While the United States was recoverying from the Apollo 1 fire, the Soviet space scientists were also struggling with their (at the time) secret Moon program. The Soviet Union had two distinct projects underway to try to beat the Americans to the Moon. Project L-1 was to use the Zond spacecraft (a derivative of the Soyuz Earth orbital craft) to take two cosmonauts on a looping trip around the Moon and then back to Earth. However, as shown in the list below, Project L-1 never went past the unmanned test phase. Although Zond was successfully sent around the Moon on several occasions, a cosmonaut would not have survived the re-entries into the Earth's atmosphere. (Note: Zond 1, 2, and 3 were planetary probes.)
The second Soviet lunar program, called Project L-3, was to use the new N-1 super rocket to send an orbiter and lander to the Moon. The lander would have carried a single cosmonaut to the lunar surface and then back into lunar orbit for return with his fellow cosmonaut in the orbiter. Although the orbiter and lander were both successfully tested (unmanned) in Earth orbit, the Soviets were never able to get their complicated N-1 rocket off the launch pad without exploding. By the time the Soviet Union gave up on trying to send cosmonauts to the Moon, the United States was winding down its own very successful Apollo program.
# of Flt. Date Spacecraft Name Crew Days Mission/Payload -------- ----------------------- ---- ---- ------------------------ L-1 Lunar Flyby Project 03/10/67 L-1/Zond (Cosmos 146) - - Orbital test 04/08/67 L-1/Zond (Cosmos 154) - - Lunar flight failure 09/28/67 L-1/Zond - - Launch failure 11/22/67 L-1/Zond - - Launch failure 03/02/68 L-1/Zond 4 - - Lunar flight test 04/23/67 L-1/Zond - - Launch failure 09/15/68 L-1/Zond 5 - - Lunar flight test 11/10/68 L-1/Zond 6 - - Lunar flight test 01/20/69 L-1/Zond - - Launch failure 08/08/69 L-1/Zond 7 - - Lunar flight test 10/20/70 L-1/Zond 8 - - Lunar flight test
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van Beverhoudt, Jr.