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If the Soviet manned lunar program succeeded, how would the missions be designated?

Grant Exploit

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This is an effective repost of my question If the Soviet manned lunar program succeeded, how would the missions be designated? on Quora. The only answer suggested I ask Roscosmos people. Unfortunately, there seems to be literally no Soviet space program/Roscosmos employees, present or former, on Quora. Hence, I re-ask this question here to show it to a wider audience, including people who may be super duper knowledgeable about the Russian Space Program. 

Comment in question source: 


Former question source: Soviet crewed lunar programs - Wikipedia

Soyuz [x]? N1-L3 [x]? LK/LOK [x]? Something else?


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Soviet program names tended to be rather prosaic

  • Vostok = East/Orient (mission: orbit)
  • Voskhod = Ascent/Dawn (mission: go higher and fly longer)
  • Soyuz = Union (mission: RV and docking)
  • Salyut = Salute (mission: ambiguously civilian/military station)
  • Mir = Peace/World (mission: to become a peaceful space station)
  • Zond = Probe (mission: to probe)
  • Luna = Moon (mission: to land on the Moon)

Similarly, the Mir science modules were pretty much self-explanatory: Kvant  (Quantum) 1 and 2 for physics, Kristall for material science, Priroda (Nature) for bio science, Spektr for a big spectrometer, etc...

So pick something in the same vein...  In the Russian program, only successful launches got an actual mission name. Maybe the lunar landings could have been called Mir (mission: exploring a new world).

Also, Soviet rockets tended to end up with the name of their first successful payload(Vostok, Soyuz, Proton,  ), so the N-1 would probably have been given the name of whatever the 7K-LOK spacecraft was going to be called.

Edited by Nibb31
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"Hercules"and "Atlant" are mentioned as original Proton (nee UR-500) names.

"N" is supposedly "Nositel'" ("Launch Vehicle") or "Nauka" ("Science").


R-7 versions were named after the projects. Every new project required another version of R-7.
So, "Soyuz" ("Union"), "Vostok" ("East/Orient"), "Voskhod" ("Sunrise"), "Molniya" ("Lightning"), "Luna" ("Moon")
LV "Kosmos" was being used to launch numerous noname satellites under default designation "Kosmos".
So, they are named not after their payload, but after the projects of their payload development.

"Proton", afaik, was named after its first payload just because it was ICBM and didn't have a commonly known name, so they just named it as "that "Proton" who got into space".

"Energia" ("Energy"), "Zenit" ("Zenith") have their own names, not corresponding to some program except their own.

Spaceships "Buran" ("Snowstorm"), "Zarya" ("Dawn"), "Kliper" ("Clipper", a sailship) didn't give a name to any rocket.


According to "Battle for the Stars"(?) by Anton Pervushin (Первушин Антон, "Битва за звёзды"), vol.1.
(Can't find if this very informative and interesting book is in English).

Originally (1956) Korolev was unofficially planning an ICBM next to R-7.
It had 3 variants:
- kinda R-7 on steroids, with 6 side blocks, with a nuclear 2nd stage, up to 40 t payload, used as ICBM and LV.
- <=100 t start mass (not payload!) pure ICBM
- like N-1, but not "N-1" (I guess, nameless, due to the next phase)

In 1960 there was officially adopted an official program of space exploration and everything for 1960..1967:
Between others it contained these ones to be built in 1960..1963:
"N-1" - 40..50 t to LEO, 10..20 t to escape.
"N-2" - 60..80 t to LEO, 20..40 t to escape.
As the escape speed is mentioned, probably they were mentioned also as LV, not ICBM.
(My own guess, unlikely it's "Nauka" here, more probably "Nositel'")

Then after the conflict between Korolev and Glushko, Glushko has left the project before it had really started. Chelomei and Yangel were opposing to it with their own projects.
So, in 1962 the "N-(whatever)" program was reduced to a schematic design and financial estimations by a decision on "ICBM, global (combat) rockets and launch vehicles for heavy space objects" development.

The result was the early design of N-1 as we know it, named "N-1". It was more lightweight, with 75 t payload to LEO (i.e. like "N-2" should have earlier, but named "N-1").
So, looks like the early project adopted the later designation.
(My own guess, as after 1962 Korolev didn't design ICBMs, and the rocket was designed mostly for space, probably at this moment "N" could be rethought as "Nauka".
But all parts of the lunar complex were designated by functional letters: rocket blocks A,B,V,G,D,E (alphabet)...,  spaceships K ("korabl'", "ship"), probably "N" really means "Nositel'" , and "Nauka" looks like a folk etymology between the developers.
But this is just my guess).
The final Korolev's project (1963) on 1965..1975 lunar program included:
- L1 assembly. Crewed lunar flyby or orbiter. Consists of: 7K (Soyuz's capsule and service module), 9K (booster), NK. Makes lunar maps. To be assembled in LEO.
- L2 assembly. Teleoperated rover. Nuclear powered, on tracks, range 2500 km. To be delivered as an assembly L2 (rover) + 13K (lander) + 9K. To be assembled in LEO and fueled by PK tankers Required 6 R-7 launches. (2500 km? Needs not tracks, but anti-grav repulsors)
- L3 assembly. Crewed ship with a lander, 200 t heavy. To be assembled in LEO, requires 3 N-1 + R-7 (one with the ship, two with tankers, R-7 with crew). Consists of: orbiter LOK  + lander LK + booster. Crew 2..3.
- L4 assembly. Lunar orbital mini-station based on 7K (looks like Soyuz, but with a cylinder instead of the sphere). Requires N-1. Consists of the minin-station itself and 3 9K boosters.
- L5 assembly. Crewable rover with cabin and snacks. Its lander, too.

The crewed *assembly* was originally named Soyuz (literally - Union, probably for both political reasons and because it's an asssembly, joint, union).
Though the 7K ship itself was originally designed under project codename "Sever" ("North").
Later the 7K descendants inherited the assembly name "Soyuz" ("Union") (My own guess, just for political reasons, as its assemblies weren't anymore in trend).

~1964. The program is totally reduced, "N-1" redesigned again. Payload was increased from 75 to 93 t. Total mass increased to 2750 t. That "N-1" which we have seen.
L1,L2,L3,L4,L5 were replaced with LRK consisting of LOK (Soyuz without the sphere, but with bigger fuel tanks) + LK (lander). (LRK was several times implemented in KSP.)

(My own guess, at this moment nobody more cared if "N" is "Nauka" or "Nositel").

In 1962 Korolev initiated the lunar base project known as DLB or inner name "Zvezda" ("Star").
Probably, "N-1" would be used to deliver it.
In 1971 the lunar base project was cancelled due to its estimated cost (80 bln USD).

So, looks like the lunar project was far from necessity to give it its own name.
(Though, of course, it maybe had some names in official documentation, but looks like mostly they were "the works in compiance with the government decision from (date) on a heavy launch vehicle creation" or so).

5 hours ago, Nibb31 said:

Kvant  (Quantum) 1 and 2 for physics, Kristall for material science, Priroda (Nature) for bio science, Spektr for a big spectrometer, etc.

Kvant originally was a name for all Mir additional modules.
But according to "World manned cosmonautics" ("Мировая пилотируемая космонавтика"), due to the troubles with the first two ones' docking, others got other personal names.

Kristall is an optical observer (a huge block of telescopes), additionally a docking module and with crystall growing equipment inside. Crystal in both senses (lenses and grown crystals)
Priroda is a radiolocation (meteo)observer with huge antenna on its side, with bioscience equipment inside. Nature in both senses (meteorological radiolocation and terrariums)
Spektr is a spectrometric observer, modified a little,but with an airlock.

"Mir" here is "Peace", not "World".

Edited by kerbiloid
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^^ "Miru mir" "peace for the world" (will mostly be translated as "Worldpeace")

I personaly think "Nositel" have to be translated as "carrier" not only LV. As far as i remember they where planned in typical russian manner, get a hammer and a wire and you can use this thing in multiple functions, as LV or ICBM. Somewhere i read they would be used as suborbital payload Carriers for otherwise unsupportable or complicated otherwise missions like polar regions.

Edited by Urses
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