Encyclopedia Astronautica
Soyuz A-1


Crew: Nikolayev, Demin. Planned Soyuz circumlunar mission. Soyuz would dock with a refuelled rocket stage and be accelerated on a loop around the moon. Cancelled in mid-1964 due to delays in Soyuz and decision to race Americans to moon landing. Backup crew: Shonin, Kugno.

During 1964, four crews were put in training for a manned circumlunar mission. The complex flight plan involved the automated docking of a rocket stage with a series of refuelling tankers in earth orbit. The Soyuz would then dock with the rocket stage and be accelerated on a loop around the moon. Nikolayev would have led the first crew to the moon in 1965. Instead delays in Soyuz led to the crash Voskhod program, and circumlunar Soyuz missions did not begin until 1967.

On 3 December 1963 the decree 'On approval of work on the Soyuz 7K-9K-11K circumlunar complex' was issued. The two-place Soyuz A (7K) spacecraft was designed for rendezvous and docking operations in near earth orbit, leading to piloted circumlunar flight. Two other spacecraft - the Soyuz B (9K) rocket acceleration block and Soyuz V (11K) tanker would also be launched part of the mission. Soyuz 11A511 boosters would launch all three spacecraft types into orbit. A circumlunar mission would begin with launch of the Soyuz B 9K rocket block into a 225 km orbit. This would be followed by one to three Soyuz V 11K tankers (depending on the mission), which would successively automatically rendezvous and dock with the 9K. They would transfer up to 22 tonnes of propellant. Finally the 7K spacecraft with the cosmonauts aboard would be launched, dock with the 9K, and be propelled on a lunar flyby trajectory. Korolev claimed that he would make the first Soyuz A flight by August 1964, to be followed by the second and third flights in September 1964. Kamanin, the head of the cosmonaut corps, had selected crews and had them in training by 1 February 1964. The cosmonauts viewed the mock-up of the new spacecraft four days later.

By the end of February a docking simulator that combined a full-size Soyuz cockpit with television views of models of the 9K and 11K spacecraft was being completed TsNII-30 in Noginsk. But in March 1964 Korolev's attention and resources were diverted to a crash program to retain Soviet leadership in space. No one believed that Korolev could develop and deliver Soyuz by the end of the year. A delay into 1965 would allow the Americans to use their new manned Gemini spacecraft to steal the lead in the space race for the first time.. Korolev was commanded to implement the Voskhod program, whereby the existing single-crew Vostok spacecraft would be modified to allow Russia to make the first multi-crew flights, spacewalks, and two-week flights before the Americans. Work on Soyuz came to a near standstill. By May 1964 Korolev was considering using his planned N1 superbooster to send the Soyuz A directly on a lunar orbital mission rather than with the complex multi-launch multi-docking 7K/9K/11K scenario.

In August 1964 the Soviet leadership finally decided to take on the Americans' Apollo project with full-fledged manned lunar counterparts. But instead of Korolev's 7K/9K/11K circumlunar design, they asked competing Chief Designer Chelomei to design a new LK-1 manned circumlunar spacecraft, to be sent around the moon on a single launch of his UR-500K Proton booster. Korolev was assigned to use derivatives of his Soyuz spacecraft and N1 booster to create a single-launch manned lunar landing. The Soyuz A was not cancelled, but now became important in developing the necessary rendezvous, docking, and spacewalking techniques needed for the selected lunar orbit rendezvous landing scenario. Korolev however believed that developing two manned lunar spacecraft in parallel was madness and he continued to secretly consider ways of using Soyuz for the circumlunar mssion.

By the end of 1964 it was planned that the first Soyuz A manned missions would occur before the end of 1965 and involve a docking between two Soyuz A spacecraft, creating a single joined spacecraft with a total crew of five or six. By the time an official decree recognizing the changes to the Soyuz A program was issued in August 1965, the first Soyuz manned flight had slipped into1966. The spacecraft was redesignated 7K-OK and new crew assignments were made (see entries on the Soyuz 1, and 2A through 6A flights).

First Launch: June 1965.

More... - Chronology...


Associated People
  • Demin Demin, Lev Stepanovich (1926-1998) Russian engineer cosmonaut. Flew on Soyuz 15. More...
  • Nikolayev Nikolayev, Andrian Grigoryevich (1929-2004) Chuvash-Russian pilot cosmonaut. Flew on Vostok 3, Soyuz 9. First person to fly more than one day in space. Married Valentina Tereshkova, and fathered first child born to parents that had both flown in space. More...
  • Kugno Kugno, Eduard Pavlovich (1935-1994) Ukrainian engineer cosmonaut, 1963-1964. More...
  • Shonin Shonin, Georgi Stepanovich (1935-1997) Russian pilot cosmonaut. Flew on Soyuz 6. More...

See also
Associated Programs
  • Lunar L1 The Soviet program to put a man on a circumlunar flight around the moon. More...

Soyuz A-1 Chronology


1963 December 7 - .
1963 December 16 - .
  • Yerkina wedding - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Yerkina; Ponomaryova; Tereshkova; Korolev; Tsybin; Dementiev. Program: Soyuz; Lunar L1. Flight: Soyuz A-1; Soyuz A-2; Soyuz A-3; Soyuz A-4. Spacecraft: Soyuz A. The cosmonaut weds at the TsPK cosmonaut centre, and 80 guests attend. Of the female cosmonauts, only Ponomaryova is not yet married. However the next female flight will be made no earlier than 1965-1966. Tereshkova looks tired after her tour to Southeast Asia - and she's supposed to go to Ghana on 10 January! Korolev claims that the Soyuz schedule, as laid out in the resolution of 4 December 1963, is still realistic. He will have the first Soyuz flight in August 1964 and the second and third in September 1964. Ivanovskiy doesn't believe it will be possible to make any flights until 1965. Korolev and Tsybin disccuss Shcherbakov's design for a rocket-propelled high-altitude glider. This concept was supported by the VVS, but Dementiev was against it and it was killed in the bureaucracy.

1964 January 3 - .
  • Military Soviet of the VVS Staff - . Nation: USSR. Program: Lunar L1. Flight: Soyuz A-1; Soyuz A-2; Soyuz A-3; Soyuz A-4. Spacecraft: Soyuz A; Soyuz R; Soyuz P; Soyuz PPK. No significant decisions are made. Discussion of the 3 December 1963 resolution to start development of the 7K Soyuz spacecraft. Although the resolution foresees completion of the first spacecraft during 1964, and first flights in 1965-1966, there is not one word on training of cosmonauts for such missions. Scientific versions, for manned flight to the moon and planets, as well as military variants, are foreseen.

1964 January 16 - .
  • Cosmonaut plans - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Tereshkova; Nikolayev; Bykovsky. Program: Vostok; Lunar L1. Flight: Soyuz A-1; Soyuz A-2; Soyuz A-3; Soyuz A-4; Vostok 7; Vostok 8; Vostok 9; Vostok 10; Vostok 11; Vostok 12; Vostok 13. Spacecraft: Vostok; Soyuz A. Kamanin is to put together a cosmonaut training plan for additional Vostok and new Soyuz flights by 1 February. Due to a lack of completed spacecraft, the next Vostok flight will not be possible until June 1964 at the earliest. The travel plans for the cosmonauts during the first half of 1964 are also to be drawn up. Tereshkova, Nikolayev, and Bykovsky are to tour India, Indonesia, Burma, Nepal, and Sri Lanka later in the year. Tereshkova will go to Ghana and Lebanon on 20 January, then to England on 31 January.

1964 January 23 - .
1964 February 5 - .
  • Soyuz mock-up - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev. Program: Vostok; Lunar L1. Flight: Vostok 7; Vostok 8; Vostok 9; Vostok 10; Vostok 11; Vostok 12; Vostok 13; Voskhod 1; Voskhod 2; Soyuz A-1; Soyuz A-2; Soyuz A-3; Soyuz A-4. Spacecraft: Vostok. The cosmonauts visit Korolev at OKB-1 for the first viewing of the mock-up of the Soyuz spacecraft. Korolev announces that single-place Vostoks will fly no more, and that instead four of the spacecraft will be completed during 1964 to take three crew members. This decision has been taken since it was now certain that Soyuz will not be ready to fly in 1964, and the impending first flights of American Gemini and Apollo spacecraft will give the USA a lead in manned spaceflight before Soyuz missions can be flown.

    Kamanin is disturbed by the decision. He recalls that in 1961 flight of the Vostok with two or three crew was discussed, with flights to occur in 1962-1963. But at that time Korolev cancelled the plans, saying the Soyuz would be used for such missions. Now Soyuz will not fly until 1965, and he has changed his tune. Furthermore, the modified Vostok is inherently risky, with no way to save the crew in case of a launch vehicle malfunction in the first 40 seconds of flight. Unlike Vostok, the three crew will not have individual ejection seats or parachutes to give them a chance of escape in the event of an abort. The crew will be subject to 10 to 25 G's during an abort. There is no assurance the environmental control system can be modified to handle three crew. It all seems very unsafe, and Kamanin believes the six consecutive successful Vostok flights have given Korolev's engineers a false sense of the safety of the Vostok system. Kamanin is perplexed. How does he plan to convert a single-place spacecraft to a three-place spacecraft in a few months? Korolev has no clear answers, but asks for the cosmonauts' support of the scheme.


1964 February 18 - .
1964 February 26 - .
  • Soyuz plans - . Nation: USSR. Program: Lunar L1. Flight: Soyuz A-1; Soyuz A-2; Soyuz A-3; Soyuz A-4. Spacecraft: Soyuz A; Soyuz B; Soyuz V. The cosmonauts meet with engineers at TsNII-30 in Noginsk to review plans for docking trainers for the new Soyuz spacecraft. The trainers were supposed to be completed by now, but they are being held up for television and optical equipment to be delivered from Leningrad and Sverdlovsk. The mock-up of the 7K manned spacecraft trainer is immobile; it can only be turned around its centre of mass. The 1/30 scale of the 9K and 11K propulsion spacecraft with which the 7K will dock are free to rotate in all 3 axes. The cosmonauts in the 7K mock-up will see the 9K or 11K via the television screen aboard the spacecraft or in the Soyuz spacecraft in what the engineers promise will be a life-like appearance. They will practice approach and docking from a simulated distance of 300 m at a typical approach rate of 2 m/s. At the scale of the installation, this will equate to 10 cm/s. After the trainer review General Ioffe briefed the cosmonauts on plans for an electronic digital computer, with a mass of 40 kg, which was being developed for use in spacecraft navigation. Kamanin sees that very close collaboration will be needed between TsNII-30, TsPK, and GKNII VVS to complete trainer development on an accelerated schedule.

1964 May 12 - . LV Family: N1. Launch Vehicle: N1 1962.
  • Korolev's plans - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev. Program: Voskhod; Lunar L1. Flight: Voskhod 1; Voskhod 2; Voskhod 3; Voskhod 4; Voskhod 5; Voskhod 6; Soyuz A-1; Soyuz A-2; Soyuz A-3; Soyuz A-4. Spacecraft: Voskhod; Soyuz A; Soyuz B; Soyuz V. While Kamanin is away arranging screening of Voskhod candidates, Korolev meets with the VVS General Staff. He tells them he wants to have four Voskhods completed by the anniversary of the October Resolution for the first spacewalk. He dreams of a manned lunar flyby by either docking Soyuz A-B-V modules in orbit, or in a single N1 launch (no metal has even yet been cut for the N1 at Kuibyshev). In order to further develop EVA techniques he wants to convert a further five Vostoks into the Voskhod configuration. Meanwhile Kamanin agrees to a compression of the medical screening schedule from 20-25 days to 15-17 days. The physicians will reduce it no further than this.

1964 June 23 - .
  • Soyuz crews. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Rudenko; Beregovoi; Shatalov. Program: Lunar L1. Flight: Soyuz A-1; Soyuz A-2; Soyuz s/n 3/4. Spacecraft: Soyuz A. Summary: Kamanin discusses candidates for the first five Soyuz flights. Rudenko wants Beregovoi and Shatalov named as flight commanders, but Kamanin wants the commanders to be cosmonauts with previous flight experience..

1964 August 1 - . LV Family: N1; Proton.
  • Full scale development of Soviet manned lunar flyby and landing projects authorised. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev; Chelomei. Program: Lunar L1; Lunar L3. Flight: Soyuz A-1; Soyuz A-2; Soyuz A-3; Soyuz A-4. Spacecraft: LK-1; Soyuz 7K-LOK; LK; Luna Ye-8; Soyuz A. Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 655-268 'On Work on the Exploration of the Moon and Mastery of Space--piloted LK-1 circumlunar and L3 lunar landing projects and the Ye-6M lunar lander' was issued. Chelomei was to develop the three-stage UR-500K booster and LK-1 spacecraft for the manned lunar flyby. Korolev was to develop the totally different N1 booster and L3 spacecraft complex for the manned lunar landing. First launch of the N1 was to be by the first quarter 1966, with manned lunar landings in 1967 to 1968. Reprioritization led to work being stopped on Korolev's Zvezda 6-man orbiting weapons platform by mid-1965, after a huge mockup had been built.

    Korolev felt that if he had the full support of the Communist Party, the military, and industry he could achieve this goal, and this decree ordered such support. The USSR would be first on the moon. But in truth the draft project behind the decree had not solved all of the technical problems, or provided a solution on how to achieve the required payload on either the booster or spacecraft side. New technology features required for success of the scheme included an advanced guidance system in the N1 third stage equipment bay, the enormous fuel tanks in the N1 first stage, and the Lox/LH2 fuel cells needed for the LOK lunar orbiter. But the real technical problem with the N1-L3 design was the total lack of any weight growth reserve. Even thought the systems had not even been developed yet, engineers were fighting over tens of grams in their weight allocations, let alone the kilograms normally at issue.

    Development of Korolev's Soyuz A-B-V, a competing circumlunar project, was evidently still authorised, although it duplicated Chelomei's LK-1.


1964 December 30 - .
  • Western reports - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Brezhnev; Biryuzov; Komarov. Program: Voskhod; Lunar L1. Flight: Voskhod 1; Voskhod 2; Soyuz A-1; Soyuz A-2; Soyuz A-3; Soyuz A-4. Spacecraft: Voskhod; Soyuz A; Soyuz B; Soyuz V. A corespondent from the APN agency calls Kamanin and wants to know if the official press should react to the claims of a Belgian professor that all of the Soviet cosmonauts have returned from space with serious psychological problems. Kamanin says there is nothing to it, but that the best course is to ignore the report and publish no official response. Kamanin looks forward to the missions planned in the new year: first the Vykhod, the first spacewalk, followed by a 10 to 12 day mission by a single cosmonaut, then later crews of first two, and then five to six in joined Soyuz spacecraft. In 1966 the first space docking is planned, followed by the first lunar flyby. Kamanin feels apprehensive, though. All manned flights have been completed to date without a serious problem, whereas Soviet unmanned spacecraft have been extremely unreliable and failed more often than not. He attributes this to the involvement of the VVS in the manned flights, whereas the RVSN rocket forces were responsible for the others. He worries that, with the ascendancy of Brezhnev and the death of Biryuzkov, that standards will drop in the future. Indeed, the RVSN has asked if Komarov could transfer officially from the VVS to the RVSN, a move that Kamanin vigorously opposes.

    At least progress on improvements at TsPK are underway. One apartment building with 75 apartments for cosmonauts is already finished, and an 11 story building should be finished in 1965, as well as schools, nurseries, stores, and so on. Currently there are 17 active cosmonauts and 13 candidate cosmonauts in training. An additional 40 will have to be recruited in 1965 to support the ambitious space plans recently adopted.


1965 August 18 - .
  • Soyuz development program reoriented; Soyuz 7K-OK earth orbit version to be built in lieu of Soyuz A. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Soyuz; Lunar L1. Flight: Soyuz A-1; Soyuz A-2; Soyuz A-3; Soyuz A-4; Soyuz 1; Soyuz 2A; Soyuz s/n 3/4. Spacecraft: Soyuz A; Soyuz 7K-OK; Soyuz B; Soyuz V; LK-1. Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 180 'On the Order of Work on the Soyuz Complex--approval of the schedule of work for Soyuz spacecraft' was issued. It set the following schedule for the new Soyuz 7K-OK version: two spacecraft to be completed in fourth quarter 1965, two in first quarter 1966, and three in second quarter 1966. Air-drop and sea trails of the 7K-OK spacecraft are to be completed in the third and fourth quarters 1965, and first automated docking of two unmanned Soyuz spacecraft in space in the first quarter of 1966. Korolev insists the automated docking system will be completely reliable, but Kamanin wishes that the potential of the cosmonauts to accomplish a manual rendezvous and docking had been considered in the design. With this decree the mission of the first Soyuz missions has been changed from a docking with unmanned Soyuz B and V tanker spacecraft, to docking of two Soyuz A-type spacecraft. It is also evident that although nothing is official, Korolev is confident he has killed off Chelomei's LK-1 circumlunar spacecraft, and that a Soyuz variant will be launched in its place.

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