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Buran (spacecraft)


Buran (spacecraft)

Buran (spacecraft)
Orbiter 1K1 at an airshow at Le Bourget in 1989
Country Soviet Union
Named after "Snowstorm"[1]
Status destroyed in a 2002 hangar collapse[2]
First flight 15 November 1988[1]
Last flight 15 November 1988[1]
Number of missions 1[1]
Crew members 0[1]
Time spent in space 3 hours, 36 minutes
Number of orbits 2[1]

Buran (Russian: Бура́н, IPA: , Snowstorm or Blizzard) was the first space shuttle orbiter to be produced as part of the Soviet/Russian Buran program. It carried the GRAU index serial number 11F35 K1 and is – depending on the source – also known as OK-1K1, Orbiter K1, OK 1.01 or Shuttle 1.01. Besides describing the first operational Soviet/Russian shuttle orbiter, "Buran" was also the designation for the whole Soviet/Russian space shuttle project.

OK-1K1 completed one unmanned spaceflight in 1988 and was destroyed in 2002, when the hangar it was stored in collapsed.[3] It remains the only Soviet reusable spacecraft to be launched into space. The Buran-class space shuttle orbiters used the expendable Energia rocket as launch vehicle.


  • Construction 1
  • Operational history 2
    • Orbital flight 2.1
    • Projected flights 2.2
  • Destruction 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


The construction of the Buran-class space shuttle orbiters began in 1980, and by 1984 the first full-scale orbiter was rolled out. Construction of a second orbiter (OK-1K2, informally known as "Ptichka") started in 1988. The Buran program was officially canceled in 1993.

Operational history

Orbiter OK-1K1 Buran during launch on 15 November 1988

Orbital flight

The only orbital launch of a Buran-class orbiter occurred at 3:00 UTC on 15 November 1988 from Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad 110/37. OK-1K1 was lifted into space, on an unmanned mission, by the specially designed Energia rocket. The automated launch sequence performed as specified, and the Energia rocket lifted the vehicle into a temporary orbit before the orbiter separated as programmed. After boosting itself to a higher orbit and completing two revolutions around the Earth, ODU (engine control system) engines fired automatically to begin the descent into the atmosphere.

Exactly 206 minutes[4] into the mission, Orbiter OK-1K1 landed, having lost only eight of its 38,000 thermal tiles over the course of the flight.[5] The automated landing took place on a runway at Baikonur Cosmodrome where, despite a lateral wind speed of 61.2 kilometres per hour (38.0 mph), it landed only 3 metres (9.8 ft) laterally and 10 metres (33 ft) longitudinally from the target mark.[4] Specifically, as Buran approached Baikonur Cosmodrome and started landing, spacecraft sensors detected the strong crosswind and "the robotic system sent the huge machine for another rectangular traffic pattern approach, successfully landing the spacecraft on a second try."[5] It was the first space shuttle to perform an unmanned flight, including landing in fully automatic mode.

Projected flights

In 1989, it was projected that OK-1K1 would have an unmanned second flight by 1993, with a duration of 15–20 days.[6] Because the Buran program was cancelled after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, this never took place.


On 12 May 2002,[3] a hangar at the Baikonur Cosmodrome housing OK-1K1 collapsed during a massive storm in Kazakhstan, as a result of poor maintenance. The collapse killed eight workers and destroyed the craft as well as a mock-up of an Energia carrier rocket.[7][8][9]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Buran". NASA. 12 November 1997. Archived from the original on 4 August 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-15. ; Buran at the Wayback Machine (archived 28 January 2008)
  2. ^ Eight feared dead in Baikonur hangar collapse, RSpaceflkight Now .
  3. ^ a b "Buran". Russian Space Web. 2012-10-15. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  4. ^ a b Chertok, Boris (2005). Asif A. Siddiqi, ed. Raketi i lyudi (trans. "Rockets and People") (PDF). NASA History Series. p. 179. Retrieved 2006-07-03. 
  5. ^ a b "Russia starts ambitious super-heavy space rocket project". Space Daily. 2013-11-19. Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  6. ^ "Экипажи "Бурана" Несбывшиеся планы" (in Russian). RU: Buran. Retrieved 2006-08-05. 
  7. ^ Whitehouse, David (2002-05-13). "Russia's space dreams abandoned".  
  8. ^ Photo of collapsed
  9. ^ photo with right front windscreen still visible under the debris Buran Remains

Further reading

  • Energiya-Buran: The Soviet Space Shuttle, Bart Hendrick and Bert Vis, Springer-Praxis, 2007, pp. 526, ISBN 978-0-387-69848-9.
  • Heinz Elser, Margrit Elser-Haft, Vladim Lukashevich: Buran — History and Transportation of the Russian Space shuttle OK-GLI to the Technik Museum Speyer, two Languages: German and English, 2008, ISBN 3-9809437-7-1

External links

  • Site dedicated to Buran reusable space vehicle —
  • Manufacturer — NPO MOLNIYA Research and Industrial Corporation.
  • Enthusiast site about the Buran
  • Buran historical photos at NPO MOLNIYA ( with comments in Russian.
  • Buran video archive at NPO MOLNIYA with comments in Russian.
  • Full video briefing of the Buran
  • Pictures of the abandoned Baikonur Cosmodrome at Ralph Mirebs with comments in Russian.
  • Technical Drawing of the Buran
  • Historical photos at
  • Encyclopedia Astronautica article
  • “Buran” And Launching Site photos at
  • Buran: What happened to the Soviet space shuttle?
  • Current photos of wreckage
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