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Thread: Why the Soviets Lost the Moon Race

  1. #1
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    Why the Soviets Lost the Moon Race

    It boils down to the failure of their rocket N-1.

    https://www.airspacemag.com/space/ap...ost-180972229/

    About two weeks before the Apollo 11 mission was launched to the moon, Apollo 8 astronaut Frank Borman was in Moscow on a courtesy trip on behalf of NASA. The visit had been planned for months but the timing could not have been worse. American astronauts were getting ready to land on the moon while it appeared as if the Soviets had ceded the race.

    On the evening of July 4, 1969, Borman was at the ornate U.S. Embassy compound in Moscow, surrounded by several veteran cosmonauts who seemed reticent if not outright glum. The following day, Borman visited the Cosmonaut Training Center at Star City, where he met with cosmonaut coordinator Nikolai Kamanin. One of the few Soviet space program managers with a public profile, Kamanin was also a national hero who had come to prominence back in the 1930s for leading a daring Arctic rescue. Now his mood seemed unusually subdued. When a journalist asked whether the Soviet Union was going to launch a mission to the moon to preempt Apollo 11, Kamanin and the cosmonauts would neither confirm nor deny it.

    Yet Kamanin knew something neither Borman nor the journalists knew: The moon race was already lost. On July 3, the secret moon rocket known as the N-1 had exploded in a fireball at the remote launch site at Baikonur in Kazakhstan, destroying one of two launch pads. In his private diary that night, Kamanin wrote a lament: “We are desperate for a success, especially now when the American astronaut Frank Borman is our guest. But all such hopes were dispelled by the powerful explosion of the rocket five seconds after launch…the failure has put us back another one or one-and-a-half years....”


    Read more at https://www.airspacemag.com/space/ap...RDuXeAIchXq.99
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  2. #2
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    Too bad they stopped trying.
    Nixon would not have been able to cut off Apollo after 17, and we'd probably both have bases by now.

  3. #3
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    I would have loved to have seen N-1 fly steadily.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    I would have loved to have seen N-1 fly steadily.
    The engineers probably would have, too.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squink View Post
    Too bad they stopped trying.
    Nixon would not have been able to cut off Apollo after 17, and we'd probably both have bases by now.
    I believe it was Congress that scrapped the moon race on the USA side, in part because Vietnam cost too much. Was my understanding, anyway.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    I believe it was Congress that scrapped the moon race on the USA side, in part because Vietnam cost too much. Was my understanding, anyway.
    No, it was Nixon's call. Citing expense, he dictated a new NASA policy that did not include crewed space flight beyond LEO. He cut NASA's budget, and he tried to cancel the Apollo 16 and 17 missions, but was talked out of it by advisors.

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/guest...ploration.html
    In March 1970, the White House issued a presidential statement on space saying that “what we do in space from here on in must become a normal and regular part of our national life and must therefore be planned in conjunction with all of the other undertakings which are also important to us.” This dictate set the space program in competition with other government programs for resources. It has not fared well in that competition; From 1970 onward, NASA has not had a budget adequate to support a robust program of human exploration.
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  7. #7
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    It has been a fair number of years since I read it, but I remember liking "Space Race: The Epic Battle Between America and the Soviet Union for Dominion of Space" by Deborah Cadbury, as an analysis of the race for the moon, particularly from the Soviet perspective. The emphasis of the book is not so much on the technology as the human aspects, the politics and the culture. A lot of discussion about Sergei Korolev.
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  8. #8
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    Asif Siddiqi and Bart Hendrixx, along with Phillip Clark (not to mention Anatoly Zak) have replaced Charles Vick and Jim Oberg. Some of Vick's drawings need to be updated.

    Bye the bye...I've seen blueprints of R-7 and Proton cast as NAZI rockets over at the so-called "History" channel.

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