Post by archibald on Aug 25, 2020 15:15:53 GMT
The Soviets in the 60's had two variants of the Soyuz (7K) for lunar missions. There was the 7K-L1 and the 7K-LOK.
The LOK was very much like Apollo, with a lunar lander and a huge rocket, the N-1.
But there was also a shortened Soyuz riding a smaller rocket, the Proton. No lander, no orbit. just a lunar flyby. That was also called Zond.
The Soviets had the habit to link big space stunt with anniversaries and propaganda. In the late 60's they had two big dates in mind.
November 6, 1967: October revolution + 50 years.
April 21, 1970: Lenin birth + 100 years.
Now look at the date... one week after Apollo 13.
And now, this link...
So what happened ?
Zond was to get cosmonauts NEAR the Moon in time for the 1967 date - and ahead of Apollo. Of course the plan went by the window and Zond, compared to Apollo 11, 12 was ridiculous.
Still, they considered sending a Zond around the Moon with a crew for Lenin 100th birthday.
OTL, they didn't do it because it was ridiculous compared to Apollo. But it come very close.
Now imagine the Soviets stick with their "Lenin plan"... this mean that, when Apollo 13 goes KABOOM, there is a Zond not only ready to launch, at Baikonur - but if it has launched, the two ships "free return" trajectories around the Moon are outrageously similar.
While Apollo was three men from the Start, Zond and Soyuz were trickier.
Before 1973, it was either "two men in spacesuits " or "three men without". The soviets picked option 2 and paid the price - Soyuz 11 crew, all 3 dead in 1971. In the end Soyuz was redesigned for "3 men in spacesuits".
So on paper at least, it might be possible to fit three guys in a Zond capsule without spacesuits. Risky, not sure the Zond support systems could also support three guys.
Still, it would make for a fun story. The Soviets going to the Americans and telling them "we have a Zond to rescue your crew..."