Buran on launch pad 110/37 in November 1988
|Status||Decommissioned; program halted in 1993; 1K1 destroyed in a 2002 hangar collapse, 2K1 in storage in Baikonur; 1K2 at Zukhovsky Airport; 2 others barely started when cancelled. Test articles in various exhibitions.|
15 November 1988
15 November 1988
|Number of missions||1|
|Time spent in space||3 hours, 36 minutes|
|Number of orbits||2|
The Buran spacecraft (Russian: Бура́н, IPA: [bʊˈran], Snowstorm or Blizzard), GRAU index 11F35 K1 was a Soviet orbital vehicle analogous in function and design to the US Space Shuttle, developed by Chief Designer Gleb Lozino-Lozinskiy of RKK Energia. Buran completed one unmanned spaceflight in 1988 and remains the only Soviet reusable spacecraft to be launched into space; the Buran programme was cancelled in 1993 following the dissolution of the USSR.
It was treated as a Soviet space shuttle but only the plane itself was theoretically reusable, and while it was recovered successfully after its first orbital flight it was never reused. The expendable Energia rocket served as its launch vehicle.
The Buran orbital vehicle program was developed in response to the U.S. Space Shuttle program, which in the 1980s raised considerable concerns among the Soviet military and especially Defense Minister Dmitriy Ustinov. An authoritative chronicler of the Soviet and later Russian space programs, the academic Boris Chertok, recounts how the program came into being.[full citation needed] According to Chertok, after the U.S. developed its Space Shuttle program, the Soviet military became suspicious that it could be used for military purposes, due to its enormous payload, several times that of previous U.S. launch vehicles. The Soviet government asked the TsNIIMash (ЦНИИМАШ, Central Institute of Machine-building, a major player in defense analysis) for an expert opinion. Institute director, Yuri Mozzhorin, recalls that for a long time the institute could not envisage a civilian payload large enough to require a vehicle of that capacity.
Officially, the Buran spacecraft was designed for the delivery to orbit and return to Earth of spacecraft, cosmonauts, and supplies. Both Chertok and Gleb Lozino-Lozinskiy suggest that from the beginning, the program was military in nature; however, the exact military capabilities, or intended capabilities, of the Buran program remain classified. Commenting on the discontinuation of the program in his interview to New Scientist, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov confirms their accounts:
|“||We had no civilian tasks for Buran and the military ones were no longer needed. It was originally designed as a military system for weapon delivery, maybe even nuclear weapons. The American shuttle also has military uses.||”|
Like its American counterpart, the Buran, when in transit from its landing sites back to the launch complex, was transported on the back of a large jet aeroplane — the Antonov An-225 Mriya transport aircraft, which was designed in part for this task and remains the largest aircraft in the world to fly multiple times.[full citation needed]. Before the Mriya was ready (after the Buran had flown), the Myasishchev VM-T Atlant, a variant on the Soviet Myasishchev M-4 Molot (Hammer) bomber (NATO code: Bison), fulfilled the same role.
The software for the spacecraft and the supporting ground systems were written in several high-level programming languages which were developed as part of the Buran programme.
Flight into space
The only orbital launch of Buran occurred at 3:00 UTC on 15 November 1988 from Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 110/37. It was lifted into orbit, on an unmanned mission, by the specially designed Energia rocket. Unlike the NASA Shuttle, which was propelled by a combination of solid boosters and the Shuttle's own liquid-fuel engines fueled from a large fuel tank, the Energia-Buran system used thrust from the rocket's four RD-170 liquid oxygen/kerosene engines developed by Valentin Glushko and another four RD-0120 liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engines.
Even though the program was delayed by several years, Buran was the first space shuttle to perform an unmanned flight, including landing in fully automatic mode. The Buran automated launch sequence performed as specified, and the Energia rocket lifted the vehicle into a temporary orbit before the orbiter separated as programmed. After boosting itself to a higher orbit and completing two revolutions around the Earth, ODU (engine control system) engines fired automatically to begin the descent into the atmosphere. Exactly 206 minutes into the mission, the Buran orbiter landed, having lost only eight of its 38,000 thermal tiles over the course of the flight. The automated landing took place on a runway at Baikonur Cosmodrome where, despite a lateral wind speed of 61.2 kilometres per hour (38.0 mph), it landed only 3 metres (9.8 ft) laterally and 10 metres (33 ft) longitudinally from the target mark.
Specifically, as Buran approached Baikonur Cosmodrome and started landing, spacecraft sensors detected the strong crosswind and "the robotic system sent the huge machine for another rectangular traffic pattern approach, successfully landing the spacecraft on a second try."
In 1989, it was projected that Buran would have an unmanned second flight by 1993, with a duration of 15–20 days. Because the project was cancelled after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, this never took place. Several scientists looked into trying to revive the Buran program, especially after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.
Discussions of a Russian successor
In 2010 the director of Moscow's Central Machine Building Institute said the Buran project would be reviewed in the hope of restarting a similar manned spacecraft design, with rocket test launches as soon as 2015. Russia also continues work on the PPTS but has abandoned the Kliper program, due to differences in vision with its European partners.
In late 2013, on the 25th anniversary of Buran, a new super heavy lift launch vehicle was announced for development by Roscosmos.
On 12 May 2002, a hangar housing Buran collapsed during a massive storm in Kazakhstan, as a result of poor maintenance. The collapse killed eight workers and destroyed the craft as well as a mock-up of an Energia carrier rocket.
On the 25th anniversary of the Buran flight in November 2013, Oleg Ostapenko, the new head of Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, proposed that a new heavy lift launch vehicle be built for the Russian space program. The rocket would be intended to place a payload of 100 tonnes (220,000 lb) in a baseline low Earth orbit and is projected to be based on the Angara launch vehicle technology.
Shuttle travels and locations
|OK-1K1||Buran ("Blizzard")||First flight article, first shuttle series||Launch pad 110/37 (L) at Baikonur||Shuttle not visible; no available satellite photos.||15 November 1988||Launched on an unmanned, remote controlled flight; two orbits and landing (with heavy crosswinds and a self-initiated fly-around) at Yubileiniy (Jubilee) Airport, Baikonur.|
|MIK building, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan||Shuttle not visible; shadows.||1988 to present||Housed in MIK building in area 112, Baikonur with an Energia booster mockup and other Energia hardware, destroyed in a roof collapse on 12 May 2002, which killed eight workers.|
|OK-2K1||Ptichka ("Little Bird")||Second fight article, first series, 95-97% complete||MIK building, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan||Shuttle not visible, in building.||1988 to 2002||Housed adjacent to the Buran.|
|MZK building 80, area 112a, Baikonur||Shuttle not visible; in building.||2002 to present||Moved to the MZK after the roof collapse in the MIK.|
|OK-1K2||Baikal (place name)||First fight article, second series, 30-50% complete||inside Tushino Plant, Moscow, Russia||1988 to 2006|
|Car park on Kimki Reservoir, near plant.||Need history.||2006 to 2011||Moved outdoors.|
|Ramenskoye Airport, near Moscow, Russia||on 15 August 2011; need history.||2011 to 2014, to present?||An exhibit in the MAKS-2011 and later air shows. Ramenskoye Airport is the site of the Gromov Flight Research Institute, and has become a large outdoor flight museum. Other sightings: on 15 March 2012: , on 31 July 2012 and 8 May 2013 , on 4 June and 29 July 2014 .|
|OK-2K2||Second flight article, second series, 10-20% complete.||Tushino plant, Moscow, Russia||1988–present||Some pieces of 3K2, like heat tiles, have found their way onto eBay.|
|OK-3K2||Third flight article, second series, very small assembly||Scattered.||1988 to present||All parts have been scattered and are unidentifiable.|
|Airframe and shake test bed article||Outdoor pad, area 112, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan||Need history.||1988 to January, 2007||Deteriorated considerably.|
|Gagarin Museum, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan||January 2007 to present||Refurbished in 2007, now on outdoor display.|
|Buran aerodynamic analogue||Atmospheric test article, two extra jet engines in rear to facilitate take-off.||Pyrmont Island, Sydney harbor, Australia||Need history to see shelter; shuttle not visible.||February 2000 to September 2000; afterwards stored nearby until 2005||25 test flights. Sold and sent in 2000 to the Sydney, Australia 2000 Olympic Games. Displayed inside a light structure, stored in parking lot outdoors afterwards, for five years.|
|Manama harbor, Bahrain||Need history.||2005 to 2011||Stored outdoors in Bahrain while the ownership of the shuttle was legally fought.|
|Technik Museum, Speyer, Germany||Shuttle not visible; in building.||2011 to present||Purchased from the Russian space agency when it won the legal battle, displayed indoors.|
|Electrical test article.||Checkout and Test Building (KIS), RKK Energia Plant, Korolev, Russia||Not visible, in building. This is a half-scale memorial.||2006 to 15 October 2012||Stored inside.|
|Grounds of the RKK Energia Plant||15 October 2012 to present||Stored outside 15 October 2012 to be placed on permanent display.|
|Engineering mockup||MZK building, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan||Shuttle not visible; in building.||1988 to present|
|OK-5M||Environmental test parts from forward fuselage||unknown||1988 to present|
|Environmental test article||NIIKhimMash rocket test area, near Moscow, Russia||1988 to present|
|Structural test article||Gorky Park, Moscow, Russia||Need history.||1995 to July, 2014||Served as a not-as-popular-as-expected attraction, a small restaurant, and bicycle storage.|
|outside Pavilion 20 about 250 meters south of the Vostok rocket, VDNKh/VVT (All-Russia Exhibition Center)||May need history.||July 2014 to present||Moved to VDNKh on 5 July 2014, assembled by 21 July. The shuttle acquisition is part of VDNKh refurbishment.|
|OK-8M||Components used for static thermal and vacuum tests.||scattered|
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Buran could stay in orbit for 30 days, while the American shuttle had a 15-day time limit. It could deliver into orbit 30 tonnes of cargo, compared to the US shuttle's 24 tonnes of cargo. It could carry a crew of 10 cosmonauts, while the American shuttle could carry seven astronauts. Preparation for the Energia/Buran launch at Baikonur Cosmodrome only took 15 days. However, it took one month of preparations before the US shuttle was launched from Cape Canaveral. The Energia rocket booster could be used to launch various payloads into orbit, whereas the American shuttle's booster was one-task. A year and a half before the Buran launch, Energia was launched with a full-scale mock-up of the Skif-DM orbital combat laser platform weighing 77 tonnes, measuring 37 meters long, and over four meters in diameter. Though the mock-up failed to reach the desired orbit and fell into the Pacific, the Energia booster did its job fine, delivering the huge space platform into intermediate orbit, 110 kilometers above the earth's surface. But the most important difference from the American model was that the Soviet spaceship could perform the flight and landing in totally automatic mode, which it brilliantly demonstrated on November 15, 1988. Buran's American counterpart used to land with switched-off engines, meaning it could make only one landing attempt. The Soviet spacecraft could take several tries if needed. When Buran approached Baikonur Cosmodrome and started landing in 1988, its sensors registered too strong side winds and the robotic system sent the huge machine for another rectangular traffic pattern approach, successfully landing the spacecraft on a second try. The Buran shuttle was designed to perform 100 flights to space, while its engines were ready to do 66 flights without replacement. During its flight, it lost just eight of its unique thermal-insulation tiles out of 38,800.
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- Heinz Elser, Margrit Elser-Haft, Vladim Lukashevich: Buran — History and Transportation of the Russian Space shuttle OK-GLI to the Technik Museum Speyer, two Languages: German and English, 2008, ISBN 3-9809437-7-1