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Touch the history of the Russian astronautics and missilery!
October 6, 2010 9:56 PM   Subscribe

Astonishing photos of remnants of the Soviet Lunar program, via Jalopnik, who have more details.
posted by Artw (32 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Soviet space stuff is among my favorite things, as perhaps you know.
posted by mwhybark at 11:25 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The secrecy surrounding 30-year-old discarded space program bits is a bit weird. But maybe it's just the security guards there being difficult.

Interesting photos, though.
posted by Harald74 at 11:30 PM on October 6, 2010


MAN IN SIDE !
HELP!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:33 PM on October 6, 2010


…waittasec. Isn't that stenciled on the leaded, ie. heavy, ie. down under the water side of the return capsule? Along with the key?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:35 PM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I concur, it's not clear how 'secret' that stuff actually is. rare, hard to see, you bet. There have been at least two notable touring exhibitions of Soviet space hardware that I have seen here in Seattle. The earliest was around '93, and was at the Pacific Science Center, and I am pretty sure they were touring stuff that really should have stayed at home (an actual ground-reference Lunokhod, if I recall correctly, for example). As a special bonus, a for-real cosmonaut was apparently detailed to act as a show guide or something. Maybe I just happened to be there on the day he was giving tours and answering questions or something.

More recently, at the Museum of Flight (two years ago? three?) there was a space-race themed show that placed US hardware right next to the Soviet stuff. This show included a wall-display comparison of the base sizes of a Salyut launcher and an Apollo launcher, a 1960s-vintage orbited Soviet return capsule-sphere, and a chunk of Apollo mission control.

There's a fairly extensive, and growing, library in English on Soviet space. If you love the NASA stuff I grew up on, it's a safe bet you'll find the Russian stuff compelling as well.
posted by mwhybark at 11:44 PM on October 6, 2010


"Failed"? I'm sure Gagarin and Laika would disagree. It succeeded in its own way, they were the first to put a man in space and bring him back, inspiring the rest of the world's space program. Sort of like the recent bombing of the moon to check on water after the Chandrayaan first noted it.
posted by The Lady is a designer at 11:52 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I would say that, if anything, the Soviets won the space race. First man in space, first satellite, first spacewalk, first woman in space--at least these things have had significant real-world effects, as opposed to the moon landing, which was a scientifically pointless one-off that hasn't inspired anyone to return.
posted by nasreddin at 12:27 AM on October 7, 2010


poor Laika ...
posted by Auden at 12:38 AM on October 7, 2010


Yeah, not sure Laika really would be that much of a cheerleader for the glorious peoples space program.
posted by Artw at 12:41 AM on October 7, 2010


I know what you're saying but for a kid who was three when man stepped on the moon, these were the anecdotal stories of my childhood and the photo of Laika stayed with me as the visual of "man in space" (er, I mean mammal.. ;p)
posted by The Lady is a designer at 12:44 AM on October 7, 2010


WE SALUTE YOU BRAVE COMBUSTABLE CANINE HERO OF THE PEOPLES REPUBLIC!
posted by Artw at 12:46 AM on October 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is what steampunk was meant to be.

Also, tonight on Australian ABC, is a doco about the Soviet moon rover(s). I don't know whether it'll be available afterwards for viewing on their website, or whether it can be accessed from outside Oz.

Perhaps it's already out there somewhere, and someone who understands how to use this internet thing can help..
posted by Ahab at 1:01 AM on October 7, 2010


Tank on the Moon is great, well worth a watch. I think it started life as a Horizon or a Nova.
posted by Artw at 1:05 AM on October 7, 2010


Indulging nostalgia

You have to remember, Calcutta/West Bengal had a democratically elected communist government, of course this stuff was all over the place.
posted by The Lady is a designer at 1:16 AM on October 7, 2010


Interesting how it went to Russian women posing for the photographer about half way through. Must be some super secret stuff there...
posted by michswiss at 1:22 AM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


MAN IN SIDE !
HELP!

…waittasec. Isn't that stenciled on the leaded, ie. heavy, ie. down under the water side of the return capsule? Along with the key?


Soyuz generally were designed to come down on land, great flat empty swathes of which the Soviet Union was not in short supply.
posted by Luddite at 2:35 AM on October 7, 2010


...and, in fact, capsules ending up upside-down in the wrong place isn't unheard of.

Not that Apollo didn't sometimes end up in the "Stable 2" position.
posted by Luddite at 2:39 AM on October 7, 2010


Luddite's link tought me the term "ballistic descent", which does not seem to be a very good descent to be on...
posted by Harald74 at 3:19 AM on October 7, 2010


If this stuff had gone to the moon, the world would have gotten a much richer iconography out of that event. I can only imagine what the space suits would have looked like.
posted by Faze at 3:59 AM on October 7, 2010


Man, Soviet space technology from that era just looked different than American space technology. You'd think that the practical necessities of engineering such complex machines wouldn't leave any room for individual styling, but the Soviet stuff is—more bulbous somehow? More like a Big Daddy from Bioshock?
posted by ixohoxi at 4:18 AM on October 7, 2010


just looked different than American space technology.

At least 30 years ago, I'm guessing, I can't remember or cite, I read a Reader's Digest article on a MIG plane that was studied and they found wiring that was exposed, vacuum tubes adn diodes and generally weird tech possibly due to the restrictions on information access and flow regarding transistors and electronics. Given that, its not hard to imagine this visualization of what would go to space, if your starting parameters and constraints are very different.
posted by The Lady is a designer at 4:24 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, tonight on Australian ABC, is a doco about the Soviet moon rover(s).

Perfect timing! Thanks, it was worth a watch.

The Lunokhods were cute. For some reason I was a little bit sad to find out that, according to Wikipedia, Richard Garriot (aka Lord British) bought Lunokhod 2 for $68,500 in 1993. That just seems wrong somehow.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:52 AM on October 7, 2010


Not that Apollo didn't sometimes end up in the "Stable 2" position.

That had to suck. You've been on a historical trip around the moon, only to finish the trip by landing upside down, bopping in the ocean, waiting for someone to come pick you up.
posted by nomadicink at 5:14 AM on October 7, 2010


Great pics, thanks Artw.

And let's not forget the first space stations, Salyut and then Mir.
posted by bru at 5:28 AM on October 7, 2010


just looked different than American space technology.

Oddly enough, The Russian's spacecrafts always struck me as more organic looking. This made them seem more "alive" in one sense, as if people rode them, not in them.
posted by nomadicink at 5:37 AM on October 7, 2010


Immediate reaction: "You came in that thing? You're braver than I thought."
posted by yerfatma at 6:38 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perfect timing! Thanks, it was worth a watch.

The Lunokhods were cute.

You're welcome. I'm watching it now. And you are very right - they're crazy cute.

(BTW, the doco can be found online via a google video search for Tank on the Moon, but it doesn't look legally copied or hosted, so I'll refrain from linking.)
posted by Ahab at 7:21 AM on October 7, 2010


Russian spacecraft often had pressurized chambers for their electronics, which accounts for some of the bulbous look.
posted by Artw at 8:11 AM on October 7, 2010


Reminds me of the J.G. Ballard sci fi short story collection Memories of the Space Age .
posted by catastropher at 9:57 AM on October 7, 2010


The Soviets DID eventually land on the moon.
They just didn't take any men up there.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:07 PM on October 7, 2010


I've been a fan of this image for a long time. Makes me want to go and paint robots.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:07 PM on October 7, 2010


Yeah, I would say that, if anything, the Soviets won the space race. First man in space, first satellite, first spacewalk, first woman in space--

Given how the Shuttle program is doing, it looks like they are going to win the Last man in space race also.
posted by c13 at 3:46 AM on October 8, 2010


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