The title says it all - but I heard that NASA considered horizontal integration for the Saturn V couldn't be considered, as lifting the rocket to a vertical position would require an immense engineering effort to prevent sagging or damage while lifting, as well as simply moving such a large object into the launch position. So how / what mechanisms did the Soviets use to achieve this with the N-1, a similarly sized launch vehicle?

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    $\begingroup$ The russian rocket engineers had experiences in rotating the R-7 rocket from horizontal to vertical. The german V-2 was rotated too when launched from mobile launch facilities during WWII. The V-2 transported to the USSR as spoils of war were moved in horizontal position. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Jan 14, 2020 at 22:14
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    $\begingroup$ It's not just the method, it's also the design of the rocket. I expect the N-1 was designed with the constraint that it would be rotated onto the pad and consideration would have been given to the structural design to allow it to withstand that mission phase. The Saturn V, naturally, was not, and designing a system to rotate it after the fact would have been burdensome largely because it had not been designed with that requirement in mind. $\endgroup$
    – J...
    Jan 15, 2020 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe the V-2 was not so much rotated as hoisted. Attach a cable to the top and lift it using a crane... $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Jan 16, 2020 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ @jwenting that's incorrect en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meillerwagen $\endgroup$ Jan 17, 2020 at 15:57

1 Answer 1


They used an extremely large rail-based transporter/erector nicknamed the "grasshopper".

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Image source

This image shows the N-1 in the process of rotation.

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Image source

russianspaceweb says the hydraulic ram visible in this image "boasted a hydraulic cylinder one meter in caliber, which had a length of nine meters and would extend up to 16 meters". Two pairs of these rams were employed per Grasshopper.

This page states that the Grasshoppers were rebuilt and used for the Energia/Buran.

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    $\begingroup$ If a load is too heavy and wide to be transported on a single railway track, it may be transported on three parallel tracks. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Jan 14, 2020 at 23:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Uwe two tracks buran.ru/images/jpg/bbur182.jpg $\endgroup$
    – A. Rumlin
    Jan 15, 2020 at 7:20
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    $\begingroup$ According to this source, the name of the transporter/erector (literal translation from Russian - "installer") was 11U25 (11У25). It was designed by CKBTM (ЦКБТМ) corporation. The unit wasn't self propelled, instead it was transported by diesel locomotives on two standard gauge railway tracks. V. Pavlov was leading engineer for the installer project. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2020 at 7:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Mast I think "caliber" is just a translation infelicity. "Diameter" might have been a better choice. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2020 at 13:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Mast caliber is the inner diameter of a bore, it makes sense in this application.Its most likely the direct translation $\endgroup$
    – DatsunZ1
    Jan 15, 2020 at 16:51

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