Part 9: Launchers for An Early Circumlunar Programme

In 1960 as soon as the four-stage R-7A-based launcher 8K78 came along, it was obvious that its first three stages could put into low Earth ortlit (LEO) not only an escape stage with an interplanetary probe but any other payload of about 6 tonnes weight. Projects for spacecraft of such a weight arrived on the scene during 1961 - these were the spacecraft and modules of the so-called Space Complex of Orbital Assembly.

Origin of the Soviet Earth Orbit Rendezvous Programme
In autumn 1956, i.e. as early as about one year before the launch of the first satellite, the Chief Designer of OKB-1, S.P. Korolyov, prepared a bold plan entitled 'The most immediate goals for space exploration", where in Part 3 the following were listed (1]:
Analysis of various ways of creating a satellite-station and research on techni- cal specifications for transport rockets;
. Research and development of a control system for ensuring the rendezvous of two satellites;
Astrodynamic research on rendezvous trajectories; research and development of engine units which are necessary for rendezvous.
On 5 July 1958, S.P. Korolyov to- gether with M.K. Tikhonravov signed a comprehensive plan of future space activity [1]. Among numerous projects, the plan included development of heavy spacecraft which could not be launched by the R-7 launchers; for example, manned circumlunar space- craft and an orbital space station.
Rather than wait for the building of heavy lift launch vehicles, plans for which were still on paper only, Korolyov proposed to use Earth Orbit Rendezvous (EOR for short) technol- ogy, in which separate units would be launched into orbit by available R-7- based launchers then joined together in LEO.
Since 1959, OKB-1 's Project Depart- ment No. 9 headed by Tikhonravov had been working on problems of space rendezvous (2]. There was a special team headed by K.S. Shustin and called Space Assembly [3].
By early 1960, Tikhonravov's de- partment had started in earnest and during 1960-1961 conducted extensive research and development on types of hardware for building two variants of the Orbital Assembly in LEO [4]. These were:
A multi-unit manned military space sta- tion named Sever;
A multi-stage rocket Space Tug for re- launching payloads from LEO into es- cape trajectories or higher orbits.
Component parts of the complex are shown in the table below.

The MR (Multipurpose Rocket): An 8K74-Based Multipurpose Launcher
The Orbital Assembly Project was based on two versions of the R-7 launcher. The lighter modules weigh- ing about 4.6 - 4.8 t were to be or- bited by the 8K72K (Vostok) launch vehicle whereas heavier spacecraft were to be orbited by a "shortened" version of the 8K78 launcher, i.e. whose fourth stage (Block L) was to be replaced by the orbital payload.
In early 1960, the concept of such a 8K74-based launcher was conceived by Korolyov as a "multipurpose rocket" (in Korolyov's terms) or MR for short. Yet another MR was to be de- signed based on the 8K77 ICBM. The MRs were to be used as [6]:
A fighting global (i.e. orbital) rocket with unlimited range capability;
An ICBM with increased power, effi- ciency and higher pointing accuracy of the warhead;
A launch vehicle for the orbiting of at- tacking and reconnaissance satellites;
An anti-satellite missile system for destroying enemy satellites;
A space launch vehicle for orbiting various spacecraft.
The MR version to be used as a launch vehicle was designated 8K711. The original specifications of early 1961 required a payload capability of about 5.8 t for a 225 km circular orbit with an inclination of 65 degrees. But as the programme progressed it became obvious that the 8K711 did not meet this requirement The point was that its stage 3 (Block 1) powered by Kosberg's 30-tonne thrust engine 8D715K would be essentially different from the Block I of the 8K78 which was in operational service. Firstly, it was to have its own inertial control system, as distinct from the basic Stage 3 of the 8K78, the control system of which was on board Stage 4. Secondly, the trajectory tracking and telemetry systems would have to be moved from Stage 4 to the modified Stage 3. A cylindrical adapter would have to be attached to the forward end of Stage 3 to enable new spacecraft to be placed on it Modified in such a way Block I would have grown so heavy that the 8K711 would not have been able to reach its original specifications. So in mid-1961, the MR rocket 8K711 project was abandoned.
Moreover, the development of the Orbital Complex, its launchers and payloads began before official government approval was given. After serious discussions in the end of 1961 all these projects were cancelled in favour of a redesigned manned circumlunar programme, although the Sever programme even got as far as the full-scale wooden mock-up of the habitation module being built [3].

The Early Soyuz Circumlunar Programme
In December 1961 yet another OKB-1 department. No. 3, headed by Y.P. Kolyako, was involved in the lunar programme. They proposed a concept of fuelling rocket units in LEO [2].
In early 1962, the orbital assembly project was revised radically - it then envisaged an all-automated rendezvous and docking. Spacecraft-assembler Vostok-7 became unnecessary and was abandoned. Its designation, 7K, was inherited by manned circumlunar spacecraft [7]. Instead of two, three or more 9K rocket units, only one would be orbited but unloaded. In April 1962 the manned circumlunar complex was called Soyuz [8].
On 16 April 1962 by a decree of the Central Committee and Council of Ministers entitled "On the development of the Soyuz complex for manned flight around the Moon", the go-ahead was given to OKB-1 to begin development and construction of spacecraft for the circumlunar programme [9].
The Soyuz complex took shape in mid-1962 and was to consist of three spacecraft as shown in the table opposite.
The outline design of the 7K-9K-11K Soyuz complex was signed by Korolyov on 24 December 1962 [11]. According to the original schedule, the first flight tests of the 7K spacecraft in LEO were to take place in 1964 and the lunar complex 7K-9K-11K as a Launchers for the Early Soyuz Programme, 11A55 and 11A56
When it became obvious that the "shortened" 8K78 would not reach the specified payload capability, a study was conducted in the latter half of 1961 which showed that if the central sustainer of Block A's engine were to be uprated by 5 per cent of thrust with an increase of specific impulse, the estimated orbiting mass would go up to 5.8 or even 6.0 L
In December 1961, the decision was taken to develop two uprated versions of three-stage R-7A-based launch ve- hicle which were designated 11A55 and 11A56*.
Launch vehicle 11A56 was intended to orbit the unmanned spacecraft Objects 9K and 11K. The 11A55 was to be the launcher for orbiting the manned spacecraft Object 7K and it was to become the first launch vehicle which would be developed and produced according to the requirements of a document entitled "3KA Regulations" ("Polozheniye 3KA" in Russian terms). These rules were issued in early 1960 [13] and, at first, they did establish requirements on constructing, check-out and factory testing of all units and systems of the manned spacecraft Vostok (Object 3KA, which gave rise to the title "3KA Regula- tions"). But after 1962 the scope of the rules established by this document was enlarged to cover all hardware intended for manned missions in order to ensure a high level of reliability**. The 11A55 and 11A56 launchers differed from each other in their engine units, control and telemetry systems, and nose fairing design. Of course, the 11A55 also had to meet the requirements of the 3KA Regulations.
Glushko's OKB-456 was asked to develop two uprated version of the RD-108 motor for the Block A (Stage 2) central sustainers. The first engine designated 8D727K was intended for the unmanned launch vehicle 11A56 and the second, 8D727P, for the manned 11A55 launcher. During 1962 both versions were developed. The operating pressure in the main com- bustion chambers was uprated by 5 per cent in comparison with the pre- vious versions 8D75/75K. Sea-level thrust had increased from 75.8 to 79.3 t and specific impulse rose by 3 s. The duration of burning in the final thrust stage was cut down to 7 seconds.
Engine RD-107 of the strap-on boosters Blocks B, V, G and D (Stage 1) was also improved to bring its performance up to the requirements of

Notes: * A re-designed single-stage Space Tug, which kept the former designator 9K and was to have more bulky tanks than its predecessor but was to be orbited unfuelled. ** After Space Tug 9K had been placed in LEO, four space tankers -11K were to be successively orbited to join together with the former, one after the other, and to pour their propellant into the tug's tanks. After the 7K spacecraft had been docked to the fuelled Space Tug, the latter was to be fired for translunar injection. *lt is known that the designation 11A52 was given to the Moon rocket N-1. Its derivative launchers N-11 and N-111 were designated as 11A53 and 11A54 [7]. So, launch vehi- cles of the Soyuz complex arrived on the scene later than launchers of the N-family and received the next numbers for their designations, i.e. 11A55 and 11A56. ** The 3KA Regulations were in force up to 1968 when new Regulations were introduced. the 3KA Regulations. This version re- ceived the designation 8D728.
As the Stage 3 engine 8D715K for unmanned missions (its conventional designation is RD-0107) was then in operational service, Kosberg's 0KB- 154 was asked to develop its new version for the manned launcher 11 ASS. In 1963 this motor was devel- oped. It did not have a final thrust stage, so the automatic mechanism was simplified. It met the requirements of the 3KA Regulations although its performance characteristics remained the same. This engine received the designation 8D71SP (its modem con- ventional designation is RD-0108).
In 1961 OKB-l's Department No. 11 started work on an escape emer- gency system for the manned launch vehicle [14]. In mid-1962 the decision was taken to use an escape system powered by a solid rocket motor with a few angled nozzles [14]. The design of the IIASS's nose fairing with the escape tower atop had been prepared in 1963 by OKB-l's Departments Nos. 3 and 11 together with designers of the Kuibyshev's Branch No. 3 of 0KB- 1 [15].
In mid-1963, during the design of the 7K spacecraft, its theoretical weight came to more than 6 tonnes and then continued to grow. It be- came obvious that it was necessary to design an improved launch vehicle which could place a payload of no less than 6.5 t in LEO. Project 11A55/ 56 was cancelled and development of an improved launcher, designated 11A511, began in 1963. (This launcher will be described in a forthcoming Part 14.)
Meanwhile in the latter half of 1963, manufacture of portions of the Soyuz spacecraft and their launchers was begun by Experimental Plant No. 88 at Podlipki (near Moscow) and by the Progress Machine Building Plant at Kuibyshev. But during the first half of 1964 the programme proceeded too slowly. In mid-1964, work on the 7K- 9K-11K complex was in fact termi- nated [16], and shortly afterwards the circumlunar programme Soyuz was radically revised once again. There were a number of reasons for this decision. Firstly, OKB-1 was very busy with the Voskhod programme. Sec- ondly, as a response to the progress being made with Apollo-Saturn, the full-scale N1-L3 programme was de- veloped on a broad front according to a decree of the Soviet government dated 3 August 1964. In the end, a multi-launch scheme for such a mis- sion turned out to be too complicated to be realised at that time.
Although the 11A55 and 11A56 launchers were never flown, many units designed for them were used in other R-7A-based launch vehicles and were put into operational service. Mo- tor 8D727K had its first flight test on 25 August 1962 as an engine unit of Stage 2 (Block A) of the 8K78 vehicle, after which the 8D727K motor was in operational service during 1962-1964. The 8D728 and 8D727P motors were first flown on 16 November 1963 as engine units of the unified launcher 11A57 which carried the photo-recon- naissance satellite Zenit-4. The first flight-ready copy of the 8D715P motor was first used on 11 November 1963 as the Stage 3 engine unit of the 8K78 launcher carrying the Zond probe 3MV-1A. This engine was in operational service during 1963- 1965 as the power-plant of Block I of the early versions of the 11A57 and 8K78M launch vehicles.
During development of the 11A55/56 launchers, designers of the Kuibyshev's Branch No. 3 of OKB-1 were involved in this work. They gained significant experience in rocket technology, which they used in con- structing their first launch vehicle, 11A57, which will be described in Part 10.

1. G.S. Vetrov, Ed., S.P. Korolev and His Cause, Light and Shadows in the History of Cosmonautics, Selected Works and Documents, "Nauka" (Science) Publishing Office, Moscow, 1998, p.214.
2. S.P. Korolev Rocket Space Corporation Energia, 1946-1996, Moscow, 1996, p.162.
3. Ts.V. Solov'yov, G.G. Khalov, A.A. Sarkisyan, Tsiolkovsky's Ideas on Space Settlements and the First Projects of Manned Orbital Stations of the Korolyov's OKB-1: Object "Zvezda" (1962-1965)', Report to the Twenty- Eighth Tsiolkovsky Symposium, 14 Sep- tember 1993, Kaluga, Written by and supplied courtesy of Eugeny Koltovoy.
4. 1. Afanas'ev, 'Unknown Spacecraft', Bro- chure of the "Znaniye" Society, No. 12, 1991, PP.13-15.
5. The Creative Legacy of Academician Sergey Pavlovich Korolev, "Nauka" Pub- lishing Office Moscow, 1980, pp.44&448.
6. G.S. Vetrov, Ed., S.P. Korolev and His Cause, "Nauka" (Science) Publishing Office, Moscow 1998, p.599.
7. K. Lantratov, 'The "Star" of Dmitry Kozlov', Novosti Kosmonavtiki (News of Cosmonautics). Two-weekly magazine of Videokosmos Company, Vol. 7, No.3/144, 27 January - 9 February 1997, p.51.
8. B.E. Chertok, Rockets and Men, Hot Days of the Cold War, "Mashinostroyeniye" (Machine Building) Publishing Office, Moscow, 1997, p.381.
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10. The Creative Legacy of Academician Sergey Pavlovich Korolev, "Nauka" Pub- lishing office, Moscow, 1980 pp.489-500.
11. S.P. Korolev Rocket Space Corporation Energia 1946-1996, Moscow, 1996, p.163.
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13. B.E. Chertok, Rockets and Men, Pili-Podlipki-Tyuratam, 1996, p.426.
14. S.P. Korolev Rocket Space Corporation
Energia, 1946-1996, Moscow, 1996, p.166. IS.tbid, p.l 72.
16.1bid, p.l 68.
17. The Creative Legacy of Academician Sergey Pavlovich Korolev, "Nauka" Publishing Office, Moscow, 1980, p.499.
18.1bid, p.491.
19.1bid, p.493.
(All References are in Russian)

this page is assembled by Sergey V. Andreev 2005