Russia got to the Moon first only in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Advise and Consent. Few have ever seen the spacecraft Russia was developing in hopes of making a first manned Moon landing but now someone has photographed the stash of spacefaring equipment at the Moscow Aviation Institute. A photo of the lander is among those that illustrate “Inside Moscow’s Secret Failed Moon Program”.
Getting to the Moon requires launching a command module and a lander. Both are heavy objects and require massive amounts of thrust to get into orbit. The Soviet’s planned to use their N-1 rocket, but two failed launches in 1971 and 1972 destroyed dummy landing and control modules, as well as the rockets themselves, and led to the program being shelved for lack of a proper launch vehicle.
[Via James Hay.]