The Russian Buran Space Shuttle



Pictured above; the Buran Space Shuttle


The BURAN orbiter is a reusable manned space vehicle designed in Russia. A relic of the Soviet era it first went to the drawing board in the late 70s with only a few built during the 80s.

Bearing a striking resemblance to the USA Space Shuttle the BURAN orbiter is claimed to be technologically superior but unfortunately due to funding cuts by the Russian government the project was cancelled after only one successful unmanned test mission. in November 1988 the Buran was launched to circle the earth twice when it then automatically landed without fault and unmanned, the US Space Shuttle cannot operate unmanned like the Buran.

The BURAN orbiter is able to put up to 30 tons into Space and to return up to 20 tons of payload to the Earth.

The availability of a cargo compartment of impressive sizes on the vehicle permits to transport orbital station modules or large structures up to 17 m long and 4,5 m in diameter and not only 2-4 crew members but up to 6 passengers can be accommodated in a crew cabin. Expendable space vehicles perform a ballistic or sliding descent in the atmosphere and parachute landing. The necessity to provide a space vehicle return from the Space and to bring it to the airdrome forced the designers to decide many complex problems.

The gliding descent from the orbit through dense layers of atmosphere has stipulated the necessity to use a principally new reusable thermal protection system designed to sustain 100 flights. For the BURAN orbiter three kinds of thermal protection were developed including forty thousand tiles of ceramic thermal protection tiles that surpass the strength of the materials used in the USA Space Shuttle construction.

Today not much is left of the BURAN program, the one completed shuttle that did achieve a test flight once sat mothballed in a Russian hanger, but has since been accidentally destroyed. Several other test mockups were completed as well as a near completed shuttle and 2 hardly started construction shuttles. These shuttles have since been scrapped or been used as museum items, one is on display in Gorky Park and one did leave Russia during 2000 and sat on display at Sydney's Darling Harbour. There are also several over bits and pieces on display across Russia and even in museums in Germany. The state run company that designed the BURAN once stated that they wanted to relaunch the project but this is highly unlikely considering the time that has passed since the funding was cut from the original project.

  The Russian Concorde Tu-144
  The Russian Ekranoplan (Sea Plane)
  The Russian Soyuz Spacecraft
  The Space Ship One
  The Hubble Space Telescope
  The Concorde
  The US Space Shuttle

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Did You Know?

The Concorde was not the only supersonic commercial jet, the Russian Tupolev TU-144 was a copy of the Concorde and its first flight was 3 months prior to the Concorde. After many problems and several crashes it stopped service in 1985.



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