Encyclopedia Astronautica
UR-700



ur70068.jpg
UR-700
UR-700 Launch Vehicle for Direct Lunar Landing Mission
Credit: © Mark Wade
The UR-700 was the member of Vladimir Chelomei's Universal Rocket family designed in the 1960's to allow direct manned flight by the LK-700 spacecraft to the surface of the moon. Later versions, some of completely different configuration, were studied for manned Mars expeditions.

The UR-700 was the member of Vladimir Chelomei's Universal Rocket family designed in the 1960's to allow direct manned flight by the LK-700 spacecraft to the surface of the moon. However Korolev's N1 was the selected Soviet super-booster design. Only when the N1 ran into schedule problems in 1967 was work on the UR-700 resumed. The draft project foresaw first launch in May 1972. But no financing for full scale development was forthcoming; by then it was apparent that the moon race was lost.

TsKBM began work on the UR-700 launch vehicle in 1962. Variants were studied with 70 to 175 metric tons payload, and rocket stages of various thrust levels, including nuclear stages. The conclusion was reached that a direct lunar landing would require a payload of 130 to 170 metric tons. Principles of the final design were:

The configuration of the UR-700 was driven by the requirement that its components be rail-transportable and modular. In this way the launch vehicle could be built and completely tested at the Khrunichev factory in Moscow and then quickly assembled for launch at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Chelomei's solution was to use a basic module of the largest possible rail-transportable diameter (4.15 m diameter and a sphere radius of 2.265 m at the base). This could consist of an oxidizer tank, or a fuel tank with the engine installation. The design had to meet requirements from two sides. On the one hand, the maximum length and diameter of the modules was dictated by the size of rail wagons and platforms, and existing rail tunnels, waterways, and turntables. On the other hand, the size of the rocket stage, and its corresponding volume and mass, were driven by the necessary technical characteristics of the UR-700. The UR-700 requirements greatly affected the design of the UR-500 Proton, since the Proton core stages would form the basis of the UR-700 modules and upper stages.

The basic configuration of the UR-500, taking into account the UR-700 requirements, was selected in January 1962. While approval to proceed with development of the UR-500 came in April 1962, no such go-ahead was received for the UR-700. However Glushko was authorized to proceed with development of the enormous RD-270 engines required for the UR-700. Chelomei unveiled his UR-700 project to Khrushchev at a meeting at Baikonur in September 1964, during which he showed a model of the rocket to Khrushchev. Korolev was also present at the meeting, and a decision was taken to examine the potential of the proposal. Unfortunately for Chelomei, Khrushchev was ousted from power a month later, and all of his projects came under scrutiny by the new regime.

The next chance for the project to be considered came on 16 November 1966, when a Keldysh-headed expert commission considered the state of the N1 program. Korolev had died earlier in the year, and once again Glushko, Chelomei, and Yangel advocated development of the UR-700 or R-56 in lieu of the N1. While it was agreed that engine development and studies of these launch vehicles could continue, the government decree issued approved Mishin's draft plan for the first lunar landing using the N1.

Chelomei signed the UR-700 design directive documents on 21 July 1967. Development of the UR-700 was undertaken in accordance with decree 1070-363 of the Soviet Ministers and Central Committee of the Communist Party on 17 September 1967 and MOM decree 472 of 28 September 1967. Study index number 4855CC by TsNIIMASH in 1966 showed that any development of improved versions of the N1 would be practically equivalent to design and qualification of a new rocket, while the UR-700 modular approach allowed a range of payloads without requalification. The UR-700/LK-700 combination could support the DLB lunar base better, as well as Venus/Mars manned flybys and Mars landing expeditions.

Project plan was as follows:

  • October-November 1968: Beginning of serious engineering work requiring external financing
  • October 1968 to January 1973: Engineering design and drawing release
  • October 1971: Delivery of first UR-700 launch vehicle. Subsequent deliveries n February, May, August, November 1972.
  • May 1972: First UR-700/LK-700 unmanned launch. Subsequent unmanned launches in November 1972 and April 1973
  • April 1973: First manned UR-700/LK-700 launch. Subsequent manned flights in August and October 1973.

According to the approved plan, a total of five ship-sets of UK-700/LK-700 flight articles were to be built. Two unmanned flights were to be followed by three manned flights. Although mock-ups were built, no financing for full scale development was forthcoming by the required October 1968 date. By then it was apparent, that barring some disaster with an Apollo spacecraft, the moon race was lost. Kremlin interest in supporting such projects waned.

Following the explosion of the first N1 in January 1969, Pilyugin was called to a meeting at the Kremlin. Chelomei was again proposing the use of his UR-700 in the place of the N1, and a flight to Mars using an even larger version of the launch vehicle. Afanasyev was preparing a decree along these lines. Pilyugin refused to participate in this 'adventure'. Everyone thought that the UR-700/LK-700 project represented a duplicative effort from the beginning.

Tyulin was less concerned about the UR-700. He noted that Mishin was deep into the development of the N1, and the UR-700 was only being discussed as being promoted as a draft project. The original UR-700 documents had been sent to archives in 1964 when the N1-L3 was approved. At a reception shortly thereafter, Chelomei told Chertok that if the UR-700 had been selected instead of the N1, Russia would already be on the moon. Three stages of the UR-700 had already been developed and flown as the UR-500 Proton. Only the RD-270 engines of the first stages would have to have been developed. The configuration of the UR-700 for the lunar mission consisted of 9 RD-270's with 5760 metric tons thrust at sea level. This would have delivered 140 metric tons into low earth orbit.

Chertok asked Chelomei what would happen if, God forbid, such a booster exploded on the launch pad. Wouldn't the entire launch complex be rendered a dead zone for 18 to 20 years? Chelomei's reply was that it wouldn't explode, since Glushko's engines were reliable and didn't fail. Aside from that, these propellants had been used in hundreds of military rockets, deployed in silos, aboard ships and submarines, with no problem. Fear of these propellants was irrational. Related propellants were used by the Americans on the Apollo manned spacecraft.

Nevertheless Chelomei's bureau continued to study a number of different ways of clustering the basic modules until 1974, when the project was finally and definitively suppressed.

Technical Description

The RKS Rocket-Space System was designed for direct landing on the moon without docking in earth or lunar orbit. It consisted of:

  • LK-700 spacecraft
  • UR-700 launch vehicle
  • Launch complex for the UR-700
  • Technical positions which would take factory-completed modules and conduct assembly and check-out operations before moving them to the pad for launch
  • Command-tracking system
  • Crew landing and rescue system
  • Crew recovery system

The complete UR-700 / LK-700 system had a height of 76 m, a diameter of 17.6 m, and a gross lift-off mass of 4,823 metric tons. The payload capability was 151 metric tons into a 200 km earth orbit or 50 metric tons on a translunar trajectory. The UR-700 would be launched from the N1 Launch Complex 110 at Baikonur with minimal modifications. Chelomei's design took a sound conservative design approach (i.e. no docking required, no cryogenics) with the capability for evolutionary later improvement (propellant utilization system, 'hot' backup engines).

The UR-700 consisted of first and second stages mounted to the core in parallel, while the third and fourth stages were arranged in tandem in the core. The first stage consisted of six 4.15 m diameter modules in pairs; the second stage of three 4.15 m modules; the third of a core 4.15 m module with three 1.6 m diameter tanks.

The RD-270 engine was used in all nine modules of the first and second stages, operating at 103% thrust at lift-off. At lift-off all nine RD-270 engines would fire; the engines of the second stage would feed from propellant tanks in the forward section of the first stage modules. Therefore at separation of the six first stage modules, the propellant tanks of the three second stage modules would still be full. In one variant of the design, each module of the first and second stages would have only one propellant tank, instead of separate oxidizer, fuel, and stage two propellant tanks. A cross-feed system would be used to feed all engines from all tanks. This would result in a more complex but lighter system with improved propellant utilization. Solid rocket motors were used to separate the modules at an angle of 15 to 20 degrees upon propellant depletion.

Each block consisted, from aft to forward, of: an engine section, fuel tank, intertank section, oxidizer tank, upper intertank section, cross-feed propellant tank for fuel or oxidizer pumped to the first stage, and conical aerodynamic fairing. Due to their differing volumes, the oxidizer tanks extended into the conical upper aerodynamic fairing, while the fuel tanks were contained in the cylindrical portion of the rocket block. In the lower part of the block was the autonomous conical engine block, which transmitted loads from the RD-270 engines to the booster structure. The propellant tanks were of AMg6 aluminum alloy and were chem-milled with a waffle pattern to reduce weight and provide rigidity.

The third stage was adapted from the Proton UR-500 first stage. The overall stage was 80% of the mass of the Proton first stage, but with only three external tanks and three engines in place of the six larger-diameter tanks and engines of the Proton. The 4.15 m diameter core tank was shortened a bit compared to the Proton, and the three 2.0 m diameter external tanks lengthened. The three RD-254 engines were versions of the UR-500's RD-253 with high-altitude nozzles. Loads were transmitted from the second to the third stage using three conical structures. The third stage was equipped with ullage engines to provide enough G forces after separation from the second stage to allow propellants to settle and the three main engines to start

The UR-700's guidance system was by KBEM MOM and used digital computers. The booster was maneuvered using gimbaled engines. The gimbals' actuators were by TsNIIAG. The RD-270 engines on the first stage could be gimbaled 8 degrees outward, the third stage engines 3 degrees.

The rocket blocks were connected using a coupling system developed by KB Arsenal. The rocket blocks were connected together at four places: at the top of the engine section, where the main loads were transmitted, at the intertank section, at the top of the block, and at the location of the crossfeed propellant lines. NIIP MAP developed the SOB system of expendable tank support and KSURT complex propellant utilization system. At first stage separation these systems changed over the gas and pneumatic systems, shutdown the propellant valves, and triggered the pyrotechnics for stage separation. The second stage used the SKU propellant utilization system developed for the UR-500.

The UR-700 and LK-700 would be assembled at the existing technical positions of the N1 launch complex. However KBOM did design a launch complex for the UR-700 if the decision was taken to build a dedicated launch site. On the pad the UR-700 would be connected using triple umbilical lines.

Missions and Payloads

The draft project selected a preferred launch vehicle configuration using RD-270 engines, delivering 150 metric tons in low earth orbit, which could place two cosmonauts on any point of 88% of the visible lunar surface.

Chelomei felt that the lunar orbit rendezvous approach of Korolev's N1-L3 system compromised crew safety to an unacceptable degree. Primary features of his design were:

  • The direct landing scheme would: allow development of a simpler and more reliable lunar expedition system, while allowing a wider range of landing points and a much wider launch window for a given mission energy.
  • No dockings required for the mission
  • All stages would use N2O4/UDMH storable propellants.
  • Modular scheme using one type of autonomous rocket modules that could be completely tested on the ground and on NII-KhIMMASH test stands.
  • High reliability would be obtained in all portions of the system by minimizing the number of parts
  • Earliest possible date for the landing would be achieved by using proven systems, requiring a minimum of new hardware development
  • Minimal number of main engines - the first and second stages would use nine RD-270/8D420 engines of 640 metric tons thrust each
  • First and second pages arranged in parallel, all engines firing at launch. AV (Emergency Engine Shutdown System) used to keep rocket controllable in emergency situations.
  • Third stage would be an adaptation of the UR-500 first stage (3 x RD-254 / 11D44 engines)
  • The existing LC-110 / 11P852 N1 launch complex would be used, so the vehicle design had to be compatible with the existing facility from a dimensional and gas dynamics point of view.
  • The initial expeditions would consist of two cosmonauts who would explore the surface of the moon at the same time. As the launch vehicle design matured and was improved, three or more cosmonauts could be accommodated using the same basic hardware
  • All elements of the launch vehicle would be completed and tested in the factory before being shipped to the launch site. No requirement for construction facilities at the launch site
  • The design would have reserve capacity to allow a range of propellant loading. This meant that a wider range of launch windows, landing sites, and flight trajectories would be available without having to redesign the launch vehicle and spacecraft
  • Safety of the crew was assured throughout the mission through use of double or triple redundant systems and the use of the next rocket stage in the series for maneuvers in case of the failure of a lower stage
  • The complex could be easily adapted for a wide range of missions. For example, the launch vehicle payload could be increased by stretching the propellant tanks. This would allow addition of an airlock and lunar surface shelter to the lander for extended exploration missions.

Following initial LK-700 landings the LKE Lunar Expeditionary Complex would be delivered to the surface. This would permit long duration investigations of the surface and a much wider range of research. The complex would be delivered in two to three UR-700 launches:

  • Launch 1: Heavy Unpiloted Station - a one-way flight to deliver a lunar station to the surface.
  • Launch 2: LK-700 spacecraft with crew. The LK-700 would provide return transportation and was capable of being placed in dormant mode for a month.
  • Launch 3: Lunar laboratory / Heavy Lunokhod would be landed to provide mobility for surface expeditions.

Three to six months of operations would be conducted on the lunar surface. It was recommended that a reserve LK-700 lander be standing ready for launch in case of emergencies or stranding of the crew on the surface.

The later DLB lunar base would require 80 metric tons per year of payload delivered to the surface starting in 1975, followed by 150 metric tons per year after 1980. Versions of the UR-700/LK-700 could handle this more easily than modifying the N1. Later versions of the UR-700 could use high energy propellant or nuclear-powered upper stages

Lunar versions of the Almaz OPS would be placed in lunar orbit to conduct detailed reconnaissance of the surface using manned assistance. The OPS would also be used as a command post to co-ordinate the work of lunar surface operations and organize rescues in the case of emergencies on the surface.

The TsNIIMASH study recommended the UR-700 over the N1 for these later operations. The UR-700 would also be used for:

  • MAK Mars Automated Complex
  • Mars Automated Soil Return
  • Jupiter orbiter
  • Jupiter flyby to achieve a solar sounding mission - the gravity of Jupiter would put the probe into a three year orbit with a perihelion of 0.2 AU to study the sun
  • Saturn probes
  • Manned Mars flyby
  • Manned Mars/Venus flyby, with manned observation of the Sun, Mars, Venus, and Mercury
  • Piloted Mars orbiter
  • Mars surface expedition
  • Resolve 'national economic and military problems' as recommended by NII-4 MO
  • Support of the MKBS earth orbital station: piloted and general reconnaissance; inspection and destruction of enemy satellites; strike of designated points on the surface
  • OPDS - Orbital Supply and Operations Station consisting of multiple modules (evidently as a replacement for the MKBS)
  • Launch of new military equipment (directed energy and radiation weapons) on heavy satellites
  • TPOKS - Heavy piloted orbital station equipped with quantum optical generators, for use in defense and attack from space, defense from earth-space weapons, annihilation of enemy ASAT's and ABM's, destruction of ICBM's in ascent phase
  • STSSR - heavy stationary satellite system. This would consist of two satellites in geosynchronous orbit, which would jam enemy radio systems over the entire earth. Their true purpose would be disguised using 'maskirovka' techniques to make them seem to be civilian television satellites
  • KPUS - Geosynchronous space strategic control and communication point to direct space military operations
  • KSTSS - Heavy stationary commercial communications satellite. The KPUS and KSTSS would be placed in orbit by one launch of the UR-700.
  • Direct broadcast Stationary Orbit Communications Satellite
  • TKA - Heavy spacecraft for space combat. The problem of space defense would be solved by a constellation of such spacecraft in two to three orbital planes

More... - Chronology...


Associated Launch Vehicles
  • UR-700 Russian heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. The UR-700 was the member of Vladimir Chelomei's Universal Rocket family designed in the 1960's to allow direct manned flight by the LK-700 spacecraft to the surface of the moon. However Korolev's N1 was the selected Soviet super-booster design. Only when the N1 ran into schedule problems in 1967 was work on the UR-700 resumed. The draft project foresaw first launch in May 1972. But no financing for full scale development was forthcoming; by then it was apparent that the moon race was lost. More...
  • UR-700 / RD-350 Russian heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. UR-700 with high energy upper stage consisting of 3 x RD-350 LF2/LH2 engines with a total thrust of 450 tonnes. Usable third stage propellant 350 tonnes, payload increased to 215 tonnes More...
  • UR-700 / RO-31 Russian heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. UR-700 with high energy upper stage consisting of 7 x RO-31 Nuclear A engines using LH2+Methane propellants with a total thrust of 280 tonnes. Usable third stage propellant 196 tonnes, payload increased to 230 to 250 tonnes More...
  • UR-700 / 11D54 Russian heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. UR-700 with high energy upper stage consisting of 9 x RD-54 / 11D54 Lox/LH2 engines with a total thrust of 360 tonnes. Usable third stage propellant 300 tonnes, payload to a 200 km, 51.5 degree orbit increased to 185 tonnes More...

UR-700 Chronology


1962 During the Year - . LV Family: UR-700. Launch Vehicle: UR-700.
  • Development of RD-270 engine begun - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei; Yangel. Program: Lunar L3. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Spacecraft: LK-700. The RD-270 engine was proposed for Chelomei's UR-700 and Yangel R-56 lunar landing launchers in competition to Korolev N1. The RD-270 was in the same class as the F-1 engine developed for America's Saturn V launch vehicle, but burned storable but toxic propellants.

1962 During the Year - . LV Family: UR-700. Launch Vehicle: UR-700.
  • UR-700 launch vehicle for manned lunar landing missions. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei. Spacecraft: LK-700. Chelomei's TsKBM began work on the UR-700. The conclusion was reached that a direct lunar landing would require a payload of 130 to 170 tonnes. Initial LK-700 spacecraft designs were derived from the 'Raketoplan' family of manned modular space vehicles. Korolev's N1-L3 design was selected in 1964 for the manned lunar landing, but the UR-700 would surface again when the N1 encountered delays.

1964 July 19 - . LV Family: N1; Proton; R-56; UR-700.
  • Korolev obtains preliminary approval for a single-launch, lunar orbit rendezvous, manned landing. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei; Glushko; Yangel; Korolev; Smirnov; Feoktistov; Bushuyev; Mishin. Program: Lunar L3; Lunar L1. Spacecraft: Soyuz 7K-LOK; LK; L3-1963; LK-1. Work on the original N1-L3 had begun in 1963. This had been preceded by two years of working on a draft project for the LK lunar lander and its propulsion system. But there was no money for full scale development -- no code name from Gosplan against which to charge such work. It was annoying that Chelomei, Glushko, and Yangel were wasting resources on alternate designs at the same time. Additional Details: here....

1964 September 14 - . LV Family: N1; Proton; R-7; UR-700.
  • Voskhod abort system - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev; Krylov; Feoktistov; Komarov; Volynov; Lazarev; Yegorov. Program: Voskhod; Lunar L1; Lunar L3. Flight: Voskhod 1. Spacecraft: Voskhod; LK-1. Kamanin reviews the Voskhod abort system with Korolev. Up to T+27 seconds, there is no possibility of saving the crew in the event of a booster failure; from T+27 seconds to T+44 seconds, escape would be difficult, but is possible; and from T+44 seconds to T+501 seconds abort should be possible, with the capsule landing on Soviet territory. Afterwards, Korolev speaks with Kamanin secretly and privately. Korolev reveals that he has discussed a greater VVS role in space with Marshal Krylov, but that Krylov is adamantly opposed to the VVS assuming such a mission. Korolev is seeking a resolution from the Communist Party that will authorise him to develop a manned lunar flyby and landing system using his N1 booster. He believes that Chelomei's UR-500 booster will not have sufficient payload to mount a manned flyby - a docking in low earth orbit will be required. But Chelomei has rejected the use of docking, and is even designing his UR-700 to allow a lunar landing without the use of docking.

    Finally Korolev gets to the purpose of the secret meeting. He wants Feoktistov to be aboard Voskhod 1, despite the opinion of Kamanin and the physicians. Kamanin reiterates that the most qualified crew would be Komarov, Volynov, and Lazarev; and if he gives in on Feoktistov, then Komarov, Feoktistov, Lazarev. But Korolev is opposed to Lazarev, and insists that the crew should be Komarov, Feoktistov, and Yegorov. From Kamanin's point of view this is flying a space mission with two invalids aboard. Lazarev is a qualified and fit flight surgeon, a qualified pilot as well as a physician with 15 years of research experience in aviation medicine. Korolev is adamant that the two passengers should be civilian, not military. No agreement is possible.


1964 September 24 - . LV Family: N1; R-56; R-9; Tsiklon; UR-100; UR-200; UR-700. Launch Vehicle: R-26.
  • Khrushchev visits Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Khrushchev; Yangel; Chelomei; Brezhnev; Smirnov; Ustinov; Korolev; Glushko; Gagarin; Belyayev; Leonov. Flight: Voskhod 2. Spacecraft: Voskhod; Berkut; LK-700. This was his last visit, just weeks before his overthrow. The Soviet leadership were shown the UR-100 and observed launches of the competing UR-200 and R-36. Khrushchev agreed with the decision to put the R-36 into production instead of Chelomeiís UR-200. He felt he couldnít turn down Yangel a third time after approving Korolevís N1 instead of Yangelís R-56 and Chelomeiís UR-100 instead of Yangelís R-26. Khrushchev decided to cancel Korolevís badly behind schedule R-9A, even though Smirnov and Ustinov insisted they wanted it in their arsenal (in May 1965, after Khrushchevís overthrow, this decision was reversed and the R-9A went into production).

    Khrushchev also visited a secret space fair, with Korolev, Chelomei, Yangel, and Glushko presenting their rockets and spacecraft. Chelomei presented his UR-700 heavy lift design as an alternative to Korolevís N1. This presentation was a surprise to Ustinov and Dementiev. Khrushchev ordered Chelomei to prepare a draft proposal for the design. Chelomei hoped that 12 to 18 months later, when the UR-700 draft project would be completed, the fallacy of Korolevís N1 design would be apparent to all. Korolevís N1 plans were also reviewed and approved at the meeting.

    Over the two days, Khruschev witnessed five launches of rockets by Korolev, Yangel, and Chelomei, all of them successful. Gagarin and Belyayev explained the Vykhod spacecraft to him, and Leonov donned a spacesuit and demonstrated how he would exit into open space form the inflatable airlock and return thereafter. All went very well.

    This was the last time Khrushchev saw the chief designers of the Soviet rocket industry. Despite his support for them not one of them visited him in his retirement.


1964 October 31 - . LV Family: UR-700. Launch Vehicle: UR-700.
  • UR-700 project cancelled - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei; Korolev. Program: Lunar L3. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Spacecraft: LK-700. Following the August decree that gave the circumlunar project to Chelomei and the lunar landing project to Korolev, further work on development of the UR-700 by Chelomei was cancelled. However development of the RD-270 engine was continued and Chelomei continued to do UR-700 design studies.

November 1964 - . LV Family: N1; R-56; UR-700.
  • Korolev's admits that N1 cannot attain payload needed for single-launch mission - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev; Kozlov; Khrushchev; Ustinov; Brezhnev; Yangel; Chelomei; Babakin; Lavochkin. Program: Lunar L3. Spacecraft: LK; Soyuz 7K-LOK; LK-700. 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. Additional Details: here....

1965 October 20 - . LV Family: UR-700. Launch Vehicle: UR-700.
  • Draft project work on UR-700/LK-700 approved. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: LK-700. Summary: Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 'On approval of work on the draft project of the UR-700/LK-700 lunar complex' was issued..

1966 September 17 - . LV Family: N1; UR-700.
  • Competing lunar landing designs to be evaluated. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: LK-700; LK; Soyuz 7K-LOK. Summary: Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 'On creation of a commission to compare the UR-700-LK-700 and the N1-L3' was issued..

1966 November 16 - . LV Family: N1; UR-700.
  • Government go-ahead for N-1 use in lunar program - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei; Keldysh; Mishin. Program: Lunar L3. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Soyuz 7K-LOK; LK-700. Mishin's draft plan for the Soviet lunar landing was approved by an expert commission headed by Keldysh. The first N-1 launch was set for March 1968. At same meeting, Chelomei made a last ditch attempt to get his revised UR-700/LK-700 direct landing approach approved in its place. Although Chelomei had lined up the support of Glushko, and Mishin was in a weak position after Korolev's death, Keldysh managed to ensure that the N1-L3 continued. However continued design work on the LK-700, the UR-700 booster, and development of the RD-270 engine were authorised.

1966 December 28 - . LV Family: UR-700. Launch Vehicle: UR-700.
  • Almaz and LK-700 development status - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei; Smirnov; Ustinov. Program: Almaz; Lunar L1; Lunar L3. Spacecraft: LK-1; LK-700; Raketoplan; Almaz OPS. Kamanin accompanies 17 generals and other officers of the VVS in a tour of Chelomei's OKB-52. Chelomei spends five hours personally acquainting the visitors with his bureau's space technology capabilities. It was the first in-depth meeting Kamanin and Vershinin have had with Chelomei, despite meeting with him occasionally since 1961. They have mainly interacted with Korolev and now Mishin. Additional Details: here....

1967 July 21 - . LV Family: UR-700. Launch Vehicle: UR-700.
  • Chelomei signs design documents for UR-700/LK-700 lunar expedition - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei. Spacecraft: LK-700. Summary: Chelomei's TsKBM began work on the UR-700 launch vehicle for manned lunar landing missions in 1962. Chelomei took a sound conservative design approach (i.e. no docking required, no cryogenics)..

1967 September 17 - . LV Family: UR-700. Launch Vehicle: UR-700.
  • LK-700 manned lunar landing spacecraft authorised - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: LK-700. Development of the LK-700 manned lunar landing spacecraft was undertaken in accordance with decree 1070-363 of the Soviet Ministers and Central Committee of the Communist Party on 17 September 1967 and MOM decree 472 of 28 September 1967. Study index number 4855CC by TsNIIMASH in 1966 showed that any development of improved versions of the N1 would be practically equivalent to design and qualification of a new rocket, while the UR-700 modular approach allowed a range of payloads without requalification. The UR-700/LK-700 combination could support the DLB lunar base better, as well as Venus/Mars manned flybys and Mars landing expeditions. Work would continue through the mock-up stage until 1974.

1967 September 20 - . LV Family: N1; UR-700.
  • Review of N1 progress. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Mishin; Pashkov; Smirnov; Ustinov. Program: Lunar L3. Spacecraft: Spiral OS; LK-700. The booster was supposed to be launched by 1966, but there is no way it will be finished this year, and it is highly questionable it will even get off the ground in 1968. The N1 tanks are pressurised to 2 atmospheres, and can go up to three atmospheres in an emergency. In the enormous MIK assembly hall are three N1's - one 'iron bird' ground test model and two flight vehicles. The first roll out of the mock-up will take place in 1967, and the first launch attempt is still expected in 1968 (the first launch will not be attempted until the second and third stages complete stand tests. There is no test stand for the first stage, it will be fired for the first time in flight). An explosion would destroy the pad, requiring several years of repairs. There are two pads, but even that would not be a guarantee of the availability of the rocket due to the poor expected initial reliability. The N1 project is costing 10 billion roubles, not including considerable investment required by the military. To Kamanin the whole thing is a boondoggle, showing the necessity for development of lighter air-launched boosters. He believes there are many mistakes in design and construction, but Mishin, Pashkov, Smirnov, and Ustinov support these doubtful projects of Korolev and Mishin, instead of technically sound projects such as Chelomei's UR-700 or MiG's air-launched spacecraft. If Mishin thinks the current Proton/L1 reliability is only 0.6, then that of the completely unproved N1/L3 must be even less...

1969 May 29 - . LV Family: MR-UR-100; N1; Proton; UR-100N; UR-700.
  • N1 State Commission - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Mishin; Barmin; Afanasyev, Sergei; Smirnov; Tyulin; Bushuyev; Pashkov; Okhapkin; Yangel; Chelomei; Nadiradze; Keldysh. Program: Lunar L3. Spacecraft: LK; Soyuz 7K-L1A; Soyuz 7K-LOK; Aelita. Over two days a State Commission reviewed all of the conclusions of the N1 3L failure investigation and the readiness of N1 5L for flight. All of the fixes identified to remedy the 3L failure had been incorporated into 5L. It was felt that the behaviour of the systems in fire conditions were understood and appropriate measures had been taken. The wiring had been rerouted and insulated. Barmin wanted the system not to shut down any engines under any conditions during the first 15-20 seconds of flight, so that the booster would clear the pad and there would be no risk of the pad's destruction. But there was no time to develop such measures before the 5L launch; it could only be added in vehicle 6L. Additional Details: here....

1969 September 1 - . LV Family: N1; UR-700.
  • Kamanin lists the reasons the Soviets have lost the moon race. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Mishin; Ustinov; Smirnov; Korolev; Keldysh; Feoktistov; Gagarin. Program: Apollo; Lunar L1; Lunar L3. Spacecraft: Soyuz 7K-OK; Soyuz 7K-LOK; Soyuz 7K-L1. The Americans were able to pull equal in the race during their Gemini programme, then ahead with Apollo. The Soviet Union is now four to five years behind. Kamanin's accounting:

    • No qualified Soviet government leadership in space research (Ustinov and Smirnov are a parody of proper management). They operate without rhyme or reason or plan. There is no single direction, no disciplined execution when a decision is finally made
    • Korolev, Keldysh, Mishin, and Feoktistov are all dedicated to automated spacecraft - 'over-automation'
    • Korolev and MIshin's rejection of Glushko's engines, and the leadership's rejection of the UR-700 as an alternative
    • Ustinov and Smirnov's cancellation of the 18 day Voskhod 3 mission, even though the crews had been trained, and the associated pressure on development of Soyuz. This resulted in Soyuz being flown before it was mature, resulting in the death of Komarov and an 18 month delay in manned flights
    • Death of Korolev and Gagarin both badly affected morale
    • Making Mishin head of TsKBEM was a huge mistake. Mishin cannot cope with the huge number of space and missile projects assigned to his bureau

1970 December 31 - . LV Family: UR-700. Launch Vehicle: UR-700.
  • UR 700/LK-700/RD-270 definitively cancelled. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Lunar L3. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Spacecraft: LK-700. Summary: Further development work on the RD-270 engine, UR-700 launch vehicle, and LK-700 lunar landing project are cancelled following the successful Apollo lunar landing..

1971 March 4 - . LV Family: N1; UR-700.
  • N1/L3 Expert Commission - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Tereshkova; Keldysh; Mishin; Kuznetsov, Nikolai Fedorovich. Program: Lunar L3. Spacecraft: Soyuz 7KT-OK; LK-700; Krechet. Pushkin and Kuznetsov brief Kamanin on the results of the N1/L3 expert commission. They found that the N1/L3 is unreliable and that the design needs to be fundamentally re-examined. Therefore the Soviet Ministers and Central Committee passed a decree that the commission must determine by 1 May 1971 what to do with the lunar project. Kamanin's opinion: abandon the N1-L3, modify Chelomei's UR-700 design to replace it, and design a new lunar landing spacecraft for missions in 1974-1975. Mishin is afraid of such a solution. Kamanin believes that the commission, headed by Keldysh, will finally recommend continued development and flight of Mishin's bad booster and even worse spacecraft. It is true that the N1 design has been substantially reworked in the last 18 months, but Kamanin believes it to be fundamentally flawed and that nothing can make it reliable.

    After Mishin pushed his Indian Ocean recovery plan for the L3, the VVS insisted on sea trials of the capsule. These showed the cosmonauts had to get out within 30 to 35 minutes before the valves to the interior started leaking seawater. The L3 is also unsafe due to the EVA method of transfer to the LK of a single unassisted cosmonaut. The Krechet spacesuit is very bulky and unmanoeuvrable.

    Prague wanted Gagarin's widow for International Women's Day.since Tereshkkova couldn't go, but she wants no part of public appearances.


1975 January 1 - . LV Family: UR-700. Launch Vehicle: UR-700. LV Configuration: UR-700M.
  • Chelomei presents plan for Mars mission - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei. Class: Mars. Type: Manned Mars flyby. Spacecraft: MK-700. As the only remaining contender for the Aelita design competition, Chelomei proposes a Mars flyby using an MK-700 spacecraft. A crew of two would be sent on a two year mission in a single launch of a UR-700M booster. The spacecraft would have a mass of 250 tonnes in low earth orbit and be equipped with an RD-410 nuclear engine.

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