By Nicholas L. Johnson
The tale of Soviet lunar exploration is certainly one of 3 separate yet complementary and modern programs:
The Luna application applied automatic spacecraft representing 3 generations ofspace technology;
The L-l manned spacecraft of the Zond application have been to circum navigate the Moon;
The L-3 manned lunar touchdown software expected sendinga lone cosmonaut to the lunar surface.
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Additional info for The Soviet reach for the moon: The L-1 and L-3 manned lunar programs and the story of the N-1 "Moon Rocket"
1 6 The Pivotal yr Of1968 ~ After the 2 mess ups in past due 1967,the Proton booster was once cleared for renewed flights, however the L-1 parachute process used to be nonetheless experi encing problems. in the course of a try on 26 January an L-1capsule struck the floor at excessive speed and exploded after the parachute folded upfront. below weeks later the first L-1 workforce com manders have been chosen: Bykovsky,Leonov, Popovich and Voloshin. On 2 March 1968 the 5th UR-500KIL-1Iaunch used to be carried out, and an entire L-1 spacecraft (7K-L1 no. 6)was inserted into Earth orbit. The BlockD level re-fired successfully,sending the L-1 house craft, now referred to as Zond four, right into a hugely elliptical orbit with an apo gee (330,000 km) shy ofthe orbit ofthe Moon (385,000 km ). (Zonds 1-3 have been small-less than one metric ton - deep house probes which traveled out to the orbits of Venus and Mars. ) Trajectory corrections failed on four and five March while the famous person sensor couldn't maintain a lock on Sirius; yet by means of 6 March the matter have been re solved, and Zond four was once on target for its go back to Earth. to lessen the deceleration forces on cosmonauts arriving from the Moon, the L-1 spacecraft used to be to accomplish a fragile reentry maneuver which known as for an preliminary dip into the higher surroundings at a low attitude to inside forty five km of the Earth's floor, followedby a short go out again into house to a peak of one hundred forty five km , after which a last reentry and touchdown. in the course of the preliminary foray into the ambience, the spacecraft's speed might drop from eleven km/s to under eight km/ s. when it comes to Zond four, an on-board malfunction prompted an atti tude regulate blunders which in flip ended in an easy ballistic reentry. accordingly, a self-destruct procedure on Zond four was once activated, and the car used to be deliberately destroyed over th e Gulf of Guinea at an altitude of 10-15 km. Tragedy struck back on the finish of March while Yuri Gagarin, who were a part of the Zond four keep an eye on staff, used to be killed close to Moscowwhen his MiG-15aircraft crashed in the course of a regimen education flight. His demise struck the cosmonaut corps challenging. The faltering L 1 software had already began affecting morale, and the possibility of thrashing the USA to the Moonwas fading. prior within the month the L three were scheduled for its first Earth orbit project earlier than the tip ofthe year,but the 1st lunar touchdown challenge used to be not likely until eventually the 1970-1971time body . April, 1968, used to be a hectic month with the release offour spacecraft ofimportance to the L-1 and L-3programs. at the seventh ofthe month, Luna 14 was once introduced towards the Moon because the final ofthe moment new release automated lunar probes. 3 days later the automobile slipped right into a lunar orbit of160 km by means of 870 km, the fourth Soviet spacecraft in years to complete this feat. the subsequent week Soviet consciousness shifted again to Earth orbit with the launches of Kosmos 212 and Kosmos 213 on 14 and 15April , respectively. the 2 spacecraft repeated the Kosmos 186 and Kosmos 188 vehicle matic rendezvous and docking test. The quite pre cise orbital insertion ofKosmos 213 left an preliminary separation ofonly a couple of kilometers among the 2 spacecraft.