Encyclopedia Astronautica
Energia



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Energia
Energia Launch Vehicle erected on the pad
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Myasishchyev VMT-4
Myasishchyev VMT-2 with Energia liquid oxygen tank
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Aft view of Energia
Aft view of Energia launch vehicle in assembly hall at MIK
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia strap-ons
Energia launch vehicle strap-ons in assembly hall at MIK
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Clustered Booster
Clustered Launch Vehicle concept, similar to American ALS
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia strapons
Energia strap-ons in the assembly building
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia booster
Energia launch vehicle variants
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia launch pad
Energia launch complex
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia pad 1
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia pad 2
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia pad 3
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Flame pit of Energia
Flame pit of Energia combination launch / static test pad. The city of Leninsk had to go without water for a week to support each launch.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia pad
Mobile service gantry at the Energia pad
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia pad
Mobile service gantry at the Energia pad
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia liftoff
Energia lift-off with Polyus
Credit: RKK Energia
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Energia / MZK
Energia being lifted by 'Grasshopper' carrier into ZPK vertical static loads test stand
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Energia Component
Energia LOX tank being transported by helicopter
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Energia / M4
Energia upper LOX core tank atop M4 carrier vehicle
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Energia / M4
Energia lower LH2 core tank atop M4 carrier vehicle
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Energia / M4
Energia tank atop M4 carrier vehicle
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Energia
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia booster
Energia launch vehicle
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia LV
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia with Polyus
Energia with Polyus payload
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Vulkan LV
Vulkan Launch Vehicle
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia M
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Energia M on Pad
Credit: RKK Energia
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Energia M Rollout
Credit: RKK 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.

This decision to proceed with the MKS was taken on 12 February 1976 by the Soviet leadership (Brezhnev, Ustinov, Keldysh) following the loss of the moon race to America. This had 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. The Buran decision was contrary to the opinions of the Soviet Chief Designers, who favored smaller reusable ballistic capsules or spaceplanes, and the Soviet military, which preferred a new family of modular, lower-tech, expendable launch vehicles.

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 military, 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.

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 final choice was a straight aerodynamic copy of the US shuttle.

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 (the name Energia for the launch vehicle separately did not come into use until just before the launch). 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.

The Vulkan was used as a starting point, but modified to meet this requirement. 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 is 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 to have the same thrust rating and specific impulse specifications as the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) of the USA.

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.

In the first stages of the development of the RD-0120, different basic engine schemes were evaluated before a single-shaft turbo-pump for both liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen was selected (the SSME had separate turbo-pumps for each fuel component). Use of a single pump simplified the engine control system and manufacturing, but also required more detailed and sophisticated methods of design and optimization then were available to the Americans. Another principal difference was the absence of resonance chambers, which were used on the SSME for suppression of high frequency vibrations in combustion chamber. The start sequence developed for the RD-0120 was and remains completely unique.

On the other hand Russian engineers observe that the SSME designers used some technologies that were not used previously in the USA but were common in Russia. The best example was the milled combustion chamber, widely used on Russian engines, but never before on American engines.

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-ML-1 orbiter mock-up arrived atop the 3M-T at Baikonur in December 1983. 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.

In early 1986 came 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 completing the Buran spaceplane. 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. That 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. 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.

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 days 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. 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 maneuvered to a 251 km x 263 km orbit of the earth. Buran touched down 206 minutes after launch at the Jubilee runway, just 12 km from the launch pad. 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. Energia would never fly again. The Soviet Union was crumbling, and the ambitious plans to use Energia 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 Buran program completely disappeared from the government's budget after 1993.

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 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.

Had the Soviet Union not fallen and the Energia booster gone into production, huge projects were planned to take advantage of its capabilities to realize Soviet military and international space goals. These included:

  • Restoration of the earth's ozone layer
  • Disposal of nuclear waste outside of the solar system
  • Illumination of polar cities by reflection of the sun's light
  • Large-area space energy reflectors
  • Solar sails for interplanetary flights
  • Exploitation of lunar resources for fusion reactors on the earth
  • Space control system to assure ecological compliance and guarantee strategic stability
  • International global information communications system
  • Removal of space debris in geostationary orbit
  • Large space radio telescope to study galaxies

Energia Development

Over 232 experimental test stands were built during Energia development.

Rigorous qualification tests were conducted of all structural components. Structural and functional elements were tested individually, and then in ever larger assemblies. The result was that the flight data very closely followed predictions, and both the launch vehicle and orbiter flew successfully on their very first flights. This was in sharp contrast to the numerous early failures of the Soyuz and N1 programs in the 1960's.

85 wind tunnel models were built in scales for 1:3 to 1:550 to determine the vehicle's aerodynamic coefficients at all velocities, the effectiveness of the aerosurfaces, the aerodynamic moments, and the interference effects between Buran and the launch vehicle during launch and separation. These models were run through 39,000 simulated launches at wind tunnel speeds of from M 0.1 to M 2.0. 12 special test stands were built to test Buran/launch vehicle interference characteristics. Gas dynamics models - these were tested at scales of from 1:15 to 1:2700 and Mach 5 to 20 and Reynolds numbers of 10^5 to 10^7. A 1:10 acoustic model of the launch vehicle was equipped with solid rocket motors to measure acoustic levels on the test stand.

Energia Assembly / Processing / Launch / Landing Facilities

Using the N1 facilities at Baikonur as a starting point, major modifications had to be made and several new buildings erected to assemble and launch Buran at the remote Baikonur cosmodrome. The land-locked location of Baikonur meant that major assembly work on the orbiter and launch vehicle had to be conducted on site, instead of at the subcontractors factories. The liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen tanks of the core, and the Buran orbiters, were flown to Baikonur on the back of the 3M-T transport. The booster stages and all other material and equipment were brought in by rail.

Major Buran facilities at Baikonur, in the order of their occurrence in the orbiter process flow, were:

  • MIK-OK was the orbiter assembly building at Baikonur. This was a new facility, 222 m long, 132 m wide, and 30 m high. The TA orbiter transporter then moved the orbiter on a special 12 m wide Baikonur road network from the MIK-OK to the MIK-RN for integration with the launch vehicle.

  • MIK-RN was the launch vehicle assembly building. It was originally built for on-site assembly of the N1 launch vehicle. It was 190 m x 240 m and had 5 bays, two of them 27 m high, and three 52 m high.

  • TUA - two launch vehicle transporter / erectors were modified from those built for the N1 and moved the entire launch vehicle on double rail lines from the MIK-RN assembly building to the launch pad. Each weighed 2,756 metric tons empty, and could accommodate payloads of 571 metric tons. Each had a length of 56.3 m (90.3 m with the launch vehicle), a width of 25.9 m, and was 21.2 m high. Maximum speed was 5 km/hour. The two 1.524 m gauge railroad tracks on which the TUA rode were 20 m apart. The dual 20 m tracks lead from the MIK-RN to the MZK and thence to the SK launch pad.

  • MZK - was a new building for loading of propellants into the orbiter and payload, and for vertical static tests of the entire Energia-Buran vehicle. It had 9000 square meters of floor area, was 134 m x 74 m in floor plan, and was 58 m high.

  • 17P31 UKSS was an enormous new combined launch pad/test stand for Buran. Here the launch vehicle could be run for full-duration test firings.

  • 11P825 SK were the two N1 launch pads, adapted for use with Buran

LEO Payload: 88,000 kg (194,000 lb) to a 200 km orbit. Payload: 22,000 kg (48,000 lb) to a GEO. Failures: 1. Success Rate: 50.00%. First Fail Date: 1987-05-15. Last Fail Date: 1987-05-15. Launch data is: complete. Flyaway Unit Cost $: 764.000 million in 1985 dollars.

Stage Data - Energia

  • Stage 0. 2 x Energia Strapon. Gross Mass: 355,000 kg (782,000 lb). Empty Mass: 35,000 kg (77,000 lb). Thrust (vac): 7,906.100 Kn (1,777,362 lbf). Isp: 337 sec. Burn time: 145 sec. Isp(sl): 309 sec. Diameter: 3.90 m (12.70 ft). Span: 4.20 m (13.70 ft). Length: 37.70 m (123.60 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: RD-170. Status: Out of Production. Comments: Essentially identical to Zenit stage 1.
  • Stage 0. 4 x Energia Strapon. Gross Mass: 355,000 kg (782,000 lb). Empty Mass: 35,000 kg (77,000 lb). Thrust (vac): 7,906.100 Kn (1,777,362 lbf). Isp: 337 sec. Burn time: 145 sec. Isp(sl): 309 sec. Diameter: 3.90 m (12.70 ft). Span: 4.20 m (13.70 ft). Length: 37.70 m (123.60 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: RD-170. Status: Out of Production. Comments: Essentially identical to Zenit stage 1.
  • Stage 1. 1 x Energia Core. Gross Mass: 905,000 kg (1,995,000 lb). Empty Mass: 85,000 kg (187,000 lb). Thrust (vac): 7,848.124 Kn (1,764,328 lbf). Isp: 453 sec. Burn time: 480 sec. Isp(sl): 354 sec. Diameter: 7.75 m (25.42 ft). Span: 7.75 m (25.42 ft). Length: 58.77 m (192.80 ft). Propellants: Lox/LH2. No Engines: 4. Engine: RD-0120. Status: Out of Production.
  • Stage 2. 1 x Energia RCS. Gross Mass: 17,000 kg (37,000 lb). Empty Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Thrust (vac): 84.935 Kn (19,094 lbf). Isp: 352 sec. Burn time: 680 sec. Diameter: 3.70 m (12.10 ft). Span: 3.70 m (12.10 ft). Length: 5.70 m (18.70 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: RD-58. Other designations: Retro and Correction Stage. Status: Out of Production. Comments: Adaptation of Block D for Energia payload orbital insertion.
  • Stage 2. 1 x Energia EUS. Gross Mass: 77,000 kg (169,000 lb). Empty Mass: 7,000 kg (15,400 lb). Thrust (vac): 1,962.026 Kn (441,081 lbf). Isp: 455 sec. Burn time: 160 sec. Isp(sl): 352 sec. Diameter: 5.70 m (18.70 ft). Span: 5.70 m (18.70 ft). Length: 16.47 m (54.03 ft). Propellants: Lox/LH2. No Engines: 1. Engine: RD-0120. Other designations: Cryogenic Upper Stage. Status: Development 1990.

AKA: SL-17; 11K25; J.
Status: Retired 1988.
Gross mass: 2,524,600 kg (5,565,700 lb).
Payload: 88,000 kg (194,000 lb).
Height: 97.00 m (318.00 ft).
Diameter: 7.75 m (25.42 ft).
Thrust: 35,129.90 kN (7,897,516 lbf).
Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).
First Launch: 1987.05.15.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Spacecraft
  • Mars 1986 Russian manned Mars expedition. Studied 1978-1986. NPO Energia resumed study of a Mars project once development began of the new Energia booster in place of the cancelled N1. More...
  • LEK Lunar Expeditionary Complex Russian manned lunar base. Cancelled 1974. Although the N1, L3, and DLB projects were cancelled, Glushko still considered the establishment of a moon base to be a primary goal for his country. More...
  • LEK Russian manned lunar lander. Study 1973. Lunar lander for the Vulkan surface base. As in the original LK lunar lander, this would be taken to near zero velocity near the lunar surface by the Vulkan Block V 'lunar crasher' rocket stage. More...
  • Lunokhod LEK Russian manned lunar rover. Study 1973. Lunar rover for the Vulkan Lunar Expedition. The rover provided pressurized quarters for 2 crew, allowing trips up to 200 km from the lunar base at a top speed of 5 km/hr. More...
  • LZM Russian manned lunar habitat. Study 1973. Laboratory-Factory Module for the Vulkan surface base. More...
  • LZhM Russian manned lunar habitat. Study 1973. Laboratory-living module. Three story lunar surface residence and laboratory for Vulkan-launched Lunar Expedition. More...
  • Mir-2 Russian manned space station. Study 1989. The Mir-2 space station was originally authorized in the February 1976 resolution setting forth plans for development of third generation Soviet space systems. More...
  • EA Russian manned Mars lander. Studied 1978-1986. Mars landing craft originally designed for aborted 1972 Aelita Mars study by OKB-1, and revived in the 1980's for new Energia-launched Mars expedition studies. More...
  • USB Russian military anti-satellite system. Study 1978. As platforms for operational versions of space-borne weapons NPO Energia designed a Universal Service Block, based on the DOS-7K space station, in the late 1970's/early 1980's. More...
  • NPG Russian manned space station. Cancelled 1986. A later version of the 37K design for military experiments, the NPG Retained Payload, would be mounted in the payload bay of Buran and connected to the orbiter's cockpit area by an access tunnel. More...
  • LO Russian manned space station. Study 1984. A later version of the 37K design for civilian experiments, the LO Laboratory Compartment, would be retained in the payload bay of Buran and connected to the orbiter's cockpit area by an access tunnel. More...
  • 37KS Russian manned space station module. Cancelled 1983. Would have been launched by Proton and delivered and docked to the Mir station by a new lighter weight FGO tug. More...
  • Energia Ozone Replenishment Satellite Russian earth environment satellite. Study 1984. The eroding ozone layer of the earth would be replenished using a constellation of space-based lasers that would bombard the stratosphere at 30 km altitude for 30 years. More...
  • Energia Nuclear Waste Disposal Russian burial satellite. Study 1984. The entire inventory of high-level nuclear waste (100 metric tons) would be permanently disposed of in a solar orbit at 1. 2 AU between Earth and Mars using 10 to 15 launches of the Energia launch vehicle. More...
  • Energia-Buran Russian manned spaceplane. Study 1984. Article number for combined Energia (launch vehicle) - Buran (manned spaceplane) complex. See Buran for details. More...
  • Energia Orbital Debris Remover Russian earth environment satellite. Study 1984. A 15 metric ton maneuverable satellite, consisting of an engine unit and a satellite collection mechanism, would maneuver at geosynchronous altitude in orbits with inclinations of between 0 and 14 degrees. More...
  • Energia Polar City Illuminator Russian earth environment satellite. Study 1984. The Energia launch vehicle could be used to launch 100 orbital reflectors to provide light to cities located in the polar regions. More...
  • Energia Control Sat Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1984. This satellite would consist of a 33 metric ton equipment bus and a 17 metric ton rocket stage. It would be placed in a 600 km / 97 degree orbit for arms control and environment monitoring. More...
  • OK-M2 Russian manned spaceplane. Study 1984. The OK-M2 was a manned spaceplane, a straight delta wing joined to a broad fuselage with an upturned nose. More...
  • Polyus Russian military anti-satellite system. One launch, 1987.05.15. The Polyus military testbed was put together on a crash basis as an answer to America's Star Wars program. More...
  • 37KB Russian manned space station module. One launch, 1988.11.15. Carried in the payload bay of the Buran space shuttle. They could remain attached to the bay or (modified to the 37KBI configuration) be docked to the Mir-2 station. More...
  • Buran 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. More...
  • Energia Lunar Expedition Russian manned lunar base. Study 1988. In 1988, with development of the Buran space shuttle completed, Glushko ordered new studies on a lunar based that could be established using the Energia booster. More...
  • KS Russian military orbital bombing system. Study 1988. To co-ordinate the actions of multiple space combat units, NPO Energia proposed in the 1980's a KS space station. More...
  • LK Energia Russian manned lunar lander. Study 1988. Lunar lander for Energia-launched lunar expedition. The LOK and LK lander would be inserted into lunar orbit by separate Energia launches. More...
  • LOK Energia Russian manned lunar orbiter. Study 1988. Lunar orbiter for Energia-launched lunar expedition. The LOK and LK lander would be inserted into lunar orbit by separate Energia launches. More...
  • Mir-2 KB Salyut Russian manned space station. Cancelled 1988. Alternative design for the Mir-2 space station by KB Salyut. If Polyus had successfully made it to orbit, it might have been the core for such a station. More...
  • Mars 1989 Russian manned Mars expedition. Study 1989. In 1989 yet another Mars project was proposed by NPO Energia. More...
  • KRT-25 Radio Telescope Russian radio astronomy satellite. Study 1990. In collaboration with the European Space Agency, a 25 m diameter space radio telescope was studied for launch by Energia in 2001. More...
  • ERTA Russian space tug. Study 1992. ERTA (Elecktro-Raketniy Transportniy Apparat) was a nuclear-electric space tug designed to be boosted on medium boosters and provide both propulsion and electrical power for unmanned planetary probes. More...
  • Mars 1994 Russian manned Mars expedition. Study 1994. Soviet / Russian design for a Mars expedition powered by RD-0410 bi-modal nuclear thermal engines. A crew of five would complete the trip to Mars and back in 460 days. More...
  • Marpost Russian manned Mars expedition. Study 2000. In December 2000 Leonid Gorshkov of RKK Energia proposed a manned Mars orbital expedition as an alternative to Russian participation in the International Space Station. More...

Associated Engines
  • RD-0120 Kosberg lox/lh2 rocket engine. 1961 kN. Energia core stage. Design 1987. Isp=455s. First operational Russian cryogenic engine system, built to the same overall performance specifications as America's SSME, but using superior Russian technology. More...
  • RD-170 Glushko Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 7903 kN. Energia strap-on. Developed 1973-1985. Isp=337s. First flight 1987. Used one-plane gimablling versus the two-plane gimablling required on the RD-171 of the Zenit launch vehicle. Designed for 10 reuses. More...
  • RD-58 Korolev Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 83.4 kN. Isp=349s. High-performance upper-stage engine developed for N1 lunar crasher stage, but saw general use as restartable Block D upper stage of Proton launch vehicle. First flight 1967. 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...
  • Winged In the beginning, nobody (except Jules Verne) thought anybody would be travelling to space and back in ballistic cannon balls. The only proper way for a space voyager to return to earth was at the controls of a real winged airplane. 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...

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.
  • Semenov, Yuri P Editor, Raketno-kosmicheskaya korporatsiya 'Energia' imeni S P Koroleva, Moscow, Russia, 1996.
  • Isakowitz, Steven J,, International Reference to Space Launch Systems Second Edition, AIAA, Washington DC, 1991 (succeeded by 2000 edition).
  • 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.
  • Semenov, Yu P, Lozino-Lozinsky, et. al., Mnogorazoviy orbitalniy korabl 'Buran', Mashinostroenne, Moscow, 1995.
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Launch Log, October 1998. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • 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.
  • Siddiqi, Asif A, The Soviet Space Race With Apollo, University Press of Florida, 2003.

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...

Associated Stages
  • Energia Strapon Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 355,000/35,000 kg. Thrust 7,906.10 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 337 seconds. Essentially identical to Zenit stage 1. More...
  • Energia Core Lox/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 905,000/85,000 kg. Thrust 7,848.12 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 453 seconds. More...

Energia 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..

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 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 June 15 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Decree authorising development of 11B97 nuclear electric rocket stage - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Mars 1986. Decree 'On course of work on nuclear rocket engines' was issued. The 11B97 stage would have an electric capacity of 500-600 kW and would use specialised plasma-ion electric engines using standing plasma waves and anodes. It was powered from a reactor with a 200 litre core containing 30 kg of uranium fuel. In 1978 this engine was studied for use as a reusable interorbital space tug for launch by Energia-Buran.

1976 October 12 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • First ground test of Block R LH2/LOX upper stage - . Nation: USSR. Program: Buran. Summary: From 1976 to 1977 two Block R stages underwent thorough tests of all of their systems. The Block R could have operated up to 7 hours with 7 restarts. Not adopted for production for unknown reasons..

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.

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..

1981 February 5 - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Decree for Gerkules nuclear-electric interorbital tug - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Mars 1986. NPO Energia developed for the Ministry of Defence the interorbital tug Gerkules with 550 kW maximum output and continuous operation in the 50-150 kW range for 3 to 5 years. In 1986 an interorbital tug was studied to solve the specific application of transporting heavy satellites of 100 tonnes to geostationary orbit, launched by Energia.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

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 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 July - . LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia.
  • Polyus mock-up delivered to Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Polyus. Summary: A Polyus mock-up was delivered by the Krunichev Factory to Baikonur Cosmodrome, for tests of the Polyus/Energia interface. The spacecraft was about 37 meters in length, 4.1 meters in diameter and weighed about 80 metric tons..

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.

1987 May 15 - . 17:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC250. LV Family: Energia. Launch Vehicle: Energia. LV Configuration: Energiya 6SL. FAILURE: No orbital insertion due to failure of the FGB attitude control system (Energia performed perfectly). Partial Failure.. Failed Stage: P.
  • Polyus - . Payload: Skif-DM. Nation: USSR. Agency: UNKS. Program: Buran. Class: Military. Type: Strategic defense satellite. Spacecraft: Polyus. Decay Date: 1987-05-15 . COSPAR: F870515A. 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 days 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 Polyus payload failed to inject itself into orbit due to a guidance system failure. Additional Details: here....

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.

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....

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