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Old 12-26-2021, 06:21 AM
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MarkB. MarkB. is offline
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Comrades:

The short version is there were eight N-1s and a full-size facilities test article. Of the eight, one had cracks in its tanks and was never launched. Four were launched, none of which successfully completed the first stage (or Block A) burn. Two flight-ready and the final, upgraded but incomplete rocket were scrapped in the mid 70's. Their parts were used to make shelters for playgrounds and other repurposing projects in the Baikonur area. Some of the leftover NK-33 engines were sold to AeroJet and launched. The Soviets denied the program's existence until the Soviet Union collapsed.

The project itself was ultimately doomed by underfunding which prevented testing to work through plumbing and vibration problems associated with 30 engines in close proximity. Infighting between Korolev and Glushko (the engine designer who refused to work with Korolev) slowed the project. Korolev's untimely death in early 1966 left the project without vision or the political adroitness for success.

The project survived the moon landings as a potential super-heavy lift for a very large space station. The first two launches in 1969 were more hope than good engineering; the last two launches in '71 and '72 were about salvaging the program. A '74 launch was cancelled. The program existed until 1976.

The second launch in 1969 did crash back down on the pad and destroyed itself and the pad. The explosion could be seen over twenty miles away. Amazingly, over 80% of the kerosene/ LOX did not detonate and rained down on the smoldering pad for almost an hour after the explosion. I do not believe there were any associated deaths.

There's a good book on the N-1 program but I can't find my copy. If I find it, I'll edit this post.

You may be thinking of the Nedelin disaster which was many years earlier. In 1960, a prototype SS-16 ICBM detonated on the pad at Baikonur during hypergolic fueling. The explosion offered two ways to die: incineration or asphyxiation from the toxic fumes. The commanding general (Nedelin) and somewhere between 50 and 150 engineers were killed. Like the N-1, this story was only acknowledged after the fall of the Soviet Union.

There you go.
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