Encyclopedia Astronautica

LEK Lunar Lander
Lunar lander of the Lunar Expeditionary Complex (LEK).
LEK Model
Model of LEK in Energia museum - unusual re-entry capsule or subsidiary module at its top.
Credit: Andy Salmon
LEK Lunar Lander
LEK LK moon lander Vulkan-launched
Credit: © Mark Wade
Soviet Lunar Landers
Landing stages for Soviet lunar expeditions. Top row, left to right: L3 original version; LK; LK-3; LK-700; two versions of the L3M; LEK for Energia-launched lunar landing. Bottom row, lunar base elements: Chelomei KLE; Chelomei Heavy Lunokhod; Barmin DLB base module; LZM, LZhM, Lunokhod, and LEK for Glushko LEK Vulkan-launched lunar base.
Credit: © Mark Wade
LEK - Vulkan
LEK - Vulkan-launched version
Credit: © Mark Wade
Vulkan LEK
Vulkan launched Lunar Expeditionary Complex compared with N1-L3
Credit: © Mark Wade
Russian manned lunar lander. Study 1973. Lunar lander for the Vulkan surface base. As in the original LK lunar lander, this would be taken to near zero velocity near the lunar surface by the Vulkan Block V 'lunar crasher' rocket stage.

It would then descend to the lunar surface using a landing stage nearly identical to the American lunar module descent stage.

This landing stage however would primarily provide propulsion of the upper Ascent/earth recovery stage to a trans-earth trajectory. The Ascent/earth recovery stage consisted of a re-entry capsule in the shape of but larger than the Soyuz descent module, encapsulated in a larger pressurized volume providing crew quarters and equipment storage.


Crew Size: 3. Orbital Storage: 365 days.

AKA: Lunniy ekspeditionniy korabl'.
Gross mass: 31,000 kg (68,000 lb).
Height: 9.70 m (31.80 ft).
Span: 11.30 m (37.00 ft).

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • LEK SA Russian manned spacecraft module. Study 1973. Descent module was contained within pressurized cabin of LEK ascent stage. Crew may have entered hatch in heat shield. Landing apparatus - Reentry capsule for crew and lunar samples.. More...
  • LEK VS Russian manned spacecraft module. Study 1973. Ascent stage, carried a crew of three from the lunar surface to trans-earth trajectory. Contained within the pressurized cabin was a Soyuz descent module for reentry by the crew into the earth's atmosphere. Ascent stage - Carry crew and Soyuz descent module from lunar surface to trans-earth trajectory. Provide crew quarters and midcourse corrections during return journey from lunar surface to earth.. More...
  • LEK PS Russian manned spacecraft module. Study 1973. Descent stage very similar in appearance to that of Apollo LM, with same function - descent from lunar orbit to landing of crewed module on surface of moon. Landing stage - Carry LEK ascent stage from lunar orbit to lunar surface; act as launching platform for LEK ascent stage.. More...
  • LEK Lunar Expeditionary Complex Russian manned lunar base. Cancelled 1974. Although the N1, L3, and DLB projects were cancelled, Glushko still considered the establishment of a moon base to be a primary goal for his country. More...

See also
  • Lunar Landers Lunar lander design started with the British Interplanetary Society's concept of 1939, followed by Von Braun's 3964 tonne monster of 1953. It then settled down to more reasonably-sized variants. Landers came in three main types: two stage versions, with the first stage being a lunar crasher that would brake the spacecraft until just above the lunar surface, then separate, allowing the second stage to land on the surface; two stage versions consisting of a descent stage that went all the way to the surface, and an ascent stage that would take the crew from the surface to lunar orbit or on an earth-return trajectory; and single stage versions, using liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen propellants. More...
  • Soyuz The Russian Soyuz spacecraft has been the longest-lived, most adaptable, and most successful manned spacecraft design. In production for fifty years, more than 240 have been built and flown on a wide range of missions. The design will remain in use with the international space station well into the 21st century, providing the only manned access to the station after the retirement of the shuttle in 2011. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Vulkan Super heavy-lift version of Energia with six strap-on boosters, and in-line upper stages and payloads. The concept was put on the back burner when Energia / Buran development begun. More...
  • Energia The Energia-Buran Reusable Space System (MKS) began development in 1976 as a Soviet booster that would exceed the capabilities of the US shuttle system. Following extended development, Energia made two successful flights in 1987-1988. But the Soviet Union was crumbling, and the ambitious plans to build an orbiting defense shield, to renew the ozone layer, dispose of nuclear waste, illuminate polar cities, colonize the moon and Mars, were not to be. Funding dried up and the Energia-Buran program completely disappeared from the government's budget after 1993. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Korolev Russian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Korolev Design Bureau, Kaliningrad, Russia. More...

  • Semenov, Yu. P., S P Korolev Space Corporation Energia, RKK Energia, 1994.
  • Chertok, Boris Yevseyevich, Raketi i lyudi, Mashinostroenie, Moscow, 1994-1999.. Web Address when accessed: here.

LEK Chronology

1975 January 1 - . LV Family: N1; RLA.
  • Vulkan Lunar Base - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Mishin; Barmin; Glushko; Bushuyev. Program: Lunar L3. Spacecraft: LZhM; LZM; Lunokhod LEK; LEK. Mishin and Barmin, using budget provided by the Ministry of Defence, had designed a lunar base for launch by the N1 in 1969-1974. After the cancellation of the N1, Glushko pleaded with the Military-Industrial Commission for the work to be taken from Barmin and be given to NPO Energia. Glushko's alternative, Vulkan-launched base was elaborated within his bureau. Bushuyev developed spacecraft for the base. Prudnikova developed a modular lunar city, with living modules, factory modules, a nuclear reactor power module, and a lunar crawler with a 200 km radius of action. The project work was only finally cancelled after the Apollo-Soyuz flights.

1977 December 1 - . LV Family: N1. Launch Vehicle: N1.
  • Glushko uninterested in further lunar base work - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Bushuyev. Spacecraft: Buran; LZhM; LZM; Lunokhod LEK; LEK. Bushuyev tells Chertok that the lunar base work did not interest Glushko. The VPK Military-Industrial Commission was only interested in duplicating the American shuttle, not in any other ventures in space. With the N1-Sr booster, Russia could have had a six man lunar base established with 8 to 10 launches in the late 1970's. Bushuyev died on 26 October 1978, having seen his dream completely tossed away.

1978 January 1 - . LV Family: Energia; RLA.
  • Vulkan Lunar Base rejected - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Keldysh; Glushko. Spacecraft: LZhM; LZM; Lunokhod LEK; LEK. An expert commission led by Keldysh examines the plan for a lunar base launched by the Vulkan booster. The plan is completely rejected. NPO Energia was told to quit dreaming and devote itself only to projects with national economic importance, like Buran. This put a definitive end to Glushko's lunar base projects studied in 1976-1978. But he just waited and started design work again on a lunar base using the Energia launch vehicle after the first Buran launch in 1988.

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