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Buran spacecraft

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Soviet postage stamp honouring the launch of Buran on 15 November 1988.

Buran spacecraft is a Soviet orbital vehicle similar to the US space shuttle.

"Buran" (a word meaning Snowstorm or Blizzard) is both the name of a Soviet programme of orbital flights and the official name of the full-scale spacecrafts constructed in the framework of this programme.

During the process of designing and developing the real Buran spacecraft, tens of scale-models were created which were used for all kind of tests. Then some full-scale test and prototype vehicles were constructed, among which the one code named OK-GLI was used in 25 atmospheric flights (i.e. normal flights, not going higher than the atmosphere) and is exposed since 2008 at the Technik Museum Speyer in the small city of Speyer in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

The first real Buran spacecraft (Buran 1.01) completed its first space flight on 15 November 1988. It was an unmanned flight. Buran is the first space shuttle ever to have accomplished a fully automated space flight, from launch sequence to orbital revolutions around the Earth and to landing (only about 10 meters away from the planned point). Despite its success, this first space flight was also the last one. The Buran programme was cancelled in 1993, while a second real shuttle (Buran 1.02, also known as Ptichka) was nearly ready for its own first space flight.

Following the dissolution of Soviet Union in December 1991, both Buran 1.01 and Ptichka became property of Kazakhstan and were stored in hangars. Buran 1.01 was destroyed in 2002 when the hangar housing it collapsed as a result of a major storm and poor maintenance.

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