Author Topic: Forty-five years ago today the first N-1 launch ended in an explosion  (Read 12298 times)

Offline AS-503

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Maybe it was a good thing that N-1 failed.  Had it worked, the Soviets might have gotten a crew to the Moon, only to be lost of because of a not-unlikely (for them) system failure.  Having dead cosmonauts orbiting, crashed on or sitting on the Moon might have put a terrible stain on the entire Moon race, perhaps to the detriment of the Apollo program.

There was extreme risk with any (past or present) lunar mission from any nation. In hindsight its amazing that the Apollo lunar missions had no fatalities.

Offline rpapo

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Maybe it was a good thing that N-1 failed.  Had it worked, the Soviets might have gotten a crew to the Moon, only to be lost of because of a not-unlikely (for them) system failure.  Having dead cosmonauts orbiting, crashed on or sitting on the Moon might have put a terrible stain on the entire Moon race, perhaps to the detriment of the Apollo program.

There was extreme risk with any (past or present) lunar mission from any nation. In hindsight its amazing that the Apollo lunar missions had no fatalities.
Strictly speaking, the Apollo program was the moon program with fatalities.  They simply didn't happen on the moon itself.
An Apollo fanboy . . . fifty years ago.

Offline ppb

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The Soviet Lunar Lander

Published on May 6, 2014
In our Season 2 Opening, we take a look at the amazing Soviet N-1 Moon Rocket & LK Lunar Lander, and show how the USSR came in Second Place, in The Space Race!

Written, Presented, Filmed, & Edited by: Brittan Kirk
Filmed with: Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC) on location at The Stafford Air & Space Museum.




Edit: Updated Video to latest version June 2, 2014
Maybe it was a good thing that N-1 failed.  Had it worked, the Soviets might have gotten a crew to the Moon, only to be lost of because of a not-unlikely (for them) system failure.  Having dead cosmonauts orbiting, crashed on or sitting on the Moon might have put a terrible stain on the entire Moon race, perhaps to the detriment of the Apollo program.

There was extreme risk with any (past or present) lunar mission from any nation. In hindsight its amazing that the Apollo lunar missions had no fatalities.
Strictly speaking, the Apollo program was the moon program with fatalities.  They simply didn't happen on the moon itself.
Well yes, but Soyuz was designed to be the Soviet's lunar capsule and they lost 4 cosmonauts in 2 separate Earth orbital flights.
Quam celerrime ad astra

Offline dccraven

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Any truth to the story that "knowing the flight was a failure, the engineers decided to fire the second stage engines early to gather more telemetry. This is where the information was gathered about the burn through of the first stage fuel dome, which resulted in the addition of the blast defectors on the subsequent versions of the N1?"

Quote from "For the Moon and Mars N-1: A Reference Guide to the Soviet Superbooster" by Matthew Johnson & Nick Stevens

Online chetan_chpd

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Maybe it was a good thing that N-1 failed.  Had it worked, the Soviets might have gotten a crew to the Moon, only to be lost of because of a not-unlikely (for them) system failure.  Having dead cosmonauts orbiting, crashed on or sitting on the Moon might have put a terrible stain on the entire Moon race, perhaps to the detriment of the Apollo program.

cancellation/ failure of N1 rocket/ soviet manned moon landing is bigger than any tragedy that "could" have happened with cosmonauts!

the whole thing was like a Olympic sprint drama...soviets took a lead first, USA gathered speed and overtook them in few second...right when the race was heating up, soviets decided to stop all of a sudden and went home...leaving spectators and even USA puzzled and uncertain about the next target!
« Last Edit: 02/11/2019 08:43 am by chetan_chpd »

Offline WallE

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The explosive force of N1-5L was less than popular myth suggests, mostly because propellant mixing was relatively small. The N-1 had the LOX tanks on the bottom similar to Thor/Delta and the initial pad impact (the booster impacted base first at a 45 angle--two engines still inexplicably running caused this while a total propulsion system failure would have simply caused it to fall straight back down) caused the first stage LOX tank to rupture first, followed by the RP-1 tank. Although there was a considerable fuel spill and deflagration, the LOX tank had already been ruptured and its contents escaped so there wasn't much mixing.

The bulk of the explosion was caused by the first stage fuel tank rupturing and deflagrating and as much as 85% of the booster's total propellant load did not ignite. About half an hour after the explosion, launch personnel were permitted outside and they encountered droplets of RP-1 raining down from the sky.

The devastation to the launch facilities was nonetheless quite huge, with the umbilical/service towers knocked over and the concrete launch stand caved in--it was more than a year of work to resurrect the pad and it led to Vladimir Barmin, who was in charge of launch facilities at Baikonur, to demand that they set up the N-1's computer system to block an engine shutdown command from being sent until T+30 seconds to ensure it would be a safe distance from the pad.

This destruction can partly be blamed on the pad design, which had only a shallow flame trench that gave the blast wave almost nowhere to disperse--this setup also led to the devastation of LC-45 in the 1990 Zenit disaster.

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