Why Soviet cosmonauts have not walked on the moon before the Americans


At the end of 1968, Soviet scientists were going to carry out the world’s first manned flyby of the moon in a spaceship “Zond-7.” As part of the “lunar race,” it was important to get ahead of the Americans.

The split of the main designers

Among the Soviet chief designers did not exist a consensus on the development of the space program. Designer rover Georgy Nikolaevich Babakin said that quick success can only bring automatic space exploration. Sergey Pavlovich Korolev insisted on the development of space programs. And Vladimir Nikolaevich Chelomey (one of the key founders of a Soviet nuclear-missile shield) on the one hand Babakina shared an opinion, and on the other – in defiance of Korolev – offered his own version of the lunar craft and the launch vehicle. But in 1964 Khrushchev was removed from power, patron, brow and engage in manned lunar program instructed Korolev.

Politics and Science

Solutions that take Soviet officials during the “lunar race”, unfortunately, not all were dictated by common scientific sense. It was important not to fly around the Moon on manned spacecraft, and it was important to make it faster Americans! The Soviet manned lunar program became public only in the 90 years before that for political reasons it was kept a secret. This approach is in part was the result of belated decision to include in the “race to the moon” and hardly helped focus solving problems.

Organizational error

The Excitement around the “lunar race” made it difficult to make an informed decision. Officials have committed to various Design Bureau parallel deal with the same challenges that resembled an attempt to number the solution, not the quality. In fact, two manned lunar programs existed: lunar-oblongata and lunar-landing, although it is clear that the first is a special case of the second. And the idea of a manned flyby of the moon should step in preparation for a manned lunar landing. The fact is that the carrier rocket, with which you can fly to the moon and back is also suitable for flyby around thereof, but not vice versa. For lunar landing craft requires a different design with a larger mass and therefore the booster should be more pulling power, but to build a missile complex. Therefore, in parallel with the USSR and worked over and above the other in the hope that something will turn out.


Important and “sick” issue was funding. Savings in the space industry is inappropriate. Half-position resulted in that we decided to fund a cheaper design: Korolyevskiy booster H-1 ( “medium-1”), which served as perhaps the main cause of failure.

Booster “N-1”

The missile was developed under the leadership of Korolev. But in 1966, Sergei Pavlovich died, and after his death, the project was entrusted to the designer Vasily Mishin. Who knows, maybe if Korolev brought to the end of your project, then everything would be obtained, but fate decreed otherwise. H-1 – booster super heavy class. It was intended to bring into space the heavy ship. The rocket consisted of five blocks: A, B, C, D, and E. The first three steps have to overcome the force of gravity and reach Earth orbit, two more – “round up” the ship to the moon and back. Put in a ship of people have decided in the case of three consecutive successful automatic flight, but all four starting H-1, alas, failed. Double – February 21, 1969, and July 3 of that year – as part of the lunar-obloquy program and double – June 27, 1971, and November 23, 1972 – as part of the lunar-landing program supports the H-1 exploded for various reasons, do not fly away too far. The second run under medium 23 seconds since the start fell flat on the start position, resulting in the largest at the time of the accident in the history rocket.

Carrier rocket “Proton”

After the first two failed runs of H-1 sent for revision and re-applied to Chelomeevsky”proton”, which had a lower tractive force, but flying, though not always. For the “Proton” manned lunar landing traction force is not enough, but for the flyby, the Earth’s natural satellite was missing. That rocket “Proton” was December 8 to send to the moon Soviet cosmonauts Bykovsky and Rukavishnikova (according to other sources Leonov and Makarov) who were willing to sit in the boat and waited for orders. But the risk was too great because at the time the program was not held a single perfect flight. A wise decision to start to cancel and appointed him a month later – only without astronauts. Fears were confirmed: the rocket exploded at the start. In fairness, we note that the lander emergency rescue system (SAS) has been returned to Earth, which meant rescue the astronauts if they participate in the launch. The truth during the month, which is shared by these events, the Americans launched their machine to the moon with three astronauts (for comparison, our ship double) and made around the moon ten triumphant turns. The meaning of the lunar-obloquy program disappeared and soon closed it.

“Probe” and “Union”

Spacecraft series “Probe” in the manned lunar program was based on the proven “Soyuz”. The sad experience of false starts (there waste more than a dozen, but a fully successful only one: August 8, 1969) allowed to work out a system of emergency rescue, which almost always operate satisfactorily. Would not it be a blessing in disguise! One way or another, but scientists did their work and “Soyuz” vehicles and are considered among the most reliable on this day that the great shows in “Gravity” sensational Hollywood sci-fi movie.