vol4.pdf [Ivanovskiy Boris Andreyevich]

Leading specialists from TsKBEM are shown here at the K. E. Tsiolkovskiy

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Leading specialists from TsKBEM are shown here at the K. E. Tsiolkovskiy 

State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics in Kaluga. From left to right 

(standing) are Yu. P. Antonov, B. Ye. Chertok, M. S. Khomyakov, unknown, 

E. B. Brodskiy, Ye. V. Levashev, M. V. Melnikov, R. F. Appazov, V. F. Gladkiy, 

L. B. Vilnitskiy, A. S. Kasho, Z. F. Dorofeyeva, V. M. Arsentyev, V. N. Korzhenevskaya, 

E. I. Korzhenevskiy, B. A. Dorofeyev, and unknown. Dorofeyev served as the chief 

designer of the N-1 rocket from 1972 to 1974.

left to stay in a cottage. The hotels gradually filled up as the date of the N-1 

launch approached. More and more people arrived from all over the country 

to participate, observe, monitor, and report. The brass preferred to live at Site 

No. 2. It was primarily the “working class” that populated the new residential 

development—Site No. 113.

Any first launch of a new rocket is an event. But for a rocket like the 

N-1, it was an exceptional event. Despite the fact that a good 4 kilometers 

separated the MIK of Site No. 2 and the enormous buildings of the N-1 

assembly factory, the psychological tension that was generated around the 

gigantic rocket reached everyone, even those who had nothing to do with it. 

And people whom you knew well and were formerly cheerful, jocular, and 

prone to laughter now arrived at Site No. 2 at the “Luxe” dining hall or simply 

to meet with friends looking haggard from lack of sleep and ground down by 

the crush of responsibility.

Afanasyev, who headed the State Commission on the N-1, was also 

appointed chairman of the Lunar Council by government decision. The atmo-

sphere in the crowded sessions of the State Commission on the N-1, which 


1969—The First N-1 Launch

From the author’s archives.

The leadership of TsKBEM stands in front of an N1-L3 stack at the assembly and 

testing building at Site No. 112 at Tyuratam. From left to right are Ya. P. Kolyako, 

V. V. Kosyakov, G. N. Degtyarenko, V. A. Kalashnikov, O. I. Malyugin, I. A. Zubkov, 

V. F. Gladkiy, A. N. Voltsifer, K. K. Pantin, Yu. P. Ilin, V. V. Simakin, P. I. Meleshin, 

G. A. Fadeyev, D. I. Kozlov, P. F. Shulgin, A. P. Abramov, I. S. Prudnikov, A. P. Tishkin, 

K. M. Khomyakov, V. K. Bezverbyy, F. I. Ryabov, M. I. Samokhin, P. A. Yershov, K. D. 

Bushuyev, S. S. Kryukov, V. Ya. Litvinov, N. N. Ganin, V. M. Klyucharev, V. P. Mishin, 

I. A. Mordvinov, M. S. Khomyakov, B. G. Penzin, Yu. P. Antonov, and A. N. Ivannikov.


Rockets and People: The Moon Race

were conducted by the minister, was much more tense than in ordinary com-

missions on piloted launches.

The scale of operations on the N-1 required the creation of a special direc-

torate at the military installation at the firing range, which coordinated all the 

preparation for tests and acceptance of the launch facilities, and the test fueling 

and launching equipment.


 A new tribe of testers appeared, whose careers had 

spanned the R-7, UR-500K, and combat missiles, and of quite young ones, 

whose careers were just beginning with the N-1. The constituent parts of this 

army were still getting broken in and learning to work with one another.

The State Commission met for the first time in this enlarged form in the 

conference hall of the manufacturing plant building at Site No. 112. All you 

had to do was put on a white lab coat, descend to the first floor, present a 

pass to the Progress Factory security detail at the entrance, and you entered 

a realm of fantastic dimensions. In the bays stood rigs on which the lobes of 

the spherical tanks were welded. A first-time visitor couldn’t help but notice 

From the author’s archives.

Senior designers discussing the assembly of the N-1 rocket at the assembly and 

testing building. From left to right, Dmitriy Kozlov, unknown, Boris Paton, and 

Sergey Okhapkin. Paton was a prominent full member of the Academy of Sciences 

and an expert in welding.


9.  This was the Sixth Testing Directorate at Tyuratam (also known as Military Unit 96630) 

headed by Colonel Yevgeniy Georgiyevich Moiseyev from 1967 to 1974. The directorate had 

seven departments for ground equipment, engines, fueling, guidance systems, telemetry systems, 

and payload operations.


1969—The First N-1 Launch

the assembled first, second, and third stages laid out there according to some 

mysterious principle. Tiny assemblers in off-white coveralls and engineer tech-

nicians in white lab coats were scurrying around on the openwork rigs. The 

bays were filled so tightly by the rocket stages in various degrees of readiness 

that it was impossible for someone at the front of the bay to make out where 

it ended. This made the hall seem even longer.

At the old MIK at Site No. 2 I knew and understood every piece 

equipment, stand, console, rocket block, and spacecraft. At the N-1 MIK, 

everything was new, unfamiliar, and had overwhelming dimensions. The 

fundamental distinction of the new building was that the rocket was manu-

factured here, and its testing was the last technical operation. The majority of 

the people moving unhurried through the bays were not firing range testers, 

but workers who were making the rocket here. Each person was involved 

with his or her own work. The curious superiors descending from the upper 

floors just got in the way.

Nominal, assembled, and launch-ready, launch vehicle N-1 No. 3L had 

undergone a cycle of factory horizontal tests and was awaiting the decision of 

the State Commission. Checking out the mating of the launch complex with 

an engineering model of the rocket was a dress 

rehearsal. This rocket was a complete structural, 

electrical, pneumatic, and hydraulic analog. All 

of the prelaunch operations except for the actual 

firing of the engines had been worked out on it 

for several months. During this trial run process 

numerous glitches occurred in the interaction 

of systems, but the primary outcome was the 

interaction of personnel and systems.

The State Commission session on 9 

February 1969 had the primary objective of 

making a decision regarding the N-1 launch. All 

the chief designers flew in. Commander-in-Chief 

of the Strategic Rocket Forces Marshal Nikolay 

Krylov himself came to the State Commission 



 For this reason the “jackets,” as civil-

From the author’s archives.

The N-1 in a ground-up shot.

 10.  Marshal Nikolay Ivanovich Krylov (1903–1972) served as Commander-in-Chief of the 

Strategic Rocket Forces from 1963 to 1972.


Rockets and People: The Moon Race

ians were referred to, got lost in a throng of officers and generals, who had 

hurried to take their places in the new meeting hall. There were many unfamiliar 

faces. Not only chief designers, but also deputy ministers, directors, and chief 

engineers of the main factories were invited to this historic meeting.

Despite the large confluence of people, Afanasyev took his time as he 

conducted the State Commission session and analyzed the readiness of each 

system in detail. Each chief designer had to report about the readiness of his 

system to begin flight-development tests, and the testers gave summary reports 

about the glitches that had occurred.

Two ministers who had flown in for the State Commission session—Petr 

Dementyev and Valeriy Kalmykov—also listened patiently to all the reports. 

Dementyev’s arrival was understandable—his Ministry of the Aviation Industry 

was half responsible for the fate of the N-1. He oversaw Nikolay Kuznetsov’s 

design bureau and the series-production engine factory in Kuybyshev.

During a break in the proceedings, after catching sight of me, Kalmykov 

greeted me very warmly and with genuine admiration said: “I have heard a lot 

about N-1 in the VPK, but now, after seeing it with my own eyes, I am simply 

amazed what a huge operation you managed to conduct during those three years 

while I wasn’t here. I think that no matter what Afanasyev and Krylov decide 

concerning the first launch, groundwork has already been laid here for what 

would ensure us success not only for today’s situation, but for many decades 

in the future. When Korolev first came with you to visit me at NII-10, God 

bless me, I can still recall, about 20 years ago, even science fiction writers had 

not dreamed of such scales.”


Of all the ministers with whom I used to meet back then, Kalmykov seemed 

the most capable of romantic flights of fancy from the prosaic managerial rou-

tine. We were able to indulge in reminiscing during the long break in the State 

Commission meeting, which Afanasyev had announced due to the fact that 

the chief of the firing range, General Kurushin, had come out with objections 

against the launch of N-1 No. 3L.


 Based on the test results, the rocket and 

the ground equipment had many glitches, which they had not yet managed 

to eliminate. During the break, Afanasyev and Mishin worked on Krylov to 

get him to remove Kurushin’s objections. Ultimately, Kurushin had to give in 

after assurances that all the glitches would be eliminated before the launch.

 11.  NII-10, which developed gyroscope systems for Soviet ballistic missiles, was headed by 

Kalmykov in the late 1940s. See Chertok, Rockets and People, Vol. II, p. 5.

 12.  Lieutenant-General Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Kurushin (1922–) was commander of 

the Tyuratam firing range (known as NIIP-5) from 1965 to 1973.


1969—The First N-1 Launch

The individual delivering the main report at the State Commission was 

Mishin, chief designer of the head enterprise, TsKBEM. He reported about 

the work that had been conducted over the past year in accordance with the 

recommendations of the expert commission to increase the N-1’s reliability 

and payload capacity. Unlike the [original] draft plan for the first stage, six 

additional NK-15 engines were installed [on the flight model]. Twenty-four 

engines arranged around the outer circumference of the bottom part of the first 

stage had variable thrust to control and stabilize the rocket. The six engines 

of the inner ring were not involved in control. Eight of these same NK-15V 

engines with high-altitude nozzles were installed on the second stage, and on 

the third stage—four NK-19 engines with high-altitude nozzles. The power 

margin in terms of thrust would enable the launch vehicle to fulfill its mission 

even if four first-stage engines failed in flight.

The launch path inclination was changed from 65 to 52 degrees. Another 

measure to increase the payload mass was to reduce the orbital altitude from 

300 to 220 kilometers. On subsequent launch vehicles, the following changes 

would be implemented: placing inserts in the equatorial portion of the tanks 

to increase the working fuel margin; maintaining thermostatic control of the 

fuel’s temperature to –15 to –20 degrees [°C or 5 to –4°F] and supercooling 

of the oxygen to –191 degrees [°C or –311.8°F]; and augmenting the thrust 

of the propulsion systems of all three stages by 2 percent.

While performing strength development tests of the rocket on a model, 

glitches occurred that required that the exterior panels of the hull be signifi-

cantly reinforced.

The developmental testing of the rocket blocks (or stages) was conducted 

at NII-229 on special rigs. There, Blocks B, V, G, and D underwent both 

cold tests and firing tests. There were three firing stand tests on unit EU-16, 

simulating a full-scale Block V, and one firing stand test on unit EU-15, which 

had a full-scale model of Block B with eight engines producing a total 1,200 

tons of thrust. Comments made about glitches during the integrated firing 

tests were taken into account and implemented on N-1 No. 3L using the 

electrically, hydraulically, and structurally similar 1M mockup of the rocket.



Developmental testing of the mating of the rocket with the ground transporta-

tion, erecting, fueling, and launch equipment was completed.

For the first launch they used a simplified L3 system upper stage with an 

unpiloted 7K-L1S vehicle instead of the LOK and LK. The emergency rescue 

 13.  “Comments” (zamechaniya) in Russian technical parlance is comparable to the common 

technical phrase “anomalies noted” in English.


Rockets and People: The Moon Race

system was standard on the first launch. Liftoff was proposed to take place on 

18 February 1969.

Boris Dorofeyev and Boris Filin reported on the results of the tests on the 

launch vehicle and upper stage. The majority of system chief designers gave 

brief reports recommending clearance for launch. Barmin gave a more detailed 

report than other chief systems’ suppliers. He concluded that all the fueling 

equipment and all the launch systems should be cleared for the installation of the 

first flight rocket and, upon readiness, it should be cleared for the first launch.

Only the State Commission could make the decision to roll out the first 

N-1 No. 3L flight rocket to the launch site and prepare it for launch. However, 

long before this decisive meeting, rocket No. 3L had already been at the launch 

site and had undergone a cycle of electrical tests there, including a launch 

simulation. This wasn’t done because we had “an abundance of resources,” 

but for the simple reason that a full electrical equivalent—an integrated test 

stand—was not yet ready. Integrated developmental testing of all the electri-

cal systems was supposed to have been conducted on a test stand in Pilyugin’s 

department at NIIAP.

In keeping with longstanding practice, instruments, cables, and all the 

other production accessories were delivered first of all for the flight vehicles 

and then—much later, after the developers had howled hysterically—for the 

experimental test units and rigs on which the developmental tests for these 

very instruments were supposed to be performed. Everyone considered this 

procedure to be faulty, but no one could change it. The dates for the deliveries 

of the standard instruments for the flight rockets were under the strict control 

of the entire administrative staff. All other deliveries were almost considered 

to be the developers’ whims.

The assembly of rocket N-1 No. 3L was completed before integrated 

electrical developmental testing on the stand. Therefore a daring decision was 

made: to roll out the rocket to the launch site and conduct all the necessary 

checkout procedures there jointly with all the ground equipment, after which 

the rocket would need to return to the engineering facility at the big MIK for 

electrical developmental testing. In addition, numerous other modifications 

had to be performed at the MIK according to the results of the strength tests.

The year 1968 proved to be unusually difficult for Sergey Okhapkin 

and the design, strength, and materials departments that he supervised. 

The strength department at TsNIImash conducted structural strength tests 

on models. When Korolev was still alive, a decision was made to build at 

NII-88 a modern facility for researching the strength of rocket designs. After 

Korolev’s death, Okhapkin and NII-88 scientists Viktor Panferov and Aleksandr 

Karmishin showed initiative and perseverance; as a result, in accordance with 


1969—The First N-1 Launch

the N-1 resolution, a laboratory was built and fitted out with one-of-a-kind 

equipment for all manner of static-dynamic tests on full-scale assemblies, parts, 

and rocket models as a whole. The tests proceeded simultaneously with the 

production process. It was necessary to really hurry so that the factories did 

not make too many rejects.

Completely exasperated by the glitches he’d encountered during these tests, 

Okhapkin persuaded me to commiserate with him and drop by NII-88 to have 

a look at the equipment for strength testing. For me, a person unversed in the 

newest strength test methods, the scales of these operations and the laboratory 

equipment made quite an impression.

At the Progress Factory in Kuybyshev and at the big MIK at the firing 

range, they were wrapping up manufacturing the first No. 3L flight rocket, 

and production of the next two flight models was under way at full speed. At 

that time, the staff at the NII-88 “strength” building were performing round-

the-clock testing that destroyed the main structural elements.

The destruction of the main load-bearing structural ring of the first stage—

a ring with a diameter of 14 meters—delivered a most crushing blow for the 

strength engineers. The tests had begun back in 1967, and at first it seemed 

that they would be able to avoid major modifications.

“But look what happened after reaching design conditions,” said Okhapkin, 

pointing to a jumbled heap of amorphous pieces of metal.

It was a depressing sight. In many cases, the load-bearing capacity of 

the panels of the exterior load-bearing hull also proved lower than required. 

Karmishin explained that, in the opinion of his specialists, our designers’ cal-

culations had not taken into consideration the impact of “marginal effects”—

structural weakening on sharp corners and edges. On the R-7, R-9, and other 

“old” rockets, more ductile alloys were used and the “marginal effect” could 

be disregarded. New materials were selected for the N-1 with a view toward 

reducing its mass. These materials proved to be more brittle.

After the destruction of the load-bearing ring at NII-88, Mishin ordered 

that the lead TsKBEM specialists for strength and structural analysis be rep-

rimanded. Modifications needed to be made to the “marginal effect” areas on 

the already manufactured rocket compartments in Kuybyshev and at the firing 

range, new parts needed to be manufactured, and sometimes it was necessary 

to return to old tried-and-true materials. But this meant time, time, and once 

again an increase in the mass!

The long-suffering assembly of the Block A (first stage) load-bearing 

structure was modified and underwent strength testing 10 times. Ten load 

applications resulted in premature destructions, and only after this did we 

manage to receive a satisfactory result. Production could not wait that long. 


Rockets and People: The Moon Race

They decided to launch first one or even two flight rockets in light-duty mode 

and not make all the modifications to them.

But the designers’ troubles did not end here. Two years after the beginning 

of production at the Progress Factory, highly unusual phenomena started to 

occur. Cracks were discovered under the rivets in riveted structural parts. Their 

appearance was first thought to be incidental. However, cracks were found not 

only at the factory in Kuybyshev, but also on a massive scale on the assembled 

units at the MIK. They immediately replaced impact riveting with pressure 

molding. Cracked parts were to be replaced with new ones. Where this was 

not possible, they attached special fastening plates. But that wasn’t all. On the 

finished assembly they discovered a broken steel fastening bolt. An examination 

confirmed that the failure of the fastener, which was made of a new grade of 

steel, was not an isolated occurrence. The failure of bolts and screws subjected 

to loads began to take on a large-scale pattern. All of the fasteners made of the 

new grade of steel had to be removed and replaced.

All told, it took almost a year to resolve all of these problems and to modify 

the first two flight vehicles. However, this was not the main reason for the 

delay in the start of flight testing. It took so much time to complete the con-

struction and acceptance of all the launch site systems and to set up and begin 

tests with a mockup spacecraft at the engineering facility and launch sites that 

the strength and miscellaneous modifications going on at the same time did 

not ultimately determine the completion time [of preparations for launch].

The N-1 No. 3L rocket was modified in response to all possible comments 

by the time of the January session of the State Commission. All that remained 

were deviations permitted by the technical management. On the second stage 

(Block B), contrary to the design, Kuznetsov’s main engines did not have high-

altitude nozzles. The control system’s on-board digital computer, developed 

at NIIAP in 1969, produced so many malfunctions and such errors that it 

was impossible to clear it for flight. Deviating from the design, they made the 

decision to begin flight testing on an analog control system, which did not 

require an on-board digital computer. This impaired the parameters of the 

control system and of the rocket as a whole, but it was not possible to wait any 

longer for the on-board computer to be ready. The main concern was, would 

the three stages be tested out?

Barmin did not follow the American procedure of transporting the rocket 

to the launch site in a vertical position. He remained true to our tradition—the 

rocket was moved from the engineering facility to the launch site in a hori-

zontal position on a transporter-erector, which moved in keeping with the 

erstwhile principle “cannons travel to battle backwards.” True, this “backside” 

had a diameter of 17 meters. Four motor locomotives moved the erector along 

two parallel railroad tracks. Laying the rocket on the erector, securing it, and 


1969—The First N-1 Launch

preparing it for rollout took several days, as did the commission’s arguments 

before and after. Finally, 9 February was announced to everyone as the day of 

departure to the launch site, Site No. 110.

During the days commemorating Korolev’s 90th birthday [in January 

1997], I had the opportunity to refresh my memory and reexperience this 

ceremonial process reproduced in the frames of a documentary film. The 

cameraman had selected a good angle. The gigantic rocket was comfortably 

bedded down on the platform of the erector as if that was its rightful place. 

Under the roof of the MIK, the rocket and erector seemed monolithic and 

grandiose. The entire bottom portion of the first stage filled the lens of the 

movie camera. With its 30 nozzles it was looking at dozens of people throng-

ing below in white lab coats. They were not working; they had gathered for 

the ceremonial rollout process. Most were smiling lightheartedly. The image 

of a laughing Mishin flashed by. Afanasyev’s usually worried face lit up when 

a bottle of champagne was smashed against the erector. Shards of green glass 

were immediately snatched up as precious souvenirs. The N-1 did not abandon 

the traditions that Korolev established during the time of the first Semyorka

Operations at the engineering facility ended with a ritual gathering of those 

who contributed to the rocket all that they could. Then in a couple of hours, 

four motor locomotives would deliver the first flight model from the bright

warm MIK to the launch site where it would undergo several days of tests and 

begin launch preparation in a burning, frosty wind.

The launch was scheduled for 20 February. The day before, the weather 

service forecast low cloud cover hampering visual monitoring during the first-

stage operation flight segment. The launch was postponed to 21 February. In 

keeping with the principle “God helps those who help themselves,” the popula-

tion at large was evacuated from Sites Nos. 112 and 113. The launch control 

“guest” hall, which out of habit we called the “bunker,” was jam-packed with 

those involved with launch preparation, VIPs, and various representatives of 

similar status. Television screens made it possible to observe liftoff from here 

without using periscopes.

Chief of the firing range’s Sixth Directorate Colonel Yevgeniy Moiseyev, 

Deputy Chief of the firing range General Anatoliy Kirillov, and N-1 Deputy 

Chief Designer Boris Dorofeyev occupied their places at the periscopes in the 

launch control hall. State Commission Chairman Sergey Afanasyev and techni-

cal manager Vasiliy Mishin were also here. At 12 hours 18 minutes 07 seconds, 

the rocket shuddered and began to lift off. The roar penetrated underground 

through several meters of concrete. The report of telemetry operators followed 

for the first seconds of flight announcing the shutdown of 2 of the 30 engines. 

Observers, who, notwithstanding the high security, managed to track the flight 


Rockets and People: The Moon Race

From the author’s archives.

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