A Soviet Moon Rocket

Credit: NSA/CIA

In February 1969, the two largest rockets in the Soviet Union’s stable of launch vehicles—the Proton and the N-1—both blew up in the skies over the Baikonur launch range within a couple of days of each other. Both launches were associated with the Soviet Union’s lunar program, a subject of intense interest for the United States intelligence community. But, for decades, the intelligence community was unaware of either explosion. Now newly declassified information indicates that American intelligence assets were expecting a Soviet space launch in February and even associated it with the Soviet lunar program. They mistakenly assumed that a single launch had been planned and then canceled, but analysts also acknowledged that it was possible that a launch failure had occurred. The declassified records imply that analysts knew that something very important had happened in the last part of February, but its exact nature eluded them. … (The Space Review)

Part one can be found here.
Part two can be found here.

Credit: NSA/CIA

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