In the Soviet Moon mission, for which the ill fated N-1 launcher was built, we know that the cosmonaut responsible for landing on the moon was to transfer from the equivalent of the command module to the lander with an EVA. I can picture how this would be feasible safely using a ladder and a rope.

But how was he supposed to return at the end of the mission? If a docking hatch was planned, why not use it to get in the lander in the first place? Was some form of docking planned? Like the two modules grabbing each other, but the transfer to happen with an EVA like at the beginning?

I can't figure an EVA transfer without some form of attachment between the two vessels (at least, I can't figure any cosmonaut willing to bet his life on it...)

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The plan was to dock the vehicles again. They had an interesting hexagonal capture system which tolerated some mis-alignment. The wikipedia page mentions it. The cosmonaut would then EVA to return from the lander. $\endgroup$
    – Innovine
    Aug 4, 2019 at 6:46
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    $\begingroup$ The information you are missing is that there was no way of transferring through the docking mechanism. (which was basically a grid on one craft and a spike on the other) $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Aug 4, 2019 at 8:02

1 Answer 1


There are good diagrams of the Kontakt docking system in the Mir Hardware Heritage document by Portree.

As stated in comments, this was an unpowered, misalignment-tolerant docking system that did not incorporate a transfer tunnel.

... a spring-loaded probe docking system, called Aktiv (“active”), which was designed to penetrate and grip a “honeycomb” drogue docking fixture on the L3.Together they were called Kontakt.... The docking system was to be used only once during the mission,after the L3 had completed its lunar landing mission and returned to orbit. Little docking accuracy was required to link the spacecraft firmly enough to let the moonwalking cosmonaut return to the L2 by EVA.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is the idea that the probe would 'stick' into that hex grid to make contact for docking? I mean, it's basically Velcro? $\endgroup$
    – tedder42
    Aug 7, 2019 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ Not sure about the details, but yeah, it looks like the probe just needed to go into one of the tubular spaces. $\endgroup$ Aug 7, 2019 at 18:55

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