L1 lunar craft
L1 lunar craft in assembly. Note the very extensive equipment boxes above the capsule, and the clear hatch providing entry into the side of the capsule. Is this a 'podsadka' L1?
Credit: RKK Energia
Launched: 1969 March. Number crew: 2 .
On 24 September 1968 Bykovsky/Rukavishnikov were the prime candidates for the first Soviet circumlunar flight. Just three days later, when the crews were named, Leonov was selected as commander of the first mission, with Makarov as the flight engineer. Soviet plans to beat America around the moon were upstaged by the sudden decision to fly Apollo 8 into lunar orbit over Christmas 1968. Given problems with obtaining a trouble-free Soyuz 7K-L1 unmanned flight, it would probably not have been possible to make a Soviet equivalent flight until March 1969. It was decided after the American success to cancel any 'second place' Soviet manned circumlunar flights.
Kamanin calls Korolev, finds he is suffering from very low blood pressure (100/60). Kamanin suggests that candidates for the commander position in the first two Soyuz missions would be Gagarin, Nikolayev, Bykovsky, or Komarov. Korolev agrees basically, but says that he sees Bykovsky and Nikolayev as candidates for the first manned lunar flyby shots. Kamanin suggests Artyukhin and Demin for the engineer-cosmonaut role on the first Soyuz flights, but Korolev disagrees, saying Feoktistov has to be aboard. However Korolev agrees with Kamanin's selection for the next Voskhod flight - Volynov/Katys as prime crew, Beregovoi/Demin as backups. Later Kamanin corresponds with Stroev over modification of an Mi-4 helicopter as a lunar lander simulator.
Gemini 7 has landed. The Americans achieved every manned spaceflight objective they had set for themselves in 1965, and made 50% more launches than the Soviet Union. On the other side, the Russians have only been able to fly Voskhod 2. Korolev promised that three Voskhod and two Soyuz spacecraft would be completed in 1965, and that two of each would fly before November 7. The year has ended, and not a single spacecraft has been delivered. Kamanin calls Korolev, who says that the unfinished Voskhods will not be completed, and that the four completed spacecraft will be used for long-duration flights. All of his bureau's energies will be concentrated on developing Soyuz spacecraft to perfect space docking and to perform lunar flyby missions.
Kamanin looks ahead to the very difficult tasks scheduled for 1966. There are to be 5 to 6 Soyuz flights, the first tests of the N1 heavy booster, the first docking in space. Preparations will have to intensify for the first manned flyby of the moon in 1967, following by the planned first Soviet moon landing in 1967-1969. Kamanin does not see how it can all be done on schedule, especially without a reorganization of the management of the Soviet space program.
The VVS General Staff reviews a range of documents, authored by Korolev before his death, and supported by ministers Afanasyev and Petrovskiy. The schedules for the projects for flying around and landing on the moon are to be delayed from 1966-1967 to 1968-1969. A range of other space programs will similarly be delayed by 18 to 24 months. An institute for tests of space technology will be established at Chelomei's facility at Reutov. The IMBP will be made the lead organization for space medicine. Responsibility for space technology development will be moved from MOM to 10 other ministries. 100 million roubles have been allocated for the establishment of new research institutes. Kamanin is appalled, but Malinovskiy favours getting rid of the responsibility for these projects. The arguments over these changes - which reduce the VVS role in spaceflight - will be the subject of much of Kamanin's diary over the following weeks.
The L1 inspection has not gone well. The cosmonauts find that the spacecraft has the same safety problems as Voskhod: no spacesuits, no reserve parachute for the spacecraft, no signal sent when the parachute deploys (the UHF beacon only begins emitting 10 seconds after landing). Supposedly this unsafe and poorly designed spacecraft is supposed to take cosmonauts around the moon by November 1967. Kamanin finds this incredible.
Kamanin is upset over the lack of resources he is given to plan and carry out manned spacecraft recovery for circumlunar missions, which may splash down in the ocean or land almost anywhere on earth. His staff dedicated to this are to be increased from 3 to 6, and he has another 8 dedicated to survival equipment. But he figures the Americans must have over 500 staff assigned to just this problem alone.
VPK resolution number 101 dated 27 April 1966 finally hits Kamanin's desk. It issues the orders to industry for implementation of the Party resolution 655-268 of 3 August 1964. 14 7K-L1 spacecraft are to be completed: one in the third quarter of 1966, two in the fourth quarter, and the rest between January and September 1967. Final integration of the first spacecraft is to be completed in October 1966,and flight trials from December 1966 to March 1967. Detailed planning for completion of simulators and trainers for the L1, and for international recovery forces to recover spacecraft returning from the moon, are to be completed within two weeks to a month from the date of the resolution. Meanwhile Tyulin reports that the launch of Voskhod 3 in May is no longer possible, and likely will be delayed until July. It is clear to Kamanin that Smirnov has effectively killed off Voskhod 3 in order to concentrate on the Soyuz, L1, and L3 programs.
Kamanin discusses with VVS management the huge task of organizing recovery forces that can find and pick up a manned spacecraft returning from the moon anywhere on the earth. Receivers for the spacecraft's homing beacons have to be installed on a fleet of ocean-going vessels and recovery aircraft. This requirement has been known for six years, but nothing has been done yet.
Marshal Vershinin attends the meeting, where it is revealed that all systems in development - Chelomei's, Mishin's, Voronin's, Severin's, and others - are seriously behind schedule. The first unmanned circumlunar test of the L1 was to be made by 15 April 1967, but it seems unlikely it will even be completed by the end of 1967.
Kamanin receives a document, signed by Mishin, Tyulin, Burnazyan and Keldysh, which declares that OKB-1 will be solely responsible for training of cosmonauts for L1 circumlunar missions. Only OKB-1 engineers and Academy of Science researchers will be considered for such missions, and no assistance is needed from VVS cosmonauts or its training centre.
Kamanin organises the cosmonauts into the following training groups:
Kamanin organises the cosmonauts into the following training groups:
Rudenko agrees with Kamanin's plan, except he urges him to assign more cosmonauts to the Soyuz 7K-OK group, and include OKB-1 cosmonauts in the 7K-OK, L1, and L3 groups, and Academy of Science cosmonauts in the L1 and L3 groups.
These cosmonaut assignments were in constant flux, and many cosmonauts were assigned to train for more than one program - resulting in multiple claims in later years that 'I was being trained for the first moon flight'.
Kamanin is at Tyuratam for the first Soyuz launch. He and Rudenko are accommodated in the new hotel at Area 2. It has all conveniences - a local telephone, radio and television with Moscow programs, even a promise to install an HF telephone that will allow secure communications with Moscow. Also there for the launch are Kerimov, Kirillov, Kuznetsov, Bykovsky, Komarov, Khrunov, amd Yeliseyev. Rudenko reports that he has been chewed out by Marshal Zakharov. Zakharov told him "What are you and Kamanin doing, blocking OKB-1 candidates from flight? If Mishin wants to send his people to the Moon, let him do it and do not interefere!"
Rudenko has reached agreement with Mishin that L1 and L3 crews will also consist of a VVS pilot as commander, and an OKB-1 flight engineer. Kamanin is depressed. Despite the support six marshals (Malinovskiy, Grechko, Zakharov, Krylov, Vershinin and Rudenko), Mishin has won this argument with the support of Ustinov, Serbin, Smirnov, Pashkov, Keldysh, Afanasyev, and Petrovskiy. Later the State Commission meets, for the first time in a long time at Tyuratam. Kerimov chairs the session, with more than 100 attendees, including Mishin, Rudenko, Krylov, Pravetskiy, Kurushin, Ryazanskiy, Mnatsakanian, and Tkachev. All is certified ready,. Launch of the active spacecraft is set for 26 November, and the passive vehicle on 27 November.
The wreckage of Cosmos 133 has not been found. NII-4 has calculated, based on PVO tracking data that the re-entry capsule probably passed over Orsk at 70 to 100 kilometres altitude. The APO self-destruct system sensed the overshoot and exploded. The fragments would have fallen into the Pacific Ocean east of the Marianas Islands. Further searching is called off. Meanwhile, with only three months to go before the first flight of the L1 circumlunar spacecraft, the VPK has finally woken up to the total lack of preparation for location and recovery of the returning space capsule if it comes down outside of Soviet territory.
Rudenko, Mishin, Kerimov and Kamanin agree on crews for upcoming flights. Komarov, Bykovsky, Khrunov, and Yeliseyev are assigned to Soyuz s/n 3 and 4; Gagarin, Nikolayev, Gorbatko, and Kubasov to Soyuz s/n 5 and 6, with Beregovoi, Shatalov, Volkov, and Makarov trained as back-ups. For Soyuz s/n 7, which will conduct space welding experiments with the Vulkan furnace, the commander will be either Komarov, Bykovsky, Gagarin, Nikolayev, Beregovoi, or Shatalov. The other two crewmembers will be either Lankin and Fartushniy from the Paton Institute, VVS cosmonaut Kolodin, or an engineer from OKB-1.
Crews for the L1 must be named in order to complete the five-month training program in time. Eight L1's are being completed to the manned configuration, but Mishin believes it is necessary to plan for only six manned missions. It is decided to train nine crews. Spacecraft commanders will be Komarov, Bykovsky, Nikolayev, Gagarin, Leonov, Khrunov, Volynov, Beregovoi, and Shatalov. Flight engineers will be Yeliseyev, Kubasov, Makarov, Volkov, and Grechko. Komarov, Bykovsky or Nikolayev will command the first circumlunar flight. Mishin promises to name the OKB-1 candidates for that flight by 8 December. Mishin and Kerimov agree that training of cosmonaut- researchers from the Academy of Sciences may begin, although both Mishin and Rudenko expressed doubts about cosmonaut candidate Yershov.
The failures of Cosmos 133 have been narrowed to entangled thrust vector vanes in the main engines and a single defective approach and orientation thruster. It is agreed to set the unmanned launch of Soyuz s/n 1 for 18 December as a final functional check of all systems. If this is successful, the date will then be set for the manned launch of Soyuz s/n 3 and 4. Flight control will be conducted from Yevpatoria.
Mishin briefs the production plan for the L1 circumlunar spacecraft. Two spacecraft, s/n 1 and 2, have already been shipped to Tyuratam. These prototypes are not equipped with heat shields, and will be used to perfect orbital operation of the spacecraft without recovery of the capsule. L1 s/n 3 and 4 will be used for unmanned flights around the moon, with recovery on earth, in March to May 1967. The first manned flight around the moon is set for 25 June. All present, after examining the detailed production and training plans, object that they cannot be met. Mishin advises that Ustinov and Smirnov dictated the schedules and they are not subject to revision.
Tyulin chairs the meeting. Mishin, Chelomei and Barmin brief the status of the spacecraft, booster, and launch site. There is much to be done in order to fly cosmonauts around the moon by 7 November 1967 - the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. The first manned flight around the moon is planned for 26 June 1967. To achieve this, four flights of the L1 without a crew have to be completed first. The UR-500K booster should be capable of launching the L1 on a direct flight around the Moon and back to the earth. But since the UR-500K has not yet flown, and its 19-tonne low earth payload has not bee verified, Mishin plans to follow the podsadka scenario. The UR-500K will place in low earth orbit an L1 without a crew, and then a Soyuz booster will place a manned Soyuz 7K-OK Soyuz in orbit. The Soyuz crew will rendezvous and dock with the L1, and the crew for the circumlunar mission will spacewalk through open space from the 7K-OK into the L1. The spacecraft will then separate. The 7K-OK returns to earth, while the L1 is boosted on a circumlunar trajectory. After 4 to 6 launches of the UR-500K to verify its reliability and payload margins, it should be possible to make the direct flight to the moon on subsequent versions. For the time being it is necessary to develop both versions in parallel.
Mishin, Chelomei and Barmin report that the spacecraft, booster, and launch facilities are ready. The first unmanned launch of the L1 is set for the end of January, with the arrival of the members of state commission at Tyuratam on 10-12 January.
The commission then considers reports on improvements needed for command, control, and recovery of manned lunar spacecraft. General Spitsa and Chief Designer Ryazanskiy list needed improvements to tracking and communications stations. These will cost more than 100 million roubles, including 50 million to equipment tracking ships. Tracking stations at Yevpatoria and Ussuriysk will require extensive new equipment for control of lunar spacecraft. Officers from TsNII-30 report on enhancements required for search and recovery forces. Due to the worldwide requirement, this can no longer be handled by the VVS alone - naval, long-range aviation, and communications forces need to be involved. Returning lunar ships will be targeted for landing on Soviet territory, but there is a great probability in the event of guidance problems of a splashdown in the Indian Ocean or a landing in Iran, Pakistan, or India. The VVS only has very limited capability for sea search and rescue. On 21 December Marshal Zakharov split manned spacecraft recovery responsibility between the VVS and VMF. To enable search and recovery of spacecraft at sea or on land outside of Soviet territory will require 12,000 to 15,000 personnel and dozens of ships, aircraft, and helicopters. A new net of ground-based radio stations and direction finders will also be needed. This will cost hundreds of millions of roubles to implement. The cost must be borne - it is clearly unacceptable that a Soviet crew fly to the moon and back, only to perish on return to earth due to inadequate recovery forces. A special subcommittee under Marshal Rudenko is named to handle the matter. Kamanin reports on training plans for lunar spacecraft. Crew training will have to begin in January 1967 for crews to complete the five-month syllabus in time for the planned flight dates. L1 commanders must be pilots with prior spaceflight experience. The second cosmonaut need not have flown before. Training of L1 and 7K-LOK crews must be carried out in parallel and separately in order to meet schedules. Mishin, the Ministry of Public Health, and Kamanin should name the crews for thee flights within five days in order to make schedule.
Failed launch of an E-6LS radio-equipped version of the E-6 used to test tracking and communications networks for the Soviet manned lunar program. Suggestions for the abnormal consumption included the seizing up of a pintle valve for controlling fuel supply into the regulator or the seizing up of the fuel inlet control. The upper stages broke up in the atmosphere.
The results will establish the order in which they will fly as Soyuz commanders. A 25-person board, consisting of spacecraft designers and cosmonauts, conduct the oral examinations. Each cosmonaut must answer five mandatory essay questions and select two two-part questions. All three are certified for flight and have a complete mastery of the Soyuz systems.
Mishin and Kamanin meet and decide on L1 crews: Leonov-Makarov (with Kuklin as back-up); Bykovsky-Rukavishnikov (Klimuk back-up); and Popovich-Sevastyanov (Voloshin back-up). But that evening Leonov has yet another automobile accident. He hit a bus with his Volga at kilometre 24 near Shchelkovsky. This was his second accident in four months. Kamanin decides to prohibit him from driving automobiles for six months.
The L1 cosmonauts are doing training in autonomous navigation, zero-G training, and TBK-60 simulator training. Due to the continuing L1 failures, there would probably be no manned L1 flight until April-May 1969. As for Soyuz, a 0+1 (docking of one unmanned spacecraft and a manned spacecraft with a single cosmonaut aboard) is planned for 25 October, to be followed by a 1+3 mission with a crew transfer by December at the earliest - possibly not until February-March of the following year. Kamanin reassured Beregovoi that he will indeed fly following his excellent exam results -- but Beregovoi still has doubts. Later Kamanin confronts Leonov over his driving. Leonov has had three auto accidents in four months - simply too much. If he is such a bad driver on earth, how will be in space? Kamanin tells him to take two to three days off work and seriously consider his attitude and position. Next there are commissions to attend in charge of selecting monument designs for Gagarin memorials. There are to be obelisks at the Gagarin crash site, at the Vostok 1 landing site, and in Star City. These commissions are taking up a lot of the cosmonauts' time. Kuznetsov meets with Kamanin and tells him that cosmonauts Belyayev and Nikolayev rated Beregovoi poorly in the exam, giving him only a 5 and citing errors in his logic.
Tracking of the L1 shows it will hit the earth on return, but without a further midcourse correction the perigee will be 200 km instead of the 45 km required. Therefore another correction will be needed on the way back from the moon. Ustinov calls a meeting and asks 'How do we answer Apollo 8?'. The reply of Mishin and Tyulin is that 'we are not ready to answer Apollo 8. Apollo 8 is a high-risk adventure. The Americans have not accomplished any unmanned lunar flybys to demonstrate that their systems will function correctly; and of only two Saturn V flight tests to date, the second was a failure. We need to make the L1 program public to show the seriousness and completeness of Soviet readiness'. Ustinov orders the following plan be carried out in the next two months: in December, one unmanned L1 flight, and the first launch of the N1 with an L3 mock-up. In January 1969, a lunar flyby with two cosmonauts; a Lunokhod robot rover will be placed on the lunar surface; and a dual Soyuz manned flight with 1+3 crewmembers. Kamanin notes that the problem with the technical approach of Korolev and Mishin is that cosmonauts are seen only as observers and back-ups to automated systems. Therefore the whole manned space program is based on a false assumption. Because of this the Soviets have lost 2-3 years in the space race, which would have been saved if they had followed the Gemini/Apollo 'pilot in the loop' approach. Afterwards Mishin meets with the L1 cosmonaut group. He wants to get rid of the on-board flight plan and reduce the manual for operation of the spacecraft to one page. 'Don't want to bring bureaucracy aboard the spacecraft' he says. This completely absurd idea again demonstrates his belief in total reliance on automated systems.
The L1 went behind the moon at 05:49:37, and emerges at 06:21:11. At the time of the next orientation session it is 390,000 km from the earth and moving at 0.6 km/s. All orientations have been made on Sirius so far. Two more are needed: one for the midcourse correction, and then the second for the guided re-entry. The 100K sensor has proven itself despite Kamanin's doubts. Mishin's grumbly voice was grating on everyone, and finally he was put to bed. Kamanin despairs that the Soviet space program is dependent on this poorly organised, capricious, shortsighted man. Discussions are held with Moscow. If Apollo 8 succeeds, the next L1 test in January and the manned flight in April are probably not worth the risk. Some of the scientists want to discuss the inclusion of new medical experiments on pending manned spaceflights, but Kamanin is opposed to it. He does not want anything interfering with the primary mission. What to name the manned L1 spacecraft is discussed. Leonov wants to call it Rodina, Sevastyanov Ural, and Kamanin - 'Academician Korolev'.
Overnight a serious situation has developed. The hydrogen peroxide temperature aboard the L1 capsule has fallen from +20 deg C to -2 deg C. By the following morning it was down to -5 deg C. At such temperatures it will disassociate into oxygen and water, and the capsule's orientation thrusters will not be able to function for re-entry. A colour television camera was supposed to have been included in the cabin. If it was there it could be turned on and warm the capsule, but Mishin had insisted to the State Commission that it be deleted. The spacecraft could be oriented so that the sun would shine directly over the peroxide tank and warm it, but this might damage the 100K star sensor, which was mounted right next to it. A proposal is made that an attempt is made to orient the spacecraft using the ONA gyroscope package as flywheels, but Mishin and his deputies don't want to try anything. Mishin suddenly says that the next L1 will not be ready until February or later (before the date was January). This was seen by Kamanin as a typical 180-degree turn for him. Mishin looks bad - probably he's been drinking again. Kamanin sees no solution but a complete reorganisation of the space program, moving the manned program to the VVS.
Titov still would prefer to be a test pilot, not a cosmonaut. The Soyuz group is scheduled to complete their training and to depart for the cosmodrome on 20 December for final preparations. Leonov's L1 group is to complete their training on 20 January 1969, then depart to the cosmodrome for a flight to the moon in February.
The State Commission investigating Gagarin's crash publishes it report. It found that pilot error put the aircraft into a critical situation. Kamanin judges that the Apollo 8 mission is only being flown to give US President Lyndon Johnson a triumph before he leaves office. He judges the mission has only a 25% chance of success.
The L3 spacecraft still does not even exist in mock-up form. All of the leadership are responsible for this farce - Malinovskiy, Smirnov, Ustinov, Brezhnev. There is no single manager of the space program. The VPK and Central Committee operate on rumours. The Interagency Soviet headed by Keldysh was supposed to coordinate space activities, but in fact has not functioned in the last four to five years. There is no single military space organisation in the Ministry of Defence. Piloted flight tests are being run by former artillery officers in the RSVN. Various organizations of MAP and VVS coordinate ground and flight tests poorly. These are the reasons for the failure of the Soviet Union in space. Today in the Central Committee Ustinov asked - 'how to answer Apollo 8?' Ustinov relies on Keldysh, Keldysh supports Mishin, and Mishin is unfit for his duties. But Mishin is not even there! The program they come up with: In January 1969, 2 Venera probes will be launched, two manned Soyuz missions, and L1 s/n 13 will be sent around the moon. In February the first N1 will be launched. By the end of March the first Ye-8 robot will land on the moon and return lunar soil to the earth. This meeting is followed by a session of the VPK at 16:00. The crews are named for the Soyuz 4 and 5 flights.
The General Staff considers the impending Soyuz 4 and 5 flights. Vershinin asks - what is the likelihood of Apollo 8 being successful? Kamanin tells him it is very good now; the final midcourse correction was made successfully. A State Commission convenes to consider the Zond 6 failure. Mishin and Tyulin do not attend - they send Bushuyev to represent them. It has been found that 70 km from the cosmodrome, as the spacecraft deployed its parachute, the parachute lines were pyrotechnically severed at 3 km altitude and the capsule crashed into the plain. This in turn was found to be due to an ONA landing antenna failure; and this in turn caused by the SUS going down to temperatures of -5 deg C during the flight and the depressurisation of the cabin. The hydrogen peroxide, due to the low temperature, put the spcecraft at a 45 degree attitude instead of the 18 degree maximum (?). There are five L1's left. Number 13 is at Tyuratam begin prepared for an unmanned flight due for launch on 20 or 21 January, number 11 is being readied for a March 1969 manned launch, to be followed by numbers 14, 15, and 16 in April, May, June. At 19:15 the successful splashdown of Apollo 8 is reported. The race to be first around the moon is over.
Planned first manned circumnavigation of the moon. Soviet plans to beat America around the moon were upstaged by the sudden decision to fly Apollo 8 into lunar orbit over Christmas 1968. It was decided after the American success to cancel any 'second place' Soviet manned circumlunar flights.