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59 votes
Accepted

Why did the Soviet Union decide to use 30 small engines instead of a few large ones on the N1?

Developing new engines takes time, and time was a precious resource in the Moon race. The major problem with making larger engines is the problem of combustion instability of large combustion chambers....
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
56 votes
Accepted

Why do the Russians use these fence-like interstage fairings?

It's all to do with ullage in the fuel tanks. Newton's laws of motion mean that when a rocket is no longer firing and no force is being applied, the rocket receives no acceleration. It continues at ...
Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩's user avatar
50 votes
Accepted

What is SpaceX doing differently with Starship to avoid it exploding like the N1?

One of the problems the N-1 faced was a lack of testing. They never did full up static fires, since the engines (NK-15) could only fire once after which valves needed to be replaced (multiplied by 30+...
geoffc's user avatar
  • 79.9k
34 votes
Accepted

How did the U.S.S.R manage to rotate the N-1 from horizontal to vertical?

They used an extremely large rail-based transporter/erector nicknamed the "grasshopper". Image source This image shows the N-1 in the process of rotation. Image source russianspaceweb says the ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
33 votes
Accepted

What kept the Soviets from going to the Moon (before the US)?

Conveniently, NASA has a report which explains the Soviet moon-lander program at great length. It is available for free here. As usual, the only real answer is "the totality of circumstances.&...
fectin's user avatar
  • 1,019
29 votes
Accepted

Why weren't Saturn V and the Soviet N-1 Moon rockets made larger in order to simplify Lunar missions?

In order to use the direct ascent method of landing on the moon, which is where the entire vehicle descends and leaves the moon, you would need a rocket an order of magnitude bigger than the Saturn V, ...
GdD's user avatar
  • 20.3k
25 votes

What caused the N1 to become a failure?

Generically the program was underfunded, and the main issue was lack of full up testing of each stage. With 30 engines, the interactions in the plumbing were very complex and caused imperfect fuel/...
geoffc's user avatar
  • 79.9k
24 votes

What kept the Soviets from going to the Moon (before the US)?

Russell Borogove's comment deserves to be an answer - the Soviets did not have the resources to put into it. Designing, building, and testing all the components of a moon landing mission takes an ...
Mark Foskey's user avatar
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24 votes
Accepted

Was the Soviet N1 really capable of sending 9.6 GB/s of telemetry?

That claim is rather dubious. First, there is the claim of 320,000 channels of telemetry, while one paragraph earlier it lists 13,000 sensors on board. There will be setpoints in addition to sensor ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
22 votes

Why weren't Saturn V and the Soviet N-1 Moon rockets made larger in order to simplify Lunar missions?

During the early part of the Apollo program, the "direct ascent" mode was favored and Lunar-orbit rendezvous (LOR) was considered far too complex. In fact, the specifications of the Apollo service ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
21 votes

What caused the N1 to become a failure?

To add to geoffc's excellent answer, another issue that might have been worked out with more testing was the KORD, a computer system for controlling the 30 different engines. Ideally, the KORD would ...
DylanSp's user avatar
  • 1,958
17 votes

What kept the Soviets from going to the Moon (before the US)?

I think I saw a documentary that mentioned that large rockets like Saturn V could have vibration problems that would destroy them, but why couldn't the Soviets solve them? Only the first of the four ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
16 votes

What is SpaceX doing differently with Starship to avoid it exploding like the N1?

The design of the N-1 was constrained by available materials There's nothing inherently wrong with having lots and lots of engines. In the N-1's case, this was not because they wanted lots of engines, ...
SPavel's user avatar
  • 261
16 votes

Why did the Soviet Union decide to use 30 small engines instead of a few large ones on the N1?

While the accepted answer explains the technical reason why many NK-15s were chosen over a few large, new engines, it isn't the whole story: The N1 program was only given the go-ahead by the Soviet ...
Ian Kemp's user avatar
  • 459
15 votes

What kept the Soviets from going to the Moon (before the US)?

I will assume that by "going to the Moon" the question is about landing humans on the lunar surface, not just circling the Moon. If so the question seems to make an assumption that all that ...
Steve Pemberton's user avatar
13 votes

What kept the Soviets from going to the Moon (before the US)?

Generally, I think that there's this mythos about how the Soviet Space Program was superior to the US one, or, more specifically, "red"washing on this topic that paints them as far more ...
Dragongeek's user avatar
  • 19.2k
12 votes

Why weren't Saturn V and the Soviet N-1 Moon rockets made larger in order to simplify Lunar missions?

On the Soviet side, Vladimir Chelomey's UR-700/LK-700 project would have used a direct ascent mission profile. The UR-700 was 76 meters tall and 17.5 meters wide at the base; it would have looked ...
DylanSp's user avatar
  • 1,958
10 votes

What is SpaceX doing differently with Starship to avoid it exploding like the N1?

There are two other things that differ from the N-1 vs modern rockets Poor on-board computers The Apollo 11 mission, for instance, had its famous 1202 alarm Through exhaustive testing, the team at ...
Machavity's user avatar
  • 7,905
10 votes

What is SpaceX doing differently with Starship to avoid it exploding like the N1?

The key feature that allows SpaceX to succeed where Soviet Russia failed is the advent of computer simulation. The sophistication of today’s advanced simulation software is outstanding and enables a ...
Slarty's user avatar
  • 9,720
8 votes
Accepted

Are there any N1 rockets (the Soviet answer to the Saturn V) still in existence?

No N1s remain intact as far as I know. Wikipedia is pretty clear about the disposition of the individual N1s constructed. I found a photo gallery showing various scraps and wreckage from the N1, ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
8 votes

What budgetary and technical impact did the N1 program's failure have on the Soviet Union's space program?

The most obvious effect is the lack of a suitable rocket to lift heavy cargo into orbit. That set a constraint, especially on the manned space program. For example, the N1 was basically the backbone ...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
7 votes

Why weren't Saturn V and the Soviet N-1 Moon rockets made larger in order to simplify Lunar missions?

Its not rocket science, well actually, it is rocket science. Rockets are not very efficient at all and the worst bit is that to carry anything useful, they have to carry the fuel to push the useful ...
Paul Smith's user avatar
6 votes

Why did the Soviet Union decide to use 30 small engines instead of a few large ones on the N1?

The N1 was a big disappointment after exploding on every single launch attempt. From what I have read, it seems like most of the attempts went wrong because one of the 30 engines exploded causing a ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
6 votes
Accepted

Did the N-1 have future plans, like the Apollo Applications Program?

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 ...
Pavel Bernshtam's user avatar
6 votes

Was the Soviet N1 really capable of sending 9.6 GB/s of telemetry?

I suspect this confuses "bandwidth available" with "bandwidth that can be used concurrently at any one time". It certainly could not be processed at that rate by the ground based systems, let alone ...
ANone's user avatar
  • 3,442
5 votes

Why weren't Saturn V and the Soviet N-1 Moon rockets made larger in order to simplify Lunar missions?

There was another argument against the direct ascent mode. A very large and complex rocket should be landed and started on and from the moon surface. But rockets of this size would require on earth a ...
Uwe's user avatar
  • 1,714
4 votes

Other than then N-1 (30 engines) has there been a single stage of a rocket with more engines than a Falcon 9?

yall are forgetting the electron. 9 engines on the first stage and 1 engine on the second stage. to be honest its just a smaller version of the falcon 9 Electron
TheSpaceEngineer's user avatar
4 votes

Why weren't Saturn V and the Soviet N-1 Moon rockets made larger in order to simplify Lunar missions?

Compare the extra work to build a bigger rocket (and don't forget that costs have the ugly tendency to be exponentialised, thanks to our good friend, the Tsiolkovski equation) with a few hours for the ...
Luaan's user avatar
  • 667
4 votes

Did the N-1 have future plans, like the Apollo Applications Program?

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 ...
geoffc's user avatar
  • 79.9k
4 votes

Why did the Soviet Union decide to use 30 small engines instead of a few large ones on the N1?

The Soviet program (general program, aside from lunar program) was far more militarized, and in addition to Ian Kemp’s points a small engine had more military (missile) applicability. The Soviet ...
caInstrument's user avatar

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