1963 L3 manned lunar lander using earth-orbit rendezvous method. Configuration based on description and lander configuration of early L3M design.
Status: Study 1963. Gross mass: 200,000 kg (440,000 lb).
The 200 metric ton spacecraft requiring three N1 launches and a single Soyuz 11A511 launch to assemble in low earth orbit. When the decision was finally made to race the Americans to the moon in August 1964, this design had to be scrapped and replaced with the L3 single-launch version using lunar orbit rendezvous.
Korolev's first version of the L-3 manned spacecraft was described in a 23 September 1963 letter setting out the space exploration plan for 1965 to 1975. The L3 was designed to make a direct lunar landing using the earth orbit rendezvous method. It was a 200 metric ton spacecraft requiring three N1 launches and a single Soyuz 11A511 launch to assemble in low earth orbit. The first N1 launch would place the 75 metric ton partially-fuelled TLI stage and L3 spacecraft (except the L1 manned return craft) into low earth orbit. Two further N1 launches would orbit 75 metric ton tankers which would rendezvous and dock with the first payload and top off its propellant tanks. Then the Soyuz would be launched for an automated rear-end docking with the entire L3 stack.
The L3 spacecraft thereby assembled consisted of:
The L3 was not authorized in this form and it would over two years before a very belated start was made to beat the Americans in the moon-landing race. The L3 reformulated for the crash program would require only a single uprated N1 launch and use the lunar-orbit-rendezvous method, with a single-man lander.
|Soviet Lunar Landers|
Landing stages for Soviet lunar expeditions. Top row, left to right: L3 original version; LK; LK-3; LK-700; two versions of the L3M; LEK for Energia-launched lunar landing. Bottom row, lunar base elements: Chelomei KLE; Chelomei Heavy Lunokhod; Barmin DLB base module; LZM, LZhM, Lunokhod, and LEK for Glushko LEK Vulkan-launched lunar base.
Credit: © Mark Wade
An Inter-Institution Soviet considers Korolev's N1 plans. He believes the first booster will be launched in 1965. The N1 is to have a payload capability of 75 tonnes to a 250 km altitude orbit, 50 tonnes to a 3000 km altitude orbit, and 16 tonnes in geostationary orbit. It could launch spacecraft capable of landing men on the moon and returning them to earth, or manned flybys of Mars or Venus. Three to ten launches would be needed for such missions, with the components being docked together in low earth orbit. The N1 can also be used to launch a large space station for military research. After the N1 discussion a decision is made that cosmonauts will not have to spend more than three to four days in a spacecraft mock-up on the ground to prove their readiness for flight. A simulation of the entire flight duration is not necessary.
VVS officers meet with O G Ivanovskiy for two hours. The Communist Party plans a lunar expedition in the 1968-1970 period. For this the N1 booster will be used, which has a low earth orbit payload of 72 tonnes. The minimum spacecraft to take a crew to the lunar surface and back will have a minimum payload of 200 tonnes; therefore three N1 launches will be required to launch components, which will have to be assembled in orbit. However all of these plans are only on paper, and Kamanin does not see any way the Soviet Union can beat the Americans to the moon, who are already flying Apollo hardware for that mission.
Concepts for trainers for lunar landings and fly-bys are discussed. The five flown cosmonauts sit for entrance examinations to the Zhukovskiy Institute. Kamanin is irritated that of the five, only Bykovsky seems really bright and alert. Tereshkova is still studying for the examination.
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....