Encyclopedia Astronautica
1964.11.01 - Korolev's admits that N1 cannot attain payload needed for single-launch mission


Korolev speaks privately to Chertok. Kozlov has told him it will be impossible to build an N1 with the 93 tonne payload capability until the fourth flight article. The L3 concept was still the same as in the August decree - 2 cosmonauts aboard the LOK orbiter, one aboard the LK lander. Korolev asks Chertok to take 800 kg out of the weight budget for the L3. Chertok informs him that they are already 500 kg over the August budget. This is still without all the unknowns of the automated lunar landing being solved.

Korolev informed Chertok he was coming under heavy criticism from Keldysh. Keldysh said putting a single man on the moon was no solution at all, and if Korolev couldn't deliver that he would throw his support to Chelomei's alternate UR-700/LK-700 deign. The only support Korolev had in the government at that time was from Khrushchev. Ustinov and the military were not interested in lunar spaceflight. Brezhnev, a Ukrainian, backed Yangel, since it would put work into the Ukraine. The military had a saying: "Korolev works for Tass, Chelomei makes shit, and Yangel works for us". Korolev viewed Chelomei as an insidious 'Fifth Column', working to undermine and hinder everything Korolev was trying to do. He found it interesting that Keldysh, the smoothie, split his endorsements -- supporting Yangel for ICBM's, Chelomei for the UR-500/LK-1 manned flyby, and Korolev for the N1/L3 lunar lander. Korolev found it troubling that Yangel was working on his R-56 competitor for the N1 at the same time he was working on the Block E lunar landing stage for Korolev's LK. Returning to the original point of the meeting, Korolev again pleaded for Chertok to come up with an 800 kg reduction in the L3 - or the lunar landing project would be taken away from Korolev and given to one of his competitors.

Korolev then reviewed the issue of the test stand for the N1's first stage. There was no way to move the immense stage to Zagorsk for testing. On the other hand, the military refused to spend any funds to build a test stand at Tyuratam. He had tried to convince Dimshits, the Tyuratam base commander, but Dimshits refused to budge without authorisation from the Centre. Therefore Korolev went to Gosplan, but they wouldn't allocate any money for the stand. He was sent to Ustinov, who said it wasn't his responsibility the whole project was a 'Kremlin matter'. Korolev simply couldn't find out whom to call who could authorise the work. Voskresenskiy, head of ground test at OKB-1, was considered by Korolev as one of his most reliable comrades. But he opposed him endlessly on this question of the test stand. Tabakov at Zagorsk was building stands for the second and third stages. But there was not even a full-up test stand planned for the KORD system that was to control the first stage engines.

Korolev had agreed to moving future work on lunar and planetary robotic spacecraft to Babakin and Lavochkin. After the string of failures of OKB-1's E-6 lunar landers, he had to admit that a fresh perspective was needed. Korolev had been told that how the hell was he expecting to build enormous N1-launched robot probes, let alone the TMK manned Mars expedition, if he couldn't even solve the problem of reliably navigating between the earth and the moon with the simple E-6?

This concern had moved Keldysh to call for an expert commission to examine the N1 guidance system design. Korolev wouldn't allow this --as he saw it, the "others" were just waiting for the slightest opportunity to kill the N1. Who was really pushing for this commission?, Korolev had asked. Keldysh claimed not to know -- he had not yet fathomed who was in charge in the new Kremlin line-up after the overthrow of Khrushchev.

This ended the remarkable conversation with Chertok, which summarised Korolev's inner concerns.

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