Author Topic: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?  (Read 17434 times)

Offline malenfant

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #40 on: 09/02/2013 01:39 pm »
I would say that the worst decision was to go forward with both proton and n1; splitting their resources between two entirely different booster families and robbing n1 of the chance to test its upper stages in isolation.  With proton out of the picture all resources could be thrown behind n1 related technology.  NK15 is hopefully available earlier and can be flight tested earlier.  N1 can start launching with it's upper stages already proven.

The soviets can go to the moon in maybe '73/'74 and they can launch a skylab beater.  Saturn production is resumed. The world is a better place.  Perhaps....

Offline baldusi

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #41 on: 09/14/2013 10:31 pm »
The worst mistake of the N-1 program was first setting the LEO payload target and only then trying to cram a lunar mission in just one flight. After that, the project was doomed. Besides the fact that they were asked to do the project on 75% of the time and 50% of the budget of their own optimistic estimations.
Second ridiculous mistake was going with ORSC RG-1/LOX because Mishin had delirous of grandeour about propulsion. Cherkov stated plainly that the war between Korolev and Glushko started because Mishin asked an "impossible" engine for the N-1. I do share the idea that an RD-270 based rocket (UR-700) would have meant the loss of Baiknour when the inevitable accident happened. But if Mishin had gone with a proposal of a "big" GG RG-1, even if just at 4MN, I'm pretty sure Glushko wouldn't have reacted so bad.

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #42 on: 09/15/2013 05:45 am »
By far the worst was skipping on building a test stand for the N1.

No ground testing of the first stage meant every test had to be a flight test.
For a low cost rocket like the Soyuz this was acceptable but the N1 was just too complex and expensive.

Second ignoring EOR and LEO assembly as a plan B.

Proton still could have done a moon mission using four launches plus one Souyz launch for the crew.

Trying to follow America and not doing their own thing.

Soyuz was one of their right things they did on a positive note.

Soyuz got a lot of things right that Apollo got wrong.
« Last Edit: 09/15/2013 05:47 am by Patchouli »

Offline savuporo

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #43 on: 09/15/2013 12:06 pm »
I would say that the worst decision was to go forward with both proton and n1; ..  With proton out of the picture all resources could be thrown behind n1 related technology

A version of Proton remains the workhorse launcher to this date, and even brings in commercial revenue. I dont think building it can be considered a mistake.
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Offline Proponent

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #44 on: 09/15/2013 12:10 pm »
Proton still could have done a moon mission using four launches plus one Souyz launch for the crew.

Just four Protons?  That would be only about 140,000 lb in LEO, whereas Apollo was about twice that.  And although Soviets envisioned a crew of just two, they weren't using hydrogen as a fuel and their systems were generally heavier.

Offline Prober

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #45 on: 09/15/2013 02:15 pm »
Buran (and that specifically in contrast to Energia/Buran). It ate up a large part of the Soviet space budget and had no purpose as they were also continuing to use expendable launchers. Those were cheaper to use than the US Shuttle and so probably would have been cheaper than the Soviet one.

Energia was an inspired bit of following the letter of the law while breaking the spirit on the part of Glushko, but if it hadn't had to lift an orbiter the USSR would have had a super-heavy launcher several years before they did.

Energia was a super heavy lifter who's capacity was similar to the Saturn INT-21.
The fully developed inline version would have been the most powerful LV to fly.

Without Buran Energia may have never been built as a payload is needed to create the need for the LV.

The program did not die of natural causes but instead was killed by larger economic and political events ie the breakup of the Soviet Union.
The cost of the space program was a minor contributor in light of other issues the cost of the arms race agianst the US, a loosing war in Afghanistan,the cost of maintaining puppet governments inside the iron curtain, and general corruption within the Soviet government.
The Soviet Afghan war was esp costly for them and is often referred to as the Soviet's Vietnam or the Bear Trap.
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Offline malenfant

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #46 on: 09/16/2013 06:14 pm »
I would say that the worst decision was to go forward with both proton and n1; ..  With proton out of the picture all resources could be thrown behind n1 related technology

A version of Proton remains the workhorse launcher to this date, and even brings in commercial revenue. I dont think building it can be considered a mistake.

STS flew with segmented solids for 30 years and I consider that a mistake too.  Also I would suggest that the fact that proton earns money is more to do with the low cost of the workforce than any intrinsic strengths of the design: how many launchers have a hypergolic first stage today and how many use kerelox?

Honestly I think the problems with the N1 were more subtle than people give credit.  The guys that built it were not idiots.  I remember back when details of n1 were first emerging it was common to blame things on the glushko  feud and the resulting 'bad' engines ...then gradually it turned out that nk33 was actually pretty impressive and criticism switched to the inherent risks of using 30 engines  ...until spacex propose a vehicle with 27 engines and suddenly everyone thinks its a great idea.

It's fair comment to bring up the lack of a test stand but I wonder how many test stands you could build if you don't develop proton.

Offline baldusi

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #47 on: 09/16/2013 07:07 pm »
N-1 engines where the NK-15 family. Not only was it worse performing than the NK-33, but they were built under military procurement rules. Thus, they couldn't be acceptance tested. They built batches of 8, tested 3, and if all three worked fine, the other five were sent for integration. The marvelous NK-33 was an attempt to solve the inherent unreliability and lack of performance of the original design, which was made simply too week for the mission (originally just 75tonnes to LEO).
Their mission was to beat the Americans to the Moon. You don't go making the most astounding advance in engine technology when you are short on time and budget. Even with infinite budget, Von Braun went with the simplest and gentlest cycle he could get away with, and with an engine that had lots of margin (F-1A gave 20% extra performance just changing the turbopump). When asked about the margin for the LM, he told the module designers they had 25% of margin, but asked the LV designers to put 50%. That's how you finish a mission, starting from the mission payload and going backwards putting more margin than what the engineers tell you. Exactly opposite of what Mishin did. Yes, Korolev did made the mistake, but a lot of those mistakes were done holding Mishin's hand.

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #48 on: 09/18/2013 06:43 am »
N-1 engines where the NK-15 family. Not only was it worse performing than the NK-33, but they were built under military procurement rules. Thus, they couldn't be acceptance tested. They built batches of 8, tested 3, and if all three worked fine, the other five were sent for integration. The marvelous NK-33 was an attempt to solve the inherent unreliability and lack of performance of the original design, which was made simply too week for the mission (originally just 75tonnes to LEO).
Their mission was to beat the Americans to the Moon. You don't go making the most astounding advance in engine technology when you are short on time and budget. Even with infinite budget, Von Braun went with the simplest and gentlest cycle he could get away with, and with an engine that had lots of margin (F-1A gave 20% extra performance just changing the turbopump). When asked about the margin for the LM, he told the module designers they had 25% of margin, but asked the LV designers to put 50%. That's how you finish a mission, starting from the mission payload and going backwards putting more margin than what the engineers tell you. Exactly opposite of what Mishin did. Yes, Korolev did made the mistake, but a lot of those mistakes were done holding Mishin's hand.

He also set aside 27 tons for the Apollo CSM even though they said they only needed 18 to 22 tons, they ended up needing almost all of the reserve.

« Last Edit: 09/18/2013 06:58 am by Patchouli »

Offline luke strawwalker

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #49 on: 12/11/2013 07:41 am »
(snip)

A nation stuck in Afghanistan with a bloated, nearly-aimless heavy-lift based program that it cannot afford does stand a risk of losing it all, in terms of their manned spaceflight capability.

Gee, this sounds awfully familiar...

Oh, I know-- sorta like the situation we're in now...

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Offline Danderman

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #50 on: 12/11/2013 02:56 pm »
This isn't the worst decision ever made, but the decision to build and fly TKS but never use it for crew transport was not too great.

Offline truth is life

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #51 on: 12/11/2013 05:24 pm »
This isn't the worst decision ever made, but the decision to build and fly TKS but never use it for crew transport was not too great.

In general, the large number of competing programs was a problem. By dividing limited space rubles and creating fiefdoms and feuds, they made it harder for any of their efforts to get anywhere. Not to say that the United States was by any means immune to this. But the Soviets seem to have had it worse.

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