Russian Moon Rocket Engine

The N1 rocket was a super heavy-lift launch vehicle intended to deliver payloads beyond low Earth orbit, acting as the Soviet counterpart to the US Saturn V. It was designed with crewed extra-orbital travel in mind. Development work started on the N1 in 1959. Its first stage is the most powerful rocket stage ever built.

N1 RocketThe N1-L3 version was developed to compete with the United States Apollo program to land a man on the Moon, using the same lunar orbit rendezvous method. The basic N1 launch vehicle had three stages, which was to carry the L3 lunar payload into low Earth orbit with two cosmonauts. The L3 contained an Earth departure stage; another stage used for mid-course corrections, lunar orbit insertion, and powered descent initiation; a single-pilot LK Lander spacecraft; and a two-pilot Soyuz 7K-LOK lunar orbital spacecraft for return to Earth. The Apollo spacecraft was able to carry three astronauts (landing two on the Moon), and relied on the Saturn V's third stage for Earth departure.

N1-L3 was underfunded and rushed, starting development in October 1965, almost four years after the Saturn V. The project was badly derailed by the death of its chief designer Sergei Korolev in 1966. Each of the four attempts to launch an N1 failed; during the second launch attempt the N1 rocket crashed back onto its launch pad shortly after liftoff and exploded, resulting in one of the largest artificial non-nuclear explosions in human history. The N1 program was suspended in 1974, and in 1976 was officially canceled. Along with the rest of the Soviet manned lunar programs, the N1 was kept secret almost until the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991; information about the N1 was first published in 1989. More details

NK-33 Rocket EngineThe NK-33 and NK-43 are rocket engines designed and built in the late 1960s and early 1970s by the Kuznetsov Design Bureau. The NK designation is derived from the initials of chief designer Nikolay Kuznetsov. The NK-33 was among the most powerful LOX/RP-1 rocket engines when it was built, with a high specific impulse and low structural mass. They were intended for the ill-fated Soviet N-1 rocket Moon shot. The NK-33A rocket engine is now used on the first stage of the Soyuz-2-1v launch vehicle.

The NK-33 series engines are high-pressure, regeneratively cooled staged combustion cycle bipropellant rocket engines. They use oxygen-rich preburners to drive the turbopumps. The turbopumps require subcooled liquid oxygen (LOX) to cool the bearings. These kinds of burners are highly unusual, since their hot, oxygen-rich exhaust tends to attack metal, causing burn-through failures. The United States had not investigated oxygen-rich combustion technologies until the Integrated Powerhead Demonstrator project in the early 2000s. The Soviets, however, perfected the metallurgy behind this method. More details