From NK №796. Reminisces by Academican Mikhail Marov on why the USSR’s manned lunar program was unsuccessful, and of watching the Moon landing from TsUP.
21/07/2009/20:53 – The Soviet machines did as much science as the American “Apollo” – scientist
The Soviet program for the exploration of the Moon using robotic missions brought about the same amount of basic science knowledge as the U.S. “Apollo” manned missions, but were much cheaper, said Academician Mikhail Marov, who was one of the developers for the Soviet lunar program.
“I can say that we have got equivalent results, because we have sampled a substance, we investigated, and it was a major task. Moreover, we received very meaningful results from the automatic lunar rover or mobile devices, they worked on the surface for many months,” said the Agency representative.
However, he stressed that he does not want to minimize the scientific value of these flights. Marov recalled that one of the members of the Apollo expedition – Harrison Schmitt – a professional geologist: “And he walked on the moon with hammers, and, of course, he, being a professional, garnered much important geological information.”
“Man is a very important component, because he is much more able to multi-task, he is able to adapt to the challenges he poses for himself. But this in no way underestimates the role of machines as well,” said the Agency representative.
21/07/2009/20:53 – The Soviet moon landing program was prevented by the death of Korolyov – opinion
That the Soviet program of manned flights to the Moon did not take place is largely due to the sudden death of Chief Designer Sergei Korolyov, and also because of problems with the carrier – the N-1 rocket, said one of the participants of the Soviet lunar program, Academician Mikhail Marov.
Korolyov had always dreamed about exploring the Moon and, of course, it is surprising that less than two years after launching the first satellite we were able to implement the first launches to it, said Marov.
He recalled that the Soviet probe Luna-2 in September 1959 was the first one in the world to land on the lunar surface. Then this program was successfully developed, but in 1961, following the flight of Gagarin, the “Moon race” started – U.S. President John Kennedy's message to Congress set a target of within 10 years to plant people to the moon, and thus negate the achievements of Soviet space exploration.
“We could not surpass this, and our efforts at the Design Bureau Korolyov start the program to grow. But there were many difficulties, and the main difficulty was the development of the heavy vehicle N-1 – the equivalent of the American Saturn-5, with the help of which were carried out expeditions to the Moon,” said Marov. The N-1 heavy vehicle, which was to bring the Soviet L3 lunar spacecraft to the Moon, had suffered setbacks since the first launch in February 1969. All four test launches ended in disaster. The American lunar vehicle Saturn-5 first launched in November 1967.
“If you now look at the situation in retrospect, I believe that our failure to a very high degree was associated with the sudden death of Korolyov in January 1966, and this, of course, had very, very harmful consequences,” said the Academician. Korolyov died in January 1966, several days after a routine operation.
21/07/2009/20:53 – Soviet-era TsUP met the landing of Americans on the Moon with silence – Academician
The Soviet military, engineers and scientists, observing the disembarkation of American astronauts on the moon in the Mission Control Center near Moscow, responded to this event with silence, remembers one of the participants of the Soviet lunar program, academician Mikhail Marov.
Exactly 40 years ago, on 20 July 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left the landing module Eagle and became the first humans to set foot on the lunar surface. “I watched this in the mission control center, Korolyov, Moscow. This information was not broadcast on normal television, but was broadcast on the big screen in TsUP. We observed all phases of flight carefully, but the culmination, of course, was the landing,” said Marov, who already in those years was one of the leading researchers of the Institute of Applied Mathematics, Keldysh, which was developed by the Soviet lunar program of study.
He remembers that he experienced contradictory feelings, which in his opinion, did not differ from those of colleagues.
“First – this is certainly admirable – I saw such a landmark event, which was a few years ago and the dream it was not easy. And, of course, I was delighted that this was realized in the lifetime of my generation when I could witness it,” said the scientist. “And the second feeling was, but why have we not done this. We are also able to do it.”
However, those assembled in TsUP did not express their emotions. “For the most part they were silent. At the time, space was controlled by the military to a very strong degree. There were a lot of military generals, conservative, tough-minded people. They were silent. There was admiration, applause,” remembers Marov. According to him, the professionals assembled understood what a colossal achievement this was, and how this was a great engineering achievement.
“Although later it became clear that Americans on several occasions were literally on the verge of breakdown, including the first flight, but they did have great flexibility in system management, and had superbly trained crew to ensure perfect execution of the program,” said the Academician.
Russia getting humans first to Mars would make up for the disappointment of missing out on the Moon.
“Unraveling Russia’s moon riddles”, James Oberg, MSNBC.com, 24/7. Many Soviet-era space artifacts ended up being auctioned off in the West, rather sadly, because those in the space program at the time needed money more.