Monday, July 20, 2009

The Soviet Moon Program

Soviet N1 rockets

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was revealed that the Soviets had manned flight to the moon very much in the works, and were originally planning to reach the moon by 1968. They had working designs for a lunar lander and even had cosmonauts in training for a moon mission (among them was the great Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space). The fatal flaw was the N1 rocket, a booster as large and powerful as the American Saturn V, but never launched successfully. One launch ended in so immense an explosion that the whole launch facility had to be rebuilt.

The Soviet Manned Moon Mission program set to Shostakovich

All of this was very secret, and known only to those involved, to a handful of the ruling Soviet elite, and to CIA spy satellites.

The Soviets attempted an unmanned mission to the Moon that was supposed to return to earth with rock and soil samples, the Luna 15 mission. But Luna crashed into the lunar surface days before the launch of Apollo 11.

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