Encyclopedia Astronautica
1969.08.01 - VPK hearing on N1 improvements


The VPK Military-Industrial Commission and the Central Committee of he Party discussed the matter of delaying further N1 tests until completely redesigned engines became available. Back came the ritual reply -- a Soviet manned lunar landing must be achieved by the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Lenin (April 22, 1970). On that date a Soviet man would plant the Red Banner and unveil a bust of Lenin on the lunar surface. Unlike the US President, Brezhnev would never get to see a manned launch to the moon.

Measures identified to rectify the N1's problems were:

- improved engine control systems
- Redesign of the oxidiser pumps, with sensors providing more data on performance during operation
- filters in the pumps to keep out foreign objects from the propellant tanks and lines
- use of nitrogen gas to flood the engine compartment prior to launch, which would continue during ascent
- instrumentation cables and all critical elements of the booster structure to be insulated against high temperatures
- removal of critical engine control components to a safe area, away from the engine compartment
- block any possibility of an engine shutdown being commanded during the first 50 seconds of flight
- development of means to prevent destruction of the launch pad in case of failures in the first few seconds of flight. This required some fundamental changes. Since the V-2, all rockets had been programmed to ascend vertically during the first 5 to 6 seconds of flight before pitching over toward the target. The final solution was a guidance system that controlled the rocket of even a failing rocket from the first second of motion to its crash into the steppes of Kazakhstan. The same approach was used 15 years later for the Energia booster.

OKB-1 engine specialists Melnikov, Sokolv, and Raikov had developed the restartable engine for the N1's Block D and collaborated with Kuznetsov on the N1 engines. They confirmed that the only way to achieve absolute engine reliability was to completely redesign the engines to be reusable. But the new engines would not be available until 1972 at the earliest

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