Encyclopedia Astronautica
L3M-1970



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L3M - Cutaway View
Cutaway views of early and later L3M manned lunar lander designs.
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L3M
External views of early and later L3M manned lunar lander designs.
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Soviet Lunar Landers
Landing stages for Soviet lunar expeditions. Top row, left to right: L3 original version; LK; LK-3; LK-700; two versions of the L3M; LEK for Energia-launched lunar landing. Bottom row, lunar base elements: Chelomei KLE; Chelomei Heavy Lunokhod; Barmin DLB base module; LZM, LZhM, Lunokhod, and LEK for Glushko LEK Vulkan-launched lunar base.
Credit: © Mark Wade
Russian manned lunar lander. Study 1970. The first design of the L3M lunar lander had the crew of two accommodated in a Soyuz capsule atop the lander.

They would have had to don space suits to move to the pressurized toroidal crew compartment and land the spacecraft. Sufficient supplies existed for stays of 16 days on the lunar surface.

The original draft project prior to 1970 for the N1M-L3M lunar landing complex anticipated use of a two-launch profile. On the first launch a Block R TB braking stage would be put on a translunar trajectory. The TB would place itself in lunar orbit. Next, the manned L3M lunar lander would be launched. This new spacecraft was much larger than the LK, with a mass of 21 metric tons landed on the lunar surface. The L3M would dock, tail-first, with the TB stage in lunar orbit. The RTB would act as a lunar crasher stage. The L3M would separate from the TB just over the lunar surface, then hover to a soft landing. The crew would spend up 16 days on the surface. Following completion of their work, the landing legs would be left behind, and the L3M would launch itself on a trans-earth trajectory. Just before arrival at earth, the crew would enter their Soyuz capsule, separate from the L3M, and make a lifting re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. It was felt that within the existing funding allocation of the original N1-L3 program, enough N1's would be available to support a series of landings in 1978-1980.

In this earlier L3M, the Soyuz return capsule was perched atop the landing stage. A small toroidal crew compartment provided accommodation for space-suited cosmonauts to land the vehicle on the moon. Evidently the crew, which would have been limited to two cosmonauts, would be required to space walk from the Soyuz capsule to the toroidal chamber prior to the landing attempt. A return spacewalk would have to be made after ascent from the surface. This L3M had a landed mass of 21 metric tons on the surface, an ascent mass of 18 metric tons, a trans-earth injection spacecraft mass of 5 metric tons, and sufficient supplies for 14 to 16 days of operations on the surface.

Characteristics

Crew Size: 2.

Gross mass: 23,000 kg (50,000 lb).
Height: 7.90 m (25.90 ft).
Span: 7.30 m (23.90 ft).

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • DLB Lunar Base Russian manned lunar base. Substantial development activity from 1962 to cancellation in 1974. The N1 draft project of 1962 spoke of 'establishment of a lunar base and regular traffic between the earth and the moon'. More...
  • L3M Russian manned lunar base. Study 1970-1972. Follow-on to the L3, a two N1-launch manned lunar expedition designed and developed in the Soviet Union between 1969 and 1974. More...

See also
  • Lunar Landers Lunar lander design started with the British Interplanetary Society's concept of 1939, followed by Von Braun's 3964 tonne monster of 1953. It then settled down to more reasonably-sized variants. Landers came in three main types: two stage versions, with the first stage being a lunar crasher that would brake the spacecraft until just above the lunar surface, then separate, allowing the second stage to land on the surface; two stage versions consisting of a descent stage that went all the way to the surface, and an ascent stage that would take the crew from the surface to lunar orbit or on an earth-return trajectory; and single stage versions, using liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen propellants. More...
  • Soyuz The Russian Soyuz spacecraft has been the longest-lived, most adaptable, and most successful manned spacecraft design. In production for fifty years, more than 240 have been built and flown on a wide range of missions. The design will remain in use with the international space station well into the 21st century, providing the only manned access to the station after the retirement of the shuttle in 2011. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • N1 1969 Russian heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. The N1 launch vehicle, developed by Russia in the 1960's, was to be the Soviet Union's counterpart to the Saturn V. The largest of a family of launch vehicles that were to replace the ICBM-derived launchers then in use, the N series was to launch Soviet cosmonauts to the moon, Mars, and huge space stations into orbit. In comparison to Saturn, the project was started late, starved of funds and priority, and dogged by political and technical struggles between the chief designers Korolev, Glushko, and Chelomei. The end result was four launch failures and cancellation of the project five years after Apollo landed on the moon. Not only did a Soviet cosmonaut never land on the moon, but the Soviet Union even denied that the huge project ever existed. More...
  • N1M Russian heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. The N1M was to be the first Soviet launch vehicle to use liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen high energy cyrogenic propellants. It was designed to launch payloads in support of the LEK lunar expeditions (two cosmonauts on the surface), the DLB (long-duration lunar base), and heavy unmanned satellites into geosynchronous and interplanetary trajectories. As originally conceived, the advanced propellants would be used in all upper stages. However due to delays in Kuznetsov development of a 200 tonne thrust Lox/LH2 engine, the final version used an N1 first stage, with a Block V-III second stage, and Blocks S and R third and fourth stages. More...
  • N1 The N1 launch vehicle, developed by Russia in the 1960's, was to be the Soviet Union's counterpart to the Saturn V. The largest of a family of launch vehicles that were to replace the ICBM-derived launchers then in use, the N series was to launch Soviet cosmonauts to the moon, Mars, and huge space stations into orbit. In comparison to Saturn, the project was started late, starved of funds and priority, and dogged by political and technical struggles between the chief designers Korolev, Glushko, and Chelomei. The end result was four launch failures and cancellation of the project five years after Apollo landed on the moon. Not only did a Soviet cosmonaut never land on the moon, but the Soviet Union even denied that the huge project ever existed. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Korolev Russian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Korolev Design Bureau, Kaliningrad, Russia. More...

Bibliography
  • Przybilski, Olaf, and Wotzlaw, Stefan, N-1 Herkules - Entwicklung und Absturz einer Traegerrakete, Schriftenreihe der Deutschen Raumfahrtausstellung e.V., 1996.
  • Chertok, Boris Yevseyevich, Raketi i lyudi, Mashinostroenie, Moscow, 1994-1999.. Web Address when accessed: here.

L3M-1970 Chronology


1968 January 23 - . LV Family: MR-UR-100; N1; RT-2; UR-100N.
1968 December 25 - . LV Family: N1. Launch Vehicle: N1.
  • Soviets consider lunar landing alternatives - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Mishin; Pilyugin. Program: Lunar L3. Spacecraft: LK; Soyuz 7K-LOK; L3M-1970. A 'small Soviet' of designers was held to review whether to continue pursuing the N1 launch vehicle or not. Although a first manned lunar landing was not achievable, the N1 could still be used to establish a lunar base by the beginning of the 21st Century. Additional Details: here....

1970 During the Year - .
  • N1M-L3M lunar landing complex draft project - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: L3M-1970. The original draft project anticipated use of a two-launch profile. On the first launch a Block R TB braking stage would be put on a translunar trajectory. The TB would place itself in lunar orbit. Next, the manned L3M lunar lander would be launched. This new spacecraft was much larger than the LK, with a mass of 21 tonnes landed on the lunar surface. The L3M would dock, tail-first, with the TB stage in lunar orbit. The RTB would act as a lunar crasher stage. The L3M would separate from the TB just over the lunar surface, then hover to a soft landing. The crew would spend up 16 days on the surface. Following completion of their work, the landing legs would be left behind, and the L3M would launch itself on a trans-earth trajectory. Just before arrival at earth, the crew would enter their Soyuz capsule, separate from the L3M, and make a lifting re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. It was felt that within the existing funding allocation of the original N1-L3 programme, enough N1's would be available to support a series of landings in 1978-1980.

1970 June - . LV Family: N1. Launch Vehicle: N1F.
  • Development of engines for N1F authorised - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: L3M-1970. Full go-ahead to develop a liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen high energy upper stage for the N1F. The multi-engine Block Sr would have a propellant mass of 66.4 tonnes. In July Kuznetsov was given authorisation to design substantially improved versions of the N1 lower stage rocket engines. The N1 that would utilise these engines was designated the N1F and would have a payload to a 225 km orbit of 105,000 kg.

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