Lunniy Korabl (LK or LK-T2K)
(see text below photo)
LK spacecraft. The basic design is that of a Soyuz orbital
module on top of a descent stage. Like the American lunar module, 4 retractable
landing legs were used. There, most of the similarities to the 2 vehicles
end. For one thing, there was no tunnel to transfer between the LK and
the LOK spacecraft (equivalent to the Apollo Command/Service module), forcing
the single cosmonaut who was to make the landing to perform an EVA (spacewalk)
over to it for transfer to & from it in lunar orbit. Also, most of
the rocket power for the descent to the lunar surface was derived from
another rocket stage which it sat on top of. At a height of 1.5 - 2 km
over the landing zone, this Block D ("Crasher") stage was jettisoned, and
the cosmonaut then had approximately 1 minute to put the vehicle
down on the surface.
The single cosmonaut on board would then perform a solo
moonwalk, climb back into the LK, launch into lunar orbit, dock with the
LOK, and then do another EVA back over to the LOK.
This was a very brave cosmonaut.
A set of 1 main and 2 backup rocket engines was used
for the final descent and the ascent to lunar orbit for docking with the
LOK mother ship.
Many reliable sources have emphatically stated that program
chief Vasiliy Mishin planned to place 2 LK landers at the landing site:
1 manned and 1 unmanned. The unmanned vehicle would have landed before
the manned one and served as a backup in case of ascent engine failure.
There have also been rumors that the Lunokhod unmanned rover, which landed
2 vehicles successfully on the moon, was originally designed as a manned
vehicle which would have been used by the lone lunar cosmonaut to explore
the landing site and to ride to the unmanned LK if the walk proved too
Many sources refer to this spacecraft as the LK-T2K.
This was the designation used for the test vehicle, which flew sucessfully
in earth orbit several times before the program was cancelled because of
the failure of the N-1 booster. Since these were the only succesful flights
of the vehicle, this designation is often used. LK or LK-T2K both mean
the same thing.
to LK page