Encyclopedia Astronautica
1968.12.23 - Soviet crisis meeting mulls response to Apollo 8

Following the success of Apollo 8, Ustinov calls a crisis meeting at the Ministry of Defence. His question - how to reply to the American's success?

Ustinov points out that the Americans obviously had a better moon landing programme than the Soviets, as well as better management skills. He estimated there were 1.5 million Americans working on the Apollo programme, as opposed to only 500,000 Soviet citizens working on the Russian counterpart programmes. The American programme was under firm state control by a single Agency (NASA) as opposed to the Communist system, based on comradely co-operation between many entities. What then shall we do? asked Ustinov. It was suggested that he order Pilyugin to give priority to development of the N1-L3 guidance system. Currently the guidance for Yangel and Nadiradze ICBM's had priority in his bureau. Pilyugin himself suggested abandonment of the single-launch profile for the two launch variant for the N1-L3. This would mean it would take 4 to 5 years to land a Russian on the moon rather than 3 to 4 years. Who will care anyway? said Pilyugin. The Americans will have been there already.

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