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Stock N1-L3 Soviet Moon Rocket


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The N1-L3 was a super-heavy launch vehicle developed by the Soviet Union in a bid to land cosmonauts on the Moon. From 1969-1972 four test launches were conducted, all of which ended in failure as a result of complications with the first stage, "Block A". Typically rocket stages are test fired on the ground but no such provisions were made for Block A. Program managers had opted to test the N1 wholly in-flight, a decision that was later described as one of the biggest mistakes in the program. Even years after the landing of Apollo 11, the N1 program had almost nothing to show but rocket debris and a destroyed launchpad and so the program was cancelled in 1976.

This is a model of the N1F version, otherwise known as the definitive version of the rocket. Had the program not been cancelled this is the version that would have carried cosmonauts to the Moon. Previous N1 test rockets were only capable of carrying 70 tons to LEO, limiting its payload to lunar-flybys. The N1F however would feature upgraded engines and aerodynamic coverings, as well as super-cooled fuel to boost its lift capacity beyond 90 tons to LEO. The fifth test flight, N1 no. 8L, was to use this configuration but it never flew due to the program's cancellation.

As for my replica version, she's built at 75% scale and sits at over 1500 parts. The game lags quite a bit when it loads onto the launchpad but it's manageable. It does feel like the game is playing in slow-motion for the first 3 stages, though. Despite its complexity it handles well and has good flight characteristics overall. Under normal flight circumstances it will fly straight and can be steered away from the prograde vector without flipping. Though I should mention it may flip if you steer too hard in the low atmosphere, sub 10,000m. If you find yourself in a situation like this the craft also features a functional SAS (launch escape) system to keep your kerbals safe.





Above is a video I made that runs through the full mission from launch to landing. Alternatively, check out the flight profile album below for details.

Flight Profile




The troublesome Block A lifts the stack using the power of 30 engines burning simultaneously. This time provisions have been made to ensure the stage does not explode.


Like most Russian rockets the N1 makes use of a concept known as hot staging, where the next stage starts before the previous stage burns out.


This keeps fuel settled at the bottom of the tanks during staging. Block B continues the ascent.


The SAS tower and outer fairing are jettisoned, revealing the L3 lunar complex. A modified Soyuz "7K LOK" sits at the top of the stack.


Block B separates and Block V heads for LEO.


The L3 is released into orbit. At this stage in the flight the L3 would hang out in its parking orbit for a day while the cosmonauts ensured all systems were working.


Having performed a lunar-injection burn, the Block G separates and Block D continues to make course corrections before arriving at the Moon.


Block D performs a braking maneuver at the Moon putting the L3 in an elliptical orbit. Cosmonaut Valentina Kerman transfers to the lander via spacewalk.


The Soyuz 7K LOK separates and the fairing encasing the LK lunar lander is jettisoned.


Jebediah stays on the LOK as Valentina descends to the surface with the LK and Block D.


The Block D brakes and brings the LK down just 3 km from the surface before being released to crash on the surface. This leaves the LK with a precious few seconds to land under the power of its Block E propulsion system.


Closing in towards the surface.


Touchdown! Solid-fuel "nesting" rockets keep the LK from toppling over should it land at an angle.


Valentina embarks on another EVA to see the sights.


Planting a flag for that theming bonus. 


LK departs from the surface after reigniting Block E, leaving behind the landing apparatus.


The LK matches the LOK's elliptical orbit and the two rendezvous and dock.


Valentina conducts one last spacewalk to transfer back to the Soyuz. The LK is left in lunar orbit as Jebediah plots a course back to Earth. The LOK accelerates out of orbit under the power of Block I



Before reentry the habitation and engine modules split off from the descent module.


The reinforced descent module endures the forces of reentry.


Chutes are deployed and the heat shield is jettisoned. Just before landing pairs of retrorockets fire to cushion the landing.


Splashdown! I was aiming for a more terrestrial landing zone but this'll have to do.


Val and Jeb home and safe at last, at least for as long as they can swim.



N1F-L3: 1547 parts



1: Stage 1 Core 6 Engine Shutdown (optional)


4: LK & LOK RCS toggle (off by default)

5: LK Lunar Ascent Prep. (press before lunar ascent)

6: Descent Module RCS Toggle (off by default)


9: LK Abort to Orbit

0: Detach Descent Module from SAS (press after abort)

Backspace: Activate SAS (abort)


Put your two Kerbals in the last two seats in the crew menu. This'll put them in the Soyuz module rather than the lander. 

As for the crew itself I'd recommend bringing two pilots to allow the use of maneuver nodes without using the probe cores.

Do not steer the rocket too hard sub 10,000m. Try to keep yourself aligned within a few degrees of the prograde vector at this phase.

To perform "hot-staging", activate the next stage before the current one is out of fuel. Press spacebar when the D/v indicator is at 100m/s or so.

The first 3 stages have an excess of D/v so i'd recommend dumping the third stage if you're only going for low orbit. 

Press 5 before lunar ascent to shutdown the main engine and disconnect the umbilical arm between the ascent and landing modules. Doing this lets you throttle up before staging and provides a clean separation sequence.


Edited by tehmattguy
updated download link
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Dam impressive man! I love the attention to detail.

It nice to see a no compromises replica build of the N1. It has such unique shapes that KSP parts dont do a good job conforming, but this replica looks fantastic.  I especially love how clean the fairings look.. I cant imagine how much fiddling it took to get them all the proper shape and size.


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On 11/28/2019 at 1:50 PM, Bubbadevlin said:

Dam impressive man! I love the attention to detail.

It nice to see a no compromises replica build of the N1. It has such unique shapes that KSP parts dont do a good job conforming, but this replica looks fantastic.  I especially love how clean the fairings look.. I cant imagine how much fiddling it took to get them all the proper shape and size.


Thank you!

The fairings are real finicky but they get the job done.

Edited by tehmattguy
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  • 6 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...

You get an A+ on the Awesomeness Scale mate, absolute amazing and fantastic!  I'm willing to bet you didn't cobble that thing together in ten minutes, the amount of detail is unbelievable, and you did all this in stock??? :o

You also docked (correctly) the lander with the Soyuz after it returned from the surface of the Mun.  I don't think I've ever seen anyone else doing that, so more kudos for that.

All in all, superb job. 

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