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Everything you ever wanted to know about spaceflight
September 26, 2004 8:21 AM   Subscribe

And we thought it was just a load of Soviet propaganda: Buran was pretty sweet Well, no doubt a little bit of industrial espionage helped them in its design, but the Soviet Buran really was an impressive technological achievement and in many ways superior to the United States space shuttle. Of particular interest is the impressive technology the Soviet's developed for heavy-lift boosters. Does anyone know what's become of any of this, or know of any other interesting bits of Soviet -v- American space race trivia? This stuff always fascinates me. (Great website for geeky-cool aerospace information as well)
posted by tgrundke (11 comments total)

 
via Boing Boing is this link to an online photo gallery of Buran today (text in German). The CRT is still working but it looks like nothing else would. Apparently it will be on display in a german museum.
posted by ae4rv at 8:35 AM on September 26, 2004


Slightly related, Don P. Mitchell has an absolutely astounding website on the Soviet interplanetary exploration of Venus.

I could go on for paragraphs about what a genius this guy is; suffice to say, he makes the entire concept of interplanetary satellites very easy to understand, yet is able to maintain technical details for the more educated among us. He also has lots and lots of pictures. Some of the pictures he recreated himself by analysing the original data from the satellites.

If this guy were born 300 years in the future, he'd be working on the Enterprise.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:56 AM on September 26, 2004


There was also the late, great, Luna 1.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:41 AM on September 26, 2004


Via Slashdot, one of the Buran prototypes may have been found in Bahrain.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:42 AM on September 26, 2004


The X-20 DynaSoar.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:46 AM on September 26, 2004


wikipedia has an article about the shuttle buran with pictures!
posted by rhyax at 11:44 AM on September 26, 2004


I always liked that they gave it such an elemental name ("blizzard"), versus our ideological or traditionalist names ("Endeavor", "Columbia", "Challenger").
posted by lodurr at 12:13 PM on September 26, 2004


The space shuttles were named after the ships of famous explorers, I think.
posted by tss at 12:32 PM on September 26, 2004


America's fleet of Space Shuttle orbiters are named after pioneering sea vessels which established new frontiers in research and exploration (scroll down). Except for Enterprise, which was the result of a massive letter-writing campaign by Star Trek fans. Really.

Also, "Buran" was the name for the type of vehicle, just like "Space Shuttle" is what we call ours. Some of the individual Burans had their own names according to the linked sites, though I don't know if they were official. It doesn't really sound like it. I agree that "Space Shuttle" is pretty unimaginative, and that something like "It Seemed Like A Nice Idea At First" or "Killer Whale Colored Money Monsters" would have been more descriptive.
posted by tss at 12:40 PM on September 26, 2004


A fan site for Buran and Energia (the Russian space conglomerate, formerly the Soviet era agency) has information on where Buran vehicles and equipment are today. The static test article, rebuilt with a false hull, is in Gorky Park. (This is the equivalent of NASA's Pathfinder Orbiter mockup, which is on display in Huntsville. Another static test article was rebuilt -- extensively! -- into the orbiter Challenger.) The Buran that was in Sydney and presumably be the one now in Bahrain was not a space-rated vehicle, but the atmospheric tester OK-GLI (note the jet engines), which like the orbiter Enterprise, was used to rate the flight characteristics and capabilities of the Buran design. Alas, the one Buran which made it to space (orbit and a half, I believe) was destroyed when its Baikonur, Kazakstan hangar collapsed during a windstorm.
posted by dhartung at 8:01 PM on September 26, 2004


Buran itself is interesting, but what is really interesting is Energia (named after its parent company), the booster system that was designed to put heavy payloads into orbit, Buran being one.

As I understand it, it's reusable to a much larger degree than the US shuttle launch system (main tank and boosters) and I reckon it's worth future development, at least in terms of the concept.
posted by tomcosgrave at 4:09 AM on September 27, 2004


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