The Kontakt rendezvous and docking system

Sven Grahn

The two manned craft intended to land Soviet cosmonauts on the Moon, the LOK lunar orbiter and the LK lander used a rendezvous and docking system called Kontakt. This was developed in some competition to the system IGLA (described elsewhere at this Web site) used on Soyuz/Progress/Salyut. Very little is known about Kontakt, especially its radio system for homing and guidance during rendezvous and docking. This article is an attempt to locate antennas for the system on images of LK and LOK and to try to draw conclusions from these antennas.

LOK shown at Kaluga museum. Credit: Mark Wade

Antennas on LOK possibly related to Kontakt

The "tower-like" contraption near the front of LOK seen in the picture above looks very much like the IGLA antenna tower on Soyuz. However, there is no dish antenna but an "X" that could be an array antenna - or interferometer antenna

There are three four-turn helices with a diameter of 10-12 cm (indicating a frequency of 800-960 MHz). Two are facing forwards and one backwards. A detailed image of the antenna at the front of the spacecraft shows that the helix is fed at the circumference and not at the center. The antenna gain of a four-tun helix operating in the axial mode is 11.7 dBi and it has a beamwidth that is 52 degrees wide.

Antennas and other devices on LK possibly related to Kontakt

In the figure we can identify four antennas and two other devices that could possibly have something to do with the Kontakt system


Antennas used during homing and proximity operations

The figures below are intended to illustrate these situations.