Soviet N1 Moon Rocket. It was the Soviet counterpart to the NASA’s Saturn V, the gigantic rocket that sent humans to the moon. It was designed with crewed extra-orbital travel in mind (i.e. moon landing). Its first stage still remains the most powerful rocket stage ever built. However, the rocket was underfunded and rushed. The development has started in October 1965, almost four years after the Saturn V. The project was badly derailed by the death of its chief designer Sergei Korolev (1907 – 14 January 1966, the lead Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer during the Space Race) in 1966. Each of the four attempts to launch an N1 failed; during the second launch attempt the N1 rocket crashed back onto its launch pad shortly after liftoff and exploded, resulting in one of the largest artificial non-nuclear explosions in human history. The N1 program was suspended in 1974, and in 1976 was officially canceled. Along with the rest of the Soviet manned lunar programs, the N1 was kept secret almost until the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991; information about the N1 was first published in 1989.