The Soviet Manned Lunar Program


We all know about the Apollo Program which brought a number of US astronauts to the moon. At the same time, the USSR also had a manned space program going (for my younger readers: The USSR was a state that existed from 1922 to 1991 and comprised areas of what is now Russia, Ukrania, Belarus, the Baltic States, and others). The program was aborted after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon and today it is little more than a footnote in the history of politics and science.

The Soviets definitely wanted to go, though, the equipment was ready and some of it had also been tested. It would have been feasable for Soviet cosmonauts to walk on the moon. I think they would have doubled their efforts if the first American mission had ended in disaster.

As far as the hardware of the Soviet Manned Lunar Program is concerned I am especially impressed by their LK Lunar Lander (LK for Lunniy Korabl – Lunar Craft):

LK Soviet Lunar Landing Module

The similarities between it and the American lunar landing module are striking. It is rounder and looks a bit more organic compared to the US model but the overall configuration is the same. Function begats form. Since the design teams behind both landers were well aware of the tasks their lander had to perform and the limitations of the available technology, it is obvious they came up with similar solutions. Thus, the landing modules look alike

A bit like the BF 109 and the Hawker Hurricane only with far higher (no pun intended) goals and far more andvanced technology, obviously. Well  at least the LK lander gets a cameo appearance in the movie Apollo 18.

It really is too bad the Soviets gave up after the Americans succeeded, it would make the history of manned space flight so much more interesting, had they made it to the moon, too.

And who knows, maybe it would have had a galvanizing effect on efforts for building a permanent moon base by one or both sides.

Alas, now the US does not even have a manned space program anymore… How times chage…

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