With the success of Kosmos 146 and in spite of the failures of the first three 7K-Ok’s it was now time to plan for a Soyuz manned mission. The planned involved the launch and docking of two piloted Soyuzes. Soyuz 7K-OK production model number 4 was assigned the role of the active vehicle. The active vehicle was supposed to carry one cosmonaut into earth orbit. Twenty-four hours later, vehicle No. 5 (the passive vehicle) carrying three cosmonauts would be inserted in orbit. After rendezvouing, two cosmonauts from vehicle No. 5 would transfer through open space to vehicle No. 4.
Premiere Khrushchev was not willing to wait until Soyuz for another space first. Khrushchev believed, There could be no final victories in the race for space propaganda. He knew the US was working on project Gemini which would carry two astronauts in 1965. So, as a means to upstage the US, Khrushchev ordered Chief Designer Korolev to fit three cosmonauts into the Voskhod spacecraft that was designed for two…
Chief Designer Mishin proposed a two-launch “stopover” scenario for the piloted flight to the moon. This was similar to one of NASA’s earth orbit rendezvous modes to reach the moon. The gist of the plan was, the UR-500K would insert the 7K-L1 into orbit with no crew. Then the R7 derivative Semyorka would launch the 7K-OK carrying two cosmonauts. If everything went well on the two vehicles, they would dock, and the cosmonauts would transfer from the 7K-OK to the 7K-L1 via spacewalk. Then they would set out for the Moon, and, after flying around it, they would return to Earth.
The first Soyuz test flight was a catastrophic failure. Due to negligence, the attitude control system malfunctioned and used all of its fuel before a rendezvous could be attempted or even the second Soyuz rocket could be launched. When the Soviets attempted to return the first Soyuz to earth, the vehicle’s self-destruct system activated because it was unable to make a landing in the Soviet Union. OKB-1 was disgraced.