buran will very little modification.  The Soviets were great with the reverse engineering.  They cloned the B-29 and made the TU-4.  The Blackjack is too similar to the B1-B.  I don't think it was right, but there were good at it.  Now the N-1 must have been impressive to see with one's own 2 eyes.  Didn't the Russians orbit a satellite around the Moon while the Apollo 11 crew was there?

Offline mr.columbus

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Re: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #16 on: 09/24/2006 07:34 AM »
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ianmga - 23/9/2006  10:30 PM

Now seriously. I don't think they came close. The N1 was not close to a reliable flight (they would have probably made it work eventually, at a huge cost) and the  circumlunar Zonds were too unreliable as well. Perhaps they would have made it, but it seems from all their documented problems that they were not close.

They could have very well made the first circumlunar flight, if they wanted to take a 50-50 chance with the Zond spacecraft. Practically no mods would need to have been made before humans could make a circumlunar flights in Zond.

Offline ericr

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Re: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #17 on: 09/24/2006 10:21 AM »
I don't know how accurate it is or isn't, but Astronautix.com has some very interesting reading about the Soviet side of the moon race.

Offline shuttlefan

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Re: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #18 on: 09/24/2006 03:15 PM »
Quote
mr.columbus - 24/9/2006  2:17 AM

Quote
ianmga - 23/9/2006  10:30 PM

Now seriously. I don't think they came close. The N1 was not close to a reliable flight (they would have probably made it work eventually, at a huge cost) and the  circumlunar Zonds were too unreliable as well. Perhaps they would have made it, but it seems from all their documented problems that they were not close.

They could have very well made the first circumlunar flight, if they wanted to take a 50-50 chance with the Zond spacecraft. Practically no mods would need to have been made before humans could make a circumlunar flights in Zond.
--Thanks for clarifying that for the rest of the readers!! I actually DID mean with the Zond spacecraft. I am well-aware of the N1 explosions. ;)

Offline dwmzmm

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Re: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #19 on: 09/26/2006 01:59 AM »
What you guys need to get and read is the NASA publication titled: Challenge to Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race, 1945 - 1974 by Asif A. Siddiqi.
Has what I think is the best "inside" look at the Soviet (and American) efforts during the height of the race to the moon, from a perspective not seen anywhere before.  I think this document is available over the internet, and I have to "warn you" that it's very long, but well worth reading.  Once I started
reading it, I couldn't put it down!!  You'll learn how close a number of the Soviet cosmonauts came to losing their lives in a number of the "successful" early
missions.
Dave, NAR # 21853 SR.

Offline kevin-rf

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Offline dwmzmm

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Re: How close DID the Soviets come to a manned lunar flight?
« Reply #21 on: 09/27/2006 03:56 AM »
Yes, that's it.  Thanks, Kevin!
Dave, NAR # 21853 SR.

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