Encyclopedia Astronautica
1976.02.17 - Energia; Buran; Mir; Luch; Potok approved; N1 formally cancelled.


Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On work on Energia-Buran, DOS-7K nos. 7 and 8, Gamma. Geyzer (Potok), and Altair (Luch) and cancellation of the N1' was issued. The design of an improved model of the Salyut DOS-17K space station was authorised as part of the third generation of Soviet space systems in a decree. At that time it was planned that the two stations (DOS-7 and DOS-8) would be equipped with two docking ports at either end of the station and an additional two ports at the sides of the forward small diameter compartment. Luch and Potok were elements of the second generation global command and control system (GKKRS) deployed in the first half of the 1980's. Luch satellites, analogous to the US TDRS, provided communications service to the Mir space station, Buran space shuttle, Soyuz-TM spacecraft, military satellites, and the TsUPK ground control center. They also served to provide mobile fleet communications for the Soviet Navy.

The N1-L3 itself finally, officially closed down. By that time 6 billion roubles had been spent on the N1 over 17 years. The resolution for development of the Energia/Buran MKTS came four years after Nixon gave the go-ahead for the US space shuttle. Russia again lagged the US in getting out of the gate in the space race. Glushko gave the leadership an ultimatum: either a test stand would be built at Baikonur allowing firing tests of the complete booster prior to flight, or he would not develop it. The RD-170 engine development also began at this time. It took five years before stand tests could begin at Khimki. From the beginning one engine after the other failed on the stand. A huge explosion of the Zenit first stage in June 1982 wrecked the stand, forcing further delays. Every failure required a long review by internal auditors and expert commissions. Only in December 1984 did trials begin of an engine with acceptable parameters and reliability.

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