Encyclopedia Astronautica
Buran



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Buran on Pad
Buran on Pad - 340 pixel width
Credit: Dr.Vadim P.Lukashevich
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Buran configurations
Aerodynamic configurations of Buran tested during development.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran configurations
Configurations of Buran launch vehicle tested during development.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Anechoic chamber
The anechoic chamber where Buran was given antenna tests. It also shielded certain activities from US ELINT spacecraft.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran subscale model
Buran subscale test article.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran nose test
Buran nose assembly in static test
Credit: from Semenov, et. al., Buran, 1995.
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Buran subscale model
Buran subscale dynamic test article in test stand.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran wind tunnel
Buran wind tunnel model for testing strap on separation.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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TPVK-1 test chamber
TPVK-1 Vacuum/insolation chamber used for full-scale tests on Buran
Credit: from Semenov, et. al., Buran, 1995.
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Buran static article
Converted Buran static article now a ride in Gorky Park
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran on 4MT
Buran transported on 4MT aircraft
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Space - Earth!
Space - Earth! First space tourism flight! Poster for Buran ride in Gorky Park.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran control panel
Control panel of Aero-Buran jet-powered approach and landing test version of Buran. First Aero-Buran analogue rolled out in 1984. This Aero-Buran was worn out and would not be used again after 24 flights to April 1988.
Credit: RKK Energia
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Buran docks to Mir
As it was supposed to be - Buran docking with Mir space station.
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Buran Atop Mriya
Buran atop its An-225 Mriya carrier, as displayed at the Paris Air show shortly after its spaceflight.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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An-225 / Buran
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Buran payload car
Rail transport car for Buran payloads.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran in storage
Buran in storage at Baikonur.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran prep area
Buran final preparation area before integration with Energia launch vehicle.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran safing area
Buran safing area with LC 1 launch pad in the distance.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran artilce
Buran handling article deteriorates in safing area.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran rollout - fwd
Buran rollout - forward view of launch vehicle on transporter.
Credit: from Semenov, et. al., Buran, 1995.
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Buran rollout - aft
Buran rollout - aft view of launch vehicle on transporter.
Credit: from Semenov, et. al., Buran, 1995.
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Buran erected on pad
Buran rollout - erection of launch vehicle on pad
Credit: from Semenov, et. al., Buran, 1995.
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Buran on pad
Buran on pad - 800 pixel width
Credit: Dr.Vadim P.Lukashevich
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Buran liftoff
Credit: Dr.Vadim P.Lukashevich
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Buran CRT - 100-20km
Buran cockpit re-entry/landing display, from 100 km to 20 km altitude: 1 - Actual and commanded velocity angle; 2 - Actual and required velocity angle; 3, 10 - Angle of attack and distance-to go; maximum, actual, and nominal values; 4 - Velocity and Mach Number; 5, 13 - Nominal and maximum spacecraft position, based on temperature and structural limits; 6 - Course setting; 7 - Commanded and actual angle of attack; 8 - Altitude; 9- Fuel quantity; 11 - Bank angle; 12 - Distance to landing field; 14 - Nominal and actual position of spacecraft
Credit: from Semenov, et. al., Buran, 1995.
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Buran CRT - 20-4 km
Buran cockpit landing display, from 20 km to 4 km altitude: 1 - Angle of attack; 2, 12 - Indicated air speed and altitude remaining, with maximum actual, and nominal values; 3 - Tangency angle to landing circle; 4,5 - Indicated airspeed and Mach Number; 6 - Estimated and guaranteed angle of attack; 7- Track angle; 8 - Position of airfield; 9 - Position of landing circle; 10 - Actual bank angle; 11 - Altitude; 13 - Predicted trajectory; 14 - Bank angle; 15 - X co-ordinate; 16 - Spacecraft position; 17 - Predicted trajectory; 18 - Lateral deviation from runway centreline; 19 - Angle for maximum aerodynamic braking
Credit: from Semenov, et. al., Buran, 1995.
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Buran CRT - final
Buran cockpit final approach display, from 20 km altitude to touchdown: 1 - Angle of attack; 2 - Angle for maximum aerodynamic braking; 3 - Indicated air speed; 4 - Tangency angle; 5 - Indicated air speed; 6 - Lateral deviation from runway centreline; 7 - Lateral deviation from runway centreline; 8 - Runway symbol; 9, 10 - Predicted and nominal runway touchdown point; 11,12 - Bank angle; 13 - Altitude; 14 - Vertical velocity; 15 - Bank angle; 16 - Spacecraft course; 17 - X co-ordinate; 18 - Overground orientation (minimum/maximum control surface deviation); 19 - Lateral deviation from runway centreline
Credit: from Semenov, et. al., Buran, 1995.
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Buran LV
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran / Energia LV
Buran / Energia launch vehicle - 3 view
Credit: Dr.Vadim P.Lukashevich
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Bottom of Buran
Bottom of Buran, showing how thermal tiles were placed.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran at Baikonur 3
View of tail section of Buran at the MIK in Baikonur.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran main engine
Credit: from Semenov, et. al., Buran, 1995.
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Buran RCS
Buran orientation engine
Credit: from Semenov, et. al., Buran, 1995.
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Buran ODU
Buran ODU engine system diagram
Credit: from Semenov, et. al., Buran, 1995.
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Buran Back Side
Close-up of Buran tail area, as displayed at the Paris Air show shortly after its spaceflight.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran Engines
Buran Detail of Engines
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Buran propulsion
Buran propulsion system diagram
Credit: from Semenov, et. al., Buran, 1995.
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Buran model with Mir
Buran model with Mir station core as payload
Credit: © Mark Wade
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37KB
37KB instrumentation payload carried aboard first Buran flight. This module is closely related to the Kvant module on Mir and a similar x-ray astronomy module that Buran would have flown to Mir if it had not been cancelled.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Advanced Reconnsat
Advanced Buran-serviced pallet-based reconnaissance platform designed by Kozlov OKB.
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Buran on approach
Buran on landing glide slope as viewed from MiG-25
Credit: RKK Energia
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Soviet Orbiters
Soviet Spaceplanes: from left: Spiral, Uragan, Buran, MAKS
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Buran drag chute
Buran drag chute deployment on landing.
Credit: RKK Energia
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Buran engineers
Buran engineers discuss cutaway
Credit: RKK Energia
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Buran at Korolev
Credit: RKK Energia
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Buran model test
Test of Buran-Energia subscale model
Credit: RKK Energia
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Buran touchdown
Credit: RKK Energia
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Buran landing
Credit: RKK Energia
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Buran Liftoff
Lift-off of Buran
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Buran LV
Buran-Energia launch vehicle 3 view
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Buran Structure Aft
Interior structure of Buran at Gorkiy Park, looking aft
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler
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Buran Structure Fwd
Interior structure of Buran at Gorkiy Park, looking forward
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler
Russian manned spaceplane. One launch, 1988.11.15. Soviet copy of the US Space Shuttle. Unlike the Shuttle, the main engines were not mounted on Buran and were not reused.

Representing a huge leap in Soviet space technology and project management - it involved the work of 1206 subcontractors and 100 government ministries. Buran flew only once in 1988. The cost of Buran - 14.5 billion rubles, a significant part of the effort to maintain strategic and technical parity with the United States - contributed to the collapse of the Soviet system and the demise of the spacecraft.

In June 1974 a decision was made to start work on an Reusable Space System (MKS) and in October 1974 NPO Energia was given responsibility for the project. The target payload at that time was 80 metric tons. The Energia-Buran Reusable Space System (MKS) had its origins in NPO Energia studies of 1974 to 1975 for a 'Space Rocket Complex Program'. In 1974 the N1-L3 heavy lunar launch vehicle project was cancelled and Glushko was appointed chief designer of the new NPO Energia enterprise, replacing Mishin as the head of the former OKB-1. At the same time in the United States development work was underway on the space shuttle. The US Defense Department planned to use the shuttle for a range of military missions. The Soviet leadership, seeking strategic parity, wished development in the Soviet Union of a reusable manned spacecraft with analogous tactical-technical characteristics. The success of Apollo and the failure of the N1-L3 program pointed to serious deficiencies in the technology base of the Soviet Union. The time-honored Soviet method of rectifying such situations was to copy the foreign technology.

To reduce development cost and risk, NASA and USAF shuttle trade studies had settled on a partially reusable design. While the solid propellant booster rockets were recovered, the cryogenic main propellant tank of the shuttle core was expendable. The main engines and guidance system were recovered with the orbiter.

The American shuttle design was studied intensively by Russian rocket scientists, but important aspects of it were rejected based on Soviet engineering analysis and technology:

The Soviet Union at this point had no experience in production of large solid rocket motors, especially segmented solid rocket motors of the type used on the shuttle. Glushko favored a launch vehicle with parallel liquid propellant boosters. These would use a 700 metric ton thrust four-chamber Lox/Kerosene engine already under development.

The high chamber pressure, closed-cycle, reusable 230 metric ton thrust Lox/LH2 main engine being developed for the shuttle was well outside engineering experience in the Soviet Union. No engine using these cryogenic propellants had ever been used in Russian rockets, and the largest such engine under development was the 40 metric ton thrust 11D57. Glushko believed that while a Soviet cryogenic engine of 200 metric tons thrust could be developed in the required time, to develop a reusable engine would be impossible due to limited experience with the propellants.

This conclusion led to other important design decisions. If only expendable engines were to be used, there was no need to house them in the re-entry vehicle for recovery. This meant that the orbiter itself could be moved from the lateral mounting of the space shuttle to an on-axis position at the top of the rocket core. The result was the Vulkan - a classic Soviet launch vehicle design: booster stages arranged around a core vehicle, with the payload mounted on top. The elimination of the lateral loads resulted in a lighter booster, and one that was much more flexible. The vehicle could be customized for a wide range of payloads by the use of from two to eight booster stages around a core equipped with from one to four modular main engines. Either a payload container for heavy payloads (Glushko's LEK lunar base) or the military's required spaceplane could be placed on the nose as the payload.

As far as the manned orbital vehicle itself, three different primary configurations were studied extensively, as well as a range of more radical proposals. The obvious choice was a straight aerodynamic copy of the US shuttle. The shuttle's form had been selected by NASA and the US Air Force only after painstaking iterative analysis of over 64 alternate configurations from 1968 to 1972. It would obviously benefit the Soviet engineers to take advantage of this tremendous amount of work.

However the NPO Energia specialists who had developed the Soyuz capsule disapproved of the winged US shuttle design. They knew from the extensive aerodynamic studies undertaken to develop Soyuz that there were large weight penalties and thermal control problems in any winged design. Their studies indicated that a lifting body shape capable of high angles of bank at hypersonic speed could nearly match winged designs in cross range. Therefore their preferred 1974 design was an unwinged spacecraft, consisting of a crew cabin in the forward conical section, a cylindrical payload section, and a final cylindrical section with the engines for maneuvering in orbit. This unwinged MTKVA would glide to the landing zone at low subsonic speed. The final landing maneuver would use parachutes for initial braking, followed by a soft vertical landing on skid gear using retrorockets. After a great deal of detailed analysis the definitive MTKVA design proposed in May 1976 had a refined aerodynamic shape with a rounded triangular cross section. The 200 metric ton vehicle had over twice the shuttle's mass and nearly three times the shuttle's payload.

The third configuration was a smaller spaceplane launched by a Proton-class booster. OKB MiG had been developing the Spiral lifting body spaceplane since 1965, but the project was underfunded and years behind schedule. Spiral was an ambitious concept that was to be launched by a hypersonic air breathing first stage. But the spaceplane itself had been refined in form as a result of years of analysis, wind tunnel, and sub-orbital sub-scale model tests. Chelomei's OKB, whose Raketoplan spaceplane had been cancelled in 1965 in preference to Spiral, also had a contender, the LKS. Evidently owing nothing to earlier Raketoplan designs, this used a shuttle-type wing on a smaller 20 metric ton spacecraft.

The government decree 132-51 authorizing development of the Energia-Buran system was issued on 12 February 1976 with the title 'On development of an MKS (reusable space system) consisting of rocket stages, orbiter aircraft, inter-orbital tug, guidance systems, launch and landing facilities, assembly and repair facilities, and other associated facilities, with the objective of placing in a 200 km Northeast orbit a payload of 30 metric tons and returning a payload of 20 metric tons'. The Ministry of Defense was named the Program Manager, with NPO Energia as the prime contractor. The official military specification (TTZ) was issued at the same time with the code name Buran. A declaration of the Presidium on 18 December 1976 directed co-operation between all concerned user, research, and factory organizations in realizing the project. Chief Constructor within NPO Energia was I N Sadovskiy. Chief Designer for the launch vehicle was Y P Kolyako and for the orbiter P V Tsybin. NPO Yuzhnoye in the Ukraine would build the booster rockets. While NPO Energia would build the booster engines, the core Lox/LH2 engines would be built by Kosberg. Chelomei and MiG were to continue, at a modest level, design and test of their LKS and Spiral smaller spaceplanes as backups.

The specification of the TTZ set forth payload requirements a bit greater than those set for the US shuttle. It required that the OK orbiter be accomplish the following:

  • Denial of the use of space for military purposes by the enemy

  • Research into questions of interest to the military, science, and the national economy

  • Applied military research and experiments using large space complexes

  • Delivery to orbit and return to earth of spacecraft, cosmonauts, and supplies

  • Delivery of 30 metric ton payload to a 200 km, 50.7 degree inclination orbit, followed by seven days of orbital operations and return of 20 metric tons of payload to earth.

  • Exploit the technology developed for the American space shuttle in order to enhance Soviet space technology capability

The MTKVA and Vulkan were used as a starting point, but modified to meet this requirement. Study of the competing designs indicated that despite the evident advantages of the MTKVA approach, there were serious technical and operational problems with that design. There was considerable technical risk in realizing the vertical landing itself - and considerable operational risk in completing the fast and complex series of operations necessary to achieve the landing. There were also problems in ground handling - how to move the vehicle after it had landed, especially if this occurred outside of the normal landing zone. The final analysis of the problems indicated that the rational solution was an orbiter of the aircraft type. There was severe criticism of the decision to copy the space shuttle configuration. But earlier studies had considered numerous types of aircraft layouts, vertical takeoff designs, and ground- and sea- launched variants. The NPO Energia engineers could not find any configuration that was objectively better. This only validated the tremendous amount of work done in the US in refining the design. There was no point in picking a different inferior solution just because it was original.

Therefore a straight aerodynamic copy of the US space shuttle, was selected as the orbiter configuration on 11 June 1976. MiG was selected as subcontractor to build the orbiter. For this purpose MiG spun off a new design bureau, Molniya, with G E Lozino-Lozinskiy as chief designer. Wind tunnel tests were conducted on a wide range of possible arrangements of rocket stages and orbiter positions. In the end, Buran was moved to the lateral position, as with the US space shuttle. The main engines, for the reasons given earlier, remained in the core vehicle. The liquid boosters were retained, but reduced to four in number. After being re-stressed for the lateral launch loads, the resulting Energia launch vehicle had half the lift-off mass and payload of the Vulkan. This was sufficient to carry the Buran with its required internal payload of 30 metric tons.

The MKS draft project was completed on 12 December 1976. The military assigned the system the index number 1K11K25 and the launch vehicle the article number 11K25. The draft project was reviewed by the expert commission in July 1977, leading to a government decree 1006-323 of 21 November 1977 setting out the development plan. The technical project was completed in May 1978. The flight test plan at the beginning of the project foresaw first launch of the booster in 1983, with the payload being an unmanned OK-ML-1 mock-up of the orbiter. This would not have a heat shield and remain attached to the booster. A second mock-up, OK-ML-2, would be used on the second launch, but be separated from the vehicle after burnout. However it would also be without heat shield, and be expended. The first flight Buran was to fly unpiloted in 1984. Manned flights were to be routine by the 1987 seventieth anniversary of the Soviet Union.

The approved launch vehicle layout consisted of the core Block Ts stage, surrounded by 4 Block A liquid propellant boosters and the Buran orbiter or a payload canister. During assembly, transport, and on the pad these were attached to a Block Ya launch services module, which provided all pneumatic, electrical, hydraulic, and other services to the vehicle prior to launch.

The modular Energia design could be used for payloads of from 10 to 200 metric tons using various combinations of booster stages, numbers of modular main engines in the core stage, and upper stages. The version with two booster stages was code-named Groza; with four booster stages, Buran; and the six-booster stage version retained the Vulkan name. The 7.7 meter diameter of the core was determined by the maximum size that could be handled by existing stage handling equipment developed for the N1 program. The 3.9 meter diameter of the booster stages was dictated by the maximum size for rail transport from the Ukraine.

Propellant selection was a big controversy. Use of solid propellants in the booster stages, as used in the space shuttle, was considered again. But Soviet production of solid fuel motors had been limited to small unitary motors for ICBM's and SLBM's. There was no technological base for production of segmented solid fuel motors, and transport of the motor sections also presented problems. The final decision was to use the familiar Lox/Kerosene liquid propellants for the boosters. In the 1960's Glushko had favored use of toxic but storable chemical propellants in launch vehicles and had fought bitterly against Korolev over the issue. It was surprising that he now accepted use of Lox/Kerosene. But Korolev was dead, and the N1 a failure. Glushko's position had been vindicated, perhaps he now had to agree objectively that use of the expensive and toxic propellants in a launch vehicle of this size was not rational.

Another factor may have been that the propellants of the core were going to be cryogenic anyway. Lox/Kerosene propellants for the core were considered, but a primary objective of the project was to seek technological parity with the United States by exploiting technologies developed there. Chief among these in the field of liquid fuel rocketry was the use of Lox/LH2 propellants. Therefore the engines of the core were based on the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) of the USA, with the same thrust rating and specific impulse specifications.

Although the SSME may have been the starting point, Soviet engine technology led that of the United States in many other detailed points of liquid rocket design. By the mid-1960's the USA had practically abandoned development of liquid fuel engines, with the sole exception of the SSME. The US military preferred to use solid rocket motors for missile and booster stage applications. Russian rocket engineers had spent their entire lives perfecting military liquid fuel rockets and had never favored solid fuel. Therefore Russian Liquid Oxygen/Kerosene and N2O4/UDMH engines were of much higher performance than those in the US. The contribution of unique Soviet technology and the inevitable changes that occurred during development resulted in the MKS RD-0120 main engine being different in detail from the SSME while retaining the same performance.

Drawing on this blend of mature American technology and Soviet innovation, the RD-0120 had a relatively trouble-free development program. The final engine represented for the Soviet Union new technical solutions in engine reliability, control, throttleability, and performance. These were the first fully throttleable Soviet engines, and their first production Lox/LH2 engines.

By contrast the RD-170 engine for the booster stage was a purely Soviet design and experienced a slow and difficult development program. These were exactly the kind of closed-cycle liquid oxygen/kerosene engines that Glushko had opposed developing in the 1960's. In addition the TTZ required that they be reusable for ten missions. Glushko fell back on his old solution when being unable to handle combustion stability problems: an engine unit consisting of four chambers fed by common turbopumps. Providing adequate wall cooling for the high temperature / high pressure combustion chambers seemed at times insoluble. One problem followed another and finally the RD-170 became the pacing item, with rocket stages completed but lacking engines. As costs reached the project ceiling, Glushko and Minister Afanasyev had to escalate the fight to the highest levels of the Soviet leadership. But Glushko defended his people, retained his job, and the problems were eventually solved.

The Block A 11S25 booster stages were the responsibility of KB Yuzhnoye in the Ukraine, F Utkin, General Constructor. They were to be reused ten times, and were therefore fitted with parachute containers. Solid fuel soft landing rockets in the parachute lines provided a soft landing downrange. It's not clear how the 35 metric ton boosters were to be transported back to base for reuse.

In 1979 the EUK13 dimensional model of the launch vehicle was delivered to Baikonur for handling demonstrations and production of tooling. Continued development problems with the booster rockets led to a management shake-up at Yuzhnoye in January 1982. By this time the project was several years behind schedule. The originally planned first flight in 1983 was obviously unattainable. Also in 1982 the 3M-T transport aircraft was completed and began delivery of central block propellant tanks and structural elements for construction of a realistic mock-up of the booster. The 3M-T was a heavily modified M-4 bomber, and was limited to 50 metric tons loads carried on the top of the fuselage. By December 1982 the 4M Energia mock-up was completed, leading to dynamic/vertical/load tests in May-October 1983. The 4M was then returned to the shop for fitting of complete functional propellant systems.

The OK-KS Buran systems test stand was built at NPO Energia to conduct tests not possible on other stands. These included electrical layout, pneumo-hydraulic tests in abort conditions, EMI tests, failure mode response, telemetry, interface with the launch vehicle, software systems test. The test stand was completed in August 1983 and the test series was completed in March 1984. 77% of the tests of the OK were automated, compared with only 5% for the Soyuz-TM.

The 50 metric ton payload limitation of the 3M-T transport meant that the Buran orbiters had to be delivered in a severely incomplete and stripped-down condition to the cosmodrome. They were delivered without orbital systems, engine section, crew cabin, vertical stabilizer, landing gear, and with only 70% of the heat shield tiles. This meant that complex final assembly operations had to conducted at the MIK-OK at Baikonur. The OK-ML-1 orbiter mock-up arrived atop the 3M-T at Baikonur in December 1983 (This action seems to have been in the fine Soviet tradition of individual enterprises proving they have met the plan, even if the method of doing it was useless. OK-ML-1 was to have been used in the first launch of the Energia, by the end of 1983. By delivering it to Baikonur by December 31, the spacecraft builders could claim, "well, we met OUR part of the plan..."). OK-ML-1 was used for handling and pad compatibility tests. It was followed by the OK-MT in August 1984. This functional mock-up was used for systems integration tests, and was to be expended on the second test flight.

From March-October 1985 the Ts core stage was back on the UKSS for cold flow tests. A total of nine cryogenic fuelling cycle were completed with the 4M Energia mock-up, representing the first operational use in the world of super-chilled hydrogen.

The OK-GLI Buran analogue flight vehicle, for horizontal subsonic approach and landing tests, was delivered to Zhukovskiy test flight centre near Moscow, followed by its first flight with Cosmonaut Igor Volk at the controls on 10 November 1985. Two flying labs, based on Tu-154 transports, were used to prior to this to duplicate anticipated Buran handling and test systems software. They conducted 140 flights before Buran's first flight, including 69 automatic landings at Zhukovskiy and at the Jubilee airfield at Baikonur.

In December 1985 the wings of the first flight OK arrived at Baikonur. This was followed by what was to be the first 20 second Energia main engine firing test. This was terminated at 2.58 seconds when the automatic control system detected a slow spool up of an engine turbine. In a the first attempt at a full-duration test helium leaks contaminated electro-hydraulic systems, leading to a situation where the tanks could not be drained. An engineering brigade had to work on the fuelled booster for 55 minutes, attach another helium tank, which led to successful de-fuelling of the vehicle. The second engine test was a complete success, the engine running for 390 seconds. This test required the entire city of Leninsk to be without water for ten days in order to accumulate enough water for the UKSS cooling system.

By January 1986 it was clear that the project, now three years behind schedule, had no prospect of completion due to problems in obtaining deliveries of equipment for Buran, numerous problems in assembling the orbiters and lack of manpower at Baikonur, and a general loss of management focus. Minister O D Bakhnov called large group of industry leaders to the cosmodrome to review measures to concentrate and accelerate the remaining work. Three 'Tiger Teams' were set up. The first, led by Semenov, was to finish the flight Buran orbiter and associated facilities in time for a third quarter 1987 launch. The second, led by B I Gubanov, was to finish the Energia launch vehicle and fly it, without the Buran mock-ups if necessary, at the earliest possible date. The third group, led by S S Banin, was to complete the assembly and launch facilities.

These groups were given unlimited authority to obtain necessary resources to complete their missions. As was usual on crash programs, working in parallel meant that there was some duplication of effort and some work had to be repeated to take into account changes made by the other groups. But the results were immediate. Facility 211 at Baikonur alone increased from 60 to 1800 staff by March 1986.

The first Buran payload, 37KB module s/n 37070, arrived in Baikonur in February 1986. The 37KB modules, similar to the Kvant module of the Mir space station, were to be standard on the early Buran flights. 37KB-37070 itself primarily contained instrumentation to measure the performance of the orbiter and its structure on its first flight.

As with the American shuttle, tile installation was a big problem. However once adequate manpower was provided the work was completed in three months. Electrical tests of the Buran flight vehicle began in May 1986. Tests of the orbiter's ODU engine unit uncovered an apparent defect in gaseous oxygen valves of the reaction control system. Although it threatened to delay flight of the Buran, it was eventually discovered to be a software problem and remedied within days.

In August-September 1986 further UKSS tests of Energia were conducted in preparation of a test launch without Buran. These were conducted using a dummy payload and solid rocket motors to simulate loads from the booster rockets. Following this vehicle 6SL was selected for the first actual launch. The launch vehicle used by itself without Buran was named Energia by Glushko only just before the launch. Energia was to deliver the military Skif-DM Polyus battle station into orbit. This was to be followed by ten flights of Energia-Buran, only the first of which was to be unpiloted.

Due to delays in completion of the enormous static test facility at Baikonur, which could test the entire Energia vehicle stack, it was decided to launch the vehicle without the verification the tests would provide. The launch of 6SL was planned for 11 May 1987 at 21:30 Moscow time. It was delayed five hours when a leak was detected in the Block 3A electrical distribution section, then by another hour due to a fault LH2 thermostat. The launch vehicle performed successfully, but the payload failed to inject itself into orbit due to a guidance system failure.

With the launch vehicle finally proven, the focus moved to clearing Buran for flight. Two variants of the first unmanned mission were considered: a three day flight, or a two orbit flight. The three day flight would represent a complete shakedown of the orbiter's systems, but would require that most of the orbiter's systems be completed and certified for flight. The two orbit flight could be done without fuel cells, opening the payload bay doors, deploying the radiators, etc. It could be accomplished earlier and would prove the essential automated launch, orbital maneuver, and landing systems.

While this debate was underway a collective letter was sent to the Soviet government by workers on the project, including the cosmonauts Volk and Leonov. This letter argued that the first flight should be piloted, as was the American space shuttle. In order to resolve the issue, a special commission was appointed to study the alternatives. The commission decided in favor of the two orbit automated flight.

Buran was first moved to the launch pad on 23 October 1988. The launch commission met on 26 October 1988 and set 29 October 06:23 Moscow time for the first flight of the first Buran orbiter (Flight 1K1). 51 seconds before the launch, when control of the countdown switched to automated systems, a software problem led the computer program to abort the lift-off. The problem was found to be due to late separation of a gyro update umbilical. The software problem was rectified and the next attempt was set for 15 November at 06:00 (03:00 GMT). Came the morning, the weather was snow flurries with 20 m/s winds. Launch abort criteria were 15 m/s. The launch director decided to press ahead anyway. After 12 years of development everything went perfectly. Buran, with a mass of 79.4 metric tons, separated from the Block Ts core and entered a temporary orbit with a perigee of -11.2 km and apogee of 154.2 km. At apogee Burn executed a 66.6 m/s maneuver and entered a 251 km x 263 km orbit of the earth. In the payload bay was the 7150 kg module 37KB s/n 37071. 140 minutes into the flight retrofire was accomplished with a total delta-v of 175 m/s. 206 minutes after launch, accompanied by Igor Volk in a MiG-25 chase plane, Buran touched down at 260 km/hr in a 17 m/s crosswind at the Jubilee runway, with a 1620 m landing rollout. The completely automatic launch, orbital maneuver, deorbit, and precision landing of an airliner-sized spaceplane on its very first flight was an unprecedented accomplishment of which the Soviets were justifiably proud. It completely vindicated the years of exhaustive ground and flight test that had debugged the systems before they flew.

But this triumph was also the last hurrah. Buran would never fly again. The Soviet Union was crumbling, and the ambitious plans to use Buran to build an orbiting defense shield, to renew the ozone layer, dispose of nuclear waste, illuminate polar cities, colonize the moon and Mars, were not to be. Although never officially cancelled, funding dried up and completely disappeared from the government's budget after 1993.

Originally three flight orbiters were to be built, but this was increased to 5 in 1983. Structurally the first three orbiters were essentially completed, while the extra two remained unbuilt except for the engine units The final Buran test flight plan at the beginning of 1989 was as follows:

  • Flight 2 (2K1) - fourth quarter 1991 - first flight of second orbiter, one to two days unmanned, with 37KB s/n 37071.

  • Flight 3 (2K2) - first or second quarter 1992 - second orbiter, seven to eight day unmanned flight with payload 37KB s/n 37271. The orbiter would open the payload bay doors, operate the manipulator arm, dock with Mir, and return to earth.

  • Flight 4 (1K2) - 1993 - unmanned, second flight of first orbiter, 15-20 days with 37KB s/n 37270

  • Flight 5 (3K1) - 1994 or 1995 - first flight of third orbiter. First manned flight; the third orbiter was the first outfitted with life support systems and ejection seats. Two cosmonauts would deliver the 37KBI module to Mir, using the Buran manipulator arm to dock it to the station's Kristal module.

Development of the launch vehicle cost 1.3 billion rubles, with an estimated total economic effect of 6 billion rubles. Total cost of the Energia-Buran project was put at 14,5 billion rubles. It involved the work of 1206 subcontractors and 100 government ministries. The cost of Buran - a significant part of the effort to maintain strategic and technical parity with the United States - contributed to the collapse of the Soviet system and its own demise. Today the flight orbiters sit in their assembly halls in Baikonur, covered in dust. The Energia core stages sit in the MIK assembly hall, immense exhibits. The booster stages are in forlorn rows, their engines stripped for more lucrative use on Zenit and Atlas boosters launched by American companies. The orbiter mock-up stands in the safing area, quietly crumbling in the desert. The apartment buildings are vacant. The rest is silence.

Buran Technical Description

Although of the same aerodynamic shape and size as the shuttle, Buran differs in detail. The following compares the two spaceplanes (Shuttle/Buran):

Mass Breakdown (kg):

  • Total Structure / Landing Systems: 46,600 / 42,000
  • Functional Systems and Propulsion: 37,200 / 33,000
  • SSME: 14,200 / None on Buran
  • Maximum Payload: 25,000 / 30,000
  • Total Mass: 123,000 / 105,000
Dimensions (m):
  • Length: 37.25 / 36.37
  • Wingspan: 23.80 / 23.92
  • Height on Gear: 17.25 / 16.35
  • Payload bay length: 18.29 / 18.55
  • Payload bay diameter: 4.57 / 4.65
  • Wing glove sweep: 81 deg / 78 deg
  • Wing sweep: 45 deg / 45 deg
Propulsion:
  • Total orbital maneuvering engine thrust: 5,440 kgf / 17,600 kgf
  • Orbital Maneuvering Engine Specific Impulse: 313 sec / 362 sec
Other Buran specifications were: Crew Size: 10. Orbital Storage: 30 days. Habitable Volume: 73.00 m3. RCS total impulse: 49,000 kgf-sec. Spacecraft delta v: 500 m/s (1,640 ft/sec). Electric System: 30.00 average kW.

AKA: 11F35.
Gross mass: 105,000 kg (231,000 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 90,400 kg (199,200 lb).
Payload: 30,000 kg (66,000 lb).
Height: 36.37 m (119.32 ft).
Span: 23.92 m (78.47 ft).
Thrust: 172.50 kN (38,780 lbf).
Specific impulse: 362 s.
First Launch: 1988.11.15.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • 17D12 Korolev Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 86.3 kN. Out of Production. Isp=362s. Version of RD-58 for Buran orbital propulsion system 17D11. Used synthetic kerosene ('Sintin') for higher specific impulse. More...

See also
  • Energia The Energia-Buran Reusable Space System (MKS) began development in 1976 as a Soviet booster that would exceed the capabilities of the US shuttle system. Following extended development, Energia made two successful flights in 1987-1988. But the Soviet Union was crumbling, and the ambitious plans to build an orbiting defense shield, to renew the ozone layer, dispose of nuclear waste, illuminate polar cities, colonize the moon and Mars, were not to be. Funding dried up and the Energia-Buran program completely disappeared from the government's budget after 1993. More...
  • Russian Rocketplanes The story of rocketplanes and spaceplanes in the Soviet Union was one of constant setbacks due to internal politics, constant struggle with little result. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • MAKS Russian air-launched winged orbital launch vehicle. The MAKS spaceplane was the ultimate development of the air-launched spaceplane studies conducted by NPO Molniya. The draft project for MAKS was completed in 1988 and consisted of 220 volumes, generated by NPO Molniya and 70 sub-contractors and government institutes. Development of MAKS was authorised but cancelled in 1991. At the time of the cancellation, mock-ups of both the MAKS orbiter and the external tank had been finished. A 9,000 kgf experimental engine with 19 injectors was tested. There were 50 test burns proving the separate modes and a smooth switch between them. Since it was expected that MAKS could reduce the cost of transport to earth orbit by a factor of ten, it was hoped in the 1990's that development funding could be found. However this did not materialise. MAKS was to have flown by 1998. More...
  • Energia The Energia-Buran Reusable Space System (MKS) began development in 1976 as a Soviet booster that would exceed the capabilities of the US shuttle system. Following extended development, Energia made two successful flights in 1987-1988. But the Soviet Union was crumbling, and the ambitious plans to build an orbiting defense shield, to renew the ozone layer, dispose of nuclear waste, illuminate polar cities, colonize the moon and Mars, were not to be. Funding dried up and the Energia-Buran program completely disappeared from the government's budget after 1993. More...
  • Energia/Buran Design version of Energia, with the reusable Buran manned spaceplane mounted to the side of the core. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Korolev Russian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Korolev Design Bureau, Kaliningrad, Russia. More...

Associated Programs
  • Buran The Energia-Buran Reusable Space System (MKS) had its origins in NPO Energia studies of 1974 to 1975 for a 'Space Rocket Complex Program'. More...

Associated Propellants
  • Lox/Sintin Liquid oxygen was the earliest, cheapest, safest, and eventually the preferred oxidiser for large space launchers. Its main drawback is that it is moderately cryogenic, and therefore not suitable for military uses where storage of the fuelled missile and quick launch are required. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Matthews, Henry, The Secret Story of the Soviet Space Shuttle, X-Planes Book 1, Beirut, Lebanon, 1994.
  • Pesavento, Peter, "Russian Space Shuttle Projects 1957-1994", Spaceflight, 1995, Volume 37, page 226.
  • Semenov, Yu. P., S P Korolev Space Corporation Energia, RKK Energia, 1994.
  • Gatland, Kenneth W, "A Soviet Space Shuttle?", Spaceflight, 1978, Volume 20, page 322.
  • Semenov, Yu P, Lozino-Lozinsky, et. al., Mnogorazoviy orbitalniy korabl 'Buran', Mashinostroenne, Moscow, 1995.
  • Borisov, A, "'Buran' - polyot v nikuda?", Novosti kosmonavtiki, 1998, Issue 23/24, page 68..
  • Chertok, Boris Yevseyevich, Raketi i lyudi, Mashinostroenie, Moscow, 1994-1999.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Cassutt, Michael, Who's Who in Space, Macmillan, New York, 1993.
  • Siddiqi, Asif A, The Soviet Space Race With Apollo, University Press of Florida, 2003.
  • NASA Report, Soviet Reusable Space Systems Program: Implications for Space Operations in the 1990s, Intelligence Assessment, September 1988 , Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Baikonur Russia's largest cosmodrome, the only one used for manned launches and with facilities for the larger Proton, N1, and Energia launch vehicles. The spaceport ended up on foreign soil after the break-up of Soviet Union. The official designations NIIP-5 and GIK-5 are used in official Soviet histories. It was also universally referred to as Tyuratam by both Soviet military staff and engineers, and the US intelligence agencies. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union the Russian Federation has insisted on continued use of the old Soviet 'public' name of Baikonur. In its Kazakh (Kazak) version this is rendered Baykonur. More...

Buran Chronology


1971 December 1 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Study of reusable space shuttle authorised. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 'On Carrying out Work on Reusable Space Systems-response to NASA's Space Shuttle' was issued..

1974 August 1 - . LV Family: Energia; RLA.
  • New heavy-lift vehicle - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Mishin; Glushko; Ustinov; Keldysh; Brezhnev. Spacecraft: Buran. Glushko's first action was to implement a decision of the leadership to develop a completely new heavy-lift launch vehicle. This work started in 1974, with a planned first flight in 1984, at a total estimated cost of 5 to 6 billion roubles. One factor in the decision was the fact that Keldysh was greatly disturbed by the manoeuvrability of the space shuttle. He talked the matter up until he managed to get Ustinov and Brezhnev worked as well. He told them a US shuttle could manoeuvre around Soviet PVO and PKO anti-missile and satellite defences and deliver a 25 tonne nuclear bomb of greater than 25 megatons force directly on Moscow.

    Keldysh was convinced that the US planned to use the shuttle for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Russia. Therefore the USSR needed an analogous capability to maintain the strategic balance. While this discussion was going on, the energies of TsKBEM were completely absorbed in the Apollo-Soyuz program, on which the prestige of the Soviet Union depended. Additional Details: here....


1974 August 13 - . LV Family: Energia; N1.
  • N1 work cancelled - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Mishin; Kuznetsov; Korolev; Glushko; Keldysh; Ustinov. Program: Lunar L3. Spacecraft: LK; Soyuz 7K-LOK; Buran. Glushko formally cancelled the N1 within the new NPO Energia on 13 August 1974 with the support of Ustinov, even though he had no decree of the VPK Military-Industrial Commission or the Central Committee authorising such an act. The N1-L3 itself was not officially closed down until the resolution of February 1976 starting work on the Energia/Buran boosters. By that time 6 billion roubles had been spent on the N1 over 17 years. Additional Details: here....

1976 February 12 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Development of Energia-Buran system authorised - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. The government decree 132-51 authorising development of the Energia-Buran system was titled 'On development of an MKS (reusable space system) consisting of rocket stages, orbiter aircraft, inter-orbital tug, guidance systems, launch and landing facilities, assembly and repair facilities, and other associated facilities, with the objective of placing in a 200 km Northeast orbit a payload of 30 tonnes and returning a payload of 20 tonnes'. The Ministry of Defence was named the Program Manager, with NPO Energia as the prime contractor. The official military specification (TTZ) was issued at the same time with the code name Buran.

1976 February 17 - . LV Family: Energia; N1.
  • Energia; Buran; Mir; Luch; Potok approved; N1 formally cancelled. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran; Mir; Mir-2; Gamma; Potok; Luch. Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On work on Energia-Buran, DOS-7K nos. 7 and 8, Gamma. Geyzer (Potok), and Altair (Luch) and cancellation of the N1' was issued. The design of an improved model of the Salyut DOS-17K space station was authorised as part of the third generation of Soviet space systems in a decree. At that time it was planned that the two stations (DOS-7 and DOS-8) would be equipped with two docking ports at either end of the station and an additional two ports at the sides of the forward small diameter compartment. Luch and Potok were elements of the second generation global command and control system (GKKRS) deployed in the first half of the 1980's. Luch satellites, analogous to the US TDRS, provided communications service to the Mir space station, Buran space shuttle, Soyuz-TM spacecraft, military satellites, and the TsUPK ground control center. They also served to provide mobile fleet communications for the Soviet Navy. Additional Details: here....

1976 May 1 - . LV Family: Energia; N1.
  • Plea for revival of N1 project - . Nation: USSR. Program: Lunar L3. Spacecraft: Buran. The workers on the project put together a letter to the 25th Party Congress, saying that N1 development should continue, and that N1 s/n's 8, 9, and 10 should be flown. The Party did not accept the letter. They had been assured by the leadership that the population of the city of Leninsk, the extensive facilities and housing built for the N1, would all be used for the MKTS Soviet shuttle. Iosifiyan considered the N1 fundamentally flawed, a project that was only approved due to Kremlin politics.

1976 June 11 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran design selected. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. Decree 'On selection of design layout for Buran' was issued. Following exhaustive analysis and inability to improve on the design, a straight aerodynamic copy of the US space shuttle, was selected as the Buran orbiter configuration. MiG was selected as subcontractor to build the orbiter. For this purpose MiG spun off a new design bureau, Molniya, with G E Lozino-Lozinskiy as chief designer.

1976 November 8 - .
  • Buran specification approved. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: Decree 'On approval of a tactical-technical requirement for Buran' was issued..

1976 December 12 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran draft project completed. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: The MKS draft project was completed on 12 December 1976.The military assigned the system the index number 1K11K25 and the launch vehicle the article number 11K25..

1976 December 18 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Soviet Presidium directs co-operation on Buran - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Tsybin. Spacecraft: Buran. Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 'On course of work on Energia-Buran' was issued. The declaration of the Presidium directed co-operation between all concerned user, research, and factory organisations in realising the project. Chief Constructor within NPO Energia was I N Sadovskiy. Chief Designer for the launch vehicle was Y P Kolyako and for the orbiter P V Tsybin. NPO Yuzhnoye in the Ukraine would build the booster rockets.

1977 July - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran draft project reviewed by expert commission - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran.

1977 July 15 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran draft project reviewed by expert commission - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: A critical step in any Soviet project, this approved the design and paved the way for development to begin..

1977 November 21 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran development plan approved - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. The government decree 1006-323 set out the development plan. The flight test plan was for first launch of the booster in 1983, with the payload being an unmanned OK-ML-1 mock-up of the orbiter. This would not have a heat shield and remain attached to the booster. A second mock-up, OK-ML-2, would be used on the second launch, but be separated from the vehicle after burnout. However it would also be without heat shield, and be expended. The first flight Buran was to fly unpiloted in 1984. Manned flights were to be routine by the 1987 seventieth anniversary of the Soviet Union.

1977 December 1 - . LV Family: N1. Launch Vehicle: N1.
  • Glushko uninterested in further lunar base work - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Bushuyev. Spacecraft: Buran; LZhM; LZM; Lunokhod LEK; LEK. Bushuyev tells Chertok that the lunar base work did not interest Glushko. The VPK Military-Industrial Commission was only interested in duplicating the American shuttle, not in any other ventures in space. With the N1-Sr booster, Russia could have had a six man lunar base established with 8 to 10 launches in the late 1970's. Bushuyev died on 26 October 1978, having seen his dream completely tossed away.

1978 - During the year - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Work begins on conversion of 3M bomber to 3M-T Energia/Buran transport. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: 3M bomber was selected to carry piggy-back Energia core stage components and Buran orbiters..

1978 May - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran technical project completed - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. The technical project was completed in May 1978. The flight test plan at the beginning of the project foresaw first launch of the booster in 1983, with the payload being an unmanned OK-ML-1 mock-up of the orbiter. The first flight Buran was to fly unpiloted in 1984. Manned flights were to be routine by the 1987 seventieth anniversary of the Soviet Union.

1978 May 15 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran technical project completed. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: Buran engineering details were definitised and drawing release began to the production shops..

1979 During the Year - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran model delivered to Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: The EUK13 dimensional model of the launch vehicle was delivered to Baikonur for handling demonstrations and production of tooling..

1979 December 31 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Energia model delivered to Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: In 1979 the EUK13 dimensional model of the Energia launch vehicle was delivered to Baikonur for handling demonstrations and production of tooling..

1982 January - . LV Family: Energia; Zenit.
  • Problems with development of Buran booster rockets - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: Continued development problems with the booster rockets led to a management shake-up at Yuzhnoye in January 1982. By this time the project was several years behind schedule. The originally planned first flight in 1983 was obviously unattainable..

1982 January 6 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • First test flight of VM-T transport with Energia hydrogen tank. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: First test of the modified 3M bomber, converted to carry piggy-back Energia core stage components and Buran orbiters..

1982 January 31 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Management shake-up at Yuzhnoye. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: Continued development problems with the Energia booster rockets led to a management shake-up at the Yuzhnoye design bureau..

1982 December - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • 4M Energia mock-up completed, - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: During 1982 the 3M-T transport aircraft was completed and began delivery of central block propellant tanks and structural elements for construction of a realistic mock-up of the booster..

1982 December 31 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • 3M-T Buran transport aircraft delivered - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. The 3M-T transport aircraft was completed and began delivery of central block propellant tanks and structural elements for construction of a realistic mock-up of the Energia booster. The 3M-T was a heavily modified M-4 bomber, and was limited to 50 tonnes loads carried on the top of the fuselage.

1982 December 31 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Energia mock-up completed - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: The 4M Energia launch vehicle high fidelity mock-up was completed at Baikonur..

1983 March 1 - .
  • First flight of 3M-T transport with Buran orbiter. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran.

1983 May - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Energia dynamic tests - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: The 4M Energia mock-up was subjected to dynamic / vertical / load tests in May-October 1983. The 4M was then returned to the shop for fitting of complete functional propellant systems..

1983 May 15 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Energia full-scale loads tests - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: The 4M Energia mock-up was used for dynamic/vertical/load tests in May-October 1983. The 4M was then returned to the shop for fitting of complete functional propellant systems..

1983 August - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • OK-KS Buran systems test stand completed - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. The OK-KS Buran systems test stand was built at NPO Energia to conduct tests not possible on other stands. These included electrical layout, pneumo-hydraulic tests in abort conditions, EMI tests, failure mode response, telemetry, interface with the launch vehicle, software systems test.

1983 August 15 - .
  • OK-KS Buran systems test stand completed - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. The OK-KS Buran systems test stand was built at NPO Energia to conduct tests not possible on other stands. These included electrical layout, pneumo-hydraulic tests in abort conditions, EMI tests, failure mode response, telemetry, interface with the launch vehicle, software systems test. The test series was completed in March 1984. 77% of the tests of the OK were automated, compared with only 5% for the Soyuz-TM.

1983 December - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran OK-ML-1 mock-up arrived at Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. The OK-ML-1 orbiter mock-up arrived atop the 3M-T at Baikonur. This action seems to have been in the fine Soviet tradition of individual enterprises proving they have met the plan, even if the method of doing it is useless. OK-ML-1 was to have been used in the first launch of the Energia, by the end of 1983. By delivering it to Baikonur by December 31, the spacecraft builders could claim, 'well, we met OUR part of the plan...'). OK-ML-1 was used for handling and pad compatibility tests.

1983 December 13 - .
  • Flight trials of Buran auto-land system aboard Tu-154 test-bed. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: Flight trials of the Buran automatic landing system are begun on a modified Tu-154 transport..

1983 December 31 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • OK-ML-1 orbiter mock-up arrives at Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. The OK-ML-1 mock-up arrived atop the 3M-T transport aircraft. OK-ML-1 was originally to have been used in the first launch of the Energia, by the end of 1983. But the program was years behind schedule, and in the end the OK-ML-1 was used for handling and pad compatibility tests.

1984 March - .
  • OK-KS Buran systems test series completed - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: 77% of the tests of the OK were automated, compared with only 5% for the Soyuz-TM..

1984 August - .
  • Buran OK-MT mock-up arrived at Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: This functional mock-up was used for systems integration tests, and was to be expended on the second test flight..

1984 August 31 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • OK-ML-2 orbiter mock-up arrives at Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: The OK-ML-2 (former OK-MT) functional mock-up was used for systems integration tests, and was to have been expended on the second test flight..

1985 - During the year - . LV Family: MAKS. Launch Vehicle: MAKS.
  • An-225 project started. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: System specification issued for An-225 heavy transport, which will replace 3M-T for transport of Energia core stage components and the Buran spaceplane. The aircraft will also be the launcher for the MAKS spaceplane..

1985 March - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Energia cold flow tests begun - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: From March-October 1985 the Ts core stage was back on the UKSS for cold flow tests. A total of nine cryogenic fuelling cycle were completed with the 4M Energia mock-up, representing the first operational use in the world of super-chilled hydrogen..

1985 March 15 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Energia cold flow tests. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. From March-October 1985 the Ts core stage was back on the UKSS test/launch stand for cold flow tests. A total of nine cryogenic fuelling cycle were completed with the 4M Energia mock-up, representing the first operational use in the world of super-chilled hydrogen.

1985 November 10 - .
  • First OK-GLI Buran analogue flight - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. Cosmonaut Igor Volk was at the controls; takeoff was from the Zhukovskiy test flight centre near Moscow. Two flying labs, based on Tu-154 transports, were used to prior to this to duplicate anticipated Buran handling and test systems software. They conducted 140 flights before Buran's first flight, including 69 automatic landings at Zhukovskiy and at the Jubilee airfield at Baikonur.

1985 December - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran wings delivered to Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. In December 1985 the wings of the first flight OK arrived at Baikonur. This was followed by what was to be the first 20 second Energia main engine firing test. This was terminated at 2.58 seconds when the automatic control system detected a slow spool up of an engine turbine. In a the first attempt at a full-duration test helium leaks contaminated electro-hydraulic systems, leading to a situation where the tanks could not be drained. An engineering brigade had to work on the fuelled booster for 55 minutes, attach another helium tank, which led to successful de-fuelling of the vehicle. The second engine test was a complete success, the engine running for 390 seconds. This test required the entire city of Leninsk to be without water for ten days in order to accumulate enough water for the UKSS cooling system.

1985 December 15 - .
  • Wings for first flight Buran arrive at Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran.

1986 January - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran program shakeup - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. By January 1986 it was clear that the project, now three years behind schedule, had no prospect of completion due to problems in obtaining deliveries of equipment for Buran, numerous problems in assembling the orbiters and lack of manpower at Baikonur, and a general loss of management focus. Minister O D Bakhnov called large group of industry leaders to the cosmodrome to review measures to concentrate and accelerate the remaining work. Three 'Tiger Teams' were set up. The first, led by Semenov, was to finish the flight Buran orbiter and associated facilities in time for a third quarter 1987 launch. The second, led by B I Gubanov, was to finish the Energia launch vehicle and fly it, without the Buran mock-ups if necessary, at the earliest possible date. The third group, led by S S Banin, was to complete the assembly and launch facilities.

1986 January 31 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran project in crisis - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. By January 1986 it was clear that the project, now three years behind schedule, had no prospect of completion due to problems in obtaining deliveries of equipment for Buran, numerous problems in assembling the orbiters and lack of manpower at Baikonur, and a general loss of management focus. Minister O D Bakhnov called a large group of industry leaders to the cosmodrome to review measures to concentrate and accelerate the remaining work. Three 'Tiger Teams' were set up. The first, led by Semenov, was to finish the flight Buran orbiter and associated facilities in time for a third quarter 1987 launch. The second, led by B I Gubanov, was to finish the Energia launch vehicle and fly it, without the Buran mock-ups if necessary, at the earliest possible date. The third group, led by S S Banin, was to complete the assembly and launch facilities.

1986 February - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Frst Buran payload arrived in Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. The first Buran payload, 37KB module s/n 37070, arrived in Baikonur. The 37KB modules, similar to the Kvant module of the Mir space station, were to be standard on the early Buran flights. 37KB-37070 itself primarily contained instrumentation to measure the performance of the orbiter and its structure on its first flight.

1986 February 15 - .
  • First Buran payload arrives at Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. The first Buran payload, 37KB module s/n 37070, is delivered by freight car. The 37KB modules, similar to the Kvant module of the Mir space station, were to be standard on the early Buran flights. 37KB-37070 itself primarily contained instrumentation to measure the performance of the orbiter and its structure on its first flight.

1986 March 21 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • First Energia full thrust test - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. This was to be the first 20 second Energia main engine firing test. It was terminated at 2.58 seconds when the automatic control system detected a slow spool up of an engine turbine. In a the first attempt at a full-duration test helium leaks contaminated electro-hydraulic systems, leading to a situation where the tanks could not be drained. An engineering brigade had to work on the fuelled booster for 55 minutes, attach another helium tank, which led to successful de-fuelling of the vehicle.

1986 May - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Electrical tests of the Buran flight vehicle began - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. Tests of the orbiter's ODU engine unit uncovered an apparent defect in gaseous oxygen valves of the reaction control system. Although it threatened to delay flight of the Buran, it was eventually discovered to be a software problem and remedied within days.

1986 May 15 - .
  • Electrical tests of the Buran flight vehicle begin - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran.

1986 August - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • UKSS static tests of Energia - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Glushko. Spacecraft: Buran. Further UKSS tests of Energia were conducted in preparation of a test launch without Buran. These were conducted using a dummy payload and solid rocket motors to simulate loads from the booster rockets. Following this vehicle 6SL was selected for the first actual launch. The launch vehicle used by itself without Buran was named Energia by Glushko only just before the launch.

1986 August 15 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Tests of Energia with payload cannister - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: Following the decision to make the first flight of Energia without a Buran orbiter, in August-September 1986 further UKSS tests of Energia were conducted. These used a dummy payload and solid rocket motors to simulate loads from the booster rockets..

1986 September 1 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Second Energia full thrust test - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: The second engine test was a complete success, the engine running for 390 seconds. This test required the entire city of Leninsk to be without water for ten days in order to accumulate enough water for the UKSS cooling system..

1987 May 11 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Energia-Polyus - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. Energia was to deliver the military Skif-DM Polyus battle station into orbit. Due to delays in completion of the enormous static test facility at Baikonur, which could test the entire Energia vehicle stack, it was decided to launch the vehicle without the verification the tests would provide. The launch of 6SL was planned for 21:30 Moscow time. It was delayed five hours when a leak was detected in the Block 3A electrical distribution section, then by another hour due to a fault LH2 thermostat. The launch vehicle performed successfully, but the payload failed to inject itself into orbit due to a guidance system failure.

1988 May 31 - .
  • Buran certified ready for flight. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: All flight and development tests having been completed, Buran is certified as ready for spaceflight..

1988 October 23 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran moved to the launch pad - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran.

1988 October 26 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran launch commission meets - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: The launch commission met on 26 October 1988 and set 29 October 06:23 Moscow time for the first flight of the first Buran orbiter (Flight 1K1)..

1988 October 29 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran first launch attempt - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. 51 seconds before the launch, when control of the countdown switched to automated systems, a software problem led the computer program to abort the lift-off. The problem was found to be due to late separation of a gyro update umbilical. The software problem was rectified and the next attempt was set for 15 November at 06:00 (03:00 GMT).

1988 November 15 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Buran - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Buran. The weather was snow flurries with 20 m/s winds. Launch abort criteria were 15 m/s. The launch director decided to press ahead anyway. After 12 years of development everything went perfectly. Buran, with a mass of 79.4 tonnes, separated from the Block Ts core and entered a temporary orbit with a perigee of -11.2 km and apogee of 154.2 km. At apogee Burn executed a 66.6 m/s manoeuvre and entered a 251 km x 263 km orbit of the earth. In the payload bay was the 7150 kg module 37KB s/n 37071. 140 minutes into the flight retrofire was accomplished with a total delta-v of 175 m/s. 206 minutes after launch, accompanied by Igor Volk in a MiG-25 chase plane, Buran touched down at 260 km/hr in a 17 m/s crosswind at the Jubilee runway, with a 1620 m landing rollout. The completely automatic launch, orbital manoeuvre, deorbit, and precision landing of an airliner-sized spaceplane on its very first flight was an unprecedented accomplishment of which the Soviets were justifiably proud. It completely vindicated the years of exhaustive ground and flight test that had debugged the systems before they flew.

1988 November 15 - . 03:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC110L. LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia/Buran. LV Configuration: Energiya/Buran 1L.
  • Buran - . Payload: Buran OK-1K s/n 711. Mass: 79,400 kg (175,000 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Buran. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: Buran. Duration: 0.14 days. Decay Date: 1988-11-15 . USAF Sat Cat: 19637 . COSPAR: 1988-100A. Apogee: 256 km (159 mi). Perigee: 247 km (153 mi). Inclination: 51.6000 deg. Period: 89.50 min. Unmanned test of Soviet shuttle. Landed November 15, 1988 06:25 GMT. Buran was first moved to the launch pad on 23 October 1988. The launch commission met on 26 October 1988 and set 29 October 06:23 Moscow time for the first flight of the first Buran orbiter (Flight 1K1). 51 seconds before the launch, when control of the countdown switched to automated systems, a software problem led the computer program to abort the lift-off. The problem was found to be due to late separation of a gyro update umbilical. The software problem was rectified and the next attempt was set for 15 November at 06:00 (03:00 GMT). Came the morning, the weather was snow flurries with 20 m/s winds. Launch abort criteria were 15 m/s. The launch director decided to press ahead anyway. After 12 years of development everything went perfectly. Buran, with a mass of 79.4 tonnes, separated from the Block Ts core and entered a temporary orbit with a perigee of -11.2 km and apogee of 154.2 km. At apogee Burn executed a 66.6 m/s manoeuvre and entered a 251 km x 263 km orbit of the earth. In the payload bay was the 7150 kg module 37KB s/n 37071. 140 minutes into the flight retrofire was accomplished with a total delta-v of 175 m/s. 206 minutes after launch, accompanied by Igor Volk in a MiG-25 chase plane, Buran touched down at 260 km/hr in a 17 m/s crosswind at the Jubilee runway, with a 1620 m landing rollout. The completely automatic launch, orbital manoeuvre, deorbit, and precision landing of an airliner-sized spaceplane on its very first flight was an unprecedented accomplishment of which the Soviets were justifiably proud. It completely vindicated the years of exhaustive ground and flight test that had debugged the systems before they flew.

1989 May 13 - . LV Family: MAKS. Launch Vehicle: MAKS.
  • First flight An-225 / Buran. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: First flight of the An-225 super-heavy transport with the Buran spaceplane mounted atop it..

1989 June 4 - . LV Family: MAKS. Launch Vehicle: MAKS.
  • An-225 / Buran displayed at Paris Air Show. - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Spacecraft: Buran.

1993 June 30 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Yeltsin cancels Buran project - . Nation: Russia. Program: Buran. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: Buran. Summary: No known mission (with the end of SDI and the cold war) - plus the project manager was one of the 1991 coup plotters. Total cost 20 billion rubles at time of cancellation.. Additional Details: here....

1994 Late or Early 1995 - .
  • Buran 5 (cancelled) - . Crew: Volk; Tolboyev. Backup Crew: Zabolotski; Sultanov. Nation: Russia. Related Persons: Volk; Tolboyev; Zabolotski; Sultanov. Program: Mir. Flight: Buran 5. Spacecraft: Buran. Buran Flight 5 (3K1) would have been the first flight of the third orbiter. It would be the first manned Buran flight; the third orbiter was the first outfitted with life support systems and ejection seats. Two cosmonauts would deliver the 37KBI module to Mir, using the Buran manipulator arm to dock it to the station's Kristall module. Final crew selection had still not been made at the time the program was cancelled.

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