2001: A Space-Time Odyssey

Michel Van

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This was a Alternate Cold War story publish in Alternate History.com in 2015
Sadly over years thing went not so well and my co-authors lost interest or had not time anymore.
I have decided to reworking, re-writing, re-editing this Alternate History for this Forum as a Solo project.
I hope you enjoy it ( special Archibald and Dilandu )


Once upon a time, there was a young engineer in Soviet Union who had just finished his studies at the Ukrainian Academy of Science in 1958.
He sent his application to several OKBs (Russian abbreviation for Experimental Design Bureau). Some looked at his resume and qualifications and threw away his request,
other put it in deposit in case they could not find a more experienced engineer, but then, finally, one OKB realised who this young man really was and hire him on spot!
The name of this young Soviet engineer was Sergei Khrushchev, son of Nikita Khrushchev, the Premier of Soviet Union and General Secretary of the Communist Party.
With Sergei's new job is at OKB-1, his boss Sergei Korolev now had an excellent connection to the very top of the Soviet political hierarchy...

Richard N

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I met Sergei and got a signed copy of his book in Dallas, Texas, in the 2000s. I believe his book was on the Soviet Space Program. It was many memories ago.

Michel Van

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R-9 vs R-16

Mitrofan Nedelin played a key role in ushering in the space age by concluding that rockets were the ideal means to deliver a nuclear warhead to enemy instead of bombers and ordered Sergei Korolev to develop the massive R-7 ICBM.
But this rocket and its derivatives, was powerful enough to launch Sputnik and Vostok manned space vehicles into orbit enabling the USSR to beat the US to space. but it was never an effective ICBM!
For Military purposes however, a new launch vehicle was neccesary.
One that could be launched quickly after the go ahead, one that would be useful in retaliation against an American first strike.
So the Soviet Strategic Rocket Force wanted a better, usable ICBM launcher they could use from protective Silos.

With the success of first tactical missile using storable fuels, it became obvious the new generation ICBM have use them
So Milhail Yangel OKB-589 ordered the development of the R-16 using Toxic nitric acid and UDMH fuel.
But Korolev abhorred those fuels would be "playing with devil" and prefer cleaner Liquid oxygen and Kerosine.
He got permission to build a backup system in case the R-16 project failed: The R-9.
Actually Gluchko's OKB-456 was to build rocket engines for R-16 and R-9,
But Korolev hated him[1] and refused his offer, using his growing influence to instead have team up with Kuznetsov OKB-276 for engines.

Despite pressure to perform all safety tests before October 7th (the day of the Bolshevik revolution)
The vehicle thuroughly tested even after the date, the last thing Nedeplin needed was a failed launch[2]
Luckily all went well as the rocket soared into the sky. While the launch was not without it's faults (comming somewhat short of the intended range)
The success was more than any of the hundreds of engineers had hoped for.

While the R-16 R&D went well, the R-9 experienced problems with it’s NK-9 engines.
OKB-276 just start to build rocket engine and had not experience like it rival OKB-456, what let to violent explosion on test stand.
On April 9, 1961, the first R-9 made test launch. 54 second into flight a fire broke out in engine Nr. 4 leading to the destruction of the R-9
The second test launch in May ended in a disaster as engine Nr. 6 exploded 20 second after launch.
OKB-1 started to check the delivery NK-9 engines and found faulty welds, metal shavings in turbo pump, fuel lines and Injector-plates.
Kuznetsov made his best to increase the production standards and to push for better quality control on rocket engines.
And with success, on October 25, 1961. The third R-9 launch went good following which the R-9 started a series of launches for it qualification.

By this time it was too late for the R-9 project, In same time the R-16 start make impressive results,
On August 1961 R-16s were being deployed as operational ICBMs all along the Soviet Union
The R-16 would be used in mass for several years untill it's eventual retirement.[3]

The R-9 stay as reserve force in case, all R-16 had to be fired in case of War, were they came too close in October 1961
Final end of R-9 came on October 24 1963, with LC-70 silo disaster. A oxygen tank leak in the Silo fueling system, let to a blaze killing seven men of the launch crew.
The R-9 was pullt out of Service, Sergei Korolev accepted the failure of R-9, he was busy for moment with a important projects for Soviet Union.
The real winner of the entire R-9 ordeal was Kuznetsov's OKB-276, which with each error learned more and more how to build rockets engines and that would be quit handy for a future Korolev/Soviet Space project.[4]

[1] in 1938 Korolev was deliberately accused and send to gulag camp later he works as prisoner under Gluchko at OKB-16
Here became the former friends mortal rivals and enemies.

[2] The Nedelin Tragedy is famous in rocket history for being one of the worst launch failures ever. 120 people died, the program was delayed by a year, and was covered up untill 1989. here in Story the launch is successful because took more time for testing.

[3]Without the Nedelin Tragedy, the R-16 becomes a commonly deployed ICBM. With the Soviet Union more reliant on ICBMs they never need to deploy IRBMs in Cuba and the Cuban Missile crisis never happens. The results of this will become clearer later in the story

[4]Korolev was forced to work with Glushko who built the rocket engines for the R-9 rather than Kuznetsov, which lead to problems when the Kuznetsov completely inexperienced with rocket engines, was tasked with designing, building, testing and launching the NK-15 engines years later for the N-1 project.

In story with greater influence in the Soviet leadership, Korolev is able to get his way and isn't forced to cooperate with Glushko, whom Korolev hated.

Michel Van

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1961: The Year the World almost faced Nuclear War twice !

February 9, 1961. An IL-18 plane carrying Leonid Brezhnev on board.
At the time he was acting as the nominal head of state of the Soviet Union and on a state visit to the Guinea Republic.
Do navigation error the plane enter French-Algerian airspace.
Because the Civil-War there, the French military suspected that IL-18 was a weapon transporter for FLN rebels,
and send Vautour fighter jets to intercept the airplane.
The IL-18 Pilots believing there outside French airspace, first ignored the french Vautour.
until one of french Pilot open fire, to force Aircraft to follow them, unfortunate damaging the Il-18.
The pilots try to reach Morocco airfield but crash in desert killing all onboard !

The dead of Leonid Brezhnev was shock for Soviet politburo, who consider this as act of barbarism,
The French Government apologise, but insisted that Brezhnev's plane strayed into French-Algerian airspace.
But Prime-minister Michel Debrè manage this so badly, that Khrushchev put a ultimatum to De Gaulle:

Extradite those Responsible of this political assassination to Soviet or else the Soviet union will retaliate.
and suddenly this became a World Crisis !

The situation was hopeless, France had Nuclear bomb prototypes, but no delivery system for them.
Kennedy declared DEFCON 2 and mobilised the NATO forces in case the Soviets really was preparing to attack,
While the U.N try to defuse the situation.
But before the situation escalated to a full war, De Gaulle extradite Michel Debrè to Soviet embassy in Paris.
He was transported in Diplomatic Box to Moscow and trail in 1962 and sentenced to life in Prison.
(and allot french were happy he was gone, Debrè was after all one of most unpopular politician in France )
France ended up after this crisis deeper in NATO as De Gaulle wanted.
While the British made demands: let UK join the European Economic Community in exchange for full support for France in NATO.

April 12, 1961 one biggest moments in History, Yuri Gagarin, became the first man in orbit and space.

The Next crisis came just days later on 17 April. The Bay of Pigs invasion happened in Cuba, the moment Fidel Castro announce that the invasion had failed, Nikita Khrushchev declared that Cuba is now under the nuclear protection of USSR,
threatening the use of ICBMs to defend the country for any aggressor.

On May 4th, 1961 Alan Shepard became the first American in space on his suborbital Mercury
Follow on May 25th, with Kennedy "we choose go to the moon" speech starting the Moon race.

Then the East Germans started the construction of the Berlin Wall on August 13. The other major crisis of that year.
It's zenith came on October 27, when US and Soviet tanks and infantry held a standoff at Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin.
During the tensest hours, the World watched as they stood on the edge of Nuclear War again, which, luckily, did not happen.
Thankfully nothing even approaching the crisis period of this year would happen in the rest of the Cold War.

But it was a wakeup call in Washington D.C. and Moscow,
When allot of politician were asking „Do we need to play the Nuclear Card in this Game ?“
The next 3 years the Kennedy Administration and Politburo started negotiation for treaties
Even after murder of J.F. Kennedy, President Johnson completed it, resulting in:

-Installation of “Red Phone“ line between Washington D.C. and Moscow (Telephone, Telex, later Videophone and computer links)
-Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (only underground testing. No testing on surface, in air, ocean or space or other planets )
-Voluntary Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (V-SALT) limiting the total number of ICBM Bombers SLBM.

V-SALT brought allot financial savings: the USA retired the Atlas and Titan ICBM earlier in favour of Minutemen,
While the USSR focused on the R-16 and UR-200 ICBM
France started Nuclear armament in H-bomb, Missile, Bomber and Submarines.
For Next 20 years France and USSR relationship was ultra cold, until socialist François Mitterrand became French President.
The Swiss vote in plebiscite for nuclear Weapon program for self-defence in 1962.


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I loved that POD, very well found. You are right about Michel Debré. While I wouldn't wish anybody a life sentence in a Soviet jail - as a matter of fact he was a bureaucratic dumbarse - some kind of French McNamara whizz kid, with the usual caveats.

He managed to make himself elected Deputy of Réunion Island, a backward place back then at Madagascar level of poverty and birth levels.

His solution ? he deported 1600 children out of their island to "a better life in Metropolitan France".
Yeah, sure dude. The poor kids ended thoroughly traumatized (La Creuse is nothing like Réunion) and too often, as agricultural servants to their adoptive families.

So you spared Réunion Island a major bullet to the foot...
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Michel Van

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it was you, Archibald that note me on Debré status in France.
I try to keep Politic post here so low as possible, but there events that shape this World quite different as ours
and Politic decision play important role special in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race...


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For the record: in Algeria the air war was 99.9% air-to-ground and CAS.
Since the FLN had foreign help trying to smuggle weapons (Nasser's Egypt and some others - another link to Suez 1956) the Maroccan and Tunisian borders had been reinforced on the ground - from minefields to electric fence, sensors...

But the smugglers could try their chance from the air. So just in case some air defense squadrons were deployed & rotated.

That's where the French De Havilland Vampires and their Mistral variant ended their lives: the first operational French combat jets even before the Ouragans.

This was enough for daylight intercepts (and the weather in North Africa was very clear often) but for night and bad weather some Vautours were deployed.

And ITTL they send Brezhnev kicking the bucket... OTL it was a close call ! 1961 was a rather tense year with multiple coups and mutinies by the OAS and Army altogether. No surprise one of these Vautour pilots lost control and pulled the trigger...

Michel Van

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The Ministry of General Machine-Building Industry of USSR

The launch of Sputnik in 1957 started the Space Race between USA and USSR.
Four years later the Soviet launch first human into Space and back Alive and Yuri Gagarin became a new kind of Hero !
The American try to follow with Suborbital Mercury flights, but With Gherman Titov one day in space
Making the US flights ridiculously trivial, in 1962 the first Mercury went into Orbit with John Glenn.
After Brezhnev Disaster and Fail Cuba Invasion and success of Soviet in space, J.F.Kennedy be under pressure to take action,
So on May 25, he held the famous "We choose go to the Moon" speech starting the Moon Race.

At first Nikita Khrushchev believed this was some kind of joke.
But his son and Sergei Korolev make very clear that Americans a serious and able to put a man on Moon!
So Khrushchev demanded a counter program to put a Soviet on Moon, but here the Problems startet.
While USA had the military USAF and civilian NASA for such program
Was the soviet space flight activity, let us say chaotic:
Next Rivalry between the Soviet design bureaus, who get lucrative contracts at any cost.
Was also rivalry between Air Force and Strategic Rocket Force over Manned space flights vs only ICBM.
Nikita Khrushchev was well informed by his son about this Mess.

So began the Politburo to centralise the soviet space flight activity under a new Ministry.
That coordinate the civilian and military spaceflight program, while Strategic Rocket Force keep control over their missiles.
The Ministry would become responsible for developing the new launch vehicles, ballistic missiles and payloads for the military and other applications.
Also Cooperate the new Ministry with the Fourth Scientific Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense, Agat, and NII Khimash, TsNIIMASH and NIITI.
Georgiy A. Tyulin was chosen as the head of the new Ministry called:
"Ministry of General Machine-Building Industry of USSR" Министерство общего машиностроения СССР (MoM for short)
This name was chosen to fool foreign secret services.

MoM started evaluation of current running programs planned and proposed concepts.
The Moon program L-1 and L-3 were put on priority,
Development of Space Probe for Moon, Mars, Venus and beyond
Study for manned orbital station as next steps
Study for moon base and manned interplanetary travel as such was considered a long-term with low priority for moment.

But not all were happy with new situation, like Gluchko who keep his OKB-456 independent under protection of Strategic Rocket Force.
The other was Chelomei OKB-52 who saw allot of his program getting cancelled by MoM
Like UR-500 heavy ICBM, UR-200 ICBM, L-1 lunar flyby, Kosmoplan and others
It was own fault Chelomei aggressively promoted his proposals with defamation about his Rivals, also his Arrogant way was not helpful in this.
Also was Tyulin in Clinch with marshal Nedelin, how insisted that only Yangel OKB-586 build ICBM for Strategic Rocket Force,
with engines build by Gluchko.

Michel Van

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Mercury-Gemini vs Vostok-Voskhod

The Soviet beat the USA with sending Yuri Gagarin into Space in 1961.
24 days later, American Alan Shepard made Suborbital flight on Mercury-Redstone
Original all Seven NASAAstronauts had to do a Suborbital flight, bevor Orbit flights.
But the one day in space of Gherman Titov, made those plans obsoleted.
NASA needed 10 months to launch Mercury-Atlas, with John Glenn on board.
While NASA try to catch up the Success of Titov flight by prolonging each Mercury flight.
The Soviet broke another Records with launch of Vostok 3 and 4 the first simultaneous mission in Space !
But the Mercury hardware was not reliable, the last flight with Gordon Cooper show that clearly.
After 34 hours in space most of systems show problems and issue, that Cooper used manual override for return
While Vostok 5 stay four days in space, follow by Vostok 6 with first Woman in space: Valentina Tereshkova.

NASA abandon Mercury and went for Gemini program with 2 men Capsule for testing various technology for Apollo program.
in USSR Nikita Khrushchev demanded form MoM to beat the USA by sending 3 cosmonauts in Vostok capsule !
Original were 13 Vostok Mission planned, now canceled by Khrushchev with order of new program
Minister Tyulin was not happy, either Korolev and Sergei Khrushchev because to manage the demand.
The Vostok spacecraft had the crew rescue system removed, in case launch failure the crew had not a chance !
The new Craft was called Voskhod to fool USA thinking the Soviet had their version of Gemini.
On 12 october 1964 Voskhod-1 was launch with V. Komarov, K. Feoktistov and B. Yegorov for one day mission.
Final the NASA could launch Gemini 3 into orbit but before Gemini 4 in June could do a Spacewalk
The Soviets made this with Voskhod-2 on 18 march 1965 were Alexei Leonov made the first Spacewalk
But the USA catch up with Gemini 5 seven days mission,
or first rendezvous in Space between Gemini 6 and 7 that stay 14 days in space.

Khrushchev demanded to counter that with other Voskhod missions
Voskhod-3 was 10 day mission with two Women Valentina Ponomaryova and Irina Solovyova
Voskhod-4 had to be a 20 day solo mission for Ivan Anikeyev in 1966.
It launch went wrong as on booster separation, one of them hit the core stage and destroy the rocket
Lucky for Anikeyev the Capsule was 50 km high and landed save 400 km from launch site.
Tyulin order the immediate end of the Voskhod and focus full on Soyuz program,
in dispute with Nikita Khrushchev he answer angry:

Do you want as first record also Dead Cosmonauts ?

In mean time NASA notice that Voskhod show same inflexibly like Vostok, no change of orbit, no rendezvous.
while the Gemini were first completely spacecraft able to do those things.
we're the USA now ahead in Space Race ?
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The Anti-Proxmire
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In terms of visuals....I could see a saner Howard Hughes build not spruce goose but something like Starship as a follow on to the gleaming Atlas...only his Starship would have a Dyna-Soar for a cockpit on one side of Starship and a counter-balanced payload of some kind on the other. His Starship would be all tanker...no fancy nose or internal payload...and use ground equipment to try to land...but the small, more agile cockpit-craft he stole from Bono would work...and inspire General Atomics away from pusher-plate pulse Orion...to Orion spaceplanes...with dense ammonia cracked into hydrogen going out the door...allowing both nuclear stages to be slimmer...the rejected nitrogen out the nose and wing leading edge as plasma..no tiles...no RCC. That's the best handwave I have. The idea is that the early computers couldn't land Howards rocket...and that poisoned minds against VTOVL systems...as opposed to our reality where winged spaceflight is in doubt. In the timeline I suggest..there is no Saturn V...but something like Sea Dragon for the largest bits...and Floyd's spaceplane new.
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Michel Van

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Khrushchev's Thaw, Kosygin's Rise (1953-1971)


Despite Alexander Kosygin losing his seat to the Politburo in mid 1952, because of stalinist reactionaries.
Being a staunch ally of Khrushchev, his political career soon turned around for the better.
Although he was never one of Khrushchev's protégés, Kosygin quickly moved up the CPSU party ladder.
By the time of the Sputnik 1 and 2 satellite launches in late 1957 he had already become an official of the State Planning Commitee and was made a candidate member of the Politburo.

By 1960 Kosygin was promoted to the State Planning Commitee chairmanship and became Khrushchev's First Deputy Premier.
This changed his life significantly because as First Deputy Premier Kosygin traveled around the world, mostly on trade missions,
to countries such as North Korea, India, Argentina and Italy.
As Gagarin and Titov where orbiting the world, Kosygin was able to regain his old seat in the Politburo during the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Just a year later he was already the Soviet spokesman for improved relations between the Soviet Union and the United States.

In 1964 Kosygin acheived a major political success.
Back on February 23rd 1961 the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, Lenoid Brezhnev
died after his diplomatic plane was shot down over Algeria in what is commonly refered to as the Brezhnev incident.
After that Khrushchev appointed Anastas Mikoyan to the position. However by 1964 the Mikoyan to retired from his seat in the Politburo due to old age.
As Alexei Kosygin in turn, took his place on July 15th 1964. His influence was responsible for a series of successful economic reform that led to the improvement of living standard for the Soviet people.
He was able to influence Khrushchev to rethink some of his crazy ideas and proposals.
Unlike some Stalinist Deviants claim he was not acting as a revisionist but simply applying Marxism-Leninism in a unique and creative way as the historical conditions of Russia have demanded for Socialism with Russian Characteristics.
His democratic succession on Khrushchev as Premier and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1971 and policies enacted strengthend socialism through Market forces rather than reviving Capitalism as counter-revolutionary stalinist and bourgeois elements have claimed.
The thriving Socialist Market Economy of our motherland that exists to this day is a testament to Khrushchev and Kosygin's early work in this period.

from Chapter 2: Red Rise
- Alexei Nikolayevich Kosygin: A Short Biography, by The Institute of Marxism-Leninism, CPSU Central Committee © 2006

Michel Van

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New Rockets In USSR


The US side of the Story...
In May 1962, the CIA noticed on reconnaissance satellite pictures, an increase of activity at OKB-1 factory, also with the begining of construction work on Baikonur and Pelsectsk
At Baikonur they erected a huge building in size 720 ft by 343 ft (220 by 125 meters)
It was connected by Railway to series of Launch Pads built North East of that new complex. Two pads were huge,
Then in 1964 a US reconnaissance satellite picture, how out this gigantic hall roledl out a puny Rockets to launch pad
The CIA reconnaissance group got laughing fits about this, the rocket analyst of CIA din’t laugh. That was a completely New Soviet Rocket !
Conical in form, about 106 ft (33 meter) it was launch successful in August 1964 according NORAD.
July 1965 the CIA reconnaissance group stop laughing, as a new bigger rocket was rolled out of that hall, double in length as „Puny Rocket“, That was more serious.
In 1966 to surprise of World Press, the Soviet presented a complete Vostock Rocket on Biggin Hill International Air Fair[1]
Labeling it a discontinued model, now it was a sure thing the Soviet were replacing their Launch rockets with something new.
1966 October after series of Test launches the two new rocket got official named by Soviet TASS[2]
The smaller was official label as „Soyuz Rocket“ as it launch the New Soyuz spacecraft.
The bigger was called „Proton“ after the astronomy satellites with same name, it had launch four times.
Finally in 1967 the CIA reconnaissance group stared to gape on a Picture, this time the soviets pulled out a Huge Rocket… one in size of a Saturn V !

The Soviet side of the Story…
In 1961 Sergei Korolev had proposed a Modular rocket family simply called „Nositjel“ (Launch vehicle) were the upper stage function as launch rocket.
the Soviet Space Agency (MoM) studied the proposal together with Chelomei Universal Rocket and R-56 Booster by Yangel
But the two were refused to huge amount of Toxic fuel used on those rockets, leading to higher cost compare to Korolev „Launcher“, who could use the existing propellant facility at the launch sites.
So in 1962 became „Nositjel 1/2/3“ official the new launcher Family of USSR.
In 1963 Sergei Khrushchev finalized the engine specification for N1/2/3 rocket to be build by the OKB-276.
Using for N3, the NK-9 from R-9 with 392kN and for N2 and N1 the NK-15 with 2120 kN thrust,
This would reduce the risk of Pogo[3] on Launcher by minimised the first stage engine 6 to 16
By launching the smaller version of „Nositjel“ the N3 and N2, it would reduce the Test program allot instead of 12 test launches with the complete N1 proposed by Vasily Mishin.
Actually each model would do 4 test flights, eliminating possible delays true N1 construction.
with success in 1965 the N3 called „Soyuz“ and 1966 N2 called „Proton“ went into service.
but on 14 January 1966 the program undergo trouble as Sergai Paviovich Korolev died.
In March the Politburo designated Sergei Khrushchev as new Head of OKB-1 [4]

[1] The soviet union boycott the Paris Air Show from 1961 to 1982 because of the Brezhnev Incident.
[2] Telegraph Agency of soviet Union, Is for distribution of internal and international news for all Soviet media.
[3] POGO is term for a dangerous self-excited combustion oscillation in liquid fuel rockets, causing in extrem situation the destruction of the vehicle during flight.
[4] Vasily Mishin's cynical comment on this decision: „well we don’t need to replace the Initials...“

Michel Van

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Soyuz vs Apollo part 1

It's interesting to see that adversary opponent of Moon Race, came to same solution - Lunar orbital Rendezvous -
but this imply rendezvous and docking technology, what NASA master in the Gemini program.
and Soviet had still to test this with Soyuz space craft

The failure of Voskhod-4 was a wakeup call for OKB-1,
Sergei Khrushchev made clear that manned Soyuz will only fly it all system were "Fool proof and Incapable of errors“
Much to anger of his father who was eager for new space records.

Kosmos 133 was first flight of Soyuz 7K-OK, it had to dock automatically later with Kosmos 134
However Kosmos 133's attitude control system malfunctioned, resulting in rapid consumption of orientation fuel, leaving it spinning at 2 rpm.
After heroic efforts by ground control and five attempts at retrofire over two days, the craft was finally brought down for a landing on its 33rd revolution.
Due to the inaccuracy of the reentry burn, the capsule would land in China.
The self destruct system was thought to have destroyed the ship on November 30, 1966.
But stories persisted over the years of the Chinese having a Soyuz capsule in their possession.

Kosmos 134 had different fate, it became soviet 'the day we launched the escape tower' of Mercury program.
The Soyuz rocket not ignited, a launcher shutdown was commanded. following inspections of Rocket.
27 minutes after the original launch attempt, the Soyuz launch escape system ignite, pulling the Soyuz away from the booster, igniting The third stage fuel tanks, leading to an explosion that severely damaged the pad and killed at least one person and injured many others!

Kosmos 140 experienced attitude control problems due to a faulty star sensor resulting in excessive fuel consumption.
The spacecraft couldn't keep the required orientation towards the sun to keep the solar panels illuminated.
Despite all of these problems the spacecraft remained controllable.
An attempted maneuver on the 22nd revolution still showed problems with the control system.
It malfunctioned yet again during retrofire, leading to a steeper than planned uncontrolled ballistic re-entry.
The re-entry capsule itself had depressurised on separation from the service module due to a fault in the base of the capsule.
A 300 mm hole burned through in the heat shield during re-entry.
Sergei Khrushchev order that crew had to wear pressure suits on board what reduce crew from 3 to 2 cosmonauts.

Kosmos 156 was again a disaster, one solar panel failed to unfold, do bad weather the launch of Kosmos 157 was canceled.
but it became worst op on landing the main parachute did not unfold, the unmanned capsule crash into the ground.

MoM state commission found 203 issue with Soyuz spacecraft in investigation of Kosmos flights.
A manned L1 circumlunar flyby by the 50th Anniversary of the October Revolution was now completely out of the question
and at best they might be able to have the earth orbit Soyuz 7K-OK ready for a dual manned rendezvous/docking.
Nikita Khrushchev was furious on this bad news.

In Mean time the first unmanned Soyuz 7K-L1 flights under Zond 4 & 5, they performed better.
Finally Kosmos 186 and 187 was successful, two Soyuz 7K-OK flew and dock automatic and return save, despite issues
Sergei Khrushchev order the first manned flight would include a Rendezvous, even that failed there would two Soyuz to test in space.

Soyuz 1 launched on November 27, 1967 crewed by Sergei Komarov, Vladimir Shatalov
While Soyuz 2 launched on November 30, 1967 crewed by Yevgeny Khrunov, Aleksei Yeliseyev.
The Rendezvous was performed entirely automatically by the IGLA-system on board Soyuz 1.
After the first attempt failed (a fly-by at a distance of 900 m), the second attempt succeeded
However, this docking was not entirely successful either - the modules were mechanically docked, but not electrically.
Also, the maneuver had cost more fuel than anticipated.
Khrunov and Komarov in spacesuits made spacewalk so they could transfer vehicles and land with Komarov,
the world's first crew-exchange in spaceflight history.
After 3.5 hours of joint flight, the spacecraft parted on a command sent from the earth and continued to orbit separately.
Both made a soft landing in the Soviet Union.
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Michel Van

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Soyuz vs Apollo part 2

The Apollo spacecraft had not a good start
NASA announcement on 27 November, 1961 that The Martin Company would be prime contractor,
Only a Day later to correct themselves and declare North American Aviation, Inc. (NAA) as winner!

Original planned as Block I (low orbit testing) and Block II (lunar operation)
NASA hoped that result and findings of Block I would help improvement on Block II
Planned were 6 Block I flights (two manned) and 20 Block II flights.
Prime Crew for Apollo 3 was Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee,
For Apollo 4 Walter Schirra, Donn Eisele and Walter Cunnigham.

But Apollo spacecraft ran into problems and delays, Grissom pointed on issue with Spacecraft on several occasions.
NASA officials ignored them, pushing NAA to keep the launch schedule.
The original planned launch of autumn 1966 was pushed to February 21, 1967 for Apollo 3.

Then on January 27 disaster strike
During manned launch simulation on launch pad the plug-out test was performed.
It had to show if Apollo spacecraft would operate normal on internal power
one minute later the crew reported issue with AC Bus 2 voltage follow 9 seconds later by outcry "FIRE"
During that time the Capsule had a pure oxygen atmosphere.
This allow the fire to destroy the capsule in seconds killing the 3 astronaut !

The USA was in Shock
The Investigation revealed: dangerous neglect, lack of safety procedure, design errors by NASA and North American Aviation, Inc.
While NASA faced political fallout from Capitol Hill during committees hearing to Apollo 3 disaster
Special senator Walter Mondale profiled him self here and will become a menace for NASA in coming years !
Also face NASA the first budget cuts and Johnson order year later the Stop of Saturn IB and V production.
Apollo program face serious delay because redesign the Capsule and fixing 1407 issue
Ironic NAA hired engineers from The Martin Company to fix the problem.
Apollo 4 became a unmanned flight on first Saturn V, while first Block II flew on Apollo 6 the second Saturn V flight.
First manned Block II flight Apollo 7 was scheduled for October 11, 1968

But will the Soviet Union use the delay to their advantage ?

Justo Miranda

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The first Russian atomic bombs were the size of a van and needed a B-29/Tu-4 to transport them... or a monstrous rocket. That was the origin of the space race and the apparent Soviet advance in the time of Sputnik. The Americans had not foreseen the need for such large rockets and were forced to develop the miniaturization of electronic components from the German transistor.

By 1964 the Soviets already possessed small nuclear warheads capable of extending the kill ratio of the SA-2 to 19,680 ft. and the ceiling to 80,000 ft.

Then the trend was reversed because NASA was already developing the Saturn V.


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By 1964 the Soviets already possessed small nuclear warheads capable of extending the kill ratio of the SA-2 to 19,680 ft. and the ceiling to 80,000 ft

This. The A-12 and SR-71 could barely escape chinese vietnamese and nork SA-2s.
The reason why they were never sent deep inside Soviet airspace was that nuclear SA-2s and SA-5s locked it way above 100 000 feet and way above Mach 4.
See the ISINGLASS RHEINBERRY thread: Convair started at mach 4.5 and ended at Mach 9; 90 000 ft to 130 000 feet.
When they pitched ISINGLASS to the NRO the spooks told them: NOT ENOUGH against nuclear SA-5s.
Out of the blue come MDD with an Alpha Draco pretty extreme vehicle... Mach 22. RHEINBERRY was quasi-orbital (orbital velocity would be Mach 26).
The NRO went for spysats instead: CORONA GAMBIT.

Michel Van

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Red China's New Strong Man

The Relationship between USSR and China deteriorated in 1960 during Soviet state visit to China.
Thanks to Nikita Khrushchev's unlucky metaphor about how "you need to change worn old shoes“,
Referring to China's authoritarian form of communism similar to Stalinism.
This was translated into the Chinese metaphor of "you need to get rid of the old whore“,
Mao Zedong considered this a major insult on his person.
Until 1966 the USSR and Chinese relations deteriorated to the worst they could be.

Nikita Khrushchev economic reforms which moved the USSR to less emphasis heavy Industry toward consumer goods by individual enterprises, with profits as incentives was interpreted by conservative Maoist as treason toward communism and was denounced as "reactionary" and "revisionist" in addition to the increasing amount of free political criticism and changing attitudes associated with the Khrushchev Thaw.

But Mao had other problems, the Chinese politburo wanted to remove him from power, because of a series of disastrous programs ordered by Mao and the current situation between USSR and China with the USSR and US's relations improving despite the situation in Vietnam.

In 1966 Mao Zedong found a Solution to that: The Cultural Revolution
Official a Movement by groups of young people (Red Guards) operate under Mao orders, against authorities at all levels in China.
But the situation escalated into a civil war in China and went out control as, In industrial City of Wuhan, Red Guards started to fights under each other!
Beginning in 1967 it went so bad that that Mao Zedong had to fly personal to Wuhan to deal with situation.
It was a certain Irony that Mao Zendong was killed by Red Guards believing the airplane was carrying enemy reinforcements,
shooting the plane down during landing!

The News of Mao dead let to the "30 Day Crisis“ a battle over control of People’s Republic of China.
Like Mao Widow, Jiang Qing and three other High rang official operating as "Gang of Four“ trying to take over the Chinese politburo but failed.
The winner of Crisis became the Chinese People’s Liberation Army under commando of Marshall Lin Biao, who restored law and order in China.
Lin Biao ruled with hard hand over China and cleaned up Mao Zedong's followers and Red Guards,
Made necessary reforms, leading China out it’s political isolation.
His top priority in 1968 was the Vietnam war and reconciling with the USSR with Success, Kosygin was very receptive to reconciliation with China.

Biao started an arms race to build an ICBM that could hit the USA,
After the death of vietnamese Ho Chi Minh in the beginning of 1968, the resulting Power struggle under there leaderships,
That was won by Pro China forces in the North Vietnamese Politburo!
The beginning of the Sino-North Vietnamese alliance
Now the USA faced a similar scenario, they had during the Korean War,
Danger of being over run by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. But this time they got Nuclear weapons !
For US Capitol Hill "The Chinese Nightmare“ started.


Khrushchev's remaining in office and his continuation of reforms, rapprochement to the West and the rise of a new class of market reformers in the USSR like Alexei Kosygin.
Lead to a greater backlash in China and the Cultural Revolution being even more violent than in our time
Mao Zedong is killed and Lin Biao comes to power as a result.
He attempted a coup against Mao in OTL which failed in 1971. The Gang of Four also attempted a coup which also failed in our time.

There is no Maoism movement, Left Radicals orientating now on Ho Chi Minh movement and there way of political combat!


The Anti-Proxmire
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Have whoever help invented microchips have car accidents so electronics stay heavy…keeping rockets bigger. No Thor. No Deltas.


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The N-1 / N-11 / N-111 were kind of Matrioshka-dolls rockets... or Lucky Luke's Dalton brothers (the N-1 would be Averell, for sure).

N-1: Blocks A-B-V-G

N-11: Blocks B-V-G

N-111: Blocks V-G (plus Block D eventually).

Michel Van

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The Moon Race Heats Up

USA and USSR were building the Biggest Rocket ever know it was time to Test them

The N1-L3 Rocket made its first launch on July 6, 1967.
After lift off problems started as engine n°12 suffered problems, in response the autopilot KORD wrongly shutdown a working engine on the opposed side!
54.5 seconds after launch the KORD reported engines 11, 12 and 13 were shutting down and a rise of temperature show there was a fire in first Stage.
Then 68.87 second after launch the fire burned the wire harness of engine bay, KORD shot down all engines of first stage, crashing the rocket down range while the launch escape tower rescued the boilerplate crew capsule.
The failure analysis was difficult, one problem was KORD's faulty plotting, after Engine 12 went in trouble,
another mystery was what happened to engine 11, 12 and 13 and where had the fire started ?
Flight data show that engine 12's turbo pump suddenly started violently vibrating at 51 second,
followed by the turbo pumps of engine 11 snd 13.

The Soviet Academy of sciences independent investigation board had this theory:
That liquid oxygen line were too brittle because, they had use much with cooler propellant than originally designed.
It ruptured under the harsh conditions of launch and the pogo oscillations produce by the engines.
The liquid oxygen poured out onto the running engine starting the fire.
Meanwhile the engine turbo pumps started running dry leading to violent vibrations, beginning the fatal chain reaction which lead to the destruction of N1-L3

It was a bad surprise for OKB-1, before the launch of the next N1 they had to replace the Stage's liquid oxygen lines, overwork KORD and install better Pogo dampers. the N1-L4 was pulled out production and was scraped.

On November 9th 1967 the Saturn V successfully performed it's first flight,
But the rest of Program was not running good, the Apollo modification delay manned Test flight Apollo 7 to autumn 1968,
The Lunar Module was also facing considerable delays, threatening the 1970 deadline !
The First LM prototype was Tested in space with Apollo 5, but was not Manned ready do issues with flight computers.
April 4th, 1968. the Second test of Saturn V ended in problems: massive Pogo, failure of J-2 engines and failed restart of the 3 stage !

While NASA start debug the Saturn V The Soviets made another Launch attempt on July 1968 with the N1-L5.
The flight went good until the 104 second were engine 4 having trouble and a overzealous safety range officer activated, the N1 self-destruct mechanism. The failure analyst Repot showed clearly that despite the failure of engine 4,
the N1-L5 could have bring the payload in lower orbit had safety range officer not acted.
On November 1968 the N1-L6 was launched despite problems with KROD and premature stage separation, the payload reached Low Earth Orbit
25 hours after it’s launch, the unmanned L3-Complex test model made the Trans Lunar Injection toward the Moon.
101 hours later the L3-Complex reach the moon where... nothing happened.
The Block-D failed to re-ignite as the L3-Complex passed by the moon and returned back to Earth on it's circumlunar trajectory.

In mean time the Americans notice a large number of Proton rocket launches to moon
There were heavy payload in two category: lunar fly by with return to Earth, the other lunar landings
In June 1968 one of Heavy probes manage to land safely on the lunar surface.
That Probe transmitted signals on 130 and 190 kHz, much to surprise of CIA analysts, it was of TV Cameras.
Their new probe was a remotely controlled rover ! It was intriguing for CIA analysts and NASA engineers to secretly watch on their equipment, the attempts by controllers in USSR to drive the Rover in search of... something.
After it reach a flat area it stop and turned its cameras off, switching to a 1000 kHz signal that repeated itself until it was interrupted by The lunar night.
The Soviet labeled this probe as Lunokhod 1, another Triumph of USSR.
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First Men around the Moon

NASA was in dilemma, the Saturn V underwent modification, Apollo 7 finally ready for manned flight for October 1968,
But Lunar Module was not ready for manned test flight, electrical problems and issues with the flight computers.
Grumman believed the LM could be ready for manned Testing in begin 1969 !
What to do ?
There were several option: wait until 1969 for Apollo 8 and test LM, launch Apollo 8 with Spy Sat Camera to moon
But that would take too much time and money, needed for Lunar landing.
Finally Frank Bormann proposed to NASA to launch Apollo 8 without LM to moon testing the Third Saturn V and Apollo CSM.
Marshall Space Flight Center schedule that Saturn V will ready for December 1968 launch of Apollo 8.

Meanwhile the CIA was keeping a close eye on the activities of the Soviets. there had series of failures
The first N1 test flight endet in Disaster, their new Soyuz spacecraft had seems serious issue, also their Zond probes.
Also two explosion on launch pad show the Soviets has serious problems !
The CIA assessment was that USSR would unlikely send a Human to Moon in 1968, with high probability during 1969.

But Soviets catch up with success of Soyuz 1 to 4 with two docking,
Now they planned another docking with Soyuz 5&6 and Soyuz 7 the first cislunar flight !
Official the unmanned Zond 9, the preparation wenn secretly, the KGB found creative ways to fool the CIA with false information.
On October 11 launched Soyuz 5 and 6 they made almost failed the rendezvous and docking by using too much propellants.


Them on November 10, 1968 Zond 9 is launch with Aleksei Leonov and Oleg Makarov on a Proton rocket
Once the Trans Lunar Injection was successful the TASS announcement that Soyuz 7 is on way to Moon
While world press went hysterical, the flight to Moon was quite uneventful for Crew
Their problem was to ware there spacesuit true there 7 days mission
On 14 November 1968, Soyuz 7 passt the Moon at a minimum distance of 2420 km
As capsule return behind the moon, Leonov quote to the world the now famous phrase by the Russian father of the Space Age
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

Man will not always stay on Earth; the pursuit of light and space will lead him to penetrate the bounds of the atmosphere, timidly at first,
but in the end to conquer the whole of solar space.

The return trip show more and more problem with Soyuz craft, like the falling temperatures of the hydrogen peroxide tanks.
The Crew turn craft so that tanks got heated by sun, what damage the seals around the door of the re-entry cabin.
The landing on 17 November went not well, the capsule depressurised crew survive that in there Space Suits,
Follow malfunction of the automatic skip reentry, the crew endure over 15G but landed in Soviet union
Leonov and Makarov were hospitalised.

Despite all the sacrifice the entire mission accomplished almost nothing scientifically,
much to the dismay of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.
Soyuz 7 was an engineering demonstration mission aimed at proven all the critical mission systems for that more ambitious goal of having the Soviet flag standing proudly on the lunar surface.
Designation Zond 9 was given to failed L-3 Complex of N1-L6 launch


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Hey Michel, I just had an idea to solve goddam Block A propensy to explode like an atomic bomb, per lack of a ground-test-bench large enough.

Once pad 110/37 has been thoroughly ruined on July 3, 1969...

Why not take the N-1 tractor-erector railcar, mount a Block A on it (not a complete N-1) - send it via the rail track to the ruined pad and flame trench; erect it vertically - and fire the whole thing ?
(the railroad car correctly ballasted and anchored to the ground, obviously !)
I mean, what do they have to lose ? If the goddam thing explode for a third time (and it did, in June 1971), all they lose is the big railroad car; the pad is already half collapsed.

See attached: remove the... N-11 upper stages, just keep the Block A on the rail car, erect that vertically over the ruined pad, FIRE !!


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First Men around the Moon

NASA was in dilemma, the Saturn V underwent modification, Apollo 7 finally ready for manned flight for October 1968,
But Lunar Module was not ready for manned test flight, electrical problems and issues with the flight computers.
Grumman believed the LM could be ready for manned Testing in begin 1969 !
What to do ?
There were several option: wait until 1969 for Apollo 8 and test LM, launch Apollo 8 with Spy Sat Camera to moon
But that would take too much time and money, needed for Lunar landing.
Finally Frank Bormann proposed to NASA to launch Apollo 8 without LM to moon testing the Third Saturn V and Apollo CSM.
Marshall Space Flight Center schedule that Saturn V will ready for December 1968 launch of Apollo 8.

Meanwhile the CIA was keeping a close eye on the activities of the Soviets. there had series of failures
The first N1 test flight endet in Disaster, their new Soyuz spacecraft had seems serious issue, also their Zond probes.
Also two explosion on launch pad show the Soviets has serious problems !
The CIA assessment was that USSR would unlikely send a Human to Moon in 1968, with high probability during 1969.

But Soviets catch up with success of Soyuz 1 to 4 with two docking,
Now they planned another docking with Soyuz 5&6 and Soyuz 7 the first cislunar flight !
Official the unmanned Zond 9, the preparation wenn secretly, the KGB found creative ways to fool the CIA with false information.
On October 11 launched Soyuz 5 and 6 they made almost failed the rendezvous and docking by using too much propellants.


Them on November 10, 1968 Zond 9 is launch with Aleksei Leonov and Oleg Makarov on a Proton rocket
Once the Trans Lunar Injection was successful the TASS announcement that Soyuz 7 is on way to Moon
While world press went hysterical, the flight to Moon was quite uneventful for Crew
Their problem was to ware there spacesuit true there 7 days mission
On 14 November 1968, Soyuz 7 passt the Moon at a minimum distance of 2420 km
As capsule return behind the moon, Leonov quote to the world the now famous phrase by the Russian father of the Space Age
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

Man will not always stay on Earth; the pursuit of light and space will lead him to penetrate the bounds of the atmosphere, timidly at first,
but in the end to conquer the whole of solar space.

The return trip show more and more problem with Soyuz craft, like the falling temperatures of the hydrogen peroxide tanks.
The Crew turn craft so that tanks got heated by sun, what damage the seals around the door of the re-entry cabin.
The landing on 17 November went not well, the capsule depressurised crew survive that in there Space Suits,
Follow malfunction of the automatic skip reentry, the crew endure over 15G but landed in Soviet union
Leonov and Makarov were hospitalised.

Despite all the sacrifice the entire mission accomplished almost nothing scientifically,
much to the dismay of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.
Soyuz 7 was an engineering demonstration mission aimed at proven all the critical mission systems for that more ambitious goal of having the Soviet flag standing proudly on the lunar surface.
Designation Zond 9 was given to failed L-3 Complex of N1-L6 launch

And now the Americans need to do something that upstage the Soviets, if the can.

Michel Van

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And now the Americans need to do something that upstage the Soviets, if the can.

Both sides are in strange race, who fix there problems first get the moon
Next to that are both entangled in own timing for Countdown on N1 and Saturn V.

Michel Van

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The Neck to Neck Race

In USA people were disappointed that Soviets beat them to manned lunar fly by
James Webb resign from Office and January 1969, Thomas o. Paine became new Administrator of NASA.
And continue the Countdown for Apollo 8 and prepared Apollo 9 to 11.
At last Apollo 7 flight went well for Hardware, but not for Astronauts who were in conflict with overeager Mission Control.
Werner Von Braun got the bugs out Saturn V, While Rocketdyne worked hard to find the Issue with J-2 engines,
Grumman completed LM-3 for Apollo 9 flight, but testing show new problems with electrical system.

On December 21, 1968 Apollo 8 was launch, the Saturn V worked as planned.
it's enter as first manned spacecraft Lunar orbit, something the Soyuz 7 was unable to do !
On 24 December the crew made a broadcast, were commander Bormann read out "Book of Genesis" from the Bible.
This was later maliciously commented in the Pravda: "The Americans begging their God to win the Moon Race"
On 27 December the crew of Apollo 8 made safe landing in pacific.
The Crew was welcome with ticker-tape parade in USA,
While the New York Times comment cynical "Were is the ticker-tape parade for moon Cosmonauts ?!"
In fact Leonov and Makarov were still hospitalised, confirmed by a teeth cursing Khrushchev.
MoM had because of issue with Soyuz 7 canceled all Soyuz cislunar flights and focus launching Lunokhod to moon.

Thomas Paine had to face political problems by Capitol Hill and new US President Richard Nixon.
Those politician demanded a acceleration of Moon landing with Apollo 10.
But LM-3 and LM-4 were test article and not able for moon landing, while LM-5 was under completion.
Paine explains that Apollo 9 and 10 are needed test flight to qualified the LM-5 for Apollo 11.
On March 3, 1969 Apollo 9 was launched and Lunar Modul Spider was tested successful.

Also successful was the fourth Test launch if N1 February.
N1-L7 manage to bring unmanned Soyuz LOK and it's LK-lander in moon orbit and tested them remote.
This qualified the N1 Rocket for Manned Flight and got new designation: Luna
Then the CIA discovers that Soviet rollout TWO N1 rockets and installed them on launch pads !

USA counter with launch of Apollo 10 to Moon orbit and test LM Snoopy, on May 18, 1969.
That test became almost a Disaster, the descent went well until the LM reached 14 km over lunar surface.
As the descent stage is separated, the LM accent stage start to react violently and to rotate,
Stafford and Cernam fought hard to stabilize the LM.
The two uttered several expletives until gaining control over Snoopy, close to the moment before the rotation became unrecoverable,
After docking with Charlie Brown, they return to Earth and splash down in Pacific on May 26.

Since January 1969 run the Countdown for Apollo 11, in May the Saturn V was fully assembled, tested, and rollout to Launch pad.
The Rocket was check and undergoes flight readiness test and on June 26 the Countdown Demonstration Test
Now Only wait until Moon is right position for launch and that is July 16, 1969;

Only question was how far are the soviets ready to launch ?

Michel Van

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A Man on the Moon

This post is dedicated to a man, who off all, had the right to be first on the Moon...

During 1967 and 1969 the Soviet tested there L3-complex in low orbit.
First unmanned as Kosmos satellites, then manned Rendezvous with Soyuz, follow by Rendezvous with Lunniy korabl
all went good (with some problems) except Soyuz 7 cislunar

Soyuz 11 was another thing is was analog to Apollo 10, to bring the Lunniy korabl to moon and land it automatic on moon.
On June, 1969 the First Manned N1-L8 was launched, on board was Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Gorbatko.
nearly perfect flight except that Block-D use almost too much fuel for Lunar orbit injection.
But they were able to ready the LK and send it to way to the surface, guides by a 1000 kHz signal emit by Lunokhod 2.

While the CIA and NASA believed that Soyuz 11 was Soviet version Apollo 10, follow end of year by manned landing
and Apollo 11 Launch was scheduled launch on 16 July, 1969.
But Soviet ministry of Space was cautious, they wasn't confident in the LK lander's reliability
and weren't about to risk the life of their heroic lunar cosmonaut without redundancy.
So Soyuz 11 mission was to bring the Backup Lunniy korabl to it destination for flight of Soyuz 12
At 27 June as the Americans did the Countdown Demonstration Test with Apollo 11
The Soyuz-12 blasted off with Pavel Popovich and Vladimir Komarov.


After it entered into a 200 km low earth orbit it remained there for 25 hours, checking the systems and uploaded new information for TLI
28 June Soyuz 12 made it Trans Lunar Injection burn. It will need over 5 days to reach the Moon
until Soyuz 12 entered an elliptical lunar orbit (150x50 km) at afternoon of the 2 July.
On 3 July the Crew located the Lunokhod 3 and LK-backup landing site.
LOK pilot Pavel Popovich and Flight Engineer Vladimir Komarov prepared the landing procedure,
the L-3 complex lowered its orbit to 100 km by 20 km
Vladimir Komarov enter his Kerchet Spacesuit and began to EVA to the LK craft,
He entered it and started up its systems then detached the LK with its Block-D from the Load-baring structure cover and LOK
Komarov used the Block-D last propellants reserves to brake out of Lunar orbit descending toward the surface,
Guided by 1000 kHz signal radio beacon from Lunokhod 2.
4000 meter over lunar surface Komarov jettison the Empty block-D and ignite the LK engines.
On July 4 1969 Vladimir Milhaylovich Komarov landed as First human in history on the Moon.
Only 177 meter near Lunokod 2 and 360 meter near LK-backup
While Komarov prepared his EVA, Lunokhod 2 was reactivated and rolled toward the LK
Film by it’s TV cameras, Komarov exit the LK, erecting the Flag of USSR and saluting it,
Televised world wide by TASS with background music, the Soviet national anthem.
For a moment Komarov looked up at the Earth and said:

"Планета есть колыбель разума, но нельзя вечно жить в колыбели"
Translation: "Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot stay in the cradle forever"


After that Komarov pulled the DALS out the LK and deployed this Scientific equipment package near by.
Then he collected samples of Lunar soil and rocks
He made several photos of his LK, the Lunokhod 2 which followed him via remote control and the LK-Backup at lunar horizon.
After 3 hours of exhausting EVA, he made a report over TV camera outside LK and return into in for the first meal on the Moon and resting.
While he was eating something happened as he heard a loud BANG follow by hissing sound, lucky Komarov was inside his Spacesuit with faceplate up, which he close very fast.
It was not the Pressurized cosmonaut compartment, but the pressurized avionic container which depressurized !
and that was even worse, the avionic was cooled by nitrogen gas which ventilated through containers, now that it was depressurized, The electronics started to overheat fast and was now failing.
Komarov report what happen before the LK radios went dead.

Mission Control in Kaliningrad, react in turmoil and consternation at the news, now everything lies on the flight control crew of the Lunakhod 2 in getting Komarov to backup LK. But the question was whether his LK-backup had a similar problem?
Komarov inspected his LK, took photos of the depressurized avionic container and took the Sample container to Lunokhod 2.
and climbed on top of Rover, which was driven as fast as they could toward the LK-Backup.
Komarov radioed home with the backup LK and without hesitation initiated the ascent order and took off a mere 4 hours after initially arriving on the Moon.
Now it was the turn of LOK Pilot Pavel Popovich, because the LK had a passive rolle in Rendezvous and docking,
it was the task of Popovich to manage to catch up the LK and dockt with it,
Komarov made his final EVA with his samples and Photos back to the LOK.
On 5 July at 10:59 the LOK jettison it’s Utility module with it dockt LK and return to Earth.
at 8 July around 10:00 the Descent Module entered the Earth's atmosphere for a skip maneuver and re-entered for landing on USSR.

Vladimir Milhaylovich Komarov was awarded a second time with "The Hero of The Soviet Union“ and "order of Lenin“.

The flight control crew of Lunokhod 2 was awarded with "The Hero of The Soviet Union“ and "order of Lenin“ for rescue of Komarov.

The LK malfunction was do to a faulty seal on the pressurized avionic container, which caused the depressuring, reason was a faulty acceptance test at the point of manufacture.

Acting General Sectary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Alexei Kosygin announced the official Soviet program of manned Exploration of Solar system called: Galaktika (Russian for Galaxy)
Comprised of further Moon expeditions and a Soviet Space Station program beginning in the 1970s.

In USA the disappointment was great, on their National holiday,
the commies landed on Moon first and made spectacularly heroic events wordy of a Hollywood Movie.
Nixon's first reaction was to fire NASA Administrator Thomas O. Paine and and lucking for New Administrator
Now the responsibility lay on Nixon to react to the Soviet victory and challenge.
On 16 July Apollo 11 lifted off to the Moon.

This was original written in July 2015
For All Mankind was broadcast November 1, 2019
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The Political Fallout

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmTddEBVRrM

Nixon Reaction on what happened...
He not only fired NASA Administrator Thomas O. Paine, Nixon throw him to the wolves in Capitol Hill.
And look for way to counter Soviet success in the Space Race, but for that he needed the right man to run NASA,
A man he could trust and is a Republican:

Congressman George H. W. Bush endorsed Nixon in the 1968 Republican Party presidential primaries,
Nixon considered selecting Bush as his running mate in the 1968 presidential election, but he chose Spiro Agnew instead.
Now he offers Bush the post of NASA Administrator !
NASA react baffled on the News, but they got a experience politician who was determent to his job.

In mean time Apollo 11 made it moon landing, Neil Armstrong became first American on Moon follow by Edwin Aldrin,
They return save to Earth and got a ticker-tape parade in Washington D.C. but like Aldrin say much later in Interview:

To be the second, is not like to be number one...

In September 1969, Vice president Spiro Agnew presented the Space Task Group result on Study what NASA had to do next.
There called it, The Intergraded Program Plan short IPP proposed in three different program options.
They all involved the same hardware set but with a different timetable and annual development/operating cost overtime.
The Option A as being too expensive, in total over $500 Billion spent over 30 years.
it would have include six Space Station, a Moon base and Mars base in 1990s, with hundreds of Astronauts working in space.

While the Option C like c for "cheap" with $25 billion, could not fulfilling the national needs to beat the Soviets in Space.
It would after Apollo program is ended, focus on a Reusable Space Shuttle and a low orbit Space station, that launch by the Shuttle.

The Option B as being the obvious choice that balances both cost and capability: $50 Billion
Reusable Space Shuttle with Space Tug, Two Space station, with option for Nuclear Shuttle if Approved.
a Lunar Orbit station with outpost on moon and as option 2 Mars Expedition end of 1980s if Approved.
In total would work 36 to 48 men in space in 1990s

The only person who believed that Option A would be taken was Spiro Agnew.
Nixon took Option B because gave the USA the option to counter the Soviets in Space,
NASA Administrator Bush proposed that Apollo program should continue so long Soviets made Lunar landings.
and demanded to restart the Saturn V and Apollo hardware production so fast as possibly for 1973 use.
Nixon authorised that together with Apollo Orbital Workshops.

NASA was looking for Name for IPP option B and the naming rules were straightforward.
Candidate names were to be simple and easily pronounced, not refer to living persons, neither duplicate nor closely resemble other NASA or non-NASA space program names, be translatable into the languages of the International Partners,
and have neither ambiguous nor offensive meanings in the International Partner languages.
In addition, acronyms were to be avoided. So the name "Odyssey" was chosen.

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Odyssey through the US House of Representatives

The news of NASA's Odyssey program hit the US media like a bomb.
Some journalist remembering Stanley Kubrick science fiction movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" compared the program to the similarly, named film while other point out the gigantic cost of $100 billion something similar to the ending Vietnam War !
And labeled Odyssey as Megalomaniac madness, even speaking of a NASA Empire.
In the latest Gallup Poll 53% of US citizens were against the Apollo program !
While Spiro Agnew was booed when he spoke of the Odyssey program in public.
With the media hype the House of Representatives started to react.
They cut down NASA 1970 budget 17.31% lower compare to year 1969.


Joseph Karth (Dem) member of House committee on Science, Space and Technology
Started to criticizes NASA in public "for miss-using Odyssey for getting to Mars only".
In the spring of 1971 Krath tried several times to issue a bill to block the financing of the combination program,
the votings ended in a stalemate.


Walter Mondale (Dem) tried in July, to past a more radical bill.
He proposed to shut down NASA manned Space Flight activity and close Marshall Space Flight Center and Johnson Space Center,
With the argument that USA had lose the Moon Race, and that it better to spend the money on social welfare programs.
His proposal was rejected with 32 to 28 Votes.


Caspar Weinberger (Rep), newly responsible for the US federal budget, tried unsuccessful to cancel the Apollo and Odyssey program.
At NASA rang the alarm bells, Odyssey was in danger of getting canceled by US politicians !
Administrator Bush deal with new hostile situation.
Luckily the planned NASA budget cuts by Representatives were stop by Nixon's vetos.

NASA started to Lobby for the program, focusing on Space shuttle, Space Station and Manned lunar missions,
endeavouring not mention future manned Mars missions.
In same time the USAF look into a joint venture in the Shuttle program which would reduce NASA's portion of the costs of Odyssey.
Bush made harsh cut in NASA programs like Apollo Application Program, scaling it down to just tow Skylab
while canceling the Apollo-Soyuz program all together
At the same time the US Aerospace Industry acquired the best Lobbyists in Washington D.C.
because even the scaled down version of proposed Odyssey program would bring them even more revenue than the Apollo program!

Then came the news the Soviet would increase their manned space efforts under the Galaktika program.
Finally Congress react, instead of immediately accepting Odyssey in the beginning, they pushed for more Apollo missions.
NASA could restart the Saturn V and IB production.
In the Senate the battle restart, Walter Mondale claimed that Odyssey was a waste of money.
Congress voted for Odyssey in march 1972, but with budget only for more Apollo Missions, the Space Station & Space Shuttle
with an eventual lunar base in the early 1980s (utilising the Shuttle's chemical "Space Tug" and a reusable orbit to orbit Nuclear Shuttle) In total $50 billion for next 10 years (with a peak annual budget of $5.5 billion).
For Von Braun and his colleagues this decision was a secret victory. With the nuclear shuttle, space tug, space shuttle, space station and Saturn booster, the option would be available to any future president who wished to send humans to Mars.
The only item not funded would be the Mars Excursion Module (MEM). If funding for the MEM were approved in FY 1976, the first landing would be in 1983. If the MEM were approved in 1978, the first landing would be in 1985 and so on.
This wasn't publically discussed as spending even more money on an MEM wasn't politically viable at the time.

Some Representatives even Democrats began considering Walter Mondale as "treacherous",
A simple majority shared opinion the USA had to counter the Soviet Space activity,
after nearly losing every space milestone to the Soviets from Sputnik to the Moon.
Despite warning of his colleagues and allies, Mondale issued until 1973 several bills to stop the financing of Odyssey,
They were each rejected with a narrow majority.
Because US House of Representatives had other problems:
FBI director John Edgar Hoover died, Mark Felt become his successor, Spiro Agnew resigned,
President Nixon took Gerald Ford as Vice President,
For 1971 to 1976 the financing of Odyssey was save for moment, again thanks to Nixon's Vetos.


In 1975 the first Golden Fleece Award is awarded by William Proxmire (Dem) to NASA Odyssey program,
because "it launched billions of public dollars into Space".
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A Program called Galaktika

In November 1967 there was a special meeting of MoM,
with the Soviet Academy of Science, OKB directors, high ranking officials of the Military and the Politburo ministers.
Their goal was to determine the future of Soviet Space program after the manned Lunar landing for coming five-years plans.
The Military wanted low orbit manned space station for reconnaissance, to counter the USAF MOL program.
Also the Academy of Science was interesting in manned space station for science in space.
So they came to common Agreement and it was authorised under name "Salute Study"
Codename under civilian OS-7k and military OSP-7k
First flights had to happen in the beginning of the Ninth five-Year Plan 1971-1975,
with extension of the program during the Tenth five-Year Plan 1976-1981 if successful.

The next point was the limitation of the LOK/LK system in landing one cosmonaut on Moon surface.
The Academy of Science was eager to send geologists to the Moon.
Sergei Khrushchev announced the 7K-SM concept, which could replace the current Soyuz LOK/LK design in 1970s
as the L3M a Three man for moon and as Six man spacecraft 7K-SM for low orbit.
While Vladimir Barmin proposed the construction of a manned lunar base.
Those Lunar projects were authorized, combine under name "Columbus Study“,
First flight had to happen in the beginning of the Tenth five-Year Plan 1976-1981

Next point was demand of the Academy of Science of manned Mars/Venus missions.
In case the Soviets lost the Moon race with the Americans,
They need something impressive to counter, Cosmonauts on Mars would be the thing they need.
Besides, even if they beat the Americans to the Moon, it would make an interesting long term goal.
The 7K-SM concept as L3M needed an upgraded N1 rocket with Hydrogen Engines in the upper stages anyway.
This could be use to launch heavy interplanetary spaceship parts into low earth orbit.
But it needed High Power Rocket engines, either Nuclear thermal or Nuclear Electric.
This project study were authorised under name "Alita Study", the first step would specify the needed hardware during Ninth five-Year Plan 1971-1975
If selected as Program, Hardware R&D construction start in Ten five-Year Plan 1976-1981,
The First Aelita mission would then hopefully fly during the end of the Eleventh five-Year Plan 1981-1985.

What had to be build for Mars and Venus exploration probes was also defined.
The first Probes would already fly during eighth five-Year Plan 1966-1970.

A International participation and cooperation program called Interkosmos, provided Instruments for Soviet Space Probe.
Possible option of bring astronauts from allies and other socialist nation to OS-7k space Station.

The entire Planning of Human exploration of the Earth Orbit, Moon, Venus and Mars was combined under name Galaktika (Galaxy).

One copy of the meeting's conclusions made an extraordinary journey in 1970.
a Dosier ripped in pieces, it landed into a waste paper basket in a MoM office,
Salvaged partially by a cleaning lady [1] working for CIA, over Moscow US embassy to Unites states of America to CIA HQ in Langley.

OKB = Opytnoye Konstruktorskoye Byuro, meaning Experimental Design Bureau.
[1] Allot of the best spies are cleaning ladies at the enemy offices, the German invented this practice in 19 century…

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Apollo 12: Last spaceflight of the decade

November 14th 1969
Being the last mission of the year, the engineers on Apollo 12 wanted to make sure this mission count.
Since Soviet were not launching do issue with there Lunniy korabl.
This mission marked the second manned lunar landing of the Apollo program and rendezvous with Surveyor 3 probe,

Launching on schedule on November 14th 1969, the Saturn V was taking off during a rainstorm.
36 seconds after lift-off, the vehicle triggered a lightning discharge through itself and down to the earth through the Saturn's ionized plume.
Protective circuits on the fuel cells in the service module falsely detected overloads and took all three fuel cells offline,
Along with much of the CSM instrumentation. A second strike at 52 seconds after launch knocked out the "8-ball" attitude indicator.
The telemetry stream at Mission Control was garbled.
However, the Saturn V continued to fly correctly as the strikes had not affected Saturn V's Instrument Unit.
with quick manual override to backup the mission continue and Conrad and Alan Bean manage close landing near Surveyor 3
Charles Conrad first word on moon were:
"Yippee ! did you see that commies ?, we can do spot on landing too !".
This was televised nationwide to millions of people and was followed by a fit of coughing by Walter Cronkite on NBC.
During 31 hours on Moon they conducted 3 EVA were several sample were taken also from Surveyor 3.
With both the color television film and the fantastic selfie photo next to Surveyor (with the LM easily seen in the background)
Apollo 12 was featured prominently in Time Magazine as a year end consolation for losing the Moon race.


The 1960s was a time of great change in social, political, technological and economic worldwide, but especially in the United States.
The decade began with a series of crisis: the Brezhnev Crisis, the Cuban crisis the Berlin Crisis,
The assassination of the President of the United States John F. Kennedy, the race riots, civil unrest, the Vietnam war etc.

The Vietnam War was a particularly shocking blow to the United States.
As the crisis following the death of Mao Zedong in China lead to increased militarism at Vietnam border,
The United States was forced to choose pullback and defeat or risk of a Korea-like conflict sparking an all out nuclear conflict.
Thankfully, Johnson chose the pullback although, with the prise that Republicans swept into the White House at decades end.
In USA racial barriers were broken as Martin Luther King Jr lead the civil rights movement,
Ultimately leading to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 (abolishing Jim Crow & Segregation)

But not only in US but in Europe and East block happened changes
Alexander Dubcek played a big role in reforming Czechoslovakia to create "Socialism with a human face".
While East Germany would undergo a drastic changes in coming years, as Walter Ulbrich public critiqued the german Communist !
In West Germany the government face radical leftist Terrorist inspire by Vietcong.
France had almost civil War in May 1968 as student riots let nationwide uprise !
While group of environmentalist voted for armed combat. they will become the Rainbow Warriors

People were look onwards on 1970s in hope and fear what would bring that new Decade ?
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The 1970 April Moon mission

The problems of Soyuz 12's landing made overwork of the LK necessary, along with getting ready to launch for April 1970
To honor Vladimir Lenin's 100th Birthday.
In the mean time Apollo 12 made their precision landing in November 1969.
Beginning in January 1970 Lunokhod 4 landed on the lunar surface, driving untill it they found what it was looking for and switched on The radio beacon, after an unusually long search time.

Soyuz 13

Beginning in April was launch of an N1 Luna rocket with Soyuz-13 on board Georgi Grechko and Aleksey Guarev
for Orbital mission and landing of the unmanned LK Backup.
After Lunar Surface Mapping they return to earth passing by Apollo 13 on way to the Moon.
Guarev on this unique encounter:

It is strange there was another manned complex on way to Moon, we knew there were out there, but not could see them.
While they fighting for Survival on board, we fall back to Earth unable to help them..

Apollo 13

On April 11, Apollo 13 was launched to moon with Lovell, Mattingly, Haise, under a lack of interest with the US public and media.
The Saturn V showed a malfunction suffering from pogo oscillations and on second stage one of J-2 engine shut down too early.
56 hours into the mission, Mattingly actived the stirring fans in Oxygen tank number 2 which then exploded!

Mattingly: Houston, we have a master alert here!
CAPCOM: This is Houston, Say again, please
Mattingly: Houston, We’ve got MASTER ALERT!
Lovell: We’ve hav a MAIN B BUS UNDERVOLT!!!

The CSM main power system died in minutes, The Crew activated the LM and used it as a Lifeboat
From now on Apollo 13 mission became a struggle for the survival of three Astronauts,
Suddenly the world media show interest in Apollo mission.
In a Heroic effort NASA manage to bring the Crew safe back to Earth, calling it "A successful failure"

Apollo 13 showed America that Space flight were not easy.
The cause of the explosion was pin point to damaged Teflon isolation tape on electrical wires of the stirring fan inside the oxygen tank.
The Oxygen tanks were redesigned and moved farther apart, also a third oxygen tank and a emergency battery were installed,
Also started a program to replace the lithium hydroxide canister from LM and CSM with molecular sieve beds for future mission.
This delayed Apollo 14 mission to January 1971.


The next Luna rocket brought Soyuz-14 into the Moon's orbit with Vesily Lazarev and Oleg Makarov on board.
on 22 April 1970, Makorov landed 55 km away from Apollo 12 & Surveyor 3 Landing site confirmed by there ALSEP seismograph.
The Target was near Luna 5 crash site, a probe that failed to land on may 9, 1965.
Oleg Mekarov's first word on Moon were

To Honor Vladimir Lenin 100th Birthday, We came back to the Moon, to unravel it’s secrets.

After that hedeployed the Scientific equipment package near by.
Then he collected samples of the Lunar soil and rocks. after that he went for a pause inside the LK
Then on the second EVA, he used the help of the Lunokhod 4 to drive to the Luna 5 crash site,
Makorov study the man made crater, took samples of the probe's remains and lunar material in crater, helped by Lunokhod 4.
He made an excellent job by photographing the site and position were he took the samples
After 7 hours the LK worked perfect and start of the moon back into orbit to rendezvous with LOK
On command of Ground control activated Backup LK to test it’s systems, it work perfectly just like the previous one.

Thanks to excellent work of Oleg Mekarov, the scientists could analyze the contamination by Probe propellants on Lunar soil.
This gave valuable information how Lunar soil get saturated with organic materials by rocket engines exhaust or asteroid impact.
Also change in tactic on Soviet landing, from now on the each lunar Soyuz mission would land a cosmonaut.

The Soviet Government made diplomatic requests to NASA for research data of the Apollo 12 and Surveyor 3.
What let to political turmoil in Washington D.C. who were pushing for more Apollo missions,
Allot of Anti communist were upset that NASA would help the "Evil Ones". To end this, President Nixon gave word of Command !
Reasoning that NASA is US government agency with free access to there research data, if the Soviet academy of sciences, gives free access to there research data.
The Soviets, they not only sent their research data and some Lunar sample,
Vasily Lazarev and Oleg Makarov even came to USA to gave a briefing on there mission at NASA.
This was the begining of "Lunar Diplomacy" between USA and Soviet Union beginning a short thaw period of Cold War known
as 1970s Détente.

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Apollo 14 and Soyuz 15

The Apollo 13 accident had a profound impact on the Space Race.
The accident highlighted the feeling that the American space program was struggling to compete with the Soviet Union and paradoxically increased support for the Manned Space Program by grabbing the public's attention and putting focus back on the Moon.
The heroic rescue efforts of NASA and the daring of the astronauts returned a sense of romanticism, adventure and danger to Manned Spaceflight.
Like the names Shepard, Glenn, White, Grissom, Caprpenter, Armstrong, Aldrin & Collins, the names Lovell, Mattingly & Haise would no doubt be remembered.
As the budget battles raged on in Congress, NASA worked hard to improve the safety of the Command Service Module (CSM)
and return America to the Moon as quickly as possible.
Apollo 14 was also the return of Alan Shepard to Space flight, after he lost his flight status do to Méniére's Disease in 1964.
This would also be his last flight.


Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell and Stuart Roosa launched on 31 January 1971 as the crew of Apollo 14.
Just as the previous H-Class missions it faced allot of problems, beginning with docking difficultly of CSM Kitty Hawk with LM Antares, Rossa had to ram CSM nose into the docking system of LM on the sixth attempt.
During Lunar Descent the LM computer switch into ABORT mode, Mitchell with help of MIT manage reprogram the LM computer to believe ABORT had happen!
At the same time a bug caused malfunction of LM Radar altimeter, after cycling the Radar system breaker,
They gained control over LM in 5500 meter altitude.
Because of this Shepard and Mitchell could not make a pinpoint landing at planned site on the Fra-Mauro Highlands.
In lunar orbit Roosa faced new problem, one of CM windows became opaque, the one with the camera for mapping the lunar surface.
Shepard first words on moon were:

"And it's been a long way, but we're here"

During they first EVA, after deploying the ALSEP package they went with a "Moon wheelbarrow" for a walk.
After 4 hours and 47 minutes the crew returned to LM and sleep until the next day.
At the end of a second EVA Shepard tried to play Golf, with a six iron head fixed on his lunar excavation tool and two golfballs.
Shepard manage to kick one golf ball for around 300 yards. In total for 42.28 kilograms on Lunars samples were collected in two EVA.
On February 9 landed Apollo 14 safe in pacific and they were the last to be quarantined.

Apollo 14 return to business and Media attention were good for NASA public image, despite the problems the crew faced.
Meanwhile at NASA the future was looking promising. The Agency had scraps next H-Class mission (Apollo 15) and introduced
4 J-Class missions for Apollo 15 to 18 while 5 more J-Class missions (Apollo 19 to 23) mission were under review as Saturn V production was reactivated. The following year in 1972, the Odyssey Program extension was approved as the Space Shuttle, Space Station, Lunar Base, Reusable Nuclear Shuttle and Chemical Space Tug were approved for development Phase B

on Soviet site...

In 1971 the Soviet Space Agency (MoM) had several Problems.
OKB-1 ran on it's full capacity, building per year, Two Luna, dozens Protons and Soyuz rockets for MoM and Military needs.
Next to that they built Spacecrafts like LOK-LK, Spying Satellites and were working on the advanced Soyuz 7K-SM,
Therefore the Space Station program suffered under a lack of personnel and material.
MoM had to take measures, they order of OKB-52 to help to build the Station on OKB-1 plans, it had certain irony that OKB-52 had to build now the space station.
It's boss Vladimir Chelomei had proposed his Almaz, a military space station to MoM,
What had refused the proposal, because Chelomei insisted on development of the UR-500 rocket and TKS spacecraft for it.
Although as the Boss of OKB-52 could be happy to do something for the Space race,
instead he went to Military complaining about the status of Salut program and promoted Almaz.
Military-industrial Commission Chairman Ustinov was not amused at all, about Chelomei arrogant behavior and
his talking shit about his colleagues.
MoM had enough of Chelomei escapade and threatened him to follow orders or OKB-52 would become subdivision of OKB-1 !

The Alita Study had serious setback by provoking a major nuclear disaster!
A test run of Experimental Thermal nuclear engine RD-0410
ended in meltdown and massive contaminations of Semipalatinsk test site and near by Irtysh River!
Responsible for Disaster was a engineer named Anatoly Stepanovich Dyatlov,
The investigation report found him guilty for "criminal mismanagement of potentially dangerous device“.
He was sentenced to ten years in prison.
MoM changed the Alita Study mission architecture in favor of Nuclear Electric Engines.
Next to that the Soviet authority notice that soviet citizens had lost interest in the Soyuz Missions.


Soyuz 15 with Lev Dyomin and Gennadi Sarafanov were launch to the Moon on 10 March 1971
This time to the north edge of Oceanus Procellarum at Luna 13 landing site.
The Soviet academy of sciences wanted geological data from several site of Oceanus Procellarum.
on 18 march, 1971 the LK landed near Lunokhod 5 right on target.
Gennadi Sarafanov first comment on landing site:
"This is so flat, like the Russian Plains…“
The LK had a new Features installed: A external TV color camera and Core sample drill, for taking 4 meter deep samples.
But Sarafanov was not lucky he hit in 3 meter depth a hard layer of magma, the drill ran out of it's operational life time of 60 minutes.
Second EVA went with Lunokhod 5 to Luna 13 landing site collection parts of probe to study the longtime exposure of Soviet hardware on Lunar Environment
On the end of this EVA Sarafanov make report in front of TV color camera about mission and make a surprise
He pulled a red sphere out LK and put on ground and kicked it.
"We Soviets prefer Football over decadent Golf…“
Then he returned into the LK and took off after a seven hours surface mission, the crew returned 3 days later safely to earth.
In comparison of Soyuz 12 & Soyuz 14 and Apollo 12, the Soyuz 15 samples show
that Oceanus Procellarum is homogeneous mixture of incompatible elements (called by Americans) KREEP and low calcium pyroxene.
What increase the mystery how Oceanus Procellarum is formed, special after Soyuz 15 discovery, a finding that even NASA surprised.
The Lunar 13 parts exposed 5 years to Lunar Environment gave precious Data for Columbus Study on L3M and Lunar base hardware.

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Soyuz 16 and Apollo 15


The planned launch of Soyuz 16 with Yuri Artyukhin and Pavel Popovich was schedule for June 1971.
This time the mission went to Mare Crisium on right edge of Moon
in May Lunokhod 6 touchdown on Mare Crisium and started to look for LK landing site.
June 22 the Lunar rocket was launch to Moon, Soyuz 16 arrived on 28 June.
Popovic landed on 29 June near where Lunokhod 6 landed a month ago.
On first EVA he deployed Scientific equipment and prepare Core sample drill, then collect lunar samples.
Then he returned into LK for rest and a snack.
On second EVA he use the Core sample drill and drilling 2 meter into soil getting 1.7 kg sample.
Then Popovic return with LK to Moon orbit, were Artyukhin was busy cartographing the Lunar surface
3 days later the crew landed safe in Soviet union.
The Mare Crisium drill samples had a surprise for Soviets
They discover It contain 0.1% water, something not expected, MoM send Samples to NASA who confirmed the findings.

Apollo 15
Administrator Bush had cancel the planned H-mission for Apollo15 and replaced it, with the J-Class mission.
The LM was modified for stay for 72 hours on lunar surface.
It carry a Lunar Rover and more scientific experiment, what allow for more EVA and bigger range as past H-mission.
While the CSM got science bay what scann and mapping the Lunar Surface
With more Scientific results per mission, NASA hope to get a lead in Moon race


Apollo 15 was launch on July 26, 1971 with David Scott ,Alfred Worden and James Irwin on board.
LM Falcon landed on July 30, over 66 hours Scott and Irwin made 4 EVA and drove 29 km with Lunar rover
And collected 77 kilograms on Lunar samples, this made look the Soviet one man mission insignificant.

sample 15415 is sensation one on oldest stone found 4 billion years labelling it as the Genesis Rock
While the Sub-satellite the CSM eject in Lunar orbit crash later what let to discovery of the Lunar mass concentration

Sadly had Apollo 15 a bitter aftertaste, the Crew had made deal with German stamp dealer
and smuggle unauthorised commemorative postal covers onboard of CSM
The crew made this to offer Trust fund for there children education.
Next to that also unauthorized was bringing the “Fallen Astronaut" statuette to Moon
and Two watches by manufacture to test them in Microgravity.
The Investigation by US Senate and NASA show that only NASA regulation were violated.
The Crew of Apollo 15 were guilty misbehavior and were remove from Flight plan, also were rule exalted what astronaut can carry on personal items into Apollo spacecraft

On August 12, Caspar Weinberger responsible for US budget, try last effort at Nixon on the subject of NASA budget reduction.
But Nixon refused Weinberger proposition, sending his memo back with this note in red

I will not stand by and watch how the commies conquer Space !

While the Saturn V and IB production-line are unwrapped and make ready for a second production run.
At NASA they prepared the J-Class missions for Apollo 16 to 18 and Skylab is rush to completion.
In same time start final battle about NASA Odyssey program in Capitol Hill,
While China start to increase there space activity since they launch their first satellite two years ago.
what were they up to ?

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Khrushchev’s Death and Kosygin take Power


On September 11, 1971 came sad news that Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev had died do to a hearth attack in Moscow Hospital.
The First Secretary of the Central Committee had be hospitalize since 1968 do to a hearth condition.
He was given a State funeral and interment in the Kremlin Wall.
The eulogy praised him as man who brought the Soviet Union out darkness of Stalin terror
into modern Socialism and started the conquest of Space.

His Successor was already decided by Khrushchev as he went to the hospital,
Alexei Kosygin who was his representative in Politburo during this time.
Also starting the succession in Politburo, one of the newbies was Yuri Andropov, head of the KGB.
He was a "hardliner reformist".Andropov used the KGB to hunt down corruption inside the Communist Party and Industry,
supporting Kosygin in process.
The third economic reform finally showed the success hope for, the people grumbled for more nylon and Washing machine were satisfied.
The waiting list for cars, homes and also the waiting line in shops started to slowly decline.
Except the waiting lines in front of postal and telephone stations for a Videophone call,
the new hype in Soviet Union, began to grow. Very favorable for those seeing relatives living on other site of the Union.
The first offspring of cybernetic Revolution in USSR, the "electronic computing machines“ (Russian abbr. EVM)
Found their way into the bureaucracy, Military and Space programs if this benefits the USSR will future prove


First generation soviet Videophone

But there were people who was deeply uncontent with the situation: the Hardliner communist and Stalinists in Communist Party.
They consider Khrushchev legacy as revisionism and a wrong step for a now doomed USSR.
But they had kept a low profile, Yuri Andropov was watching over them, in case they made one fatal mistake.

The Collaboration between Yuri Andropov and Alexei Kosygin went well until end of 1979.
As the Afghan communist Government demand Soviet military help for there Civil war
General secretary Kosygin refused the use of Red Army there, not wanting a "Soviet Vietnam“
On other side Yuri Andropov wanted full scale intrusion to secure the southern border of the USSR,
Against radical islam in Afghanistan and Iran.
This let to Dispute between the two and to a schism under the Reformers giving the hardliners again momentum.

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1972 the good part of year...

In USA the production starts on the new Saturn Rockets
McDonnell/Douglas complete the First S-IVC for Saturn IC and Saturn VB
It’s a S-IVB stage modified for new J-2S engine (S for Simplified) which led to a reduction of Stage mass,
A higher ISP and options for restarting the Stage several time.
Scheduled to be launched first on the Saturn IB first stage left over from the first production run.
The second Saturn IC launch will feature a Centaur as third stage and Burner II as four stage,
It will bring German Helios A probe near the sun in December 1974
The Saturn VB, consisting of an standard S-IC and S-IIB (with five J-2S) and S-IVC is scheduled to be launch unmanned in spring 1974 follow by first manned flight with Apollo 20 in winter 1974.
Now NASA was readying for the next four Apollo J-class and Skylab A three missions.

Apollo 16

The legendary John Young, Charles Duke and John Swigert blasted off on Saturn V on 16 April 1972.
A bad surprise happened after day two as the guidance system needed a realigning after some errors.
On 21 April the LM Orion landed in Descartes Highlands, Young first words on surface:

"There you are: Mysterious and Unknown Descartes Highland plains, Apollo 16 is gonna change your Image, I'm sure glad they got ol' Brer Rabbit, here, back in the Briar patch where he belongs"

They deployed the Rover and installed the Far Ultraviolets Camera/Spectrograph. On a short test drive the rover show some problem.
After installing the ALSEP, the heat flow experiment was damaged as Young's foot caught a cable snapping it off,
For the Geologist Mission was a disappointment.
The Descartes Highlands was not volcanic site, but instead formed by huge impact on lunar surface.
Young and Duke managed to get a core sample from 3 meter depth.
On end of their Mission, they took off with 95.71 kg of lunar samples back to lunar orbit.
On the way back to Earth the crew made EVAs to recover the Film canister from scientific equipment bay.
After 265 hours and 37 minute mission, the capsule Casper landed near the USS Ticonderoga.
The second J-class mission was triumphal for Apollo program,
Record breaking: 72 hour stay, in EVA for 20 hours, longest distant travel on moon 26.7 km and 95.71 kg of Lunar samples
In contrast the Soviet L3-Mission looked really puny.

Back in USSR
OKB-1 started the year with an unmanned 60 days orbital Test of new version of Soyuz spacecraft adapted for Salyut program.
The 7K-7 version featured a Docking tunnel so three men crew could enter the Space station, without spacewalk in Spacesuits.
still practiced on Soyuz missions in Lunar orbit.
During landing, on the 29 April ended in disaster, after the orbital section was separated from Return module,
a seal was ripp open, opening a valve let escaping Cabin air at an altitude of 168 km.
This was bad for already delay program, the Crew from Three was reduced to Two in pressure suits.
At OKB-52 there also problems with the construction of Salyut
Their engineers start to modified the construction to leave out unnecessary parts and systems like a second docking port,
also now installing four Soyuz solar panels for power supply.
The originally planned features would be installed in later version of Salut, during the second half of the ninth five-Year Plan (1971-1976)

For Lunar Mission they Soviets start to maximise the Mission architecture,
The Lunokhod rovers were modified to collect samples in preliminary part of Mission.
Also controls were installed so cosmonaut drive the rover themselves if needed.
Orbital Module was modified to carry more scientific experiments and Cameras to scann the Moon.

Soyuz 17

On May 13, 1972 launched the Luna rocket with Boris Volynov and Vitaly Zholobov.
Their target was Mare Fecunditatis where Lunokhod 7 was waiting for LK
This time the moon rover was busy in last two month, for the first time it collected samples during its travels providing data over longer distance over Mare Fecunditatis.
On May 19 the LK touched down on target.
After landing Zholobov installed DALS, he collected samples containers from Lunokhod 8 and took the core samples drill and return to orbit.

But during Spacewalk from LK to LOK happen this:
Zholobov: OH, No, no, no !
Mission control: What’s going on ?
Mission control: What is going on ?!
Volynov: eeeh
Zholobov: I lost the Sample container
Mission control: WHAT ?!
Zholobov: I lost [EXPLETIVE DELETED] Sample container
Volynov: confirm that !
Mission Control: How'd that happen?!
Zholobov: I have no idea how this [EXPLETIVE DELETED] happened ! [EXPLETIVE DELETED] the Photos were also in there!
Mission Control: [EXPLETIVE DELETED]

Zholobov exhausted from his Lunar trip, had not properly secured the Sample container on his spacesuit.
Do to movements towards LOK the container detached and moved into it's own lunar orbit.
So "The Empty handed Mission“ returned 72 hours later on earth

"We had achieve so much and in end we failed". A embarrassed Vitaly Zholobov
For MoM it was clear that L3 was a minimal program, that was not practical for Lunar exploration.
While the Americans set record after record on the Moon, L3M was not ready to Launch until in 4 years…
Despite this, "The Empty handed Moon Mission“ provided a fit of laughter for the Soviets.

Rest of World
The 1972 Summer Olympic in Munich were overshadow by the Black September terroristic act.
Lucky the Bavarian special forces ambushed the terrorists as they tried to escape on Fürstenfeldbruck Air force base with Boeing 727.
Killing seven terrorists, two were captured alive, wounding several of the nine hostage in process,
The Munich Miracle was possible by the groundwork the German police had with there terrorist in last 4 years.

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1972 the terrible part of year...

Intrigue and Failure

It’s a public secret in the USSR, that their Spaceflight program was dominated by intrigues of Shakespearian proportions [1]
Like how Valentin Gluchko and Vladimir Chelomei refused to co-operate on the Nositjel rocket Family and the L3-complex.
Thankfully Mikhall Yangel, was a stabilizing factor in the mess, He managed to get others OKBs in the collaborative effort into Lunar program.
Not only did his OKB-586 build the successful R-16 ICBM, but also the LK moon lander
The Military had following saying:
[sergei] Khrushchev works for TASS, Chelomei works on crap, Yangel work for us !

Sadly Mikhall Kuzmich Yangel died during his 60th Birthday on October 25 1971.
Since his death the cracks in loyalty towards MoM[2] now showed clearly.
On one side was Sergei Khrushchev OKB-1 and Kuznetsov OKB-276 with Vladimir Barmin of KBOM and Georgy Babakin of OKB-301.
Opposed was Valentin Gluchko of OKB-456 and Vladimir Chelomei of OKB-52.
Next to them was Vladimir Fedorovich Utkin, successor of Yangel at OKB-586 and their allies in the Military under Chairman Ustinov.

Gluchko's fame was falling, he lost the lucrative OKB-1 engines contract, do to it's replacement by the Kuznetsov engines.
He built only main engines for OKB-586, RCS trusters and small engines for rockets and spacecrafts of OKB-1.
Next to that he had high R&D costs on rocket engines working with storable fuel combinations,
One is the RD-270 a monster engine in the size of American F-1, MoM showed interest in this engine, if it worked on Kerosine/Oxygen.
But Gluchko stubbornly refused demanding that Luna Block A had to be change to UMDH/NTO propellant !

And for Chelomei it was worst, his UR-500 rocket was canceled in favor of the N2 Proton in the beginning of the 1960s
His ICBM proposals were victim of the VSALT[3] agreement under Nikita Khrushchev and Johnson.
Since then his OKB-52 made only hardware, satellite and guidance systems for other OKB’s, while his proposals were ignored !
That was not a surprise because of his arrogant ways, behavior with officials and talking shit about his colleagues.
Also his bold demands, instead of trying to cooperate with OKB-1 to launch his hardware,
Chelomei demand from MoM or Military the complete package: the spacecraft on a rocket built by him with the launch infrastructure.

Do to the failure of Soyuz 17 and the delay in Salut program,
Minister Sergey Afanasysev called for Meeting of OKB Directors for solutions.
The Meeting started bad, Chelomei declare that the Luna rocket was piece of shit, that was not able to bring more mass to Moon.
Chelomei claimed it was because Khrushchev had put his junior as Head of OKB-1 !
He had the solution: a new modular Rocket of his design: the UR-700, launching a LK-700 Lunar lander direct to Moon !

Afanasysev ask Chelomei if he had become completely mad,
To scrap the working Nositjel rocket Family and waste billions of Rubles on this "toxic bandwagon" ?
Valentin Gluchko supported Chelomei's proposal, because it needed his RD-270 and other yet to be developed engines.
His explication about the unnecessary for Hydrogen oxygen rocket engine were criticise by Mishin
"What are the Americans using on their Saturn V! Vodka ?“
Kuznetsov presented Gluchko a bad surprise, OKB-276 had successful modified a NK-15 to burn Liquid Hydrogen.
Sergei Khrushchev's angrily noticed that the successor of L3 complex, the L3M will ready to fly in 1976,
so there is no need to waste money to put Chelomei's LK-700 on N1 rocket.
This led to Vladimir Chelomei outbursting with obscene words about OKB-1's works and about Khrushchev family favoritism.
Khrushchev replied:
"We have put soviet men first on the Moon, what have you achieved during that time? NOTHING !"
Chelomei reaction was to grab a ashtray and try trow it toward Khrushchev, but was hinder by Yefermov and Gluchko.
For minister Afanasysev this was enough and in the Russian tradition to blame some unpopular one for the mess,
Chelomei was now the perfect victim.
He was dismissed as head of OKB-52 and sent to the Ukrainian Academy of Science as a teacher for rocket engineers.
Gerbert Aleksandrovich Yefermov became the new head of OKB-52 that become a branch of OKB-1.

Gluchko was lucky because the Military needed him for new generation of ICBMs that had to replace the Old R-16.
His expertise in engines with storable fuel was needed. also for another Military program called Spiral 50/50
But the Military did not want the RD-270 engine, so the R&D on that was terminated immediately,
And MoM cut down funding drastic on OKB-456's very expensive R&D engines program.
OKB-52 scheduled the first Salyut to be launch on April 1973.

[1] See the International successfully 1990 Soviet TV soap opera "Intrigues of Starcity“ about Soviet Space program and Moon Race
[2] MoM = Ministry of General Machine Building aka Ministry of Space of the USSR
[3] VSALT = Volunteer Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty between USA and USSR in 1963, do to the French and Berlin Crisis' of 1961.
OKB = the Russian initials of "Опытное конструкторское бюро" -, meaning Experimental Design Bureau.

Soyuz 18
Was a repeat of the Soyuz 17 "The Empty handed Mission“, the malicious-joy of the World Press.
Vladislav Volkov was the Pilot of LK lander, while Georgy Dobrovolsky operate LOK.
Original planed to be launch in end July the mission go delay because Technical issue to August.
in mean time Lunokhod 9 collect samples and got into position.

On 1 August 1972 the Luna Rocket blasted off to bring the crew to the Moon
Then on 4 august happen the disaster, a Solar Flare erupted, 14.6 hours later the shockwave hit Soyuz 18 full
most of radiation was absorb by L3-complex hardware, but both cosmonauts got radiation sickness
The mission got cancelled, Soyuz 18 made lunar fly by 72 hours later the capsule landed in the Soviet Union.
Sadly the crew had not survive

The Soviet state media attempted to downplay the tragic end of the mission but failed,
They were also each posthumously awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union medal.
Dobrovolsky and Volkov were given a large state funeral and buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in Moscow,
The pallbearer were Vladimir Komarov, Yuri Gagarin, Alexey Leonov, also US astronaut Tom Stafford.

United States president Richard Nixon issued an official statement following the tragedy:
The American people join in expressing to you and the Soviet people our deepest sympathy on the tragic deaths of the two Soviet cosmonauts.
The whole world followed the exploits of these courageous explorers of the unknown and shares the anguish of their tragedy.
But the achievements of cosmonauts Dobrovolsky and Volkov remain. It will, I am sure, prove to have contributed greatly to the further achievements of the Soviet program for the exploration of space and thus to the widening of man's horizons.

NASA and MoM came to agreement, were both exchange their data on Solar activity to predict better Solar Flares.
There was short Political dispute in USA about ending the Moos Race, but change abrupt as China launch a Chinese into Orbit !

Lunokhod 9 was never visit by Cosmonaut or Astronaut, it became a Memorial for Vladislav Volkov and Georgy Dobrovolsky

Michel Van

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
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Aug 13, 2007
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Rest of 1972


One of the biggest surprises was their first manned space flight, only 3 years after first Satellite Dong Fang Hong 1 (Red East One).
But looking in detail it was not so surprising at all, the spacecraft was merely a modified Warhead Reentry Vehicle,
with the nuclear warhead replaced by Man with Live support and a landing system !
That explained the short time that Directive 690 Hòng Xing (Red Star) needed until it's success.
On October 18 1972 a Dong Feng 5 ICBM brought Hóng Xing 1 with Dong Xiao Hai on board,
The first "Hang tian yuan" (space navigating personnel)
After one orbit he landed safe in south China, becoming a national hero of the People Republic of China.

In October, the Washington Post published an article by Bob Woodward and Carl Berstein,
revealing that Vice President Spiro Agnew was accepting bribes as Gouverneur of Maryland !
On October 10, Spiro Agnew resigned from office, despite his claims to be not guilty and that it was merely "unreported Income“.
Do to the 25th Amendment the House Minority Leader had the option to become new Vice President,
President Nixon sought advice from senior Congressional leaders about a replacement,
The advice was unanimous: the House Minority Leader, the republican Gerald Ford.
Ford was confirmed as Vice President by Capitol hill ( Senate 92 vs 3 and Congress 387 vs 35 votes)
Gerald Ford took over the Legacy of Agnew, the Odyssey Program and keep it running,
This remained the only scandal in Nixon administration.
Do the successful manned Chinese space flight push Capitol Hill to full support NASA Odyssey program.


In December Richard Nixon made his historic visit to China.
A diplomatic success for Nixon, defusing the "Chinese Nightmare“ situation between the two Nations.
The Chinese Forces redrew from position at North Vietnam border.
Which led to Pro Nationalist forces dealing with the Pro China Fraction in the North Vietnamese Communist party.
In 1973 the North Vietnamese power struggle was finally won by the Pro Nationalists,
60 day later after the Peace Agreement ist signed in Paris. The last US advisor left South Vietnam
Henry Kissinger estimated how long South Vietnam would survive his answer: Around two, three years, not more…

The biggest loser of this conflict was the Maoist Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
After they lost their allied China in 1967, then North Vietnam in 1968, there were attacks by those Pro Nationalist forces,
Then by Vietnam Pro China Fractions, the South Vietnamese Army, Laos Military and United States Forces.
As their leader "Brother number 1“ was killed during attacks in 1972, the remaining Khmer Rouge fled to Thailand,
We're the Organisation was no more than group of Bandits hunted down over the years by Thailand's military.


In October 1972 Kennedy Space Center gave a spectacular show: Two Saturn Vs rolled out VAB toward Launch Pad 39
One was Apollo 17, scheduled to launch on December 7th.
The Other was Skylab, America's (and the world's) first space station scheduled for Launch on November 23rd.
Skylab began in 1965 as the Apollo Application Program in MSFC under George E. Mueller
The first goal was launch a 3 man Space Station build from S-IVB stage called "The Orbital Workshop“ or OWS.
In 1968 with the termination of MOL program at the USAF, part of their Astronauts were transferred to NASA,
Several were assigned to the Skylab program.
Also the name was changed from "the Orbital Workshop“ into Skylab.
In 1970 McDonnell Douglas started to build in California, two space stations, Skylab A and B (B for backup).
Finally, in 1972 Skylab A arrived in late August at KSC for preparation to Launch.
While in Johnson Space center the second Mission Control Center was activated for Skylab,
So the Apollo 17 Mission could go synchronous.
On November 23 the Saturn V took off from Pad 39-B, but 63 seconds later the Micrometeoroid shield detach and was ripped off the station
Skylab arrived in orbit and deployed the Apollo Telescope Mount and its Solar cells,
but the rise of temperature in Station released toxic fumes from material in the station.
This was a new Disaster for NASA, what to do ?
George E. Mueller was clear that the future of NASA was at stake, so he made a decision: the first Skylab crew must repair the station.
This delayed the launch for 10 days to prepare the Repair procedure.
In the mean time ground control had vented the Atmosphere of the station, purging it with pure Nitrogen four time, before restore the Nitrogen/Oxygen atmosphere.


So on December 2, Skylab-2 was launch from Pad 34 on Board: Charles "Pete“ Conrad, Jr., Joseph P. Kerwin and Paul J. Weitz.
As they arrived 6 hours later at Skylab they saw the full scale of the problem,
The Micrometeoroid shield had also ripped off a solar cell of the station, the other was jammed by the debris of the shield.
The first EVA attempted to deblock the Solar Cells ending in failure as Skylab lost of most RCS fuel.
After docking the crew enter the station in spacesuits despite the high temperatures and being underpowered, Skylab was fine.
They used the Science Airlock to deploye a parasol, working as sunshade, with temperatures successfully dropping to an acceptable level.
On December 7th, Apollo 17 was launched and for the first time there were 6 American astronauts were in space .
with the second EVA Conrad and Kerwin, on December 17th, managed to Open the solar wing on Skylab, providing electrical power for next two missions.
On December 24th, The Crew celebrated Christmas in Orbit, the first time since Apollo 8's historic mission that an Astronaut had spent Christmas in Space.
Then on December 30th, the Crew left Skylab and returned safely to Earth after a mission of 28 days.
Meanwhile Skylab was put into Hibernation for next Crew arriving in February.

Apollo 17

On December 7, a Saturn V manned with Eugene Cerman, Ronald Evans and Joe Engle, blasted off from pad 39-A.
500,000 people watching the spectacle of a Saturn V night launch, from over 200 km you could see the light of the five F-1 engine gleaming in the Sky.

During the transfer to moon the crew experienced light flashes in the spacecraft, cosmic radiation from Sun hitting the eyes of the astronauts.
Also reported by Cerman was a blinking object that follow the CSM/LM on large distance, later it was revealed to be radar, one of adapter panels was drifting parallel to CSM/LM
The LM Challenger touched down in Taurus-Littrow right on target on December 11.
During the first EVA Cerman took panorama pictures of the landing side from the top of the LM hatch.
After a good night of rest the Crew started the Second EVA , Cerman's first words on moon were:
Joe [Engle] I'm out here oh my Golly! Unbelievable! Unbelievable; but is it bright in the Sun.
They offloading the rover and they deployed the ALSEP package and put US flags on the lunar surface.
A problem Cerman and Engle had on all EVAs was the moon dust, it stuck on suit, on the rover,
Even got inside there LM which Cerman and Engle described as the smell of spent gunpowder.
But they had their fun, during the EVA Engle and Cerman even start singing during this EVA.

On the third EVA Cerman and Engle collected 66 kilograms of Lunar samples.

The fourth EVA Engle made a big discovery near a bolder, a small unusual rock "The Genesis rock““
it came from lower crust of moon, being one of the oldest stones found on moon and showed traces of original lunar magnetic field !
On end of the EVA they parked the Lunar rover at a safe distance to film the accent of LM .
With the surface stay of 3 days and 3 hours it was a new record not to mention the EVA of seven hours 15 minute and the 110.4 kg of lunar samples.
During the time in lunar orbit, the CSM America scanned the Surface with spectrographs for the geological Lunar Map.
After dedocking the LM, the Crew released the PFS-2 subsatellite, this time the PFS-2 remain stable in it's orbit.
On return to earth, Ronald Evans made an EVA to collect the films from the SIM bay.
Apollo 17's crew manage to take a picture of the whole earth, "The Blue Marble" that become the most iconic picture of the 20 century.
Then the CM America splashed down save near USS Ticondergoa in pacific ocean on December 19th.

Skylab 2 and Apollo 17 were successes for NASA, not only did they beat the Soviets in the space race with,
dual mission of 6 astronauts, the biggest space station with 70 tons, it’s repair and a record 28 day stay of astronaut in space,
Apollo 17 again broke records on the Moon while Skylab-2 brought home 392 hours of experimental data on medicine, solar and Earth science.
While the Soviets had "The Empty handed Mission“ of Soyuz 17, Tragedy of Soyuz 18 and delays in their Salyut projects.
This impress Capitol Hill, finally NASA had done it's job and had secured America's in the lead in Space Race for the moment...

Michel Van

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
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Aug 13, 2007
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Apollo 18 and Skylab 3 & 4 Missions

NASA won several battles at the end of 1972.
Finally Capitol Hill voted for the Odyssey program's full funding after 2 years of political battle.
Essential to securing NASA the lead in Space Race it's included Apollo J-class and Skylab missions,
a necessity for competing with both the USSR and China (however modest their entry into the space race was).
Also a international collaboration Treaty, the United States had signed a with Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy for cooperation with NASA over the Odyssey program.

The other battle won was the Internal rivalry between Johnson Space Center (JSC) and Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC),
over who controls the US Manned Spaceflight program? George Bush and Low finally managed to end this with a decree:
MSFC would develop and build the flight hardware, while JSC will run the Mission on that Hardware.
Also ended was the conflict between Jet propulsion Lab, Langley and Ames over who runs Planetary program?
JPL would do Planetary Orbiter and Flybys, Langley would do Landers,
While Ames Research Center would focus on Interplanetary missions from now on.
So Pioneer 10 & 11 would be last Planetary Probe of Ames, but they fight for one ambition mission: Pioneer 12

It would use the Backup of Pioneer 10 & 11 for a Jupiter fly-by which would bring it into a high polar orbit around the Sun,
where it would study the Sun's magnetic field
Off course the needed Fly by at Jupiter would bring also research data about the Giant Planet,
This "out of the Ecliptic“ Mission would end in an orbit of 1.2 AU by 5 AU with each 3.5 year passing one of Sun poles at 1.85 AU.
The radio isotopic generator would give the mission a duration of decades
But there was a problem, it needed more expensive Saturn IC, instead of the cheaper Atlas Centaur used on Pioneer 10&11
They found risky option: Pioneer become Payload for first Saturn IC launch with a centaur as Third stage.

The Skylab failure investigation board show that the program had rushed too fast into completion,
failures were made like on Micrometeoroid Shield design.
The Board recommended for the Space Station II project to modify the Skylab Backup,
to prevent Skylab A's problems and improve it's mission capacity.

On February 28th 1973 the next mission went to Skylab
Alan L. Bean, Owen K. Garriott, and Karol j. Bobko.
Bobko a former USAF astronaut, was a veteran for Skylab, he spent 56 days in Skylab Medical experiment altitude Test in 1971.
The Apollo CSM had been loaded with 546 kg of food, new Sun shield and spare parts like tape recorder and video cameras who failed on Skylab-2 mission.
On Day 9 the new Sun shield was installed, replacing the provisional one installed by Skylab-2's crew.

Also, the first successful EVA of a new spacesuit, the Garrett AiResearch EX-1A was conducted.
It featured higher operational Air pressure of 5 psi compared to 3.7 psi of the A7LB.
EX-A1 was far more mobile for the Human body than the Apollo A7LB suits were capable off.
It feature also new entry system, abandoned the back Zipper by a two piece suit with mid entry, so one astronaut can put it on.
The E-1A would replace the A7LB suits from Apollo 19 on.
Also tested by the crew was the Astronaut Maneuvering Unit inside the station, allowing a zero-G simulation of a tether-less spacewalk.
In the mean time the Station had problems, like the waste disposal system malfunctioning several time.
The Apollo spacecraft also had problem like losing cooling fluid, and had lost two RCS cluster.
After a record breaking 56 days the crew returned back to Earth on 27 April.
They returned with 500 hours of experimental data on medical, solar and Earth science

The third and Last Mission to first US space station was launched 12 May.
Robert F. Overmeyer, Edward G. Gibson and Donald Holmquest.
Overmeyer, a former USAF astronaut was the development Engineer of the Skylab Station, he was valued help for the aging station.
Holmquest is Bachelor degree in physician, electrical engineer and Law !
Gibson a scientist for Solar physics and an electrical engineer.

Entering the Station they found a surprise by the previous Crew, three dummies in flight suits.
The first day the crew suffered from space sickness.
After a week tensions began between Ground control and the all-rookie Crew, about the hard work schedule,
But Holmquest manage to reason with ground crew to do a modified the work schedule.
During mission two of the three main Gyroscopes failed, including other systems.
Gibson managed the first film recording of a Solar Flare on Sun.
The crew made in total 22 hours of EVA,
The last task before un-docking was the Apollo CSM deorbit burn for the station.
After a record mission of 83 days Skylab-4 returned to Earth, on 4 August.
Also the Skylab Station itself several weeks later, with help of the remaining RCS fuels reserve,
the station was plunged into indian ocean near Australia.

Despite it’s problems Skylab was a huge Success for NASA,
It showed they could handle several manned mission simultaneous in space and gain new scientific knowledge do to research in space
Edward G. Gibson wrote a textbook "The Quiet Sun“ which become a revered handbook for solar astrophysics.

Apollo 18
The first lunar mission with a geologist on board
Richard F. Gordon, Vance D. Brand and Harrison Schmitt were launched on 17 June 1973
it's target is spectacular: the Copernicus Crater
With the Skylab-4 mission, again there were 6 American astronauts simultaneous in Space.
On 19 June LM-13 Polaris descended to it's target
Richard Gordon's first words on moon:
Harrison [Schmitt] let’s go unpack the equipment

During the offloading of the Rover they broke it's right rear fender off, they deployed the ALSEP package and put the US flag on the lunar surface.
The first ride with the Lunar rover was dirty, Gordon and Schmitt were covered with dust do to the lack of the right rear fender.
A problem the two had on all EVAs was moon dust, it stuck onto their suits, the rover, even got inside their LM,
which Gordon and Schmitt described as the smell of gunpowder.
But they had there fun during their EVA, Geologist Schmitt made his best study of surface.
During the second EVA Schmitt and Gordon repaired the right rear fender with duck tape and a geological map.
The second rover trip went one km west of the LM to a hill believed to be volcanically after carter was formed,
But at arrival it was huge disappointment, after a difficult clime in their spacesuits to the top, Schmitt just found a meteor crater.
One of a freakish coincidence the US astronauts found during their missions on Moon.
On the third EVA they drilled deep core samples down to 4 meter deep.
Thee fourth EVA start with again deep drill core sample , sadly do going overtime the rover trip was cut short to a roundtrip of 10 km south of LM.
Schmitt enter last the LM saying famous words "I’ll be Back“ (He returned to the moon, becoming the first human visiting the Moon's surface multiple times)
They started into lunar orbit with a total of 120 kg of lunar samples.
The CSM-115 Windjammer was busy in lunar orbit scanning the surface with radar and spectrographs completing the Geological Map of Apollo 15, 16 and 17.
On the return trip to earth, Vance Brand made a EVA to the SIm Bay to recover the films
The landing on 26 June was rough for the crew, The capsule rolled upside down because of a ballon deployment system malfunction.
The recovery crew from the aircraft carrier USS New Orleans had work hart to get capsule & Crew on board.
Apollo 18 mission showed that the crater floor was mostly made out olivine stone and the crater is 823 million years old.
The biggest surprise was the discovery of Diamonds in samples,
which implied that the Copernicus asteroid that hit moon contained carbon and hydrogen.
The Apollo CSM problems revealed some issues with quality control, what led to intensification of inspections on CSM and LM.

Saturn IC test launch.
On November 16, the first Saturn IC was launch, as AS-301 using a old S-IB stage with the new S-IVC stage.
The goal was to test the S-IVC stage in orbit and do several restarts of the J-2S engine.
The flight was a full success the stage made several adjustments to it’s orbit by restart the J-2S with the remaining fuel.
while the Centaur stage brought Pioneer 12 on his way to Jupiter

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