Archive for August 13, 2019

08/13/2019 – Ephemeris – Apollo 11 at 50: Soviet Moon landing plans

August 13, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, August 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 9 minutes, setting at 8:51, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:43. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 5:36 tomorrow morning.

The United States thought it was in a race to the Moon with the Soviets in the 1960s. The Russians in the meantime were pushing for space firsts, like the first man in space, first woman, first space walk. So they started too late with their Moon landing plans, on top of that their chief rocket designer Sergei Korolev died of a botched surgery in 1966 leading to a struggle for leadership. Despite their huge N-1 rocket, the payload to the lunar surface was less than the US had. They would have a 2 man crew in the Soyuz capsule and a one man lander they designated LK. The LK, much smaller than the US’s Lunar Module and to my knowledge was never tested and it never flew in space. The four moon rockets they built never flew more than a few seconds each.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.


Saturn V vs. N1

Comparison between The United States Saturn V and the Soviet N-1. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit Karl Tate,

Lunar Descent and Ascent Diagram

The Lunar landing strategy. When it comes to landing one cosmonaut space walks from the Soyuz (LOK) to the LK lander. The fifth stage called Block-D accomplishes the de-orbit burn of the lander, and is jettisoned. The LK is a two part vehicle somewhat like the American LM, except one engine accomplishes both landing and takeoff. On lunar rendezvous with the LOK the LK is the passive member of the docking. Credit: Rockets and People Volume IV The Moon Race by Boris Chertok/NASA.

The Rockets and People series can be downloaded from Look under Memoirs.

The LK Lander.

The LK Lander. Credit: Rockets and People Vol. IV/ NASA.

LK vs. LM

A comparison of the size of the LK Lander and the American Lunar Module (LM).  Click on the image to enlarge. Credit Wikipedia/ebs08.