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This could be put on top of the booster, unlike the US orbiter, which needed clearance for its engines and had to be laterally mounted on the side of its rocket-and-fuel-tank stack.

The aft end also sported two small winglets, which were folded up during launch and in orbit, but descended to give the MTKVP (in combination with its body shape, which was aerodynamic at hypersonic speeds) a bit of controllability.

All told it had about 300 kilometers of cross-range capability, which in usefulness was its major negative compared to the American Space Shuttle.

The booster which it would have topped was a variation on the largest rocket in Glushko’s proposed RLA series, the RLA-150 Vulkan.

Dubbed the RLA-130V, it was a recognizable ancestor of the Energia rocket.

At the last moment it would fire retrorockets on its underside and settle to ground on skid landing gear.

So unlike the US’ orbiter it didn’t need a landing strip, and in fact didn’t need a prepared landing site at all.

What happened to make it fail: The Soviet leadership—even Dmitri Ustinov, who had been one of his main supporters in his push to take over Ts KBEM and transform it into NPO Energiya— made it abundantly clear to Glushko that they were not going to give him his Moon base, and that furthermore that they would not accept anything less than a close copy of the Space Shuttle.

The psychology of the second part of this decision is interesting.

The Vulkan’s upper stage was removed and replaced with the orbiter.

That sat on top of a a large liquid-fuelled core (LOX and LH2) in the centre and six liquid-fuelled boosters around it; these burned LOX and syntin, an artificial hydrocarbon fuel developed by the Russians with better performance than kerosene.

In all it weighed 88 tonnes, which if you add on the 30 tonnes of cargo means the RLA-130V would have been lifting 118 tons to orbit—and if you noticed that that is similar in lift to the Saturn V and N1, congratulate yourself for finding the hidden Moon rocket.