Encyclopedia Astronautica
1969.01.08 - Plan for Soviet lunar and planetary launches to answer America's Apollo program during 1969 approved.


Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 19-10 'On Work on Research of the Moon, Venus and Mars by Automatic Stations--work on automated lunar and interplanetary spacecraft' was issued.

The decree sets forth the plans for Soviet lunar and planetary launches to answer America's Apollo program during 1969. There will be Ye-8-5 soil return launches in April, May, June, August, and September. Ye-8 lunar rover launches will be made in February, October, and November. Two Venera-69 launches to Venus will be made in January. Launches of Mars-69 will be made in March and April. This compared to American plans for Apollo 9 on 28 February, Apollo 10 in April, followed by the Apollo 11 moon landing in June or July. Kamanin notes that this is a very grandiose plan, but not backed up by the necessary reliable boosters, spacecraft, or trained launch crews. Meanwhile Soviet manned space plans for 1969 have not even been agreed. There will be perhaps 3 to 4 Soyuz earth orbital flights and 1 or 2 L1 manned lunar flybys. Kamanin views all of this as the result of the mistakes of the last 3 to 4 years, chief of which was the reliance on automated systems. Chertok observes that Babakin's team was suited to be handed the torch -- they were young and enthusiastic, while the engineers at TsKBEM were tired, burned out, and dispirited.

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