How close were the Russians to a moon visit in the 60's?

During the space race, how close were the Soviets to a realistic visit to the moon?

The mooooon!

Apparently not very.

Their program was to use the N1 rocket, which they began to develop several years after the U.S. began to develop the Saturn rocket. The N1 failed on four different test flights, and the program was cancelled by 1974.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N-1_rocket#Moon_missions

Refresh my memory. I read through the Wiki article. The “biggest explosion in rocket history” occurred on July 3, 1969 just 17 days before the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Wasn’t there a devastating accident at a Russian rocket facility well before that the killed some of their top rocket developers and essentially ended any real hope of beating the US in the mission of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely?

Are you thinking of the 1960 Nedelin Disaster?

2 meters closer than today.

Unfortunately the site with the best info about this is no longer up (Encyclopedia Astronautica). As I remember it showed that the Russians were never really even in the race. After their initial successes good ole’ communist efficiency kicked in and caused them to squander their lead. Political in-fighting between two different head designers, lack of organization and commitment, insufficient funding, the sudden death of one of the head designers (the more skilled one), they didn’t get their shit together until the late 60s, far too late.

The N1, their Saturn V, although it failed on all four launch attempts, it did get farther along on each try. In the third failure however, the one a few days before Apollo 11, it failed so close after liftoff that it fell right back onto the pad and utterly destroyed the launch complex, setting them back years.

Even if they had continued their moon program they’d have been lucky to land a commie-naut on the Moon before the end of the seventies!

Yes, I believe that’s what I was thinking of. So the Soviets did have time to rebuilt the program but as Hail Ants summarized, they were ahead of us in rocketry before the Nedelin Disaster but it must have served to level the playing field.

Closer than the US :stuck_out_tongue:

The Soviets were the first to land an unmanned craft on the moon, and they sent a robotic craft that collected samples and returned to earth. They were also the first to successfully send crafts to Mars and Venus.

The problem with the N1 rocket which **Kenobi **mentioned pushed back their plan for a September 1968 manned moon landing. They had achieved some firsts with the Voskhod program (first multiple crew spacecraft in 1964, first spacewalk in 1965), but after the Americans beat them to the moon, the Soviets pretty much abandoned their lunar plans.

Khrushchev re-foucsed rocket scientist on developing ICBMs, and the space program refocused on building space stations. They put eight of them into orbit between 1971 and 1982, the last of which was in orbit until 1991.

My point is that I think the Soviets clearly could have put men on the moon if they wanted to. There was nothing else to be gained by sending men there if you weren’t first, which is why the US abandoned their own program after three-and-a-half years.

Or nine of them, if you count the International Space Station. Six of the ISS modules, including the very first one, were built and launched by Russia. One of them (Zvezda) was actually built in the 80s to be the core module for Mir-2.

Mir wasn’t even finished until 1996, and lasted until 2001. And it looks like there were nine Salyuts before that.

Right, but one of them crashed back to earth before reaching orbit, due to a rocket failure. That’s why I said they put 8 into orbit… they put the ninth into the pacific. :slight_smile:

Mir came shortly after the last Salyut space station was abandoned, and that was followed by the ISS, which as **scr4 **mentioned, used components that were for a planned Mir2.

The US launched just one space station, Skylab, which went up in 1973 and came back down in 1979.

The crash landing of the unmanned probe Luna 15, hours before Apollo 11 blasted off back to Earth, puts it in perspective.

The Russian plan for a manned Moon mission involved a cosmonaut exiting a capsle in lunar orbit, and entering a landing module. He would then descend to thge Moon, hang around for a few hours, then blast off into lunar orbit, and do another space walk transfer to the capsule.
Not likely to have worked (reliably).:smack:

Heh. I remember a mission of the TSR high-tech espionage game Top Secret in which the agents ended up on the Moon. They find a Soviet capsule with a mummified cosmonaut inside, and a letter (or was it a plaque?) indicating that the poor guy had landed on July 20, 1969… a day before Armstrong and Aldrin.

It’s basically the same plan NASA used, except the Soviet lander was only built for one person and was thus much smaller. (Also they had to EVA from the lander to the command module because there was no docking tunnel.)

The Soviets proved EVAs in Earth orbit to be reliable, so there’s no reason to assume their plan wouldn’t have worked if they had a chance to try it.

Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969. The day before was July 19.

Huh. Wiki said it was July 21: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_armstrong#First_Moon_walk

Soviet EVAs “reliable”? The first cosmonaut to attempt one nearly died! His suit ballooned out to the point where he almost couldn’t fit through the hatch.

Depends on what phase you’re talking about. From the Apollo 11 timeline, the LM landed at 20:18 UTC on the 20th, and Armstrong took his first step on the moon on 02:15 UTC on the 21st. This latter step would have still been in the evening of the 20th throughout the United States.