The Saturn-V booster was only really used for two types of missions.

  • Lunar
  • Skylab

(ASTP used a Saturn-1B booster)

That is, heavy lift to lunar orbit, and heavy lift with a space craft.

There were more ideas touted about as part of the Apollo Applications Program such as a Lunar Base, a Venus Flyby and large probes to the outer system.

The Soviet equivalent to the Saturn-V was the N-1 booster. (Famous for the most engines on a booster stage with 30 NK-15 engines, slightly updated versions of it, the NK-33 was used on the first few Antares boosters before being switched to the RD-191 engine).

Was there a similar set of ideas, for additional uses of the N-1 in addition to lunar missions?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ False Steps has an entry on this, very interesting if you are interested in the N1. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 10:45

2 Answers 2


According to Max Wade website:

As payloads for his rocket, to be developed in accordance of the Central Committee decree of 10 December 1959, the following would be developed for launch in the period 1963 to 1965:

Three to six geostationary communications satellites of 2 to 3 metric tons mass for global communications

Heavy manned space stations with a crew of 3 to 5, orbited at 350 to 400 km altitude. The station would conduct military reconnaissance, control other spacecraft in orbit, and undertake basic space research. The N-I version of the station would have a mass of 25 to 30 metric tons and the N-II version 60 to 70 metric tons

Heliocentric satellite for solar studies of 1 to 2 metric tons mass Use of the N-I to launch a spacecraft with 2 to 3 men for flyby of the moon, entry into lunar orbit, and return to earth. Payload mass 10 to 12 metric tons in lunar orbit, 2 to 3 metric tons return payload.

Use of the N-I to launch the MK interplanetary spacecraft with 2 to 3 crew on 2 to 3 year flyby missions to Mars and Venus. Automatic probes would be landed on the planets during the flyby maneuvers.

Use of the N-II for group flight of 3 to 4 spacecraft on expeditions to land on Mars and Venus. Crew per spacecraft would be 2 to 3. One spacecraft would be a reserve to ensure the safe return of the crews to earth. These spacecraft would be placed by the N-II on their interplanetary trajectories at a velocity of 11.2 km-s, have a mass of 10 to 30 metric tons, with a return capsule mass of 3 to 8 metric tons.

Global rockets that could bombard any point on earth with showers of nuclear warheads totaling 40 to 100 metric tons mass at ranges of 3,000 to 12,000 km Potential to establish a defensive space infrastructure that would annihilate any enemy satellites or rockets that flew over the territory of the USSR Photographic and electronic reconnaissance of every part of the earth Precision military navigation


The best reference for Soviet and Russian space information is Anatloy Zak's wonderful web site (Russiaspaceweb.com) and book (Russia in Space: The Past Explained, the Future Explored). If you like space related things, his book will be a purchase you will not regret.

On the topic of the N-1, he writes:

Originally proposed as a multipurpose vehicle for a variety of military and scientific tasks, including launches of space stations, expeditions to the Moon and even a potential human missions to Mars.


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