Forgotten, aborted Soviet moon-lander


Jalopnik has a wonderful set of photos of the abortive Soviet moon lander, the LK Lander, abandoned in 1971. It currently rots gently in a private lab at the Moscow Aviation Institute. The photos come from the Russos Livejournal.
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.

The LK was sent into space for numerous test missions. The first two unmanned flights were successful tests of the vehicle through a simulated orbit. The third flight ended when the N-1 rocket crashed. The fourth test in 1971 was a success, but years later the decaying test module started to return to Earth with a trajectory that would put it over the skies of Australia.

Inside The Soviet's Secret Failed Moon Program (via Sciencepunk)