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Unlike the American lunar program, which used common hardware for lunar landing and lunar orbital missions, the Soviet Union chose to develop a separate spacecraft with it's own booster for these two missions.  The Zond spacecraft, aka Soyuz 7K-L1, was designed to sling a single cosmonaut around the moon and back in a non-orbital loop.  The booster chosen to take it to the moon was the then-new Proton.  Contrary to the N-1 manned lunar program, the Proton booster worked well but the spacecraft failed in all but one of it's test flights.

Soviet 7-K L1 Zond circumlunar spacecraft at center of page, attached to it's Block D trans-lunar injection stage.  Around the vehicle is a graphic depiction of the planned mission.



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Above: 3 views of the Proton-Zond launch vehicle on the pad at Baikonur.  Note the fact that a launch escape system (LES) tower has been added to the top of the spacecraft shroud.  The reason this seems strange is that those of us who were used to thinking of the Proton as only being used for unmanned launches had only seen this booster without an LES, which is not needed on unmanned launches.
This booster is now used as a workhorse of the Soviet/Russian space program, launching all of the Salyut space stations and Mir components, as well as many commercial payloads.  It is still in use today and is being utilized to launch the larger Russian components of the International Space Station.
(Note - an excellent resin model of this booster was available in 1/144 scale from Rho Models, but sadly that company which was owned by my friend Julius deRoo, has folded.  It can now be bought from RealSpace Models)
For more detailed information on this program, I highly recommend Mark Wade's Encyclopedia Astronautica web site.



Zond Spacecraft

An excellent resin model kit of the Zond spacecraft is now available from New Ware Models.
Update: I bought and built one of the New Ware Zond kits.  You can see it here

Two artist's impressions of Zond spacecraft.  Essentially a souped-up Soyuz vehicle without the round Orbital Module at the front.  A collar was added in it's place to allow for the mounting of a high gain antenna and attachment of the spacecraft to the launch shroud.
Compare this to the LOK spacecraft which was built to carry a lunar landing crew to the moon.

Zond spacecraft mated with it's Block D stage (under silver fairing) and core of Proton booster.

Zond Today
Two of the Zond descent modules survive today and are on display at museums inside Russia.  Zond 5 is at the Energia Museum and Zond 7 is at Orevo.
Julius deRoo was kind enough to send me these photos  (Thanks as always, Julius!)

Zond 7

Overall shot of exterior, 
with a Soyuz docking 
probe in foreground. 
Also note umbilical 
connector panel 
at lower right
Roll manuevering 
thuster
Parachute 
compartment
Interior connector 
panel
Interior details
Sadly, visitors are allowed to actually climb inside this vehicle,
with the result that the interior is in truly appalling condition

Zond 5

Exterior
Good shot looking 
down the front hatch 
into the interior 
of Zond 7
Zond 7 in front of it's 
brother, a Soyuz


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Two desktop models of Zond spacecraft.  With so little photographic
material available on this subject, I thought I'd throw this in!
An excellent resin model kit of the Zond spacecraft is now available from New Ware Models.
Update: I bought and built one of the New Ware Zond kits.  You can see it here


Zond Mission Chronlogy

Table does not include several test flights that were designated as Cosmos missions, nor the Zond flights that were officially unmanned lunar probes.

Launch Date Flight # Mission Results
2 Mar 68 Zond 4 Sucessful flight but reentry failure caused mission controllers to destroy vehicle in earth atmosphere
15 Sep 68 Zond 5 Successful flight with biological payload.  Reentry malfunction caused vehicle to land in Indian ocean on 21 Sep
10 Nov 68 Zond 6 Sucessful flight but parachute malfunction caused vehicle to be destroyed at landing
8 Aug 69 Zond 7 Only completely successful mission in Zond test flight series
20 Oct 70 Zond 8 Successful flight with biological payload.  Reentry malfunction caused vehicle to land in Indian ocean.
Information in this table was taken from Mark Wade's Encyclopedia Astronautica web site

Back to Soviet Manned Lunar Program page