“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” (these are the words that Neil Armstrong said when he was the first to set foot on the surface of the moon). This landmark event happened 40 years ago, on July 20, 1969.
1. Twice two questions
Over the decades, many legends and speculations have developed around the topic of a person visiting the moon. The most famous and sensational of them – that the American astronauts did not land on the surface of the moon, and all the television reports about the landing and the Apollo program itself were a great hoax. Some wits even rewrote Armstrong’s phrase about “the giant leap of humanity” into “the giant cheating of humanity.” “Irrefutable argument” in favor of the fact that people were not on the moon, has already been devoted extensive literature and dozens, if not hundreds of films, shot in different countries and in different languages.
Almost at the same time, in the late 1980s, in (then still) the USSR, information about the availability in the 1960-1970s was made public. Soviet program of manned missions to the moon. It became known that in the USSR it was also planned to carry out at first circling the moon by astronauts, and then landing on the surface of our natural satellite.
However, the leadership of the USSR, as well as the United States, saw only political meaning in landing on the moon.
After the flight of Apollo 11, it became clear that the Soviet Union was hopelessly behind the United States in the implementation of the lunar program. According to the leaders of the CPSU, the flight of Soviet astronauts to the moon in such conditions would not have had the desired effect in the rest of the world. Therefore, the Soviet lunar program was frozen at a stage already close to manned flight, and it was officially announced that the USSR had never had such a program. That the USSR was moving in an alternative way and paid the main attention not to political prestige, but to scientific research of the Moon with the help of automatic spacecraft, in which our cosmonautics, indeed, achieved great success. This is the most popular explanation of why Soviet cosmonauts did not repeat the achievements of their American counterparts.
So, in historiography (if I may say so) the lunar problem is now dominated by two different solvable questions:
1. Did Americans land on the moon?
2. Why wasn’t the Soviet lunar program completed?
If you look closely, both questions are interrelated, and the statement of the second itself is like an answer to the first. In fact, if the Soviet lunar program really existed and was already close to implementation, why can’t we assume that the Americans were able to actually implement their Apollo program?
Another question arises from here. If the Soviet space specialists had even the slightest doubt about the authenticity of the fact that the Americans landed on the moon, would the Soviet leadership, based on the political objectives of the lunar program, not bring it to the end just to catch the Americans in the universal lie and cause the most deadly blow to the international prestige of the United States, while simultaneously raising the authority of the USSR to unprecedented heights?
Although these two questions already contain the answer to the very first, let’s look at everything in order. Let’s start with the official version of the Apollo program history.
2. As a German genius raised the Yankees into space
The successes of the American rocket science are associated primarily with the name of the famous German designer Baron Werner von Braun – the creator of the first combat ballistic missiles V-2 (V-2). At the end of the war, Brown, among other German experts in the field of advanced military technology, was exported to the United States.
However, the Americans for a long time did not trust Brown to conduct serious research. Working in the arsenal of Huntsville (Alabama) on short-range missiles, Brown continued to design advanced launch vehicles (LV) capable of developing space velocity. But the contract for the creation of such a rocket and satellite was obtained by the US Navy.
In July 1955, US President Dwight Eisenhower publicly promised that his country would soon launch the first artificial earth satellite (AES). However, it was easier said than done. If we have the genius of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev quickly created fundamentally new rocket systems, then the Americans did not have home-grown masters of this level.
Several unsuccessful attempts by the Navy to launch its invariably detonated rocket at the start prompted the Pentagon to take a more favorable attitude towards the former SS navigator, who in 1955 became a US citizen.
In 1956, Werner von Braun received a contract for the development of an intercontinental ICU “Jupiter-S” and a satellite.
In 1957, the news about the successful launch of the Soviet satellites sounded for the Americans like a bolt from the blue. It became clear that the United States significantly lagged behind the USSR in penetrating into space. After another failure of the Navy with the launch of its launch vehicle, the main work on creating promising launch vehicles and aids was concentrated in Brown’s hands. This area of activity was removed from the jurisdiction of the Pentagon. For her in 1958, a special structure was created – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under the US federal government.
Brown headed the John Marshall Space Center, transformed in 1960 into the NASA Space Flight Center. Under his leadership, worked 2 thousand employees (then more), concentrated in 30 departments. All department heads were originally Germans — former Brown staff on the V-2 program. On February 1, 1958, the first successful launch of the Jupiter-S and the launch of the first American satellite “Explorer-1” took place. But the crown of Werner von Braun’s life was his Saturn-5 rocket and the Apollo program.
3. On the way to the moon
The year 1961 was marked by the new triumph of Soviet science and technology. On April 12, the first flight on a spacecraft (spacecraft) “Vostok” was made by Yuri Gagarin. In an effort to create the appearance of lagging behind the USSR, the Americans launched the ballistic trajectory of the Redstone-3 with the Mercury spacecraft on May 5, 1961. The first American astronaut Alan Bartlett Shepard (who later visited the Moon), officially considered to be such, spent only 15 minutes in space and dived in the Atlantic Ocean only 300 miles from the launch site on Cape Canaveral. The space velocity of its QC has not reached. The next quarter-hour suborbital flight of “Mercury” (astronaut Virgil I. Grissom) took place on July 21, 1961.
As if in the mockery of August 6-7, the second full-fledged orbital flight of the Soviet spacecraft took place. Cosmonaut German Titov on Vostok-2 spent 25 hours and 18 minutes in space, having completed 17 revolutions around the Earth during this time. The first normal orbital flight of the Americans turned out only on February 20, 1962 (astronaut John H. Glenn) thanks to a new, more powerful Atlas. The Mercury spacecraft made only 3 revolutions around the Earth, having spent less than five hours in orbit.
In 1961, US President John F. Kennedy proclaimed a kind of “national project” designed to end the US lag behind the USSR in the space field and overcome the inferiority complex that the Americans had.
He promised that Americans would land on the Moon before the Russians and this would happen before the end of the 1960s. From now on, any programs of manned space flight in the United States (the Gemini project was next) were subordinated to one goal — preparation for landing on the moon. This was the start of the Apollo project. True, Kennedy was not able to live to see its implementation.
The landing on the moon required the solution of two most complex technical problems. The first one is maneuvering, undocking and docking of QC modules in near-earth and near-moon orbits. The second is the creation of a sufficiently powerful RN capable of imparting a second cosmic velocity (11.2 km / s) to the payload consisting of a two-module spacecraft, three astronauts and life support systems (LSS).
During the flights, the Gemini spacecraft around the Earth has already begun to overcome the US lag behind the USSR in solving complex problems for spacecraft and man in space. Gemini-3 (crew
And in December 1965, the Gemini-7 crew (Frank Borman and James A. Lovell) completed 206 orbits in near-earth orbit in 330 hours and a half! During this flight, a rapprochement with “Gemini-6A” (Walter M. Schirra and Thomas P. Stafford) was made at a distance of less than two meters (!), And in this position both spacecraft made several turns around the Earth. Finally, in March 1966, the Gemini-8 crew (Neil A. Armstrong and David R. Scott) made the first docking in orbit with the Agen unmanned module.
The first QC series “Apollo” were unmanned. They are automatically processed elements of the flight to the moon. The first test of the powerful Satn-5 rocket launcher was conducted in November 1967 in a block with the Apollo-4 spacecraft. The third stage of the PH gave the module a speed of about 11 km / s and brought it into an elliptical orbit with an apogee of 18 thousand km, on the descent of which the spacecraft burned down in the atmosphere. On the Apollo 5 in February 1968 in orbit of an artificial satellite in the unmanned mode, different modes of operation of the lunar module were imitated.
“Saturn 5” is still the most powerful PH in history.
The launch weight of the launch vehicle was 3000 tons, of which 2000 tons is the weight of the first stage fuel. The weight of the second stage is 500 tons. Two steps removed the third with a two-module spacecraft into the satellite orbit. The third stage gave the spacecraft, consisting of an orbital compartment with a main engine and a lunar cabin, divided into landing and takeoff stages, a second cosmic velocity. The Saturn-5 was able to put a payload weighing up to 150 tons (including the weight of the third stage with full tanks) to the near-earth orbit, and 50 tons on the flight path to the Moon. At the spaceport, the whole structure heaved to a height of 110 m.
The first manned flight under the Apollo program took place in October 1968. Apollo 7 (Walter M. Schirr – the first of the people three times flew into space, Donn F. Eisel, R. Walter Cunningham) made 163 orbits around the Earth for 260 hours, which exceeded the calculated one when flying to the Moon and back. On December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 (Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, for whom this was the third space flight, and William A. Anders) set off for the first manned flight to the Moon in history. Actually, it was first planned for the crew to work out all the elements of the flight to the Moon in the satellite orbit, but the lunar descent vehicle (lunar cabin) was not yet ready. Therefore, it was decided to first fly around the moon on the orbital module. Apollo 8 completed 10 revolutions around the moon.
According to some information, it was this flight that became decisive in the freezing by the leadership of the USSR of its own lunar program: now our backlog from the Americans has become obvious.
The crew of Apollo-9 (James A. McDivitt, David R. Scott, Russell L. Schweikart) in March 1969 made all maneuvers associated with uncoupling and docking of modules, passing astronauts from one compartment to another through an airtight interface, in near-earth orbit without going into space. And Apollo 10 (Thomas P. Stafford and John W. Young – for both it was the third flight into space, Eugene A. Cernan) in May 1969 did the same, but already in circumlunar orbit! The orbital (command) compartment made 31 orbits around the moon. The lunar cabin, undocking, performed two independent turns around the moon, descending to a height of 15 km above the surface of the satellite! In general, all stages of the flight to the moon were completed, except, in fact, the landing on it.
4. The first people on the moon
Apollo 11 (commander – Neil Alden Armstrong, pilot of the lunar module – Edwin Eugene Aldrin, pilot of the orbital module – Michael Collins; for all three it was the second flight into space) started from Cape Canaveral on July 16, 1969. After checking the onboard systems, within one and a half turns in near-earth orbit, the third stage was switched on and the spacecraft went on the flight path to the Moon. This journey took about three days.
The design of the Apollo required one serious maneuver during the flight. The orbital module, docked with the lunar cabin with its tail section, where the main engine was located, was undocked, turned around 180 degrees and docked to the lunar cabin with the nose section. After that, the spent third stage was separated from the rebuilt QC. The other six flights to the moon followed the same pattern.
When approaching the Moon, the astronauts turned on the marching engine of the orbital (command) module for braking and transition to lunar orbit. Then Armstrong and Aldrin moved into the lunar module, which was soon undocked from the orbital compartment and entered an independent orbit of the artificial satellite of the Moon, choosing a place to land. On July 20, 1969, at 3:15 pm EST (23-17 Moscow time), the Apollo 11 lunar cabin made a soft landing on the Moon in the south-western part of the Sea of Tranquility.
Six and a half hours later, after putting on the spacesuits and depressurization of the lunar compartment, Neil Armstrong was the first to step on the surface of the moon. It was then that he said his famous phrase.
Live television broadcast from the surface of the moon was conducted on hundreds of countries around the world. It was watched by 600 million people (from the then population of the planet at 3.5 billion) in six parts of the world, including Antarctica, and also the socialist countries of Eastern Europe.
The USSR ignored this event.
“The lunar surface at the time of landing was brightly lit and looked like a desert on a hot day. Since the sky is black, it was possible to imagine that you were at the playground covered with sand at night, under the rays of searchlights. Neither the stars nor the planets, with the exception of the Earth, could not be seen, ”Armstrong described his impressions. Roughly the same thing he said on camera and shortly after going to the surface: “Like a high-mountain desert in the United States. Unique beauty! “Majestic solitude!” Aldrin echoed him, joining Armstrong after 20 minutes.
“The ground on the surface is soft and flowing,” Armstrong informed me of his impressions, “I easily pick up the dust with the tip of the shoe. I sink into the ground for only one eighth of an inch, but I see traces of my legs. ” “The brownish ground of the moon,” wrote the November (1969) issue of the journal America, published in the USSR, was slippery, it stuck to the soles of the astronauts. When Aldrin inserted a pole into the ground, it seemed to him that the pole was entering into something raw. ” Subsequently, these “earthly” comparisons were used by skeptics to confirm the idea that the astronauts were not on the moon.
Returning to the lunar cabin, the astronauts pumped oxygen, took off their spacesuits, and after resting began to prepare for takeoff. The spent landing stage was undocked, and now the lunar module consisted of one take-off stage. The total time spent by the astronauts on the moon was 21 hours and 37 minutes, of which outside the lunar cabin, the astronauts spent only a little more than two hours.
In orbit, the lunar compartment joined the main one, manned by Michael Collins. He was prepared for the most unenviable, but also the safest role in the lunar expedition – to spin in orbit, waiting for his colleagues. Going into the orbital compartment, the astronauts battened down the passageway and undocked what was left of the lunar cabin. Now the Apollo 11 spacecraft complex consisted of one main unit, which headed for Earth. The way back was shorter than the way to the moon and was only two and a half days – to fall to the Earth easier and faster than to fly away from it.
The second landing on the moon took place on November 19, 1969. The crew of Apollo 12, Charles Peter Conrad (the third flight into space; he made four of them altogether) and Alan Laverne Bin stayed on the lunar surface for 31 hours and a half, of which outside KK was 7.5 hours for two exits. In addition to the installation of scientific instruments, the astronauts dismantled for delivery to Earth a number of instruments from the American automatic spacecraft (AKA) “Surveyor-3”, descended on the lunar surface in 1967.
The Apollo 13 flight in April 1970 was unsuccessful. In flight, a serious accident occurred, there was a threat of failure of LSS. Having forcedly canceled the landing on the moon, the crew of the Apollo-13 flew around our natural satellite and returned to Earth in the same elliptical orbit. The commander of the ship, James Arthur Lovell, was the first man to fly to the Moon twice (although he was never destined to be on its surface).
This seems to be the only flight to the moon to which Hollywood responded with a feature film. Successful flights did not attract his attention.
The barely occurring catastrophe with the Apollo-13 made it necessary to pay increased attention to the reliability of all the onboard QC systems. The next flight of the lunar program took place only in 1971.
On February 5, 1971, veteran American astronautics Alan Bartlett Shepard and rookie Edgar Dean Mitchell embraced the area around the crater Fra Mauro. They went twice to the lunar surface (each time more than four hours), and the total time the Apollo 14 module stayed on the Moon was 33 hours and 24 minutes.
On July 30, 1971, the Apollo 15 module with David Randolph Scott (third space flight) and James Benson Irwin descended to the surface of the moon. Astronauts for the first time used a mechanical vehicle on the Moon – the “lunar car” – a platform with an electric motor with a power of only 0.25 horsepower. The astronauts made three excursions with a total duration of 18 hours and 35 minutes and traveled 27 kilometers across the moon. The total time spent on the moon was 66 hours 55 minutes. Before launching from the moon, astronauts left a camera in automatic mode on its surface. She transmitted on the screens of terrestrial television the moment of take-off of the lunar cabin.
The “lunar car” was used by the participants of the two following expeditions. On April 21, 1972, Apollo 16 commander John Watts Young and the lunar module pilot Charles Moss Duke landed in the area of Descartes crater. For Yang, this was the second flight to the Moon, but the first landing on it (just Young made six flights into space). Almost three days QC stayed on the moon. During this time there were three excursions with a total duration of 20 hours and 14 minutes.
Eugene Andrew Cernan (for whom, like for Yang, this was the second flight to the Moon and the first landing on her) and Harrison Heigan Schmitt became the last people to visit the Moon on December 11-14, 1972. The Apollo 17 crew set a number of records: he spent 75 hours on the Moon, 22 hours out of KK, drove 36 km over the surface of the night star and brought 110 kg of lunar rock samples to Earth.
By this time, the total cost of the Apollo program expenditures exceeded $ 25 billion ($ 135 billion in 2005 prices), which prompted NASA to curtail its further implementation. Scheduled flights on the Apollo-18, -19 and -20 were canceled. Of the three remaining RN Saturn-5, one launched the only US orbital station Skylab in 1973 into the satellite orbit, the other two became museum exhibits.
The elimination of the Apollo program and the cancellation of some other ambitious projects (in particular, a manned flight to Mars) were a disappointment for Werner von Braun, who became the Deputy Director of Space Flight Planning at NASA in 1970, and possibly accelerated his death. In 1972, Brown retired from NASA and died five years later.
Having stimulated the start of the lunar programs of the USA and the USSR at the beginning, the “cold war” then directed the development of space technologies to a narrow channel of the arms race.
For the United States, the Space Shuttle space shuttle program has become a priority, for the USSR – long-term orbital stations. It seemed that the world was heading uncontrollably toward “star wars” in near-Earth space. The epoch of cosmic romance and the conquest of space receded into the past …
5. Where are the doubts?
After a few years, doubts began to be expressed: is it true that the Americans landed on the moon? Now there is already a fairly large amount of literature and a rich film library, proving that the Apollo program was a great mystification. Moreover, there are two points of view among skeptics. According to one, in the framework of the Apollo program no space flights were made at all. Astronauts all the time remained on Earth, and “moon shots” were shot in a special secret laboratory created by NASA experts somewhere in the desert. More moderate skeptics acknowledge the possibility of real fly-overs of the moon by Americans, but the landing moments themselves are considered fake and film-editing.
Proponents of this sensational hypothesis have developed a detailed argument. The strongest argument, in their opinion, is that on the astronauts landing on the moon, the lunar surface does not look like (again, according to their understanding) it should have looked. So, they believe that the pictures should be visible stars, since the moon has no atmosphere. Pay attention to the fact that in some pictures, the alleged position of the shadows indicates a very close, within a few meters, the location of the light source. Also overly close and, as it were, cropped horizon line are noted.
The next group of arguments is related to the “wrong” behavior of material bodies. Thus, the US flag, set up by astronauts, seemed to be waving under the gusts of wind, while a vacuum was on the moon. Pay attention to the strange movement of astronauts in spacesuits. They argue that under conditions of gravity six times smaller than the earth, astronauts had to move huge (almost ten meters) jumps. And they assure that the astronauts’ strange gait just imitated under conditions of gravity the “jump” movement on the Moon with the help of … spring mechanisms in space suits.
They suggest that almost all the astronauts who flew, according to the official version, to the Moon, subsequently refused to spread about their flights, to give interviews, to write memoirs. Many went crazy, died a mysterious death and
It is curious that for ufologists the strange behavior of many astronauts of the “lunar detachment” serves to prove something completely different, namely, that on the moon they allegedly came into contact with an extraterrestrial civilization!
Finally, the last group of arguments is based on the thesis that the technologies of the late 1960s – early 1970s did not allow three manned manned flights to the moon to return to Earth. They point to the insufficient power of the then PH, and most importantly (an irresistible argument in our time!) – to the imperfection of computers! And here the skeptics contradict themselves. They are thus forced to admit that in those days there were no opportunities for computer-graphic imitation of the course of the lunar expedition!
Supporters of the authenticity of man’s landing on the moon have an equally developed system of counterarguments. In addition to pointing out the internal contradictions of the skeptical theory, as well as the fact that its arguments can be used to prove several mutually exclusive points of view at once, which, logically, is considered an automatic refutation of all of them, they give a physical explanation to the noted “oddities”.
The first – the lunar sky, which is not visible stars. Try looking at the clear sky at night, being in the bright light of a street lamp. Will you see at least one star? But they are there: it is worth moving away into the shadow of the lantern – the stars will appear. Looking at the lunar world with the brightest (in vacuum!) Light of the Sun, through powerful light filters, the astronauts and the camera’s “eye” could, of course, capture only the brightest objects — the lunar surface, the lunar cabin, and the people in space suits.
The moon is almost four times smaller than the Earth, so the curvature of the surface there is greater, and the horizon line is closer than we used to. The proximity effect is enhanced by the absence of air – objects on the horizon line of the moon are also clearly visible as being near the observer.
Fluctuations of the flag made of foil, naturally, did not occur under the action of the wind, but, according to the principle of a pendulum, the shaft was stuck with force into the lunar soil. Later he received more pulses for oscillations from the steps of the astronauts. The seismograph installed by them immediately caught the shaking of the ground caused by the movement of people. These oscillations, like any others, had a wave nature and, accordingly, were transmitted to the flag.
When we see astronauts in space suits on TV screens, we are always amazed at their clumsiness in such a bulky design. And on the moon, despite six times less gravity, they with all their desire could not fly, which for some reason was expected of them. They tried to move by jumps, but then found that the earthly step (in space suits) was acceptable on the Moon. On the screens, Armstrong easily lifted a heavy (on Earth) tool box and said with childish delight: “This is where you can throw any thing far away!”. However, skeptics assure that the scene was simulated, and that the box from which the astronauts then took out the scientific equipment was at that moment … empty.
Too grandiose and many years would have to be a hoax, and more than one thousand scientists would have to devote a secret to the secret!
It is unlikely that even a totalitarian state is able to exercise such tight control over such a mass of people and prevent leakage of information. The crew of the Apollo 11 installed a laser reflector on the moon, which was then used for laser location from the earth and for determining the exact distance to the moon. Was the location session also fabricated? Or were the reflector and other devices that transmitted signals to Earth before the 1980s all been installed by automata?
Astronauts of all six expeditions landed (according to the official version) on the Moon, brought to the Earth a total of 380 kg of samples of lunar rocks and lunar dust (for comparison: Soviet and American AKA – only 330 grams, which proves the much higher efficiency of manned flights compared with AKA for studies of celestial bodies). Were they all collected on Earth, and then passed off as lunar? Even those whose age is 4.6 billion years, which has no recognized analogues on Earth? However, skeptics say (in part they are right) that there are no reliable methods for accurately determining the age of such ancient breeds. And all these centners of lunar soil were allegedly brought to Earth by machine guns. Then why their weight is three orders of magnitude higher than that brought by all other AKA combined? And if they are terrestrial, then why is their composition identical to the lunar soil, delivered by machine guns to Earth or analyzed by our “Lunokhods” on the Moon itself?
It is noteworthy that skeptics concentrate their efforts mainly on denying the authenticity of the first man’s landing on the Moon. Whereas, in order to confirm their theory, they need to separately disprove the authenticity of each of the six officially registered landings. What they do not do.
As for the imperfections of the then technologies, the “murderous” nature of this argument reflects the inferiority of the consciousness of modern civilized humanity, which has put itself in fatal dependence on computers.
Just at the turn of the 1960-1970s. civilization began to change the paradigm of its development. The installation for the conquest of space was replaced by the installation for the production and use of information, and for utilitarian, consumer purposes. This caused a surge in the development of computer technology, but at the same time put an end to the external expansion of mankind. Along the way, in the same years, the general attitude towards scientific progress began to change – from the enthusiastic, it first became restrained, and then the negative began to prevail. This change in public sentiment is well reflected (and perhaps to a certain extent, formed) by Hollywood cinema, one of the textbook images of which was a scientist whose experiments and discoveries become a terrible threat to the safety of people.
Most modern people, brought up in the categories of linear progress, it is difficult to imagine that 40-50 years ago our civilization was in some ways higher (I would even say, more sublime) than now, idealistic. Including in the field of technology related to the penetration of extraterrestrial space. This was greatly facilitated by the competition of alternative socio-economic systems. The romance and heroism of struggle and expansion has not yet completely killed the smug, all-consuming consumerism virus.
Therefore, all references to the impossibility for Americans to build in the 1960s a lunar QC are simply untenable. In those years, the United States really overtook the USSR in many areas of space research. So, one more triumph of the overseas power was the AKA Voyager program. In 1977, two vehicles of this series were launched to the distant planets of the Solar System. The first flew near Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, the second explored all four giant planets. Thousands of amazing shots were sent to Earth, which bypassed the pages of all popular science publications. The result was sensational scientific discoveries, in particular, dozens of new satellites of the outer planets, the rings of Jupiter and Neptune, and others. Is this also a hoax ?! By the way, the connection with both AKA, now at a distance of 90 astronomical units (14.85 billion km) from the Earth and exploring the interstellar space already, is still maintained.
So there is no reason to deny the ability of the civilization of the second half of the last century, including in the United States, to make a series of manned missions to the moon. Moreover, a similar program was carried out in the USSR.
Its presence and the degree of its development are the most important evidence of the authenticity of an event that took place 40 years ago.
6. Why our astronauts have not visited the moon?
One of the answers to the question posed is that the Soviet leadership, in contrast to the American one, did not concentrate on this direction of the main efforts. The development of cosmonautics in the USSR after successful launches of the satellite and the first manned flights became “multi-vector”. The functions of satellite systems were expanded, the flight controllers for near-earth flights were improved, AKA was launched to Venus and Mars. It seemed that the first successes in themselves created a sufficiently strong and long reserve for the leadership of the USSR in this field.
The second reason is that our specialists could not solve many technical problems that arose during the implementation of the lunar program. So, the Soviet designers could not create a powerful enough RN – the analogue of Saturn-5. The prototype of such a rocket – PH N-1 (on the picture) – grasped a number of disasters. After that, work on it, in connection with the already completed flights of Americans to the moon, were curtailed.
The third reason was that, paradoxically, but it was in the USSR, unlike the United States, that there was a real competition between variants of lunar programs between joint design bureaus (design bureaus). The political leadership of the USSR was faced with the need to choose a priority project, and because of its scientific and technical incompetence, it could not always make a good choice. The parallel support of two or more programs led to the dispersal of human and financial resources.
In other words, in the USSR, unlike the United States, the lunar program was not unified.
It consisted of various, often multifunctional projects that never merged into one. The programs for flying the moon, landing on the moon and creating a heavy rocket launcher were implemented in many ways separately.
Finally, the leadership of the USSR considered the landing of a man on the moon exclusively in a political context. The backlog of the United States in the implementation of a manned flight to the moon for some reason was estimated by him as the worst recognition of defeat, rather than an “excuse”, as if the USSR had no lunar program. Recently, few people believed even then, and the lack of hints of attempts to at least repeat the achievement of Americans was perceived in our society and around the world as a sign of a hopeless lag behind the US in the field of space technology.
Project LK-1 (“Lunar ship-1”), which provided for circling the moon with one cosmonaut on board the spacecraft, was signed by the head of the OKB-52 Vladimir Nikolayevich Chelomey on August 3, 1964. He was guided by the RR UR500K developed in the same OKB (prototype of the subsequent Proton launch vehicle, which was successfully tested for the first time on July 16, 1965). But in December 1965 the Politburo decided to concentrate all the practical work on the lunar program in the Sergey Korolev Design Bureau 1. Two projects were presented there.
Project L-1 envisaged the flight of the moon by a crew of two people. Another (L-3), signed by Korolev as far back as December 1964, is also a crew of two people flying to the Moon with a cosmonaut landing on the Moon’s surface. Initially, the term for its implementation was appointed by Korolev for 1967-1968.
In 1966, the Chief Designer unexpectedly dies during an unsuccessful operation. The head of the OKB-1 becomes Vasily Pavlovich Mishin. The history of the leadership and scientific and technical support of the Soviet cosmonautics, the role of individuals in this is a special topic, its analysis would lead us too far.
The first successful launch of the Proton — L-1 complex was carried out from Baikonur on March 10, 1967. A mock-up of the module, which received the official designation “Cosmos-146”, was launched into the orbit of the satellite. By this time, the Americans had almost the first year carried out the first test of the Apollo in automatic mode.
On March 2, 1968, the prototype L-1, under the official name Zond-4, circled the moon, but the descent in the earth’s atmosphere was unsuccessful. The next two attempts to start were unsuccessful due to failures in the PH engines. Only on September 15, 1968, the L-1 called the Zond-5 was launched on the trajectory of the flight to the Moon. However, the descent took place in an unplanned area. The descent system in the atmosphere summed up the Zond-6 on its return in November 1968. Recall that in October 1968, the Americans switched from automatic to manned flights under the Apollo program. And in December of the same year, the first triumphal flight of the moon made the Apollo 8.
In January 1969, the RN again started off at the start. Only in August 1969, a successful unmanned flight of the Zond-7 took place, returning to the Earth in a given area. By this time, the Americans have already visited the moon …
In October 1970, the flight “Zonda-8”. Almost all technical problems were solved. The next two vehicles of this series were already prepared for manned flights, but … the program was ordered to wind down.
Project L-3, intended for landing on the moon, had significant differences from the US. The concept of flight was the same. However, the more powerful engine LC did not require separation of the cabin on the landing and takeoff stages. Another difference was that the astronaut’s transition between LOC and LK was to be carried out through outer space. This was due to the fact that by that time the domestic space program had not yet solved the technical problems associated with the tight connection of two spacecraft. The first successful experience of this kind was carried out by ours only in 1971 when we launched the Soyuz-11 spacecraft to the Salyut-1 orbital station. As early as March 1969, the Americans at the Apollo 9 completed the first ever hermetic docking and uncoupling and transition from one space module to another without going into outer space. The need to create in the Soviet LOC a lock chamber and the presence of a pilot in a spacesuit sharply limited the useful volume and payload of the entire lunar complex. Therefore, the expedition was scheduled only two people, not three, like the Americans.
Testing of individual elements of the flight to the moon was originally conducted in the framework of the projects “Union” and “Cosmos”. On September 30, 1967, the first docking of the Cosmos-186 and -187 unmanned aerial vehicles in orbit was performed. In January 1969, Vladimir Shatalov on the Soyuz-4, Boris Volynov, Alexey Eliseev and Yevgeny Khrunov on the Soyuz-5 made the first docking of the manned vehicles and the transition from one to another through open space. The testing of the undocking, braking, acceleration and docking of the LC in near-earth orbit continued even after the decision to cancel the manned flight was made in the early 1970s.
The main obstacle in the way of the lunar project was the difficulty in creating the PH H-1.
Her avant-project was signed by Korolev back in 1962, and the Chief Designer made a note on the sketch: “We dreamed about it as early as 1956-57”. .
The design of the PH N-1 was a five-step (!) Initial weight of 2750 tons. According to the project, the first three stages were to bring the cargo with a total weight of 96 tons to the flight trajectory to the Moon, which included, in addition to the lunar ship, two steps for maneuvering near the moon, descending onto its surface, lifting it and departing to Earth. The weight of the lunar ship itself, consisting of the orbital compartment and the lunar cabin, did not exceed 16 tons.
The H-1 rocket, the first test of which took place in January 1969 (already after the first flyby of the Moon by the Americans), was followed from the beginning to the end by fatal failures caused by engine failure. None of the H-1 launches were successful. After the crash at the fourth start in November 1972, further work on the N-1 was stopped, although the causes of the accidents were identified and were completely subject to elimination.
Back in 1966, Chelomey proposed an alternative project of the lunar expedition, based on the creation of the LV UR700 (further development of the UR500, that is, the Proton). The flight pattern for this program resembled the original project of the Americans (which they then refused). It provided for a single module lunar ship, without separation into orbital and takeoff and landing bays, with two astronauts on board. However, OKB-52 gave “good” only for the theoretical development of this project.
If it were not for the hasty political decision of the Soviet leadership, it can be argued that, despite all the technical problems, our cosmonauts could realistically carry out the first flyby of the moon in 1970-1971, and the first landing on the moon – in the years 1973-1974 .
But at this time, after the successful flights of the Americans, the leaders of the CPSU cooled to the lunar program. This indicates a dramatic change in their mentality. Is it possible to imagine that if the United States could be ahead of us in the development of the first satellite or the launch of the first cosmonaut, the Soviet space program would have been curtailed at the initial stage? Of course not! In the late 50s – early 60s. it would be impossible!
But in the 70s, the leaders of the CPSU had other priorities. The need to pay special attention to the military component served only as a pretext for winding up the lunar program (especially since the beginning of the 70s is characterized by a detente of international tensions). From now on, the prestige of the Soviet cosmonautics was based only on constantly updated records for the duration of the flight. In 1974, as a result of corporate intrigues, Mishin was dismissed from his post as head of the OKB-1. Valentin Glushko, who not only stopped all the work on the H-1, even theoretical, but also ordered to destroy the ready-to-try copies of this PH, took his place.
The question in the heading of this section, it is appropriate to add to others: why our astronauts were not on Mars? More precisely, about Mars.
The fact is that the project H-1 was calculated as a multi-purpose. This RN (which was planned only as the first in the family of heavy carriers) was developed in the future not only for a lunar ship, but also for a “heavy interplanetary ship” (TMK). This project involved the launch of a spacecraft into a heliocentric orbit, which allowed it to fly several thousand kilometers from Mars and return to Earth.
LSS development of such a ship was carried out on Earth. Testers and volunteers Manovtsev, Ulybyshev and Bozhko in 1967-1968. spent in a sealed chamber with an autonomous LSS for a year. Similar experiments of much shorter duration began in the USA only in 1970. In the future, the many-month stay of a number of Soviet crews at the Salyut formed suspicions that the leadership of the USSR was preparing for the implementation of the “Martian Program”. Alas, it was only speculation. Such a program in reality did not exist. Work on TMK was terminated simultaneously with work on the H-1.
In principle, the execution of a manned flight around Mars with the return to Earth would be quite realistic for the USSR in the early – mid 1980s.
Of course, provided that all elements of the lunar program, suitable for use in flight to Mars, continued to develop and work on them would not cease in the 70s. The moral effect of such a flight would be comparable to the landing of Americans on the moon, if not more. Alas, later the Soviet leadership once again missed a historic chance for a great country …
7. Is there a future for lunar expeditions?
To do this, first of all, a fundamental change in the mentality of modern civilization is needed. Despite promises that appear from time to time by the leaders of the United States or the leaders of our cosmonautics to organize a manned flight to Mars, it is clear that they are no longer perceived by society with such enthusiasm as the promises of the first flights to space and the Moon 40-50 years ago. George W. Bush announced the task of returning the Americans to the moon before 2020 and the subsequent flight to Mars. By that time, several presidents will have changed, and from Bush, in the event that his “preliminaries” are not fulfilled, as they say, bribes will be smooth.
Nowadays, space research and the conquest of world spaces have decisively shifted from priorities to the periphery of public interest in virtually all countries of the world.
This is clearly seen in the share of messages of this kind in the general media stream. If in Soviet times almost every citizen of the USSR knew whether our cosmonauts are in orbit now and who exactly, then now only a small minority knows for sure whether the cosmonauts are currently on board the International Space Station. However, most probably don’t even know what it is.
Meanwhile, the effectiveness of manned flights for scientific research was proved by the same Apollo expeditions. During the three days of their stay on the Moon, two astronauts had time to complete the volumes of scientific work, which were orders of magnitude higher than those that both our lunar rovers had done in 15 months! The Apollo program was important for scientific and technological progress. Many of her achievements were then used in various projects. Testing the latest equipment in the conditions of long-distance space travel is a completely unique opportunity, fraught with a sharp jerk in all scientific and technical fields. The multi-billion dollar cost of the Apollo program ultimately paid for itself and brought profit through the introduction of new technologies.
However, despite the occasional projects of long-term habitable stations on the Moon that appear from time to time, the governments of the leading powers of the world, neither individually nor together, are in no hurry to shell out for such programs. The point here is not only the stinginess, but also the absence of ambition. Extraterrestrial spaces have ceased to excite and attract people. Mankind clearly needs additional incentives to activate the space vector of its development.