The N1 was the booster rocket for the Soviet manned moon program and was thus the direct counterpart of the Saturn V, the rocket that took American astronauts to the moon in 1969. Standing 345 feet tall, the N1 was the largest rocket ever built by the Soviets and was roughly the same height and weight as the Saturn. Though initially ahead of the US in the space race, the Soviets lagged behind as the pace for being first on the moon accelerated. Massive technical and personnel difficulties, plus spectacular failures, repeatedly delayed the N1 program. After the successful American landings on the moon, it was finally canceled without the N1 ever achieving orbit. The complete history of this rarely known Soviet program is presented here, starting in 1959, along with detailed technical descriptions of the N1’s design and development. A full discussion of its attempted launches, disasters, and ultimate cancellation in 1974 completes this definitive history.
Eugen Reichl works for a leading European space transportation company. He is a known expert on aerospace technology and has authored more than 30 books and several hundred specialty articles on the topic.