Encyclopedia Astronautica
1965.12.20 - Decision to use analogue guidance in early N1 launches


Pilyugin called Keldysh to tell him he had heard that Keldysh again wanted to form an expert commission to study guidance system development problems with the N1, with Bushuyev as the head.

Keldysh wielded enormous power. Publicly he was President of the Academy of Sciences at Lenin Prospect 14. But he was also Director of the top secret Institute of Applied Mathematics at Minsk Square. He would spend the first half of each day at the Academy, then hold necessary press conferences and public events, then go over to the Institute and work until one in the morning. So he was working both sides of the street, and had more knowledge and power than any other. The threat of the expert commission led to Korolev's desperate plea - 'give me 800 kg payload and I can solve all of the problems'. It was clear there was no way to make the October 1967 first launch that was Korolev's personal objective. Pilyugin and Ryazanskiy were both having development problems. They reviewed the technical issues, the weight problems, the delays in development of the digital computers. It was decided the first N1-L3 launches would have to be accomplished using analogue control systems - the digital systems would simply not be ready. However the flight to the moon and return could not be accomplished using the planned fuel cells without the digital computers, since the analogue systems consumed too much power. The merits of the competing fuel cell contractors were discussed. The question was again raised -- why not use radioisotope thermal generator RTG's from the Design Bureau of the Ural Atomic Machinery Factory? This organisation had a long track record with Korolev on development of nuclear electric propulsion. But it was decided, again, there was not enough time to develop the new technology -- there was no experience in operation RTG's in a vacuum environment.

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