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Russian Shuttle - BURAN


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I only discovered over the weekend (since visting the science museum) that the Russians had built their own shuttle and were well on the way to building a fleet before the project was cut, mainly due to the demise of the Soviet Union.

Im guessing this is common knowledge but i was only a nipper during the shuttle's production. Im was amazed to find how close they came to completing the project and even got one unmanned shuttle into orbit and safely back down to Earth.

This is a good website i found detailing the production of the programme, and the sad fate suffered by the vehicles after the prgramme was stopped.

Aerospaceweb.org | Ask Us - Soviet Buran Space Shuttle

there are also some good videos on Youtube showing the test flights and first and only launch

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I remember hearing about this a while ago, and it amazed me how similar the design was to the US version. Coincidence, or was it just a blatant copy?

Edited by lukebl
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I was amazed that they built that vast Antonov 225 to carry it too. I am interested in aircraft and the sheer size of that monster is almost beyond belief. Apparently it flies very nicely, possibly due to it's size.:)

Wouldn't mind a trip in it. (Or the BURAN for that matter) Sadly only the 225 is still flying.

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I was lucky enough to see an Antonov 225 land at East Midlands airport a few years ago (whilst watching a Formula 1 car blaze around Donington circuit - what a day!)

It was a real behemoth, I couldn't believe my eyes :)

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There was ever a certain... "convergence" - Remembering the ill-fated "Concordski"? :) But, more power to the Russians? Still supplying viable space launch vehicles. Not to mention "vintage" (Valve!) Guitar Amplifiers? :D

Edited by Macavity
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I was lucky enough to see an Antonov 225 land at East Midlands airport a few years ago (whilst watching a Formula 1 car blaze around Donington circuit - what a day!)

It was a real behemoth, I couldn't believe my eyes :)

You were very lucky. Apparently there is only one 225 as it was built specifically for the BURAN program. I may be wrong but I believe another one was never completed.

It seems to be used as a heavy lift air vehicle now, often used for charity.

Edited by Imp_Perfect
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It's a crime what's been allowed to happen to the Buran programme - so much potential just thrown away. That something built, with love, to dance with the stars fell victim to something so mundane as a hangar collapse? Sickening.

As for the similarity between this and the Shuttle - i don't believe NASA development has ever been classified? But without delving too deep into conspiracy theories it is possible that they 'stole' the design from the Soviet Union in the first place :)

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I was at the MAKS airshow a few weeks back. It was my first trip to Russia. There were the usual MIG's including the 34, Antonov's & a massive helo. Plus both the 787 & 380, both flying However more interesting to me was Konkordski & even better. I took a picture of some random aircraft, away from public access. I looked down at the camera's LCD & noticed an odd 'shuttle' shaped object!

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Edited by halo1234
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They had most of the active Russian types there, including the Bear. Pretty cool, but the big helo was massive. Please note my knowledge of aircraft is quite limited considering I work in the industry.

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Edited by halo1234
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The Buran was a brilliant project, and has long fascinated me as I've always been interested in the Soviet and Russian space programmes. As far as I know there was no agreement with the US to cancel the programme - rather it was a victim of the Soviet collapse - the programme was officially cancelled in 1993, though little work took place after 1991. There was a single orbital flight, at the end of 1988, which was completely automated and was successful. There was also a lengthy period of atmospheric testing which used a very different approach to the US. A Buran prototype (OK-GLI) was equipped with turbofan jet engines and hydraulic landing gear (unlike the Shuttle gravity-drop unpowered gear) and took off, landed and flew atmo tests independently.

The Buran wasn't a duplicate of the US Shuttle, but as they were doing similar jobs (like the TU-144 "Concordski") there were superficial similarities. The Buran had a very different configuration. The boosters provided virtually all the main lift, with the Buran simply being payload, which allowed the Buran itself to carry a lot more cargo. It's engines were mainly for use once in orbit. The boosters (four rather than two) could also be used independently for other missions. These boosters, the Energia rocket class, are a close relative of the still in production Zenit heavy lift rockets, they use the same engine.

There were various Burans built or part-built. There was intended to be an initial fleet of five orbital craft. OK-1K1 "Buran" was the only orbital model completed and flown, and was destroyed when the hanger it was being stored in collapsed in 2002 in Kazakhstan.

"Pitchka" - Almost entirely completed, still at Baikonur.

"Baikal" - Partly completed, shown off at the MAKS airshow near Moscow a few years back.

Unnamed - Partly completed airframe, on static display near Moscow.

Unnamed II - Only just started before project cancelled. Dismantled.

The OK-GLI flying aerodynamic tester was sold and went to a German museum a few years ago.

There is (sadly) only one AN-225 in service, operating as a charter heavy freighter doing a lot of work delivering heavy works gear to remote construction sites, and as a heavy lifter for aid shipments. There was originally intended to be at least two AN-225s for the Buran programme (I think 4 or 5 may have been the intended final number, some customised for different functions) and work was started on the 2nd, but was cancelled when the Buran project wound up. There was talk of the airframe being completed due to considerable demand for the 225 already in service, but that seems to have been either stalled for years, or completely forgotten. The last I knew the unfinished frame was sitting in the open at an Antonov facility in Ukraine.

There was also rumours of the Buran project being brought back online, but its more wishful thinking than realistic prospect IMHO. The engineering and design assets (both human and mechanical) have been neglected too long, and the neither the practical capacity nor political will to rebuild it exists. I'd love to think it really could happen, as I think the design is good and has real potential, but no.

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I was at the MAKS airshow a few weeks back. It was my first trip to Russia. There were the usual MIG's including the 34, Antonov's & a massive helo. Plus both the 787 & 380, both flying However more interesting to me was Konkordski & even better. I took a picture of some random aircraft, away from public access. I looked down at the camera's LCD & noticed an odd 'shuttle' shaped object!

TU-160 and the TU-95 Bear are both amazing planes. :)

I've never had a chance to get to MAKS, but I'd love to see them "in the flesh" sometime

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There was also rumours of the Buran project being brought back online, but its more wishful thinking than realistic prospect IMHO. The engineering and design assets (both human and mechanical) have been neglected too long, and the neither the practical capacity nor political will to rebuild it exists. I'd love to think it really could happen, as I think the design is good and has real potential, but no.

I doubt it, not necessarily because of the manufacturing costs (even if all of the production and flight hardware had been completely destroyed, starting it up again would be vastly cheaper than designing a whole new project to fulfil a similar function due to the R&D costs alone. No, i doubt it because of Roscosmos's announcement that manned space flight was no longer a priority, however they would fulfil their duties at the ISS :)

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it does seem such a shame that all that time, money, equipment, scientific know-how and development was just abandoned and left to rot. I think its a sad that the Buran was destroyed in the hanger collapse but i think the real tragady is it never flew operational misson in the first place. it seems the project was stopped just at the point where all systems were in place.

When the ISS is decomissioned i wonder how the next generation of space station will be constructed without the large cargo bay of the shuttle.

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I must admit, I had not previously been aware that the launch vehicle was completely LIQUID fueled

and that a fully automated "mission" (landing!) had been accomplished? Makes y'think, though? :)

http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/middle/7/9/3/0961397.jpg

Comparing with the shuttle cockpit "virtual tour"... I'd rather give the Buran a go! :D

Edited by Macavity
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They had most of the active Russian types there, including the Bear. Pretty cool, but the big helo was massive. Please note my knowledge of aircraft is quite limited considering I work in the industry.

Big Helo is the MiL Mi-26.

(Sorry but I can be a bit of a nerd on this stuff, as I work in the industry too :):D)

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Without doubt that`s almost paradoxical for statistics: one orbiter and the one and only lucky flight in view of numerous American Space Shuttles. Russians lost their one "on the ground" that`s tragicomic and the circumstances indicates to human negligence. Although, nothing but the Buran Program was very good, spectacular and competitive idea not only for America.

Krys said:

"Pitchka" - Almost entirely completed, still at Baikonur.

"Птичка" (ptichka) is little bird or birdie (passing other denotations) but "pitchka" is similar to "P***y". :)

Edited by Pavel
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When the ISS is decomissioned i wonder how the next generation of space station will be constructed without the large cargo bay of the shuttle.

Hopefully with heavy lift vehicles. Very heavy :D

I mean, just look at Skylab. That thing was massive! On Saturn Vs we could have made the entire ISS in something like three launches.

I must admit, I had not previously been aware that the launch vehicle was completely LIQUID fueled

and that a fully automated "mission" (landing!) had been accomplished? Makes y'think, though? :)

http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/middle/7/9/3/0961397.jpg

Comparing with the shuttle cockpit "virtual tour"... I'd rather give the Buran a go! ;)

Ha, basic six, joystick, throttle and an MFD. What more do you need? :p

To be fair both of them would have been mostly automated, but still...

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I remember the launch being shown on the news,and talk about a few more on their way,but as above .. how sad it was to see it canceled,

But I though one was called "snow storm" ?

JJ..

"Buran" itself translates roughly as "snow storm". Not sure why the name was chosen, though.

As for Пти́чка (Ptichka), Pavel is right on the ball there :) Apologies for my bad notes, which I used when writing that up. They are now corrected!

Maybe it's fortunate that plane didn't fly... Just imagine the problems with western journalists, transliterations and dictionaries :)

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