Russian Buran Space Shuttle
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Not many know this but the Russians have a space shuttle themselves, it's name is Buran. The Russians watched the American space program and realized that they needed a space shuttle.
    As you can see it looks very much like the American shuttle and the Russians admit borrowing the blueprints, but the Buran ("snowstorm" in Russian) is not an exact copy.
    The Buran Spacecraft made one unmanned space flight on November 15, 1988. It was launched by the Engeria, which is the world's most powerful rocket. It returned to a runway landing in Russia. The flight was unmanned, controlled only by computers. With it's deteriorating economy, the Russians could not justify the expense of making the Buran shuttles operational, and the original and several uncompleted models today sit in storage.
    The Americans once thought of changing the length of the SRB's on the shuttle but found out that if they only lengthened them by 5 centimeters, the aerodynamics of the launch would change significantly and would result in a failure that would destroy the craft. So it is very unlikely that the Russians copied the American shuttle, they would have had to make their own simulations and wind tunnel tests to find a configuration that would work with their powerful rocket, the Energiya. Russian Buran Space Shuttle

     To transport Buran from the space center Baikonur to the launch pad they used rails with a powerful locomotive. Originally, they had planned to launch the shuttle only 3-4 times a year in addition to the 100 rocket launches usually made. Unlike the American shuttle the Buran was only going to be used for missions which could not be done by other craft. These missions included repair missions and return of old satellites which could not be done by the small Soyuz spacecraft, it was also going to be launched to dock with the current Mir station to deliver crew and supplies and bringing home scientific material.

NASA Space Shuttle & Buran/Energia Shuttle

     The Buran is not launched like the U.S. space shuttle. NASA uses 2 solid rocket boosters (SRB's) and 3 liquid engines fueled by an external tank filled with oxygen and hydrogen to boost it into orbit. The Russians on the other hand uses just one giant rocket, in fact it is the largest and most powerful rocket in the world. It's name is Energiya, it can lift 100 tons. It stands 60 meters high and produces a thrust of 4000 tons. With the shuttle Buran attached it can still lift 30 tons, this is 5 tons more than the shuttle can with it's 25 tons.

     Buran is/was more expensive to launch because the engines on the Energiya rocket burn up in the atmosphere and are not reused like the American SRB's and 3 liquid engines mounted on the shuttle. Unlike the American shuttle, Buran does not help to boost itself into orbit, Energiya does all the work. The rocket is currently not in use because all of the satellites launched are relatively small and only require a small rocket like a Proton to boost into orbit. When the Russian space program was still going strong they had planned to use the Energia to boost a new space station into orbit (Mir2) consisting of several modules each weighing 100 tons. The current  Mir only consists of modules weighing 20 tons and the ISS will also consist of modules weighing 20 tons because that is the maximum weight the Proton rocket can carry and the shuttle can launch when it has to reach the inclination and height of the new station.

Below are diagrams & blueprints for the Buran
Click Here for our Buran Space Shuttle Blueprints Click Here for our Buran Space Shuttle Blueprints

     Transporting people to the new Russian station was also going to be made by Buran with the Soyuz only acting as a rescue vehicle but as you probably have noticed those plans were scraped because of the lack of funds.

HighTechScience.org has been fortunate enough to actually acquire several pieces from the Buran Spacecraft.
 
Click on the links below for information & pictures on our Buran Items.

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in our collection.
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