In Vick's latest unmasking of the N-1-L3 studies, he's added new insight to his take on the Soviet manned lunar programs. He's looking at it from both American and Russian perspectives, using satellite reconnaissance imagery -- albeit purposely downgraded in clarity -- and data from open sources.
"I would suggest that the race was far closer than publically perceived, based on declassified intelligence all the way back before Sputnik," Vick said. "It was the Soviet system that ultimately defeated itself in the lunar race," Vick told SPACE.com.
A host of U.S. intelligence gathering groups, from the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, the Office of Naval Intelligence and others, still hold tight what was gleaned by various satellites -- as well as on-the-ground spies.
"That is an amazing story to be told... that hasn't been told," Vick said. Factory floor spies, even intelligence-gathering, down-range moles, he said.
In relation to N-1 launches, the U.S. also tapped into seismic sensors and atmospheric capabilities, even listening in on countdown demonstrations and in-flight telemetry streams transmitted during booster flights.
"It was intelligence in one form or another," Vick said. "We could really feel for what was going on. We were able to do it a lot more than most people realized... it creates one huge picture."