The 15 November 1988, the USSR reached its greatest achievement in the space industry, with the launch of the shuttle Buran. 30 years after its placement in orbit, its success could not be emulated.
And, what was the feat of the Buran?
Taking off from the Baikonur cosmodrome, until its landing in the same place, the space shuttle made an unmanned flight of 205 minutes, giving 2 laps to the ground, automatically without human assistance, guided by the software of the ship and the computer on board. Neither the US nor any other country has been able to sail the skies with a ferry, without the guidance of a human pilot. In the Guinness Book of Records, this fact is recorded as one of the greatest technological successes of humanity.
How was this technological marvel built?
With a big budget, more than 10.000 million dollars at present, and with a great previous preparation.
Keep in mind that, the program started in 1974, and until 14 years later it did not reach its culmination. Its objective was to overcome the North American Shuttle, a similar ship and fully develop the launch technology of reusable vehicles. Also, it was thought to focus on the provisioning of the Mir space station.
What characteristics made the Buran different from other ferries?
First, the Buran used kerosene and liquid oxygen as fuel, for the orbital maneuvering system. To date, it has been the only ship that has used this energy source for propulsion. All other ferries use hypergolic fuel, as in the case of its most direct competitor, the North American Shuttle.
He could transport up to 10 crew and stay in orbit for a month. The most modern ferries, carry 2 crew less and can only be for 17 days in Earth orbit.
The Buran had coupled the Energy rocket, the most powerful launcher built by the USSR, with the ability to place in Earth orbit more than 100 tons of cargo. Such was its power that with a single impulse, it could launch ships to the Moon and Mars.
And, of course, its most outstanding ability, the ability to perform unmanned flights.
What advantages did this have?
In the first place, if unfortunately an accident happened, you would not have to regret human lives. Then, a cost saving, not having to be assigning a team of cosmonauts to man the ship.
What happened to the Buran?
Unfortunately, this project that would have changed our world because of the enormous possibilities it opened (from cleaning the ozone layer, moving waste from nuclear power plants off the planet, exploiting lunar resources, etc.), was lost due to the fall of the USSR.
With the collapse of the country, the resources allocated to this space program and the construction of space shuttles disappeared with the economic crisis that hit Russia.
In addition, the original version of the Buran, was destroyed in an accident 12 May 2002, when the roof of the building where it was housed collapsed. Fortunately, in Gorky Park in Moscow, a replica is on display to marvel at this technological legacy that would have changed the history of humanity.
Dear Russian Lover, although the Buran does not exist, his memory remains in our memory, and who knows if he will return one day. The designs of destiny are inscrutable.
I leave a video for you to see the remains of the Buran:
Abandoned Soviet space ferries (Buran) in Baikonur