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Soyuz A-3
Part of Lunar L1
Zond 5 turtles.
Zond 5 turtles.
Credit: RKK Energia
Planned manned circumlunar flight with a female cosmonaut. Popovich was to have been accompanied by female cosmonaut Ponomaryova in what would have been the first mixed crew flight to the moon in 1965. The program was cancelled in August 1964.

Launched: August 1965. Number crew: 2 .

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).

People: Kolodin, Popovich, Ponomaryova, Gorbatko. Spacecraft: Soyuz A. Projects: Lunar L1.

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1964 May 12 - . LV Family: N1. Launch Vehicle: N1 1962.
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