Encyclopedia Astronautica
1971.04.14 - N1 threatened again


An expert commission met to consider the N1-L3. Keldysh made several categorical demands:

  • the laser-based Kontakt rendezvous and docking system had to either be backed up with redundancy throughout, or an independent back-up system had to be developed
  • the L3 had to be designed with an internal transfer compartment, as was being done for the DOS/7K-T space station system
  • each stage of the N1 had to undergo flammability tests
  • the mission scenario had to be reformulated to provide support by more than one cosmonaut on the moon at a time, and use of automated landers and rovers from Babakin at Lavochkin
  • landings of the capsule in the equatorial oceans of the world had to be eliminated. The capsules had to land on the territory of the USSR

Keldysh's attitude was considered 'very evil'. If TsKBEM did not develop these measures, he would refuse further support for the N1. Mishin told his staff to simply ignore Keldysh. The demands made were simply impossible. Furthermore, Mishin was the only one who could have replaced Korolev anyway, Mishin declared.

Mishin's engineers assessed the changes demanded by the expert commission. To put an internal docking tunnel in the LK would mean a three-year delay. The OTI orientation and manoeuvring engine package would have to be completely rearranged to something like the Americans had on their Lunar Module. It was necessary to convince Mishin, and thereby Keldysh, and thereby Afanasyev, and thereby Ustinov of this. However others said the subject should not be pursued now to avoid antagonising the leadership. Better to wait and see if the launch vehicle ever gets to orbit first.

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