Buran-Energia : The Soviet Space Shuttle 2.0 on a Moon Rocket

To many the Soviet space shuttle or
Buran was just a copy of the NASA one, it looked surprisingly similar and was
meant to do similar things but beyond the looks the two were really quite
different, not only in the shuttle vehicles themselves but also the way
they got into space. In many ways the Buran could be seen as space shuttle 2.0.
To build big things in space you have to have an affordable way to get off the
ground. As spectacular as the american apollo
era rockets were on camera they were hardly efficient the Titan IIIC cost
around $4500 in 1972’s currency to deliver each kilogram
of hardware into low-earth orbit the Saturn 1b could lift a larger payload
but it cost around $6800 per kilogram adjusted for inflation that’s around $40,000 per kilogram in today’s
money or $40M dollars per ton. NASA aimed to solve this problem with a
space truck the STS or the space transport system but eventually became
known as Space Shuttle. Originally the shuttle was designed to fly up to
sixty missions per year to low-earth orbit at a cost of around just $453 per kilogram less than a tenth of the cost
of rocket launches at the time. This would enable NASA to construct space
stations or large modular spacecraft from manned missions to other planets
more worryingly for the Soviets they believed it would have a greater
military role like capturing and returning satellites from orbit or
deploying space weapons. When the STS was announced in 1972 Soviet rocket
engineers were hardly concerned with efficiencies, they were still working on
Sergey Korolev’s giant N1 rocket. Korolev had died
six years earlier and his deputy Vasily Mishin had taken his place. The N1 still
carried the Soviet dream to land cosmonauts on the moon but after four
failures in four test launches the N1 program was suspended. In 1974 the Soviet leadership replaced the now disgraced chief designer Vasily
Mishin with a rocket engineer Valentin Glushko who went to work on an
alternative program of lunar missions using the smaller proton rocket. However
in early 1976 Glushko received instructions to develop
a symmetrical response to the American shuttle. Over 600 Soviet institutions
were enlisted to work on the huge project the new spacecraft will be
called Buran which translates into english a “snowstorm” or “blizzard” on the
outside Buran looked like a copy of NASA’s shuttle which wasn’t surprising
as much of the non-confidential plans have been on public view for years. This
allowed the Soviets to adapt a proven airframe which saved the engineers
precious time and allowed them to improve on the American design. Buran
would allow the Soviets to leapfrog to shuttle 2.0 with greater payload
capacity mission, flexibility and better crew safety. The major difference between
the US shuttle and the Buran was that the Buran was unpowered, it didn’t have
main engines attached to it like the US shuttle. Instead it will be attached
to a giant heavy lift rocket. Doing this meant that Buran not only had a larger
payload of 30 tons to the US shuttles 24 but it can also be turned around much
quicker he also did away with the need for the solid rocket boosters that the
US shuttle had used. These were part a low cost fixed to get extra thrust and a
political move to keep ballistic missile makers in the space program. Powerful as
the thrusters were they were not controllable once ignited and due to a
sub-zero temperature launch the o-rings of one booster failed which led to the
loss of a space shuttle Challenger. One of the biggest problems slowing down the
US shuttle launches was that the main engines had to be removed and
refurbished after each mission this was a major job which took months to
complete. The Buran on the other hand had just thrusters which it used for
maneuvering in orbit and which were rated for 66 flights without replacement.
It was also going to use two turbojet engines the same ones that were used in
the Sukhoi 27 fighter. The original idea was that these would
give it a much greater range if it couldn’t land at the designated air base
or it could make several attempts at our landing if it detected a problem. It
could also take off and fly around like a normal plane from any air base
originally these turbo jets were to be placed at the base of the tailfin, it was
then realized that two or not enough so two more were added below the first two
but difficulties in protecting them from the heat of reentry along with the extra
fuel equipment and weight which they added caused delays and cost overruns
which meant that they were not ready for the first flight and the Buran had to
operate in glider mode without them. The US shuttle on the other hand could not
use its main engines for landing so it was always going to be an unpowered
glider and therefore could only have one chance to get its landing right. The
Buran was also designed from the outset to be flown completely automatically
without any crew if required, if the crew were on board the pilot and the copilot
had ejection seats something which had been ditched in the u.s. shuttle. But if
Buran was the headline main Glushko was interested in the fine print too. He was
determined to keep the soviet route open to the moon with this in mind he tasked
his design bureau with building an independent rocket to launch Buran as a
payload this way the Soviet shuttle would be much closer to the design goals
of the original american STS shuttle. this new rocket called Energia weighed
almost as much as the scrapped in one at 2500 tons on the
launch pad to the N1’s 2,750 tons. Energia had enough power to either launch
four Buran into orbit with a 30 ton payload or launch up to a 100 tons
without the orbiter even more than he N1’s planned 95 tons. Energia achieved
its incredible power by staging for booster segments separating from a
central core during launch with each booster carrying an RD 170 the
most powerful rocket engine in the world. Now many will say that the Saturn V F1
engines made by Rocketdyne were the most powerful. Well they were the most
powerful single combustion chamber engines but the RD-170 is still a
single engine but it used four chambers instead of one to get around the issue
of combustion instability a problem that gets worse as the chamber size increases
and can literally blow the engines apart. The Americans used baffles in the rocket
nozzle which allowed them to keep the large single chamber but at the expense
of power because they took up space that would have otherwise been filled with
more injector holes for fuel and liquid oxygen. The four chambers of the RD-170
supplied 7900 kilonewtons of thrust in a vacuum even more powerful than the 7700
kilonewtons for the F1. Soviet engineers also achieved higher chamber pressures
in the RD-170 than the equivalent American engines resulting in greater
fuel efficiency from the ground. In 1986 after 10 years of development and
testing Energia was ready for launch but as the rocket neared completion they
remained a problem, Buran was still years away from being ready. To test the new
Soviet launcher, a repurposed TKS module was loaded with science experiments
including elements of the skiff CO2 laser weapon. The 80 ton payload was
given an ominous black coat of paint and named Polyus. when the Energia rocket
lifted off for the first time on 15th of May 1987 the huge rocket set off at an
angle fortunately 3 seconds later of a
guidance system correcting the trajectory continuing a path into the
skies as planned. Energia’s first launch was a success the payload separated at
its target altitude ready to carry out a brief orbital insertion burn however due
to a sensor malfunction Polyus rotated further than intended before its burn
falling back into the Pacific Ocean. Still Glushko’s monster rocket had
shown that it could do what the N1 could not. The USSR now had a proven
super heavy lift vehicle and the next task was to use the Energia to launch
Buran. On November 15th 1988, one year before the fall of the Berlin Wall the
pride of the Soviet space industry was prepared on a pad for the long awaited
maiden launch. The first test flight of the Buran was to be an unmanned mission
operated entirely by its onboard computers at 8 a.m. local time Energia
lifted its orbiter to an altitude of just over 250 kilometers, Buran orbited
the earth twice in a little over three hours then slow to re-enter the
atmosphere there its automatic systems detected that there were high crosswinds
and therefore made a second approach at the airfield at biakonour even battling a
strong crosswind the Buran touched down just 10 meters from the target mark on
the runway. Images of Buran’s maiden flight shocked
and impressed the world who hadn’t imagined that the USSR could build their
own Space Shuttle but plans were already in place to go further with a second
orbiter the K2 Ptichka or “little bird” scheduled to launch in 1991 a third
orbiter K3 baikal named after world’s deepest lake in Siberia was to make the
first manned flight in 1994. An improved Energia rocket system was also
planned which would have been fully reusable and capable of launching a
payload of a 175 tons to the moon or beyond. The center
core booster would use Sangers 1933 antipodal aircraft method to skip off
the upper atmosphere and make its way around the world and back to the launch
area. Also the detachable boosters would fall away and open their folding wings
and be able to glide like a plane back to an airfield. But sadly both Buran and
its huge rocket would never fly again by 1989 the USSR was already beginning to
unravel when the Soviet Union broke up two years later Buran and Energia
gathered dust in long term storage. In many ways the Buran and Energia were a solution to a problem that no longer existed and something that the
new russia could no longer afford. As the new Russian space agency struggled to
raise funds Buran and Energia were displayed as a gargantuan exhibit to
impress tourists and media who visited the Baikonur cosmodrome. However by 2001 poor maintenance had led to water leaking through the roof of building 112 onto the spacecraft 75 metres below. On the 12th of May 2002 a repair
team climbed onto roof after heavy rains at 9:20 a.m. in the morning with a huge
crash the roof collapsed completely destroying the K1 Buran and the Energia
and also killing eight workers. Athough the vast costs of developing the Buran
might appear to have been a tragic waste But the technological legacy of Energia
lives on. Variants of the RD-170 engine are currently in use on the current
family of the Zenit Rockets the American Atlas V first stage is powered by the RD-180, another adaptation of a remarkable design. After the space shuttle Columbia
disaster in 2003 and for grounding of all the u.s. shuttles it was wondered
whether Buran could be brought back but by then both the vehicles and the
equipment had fallen into disrepair or had been used for other projects. In 2011
when the US shuttles were retired the idea was floated once again as a cheaper
way to gain a shuttle service instead of designing a new vehicle from scratch but
again it came to nothing and the dream of a Russian space shuttle went the same
way as the US one. So thanks watching I’d just like to say thank you to all
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100 thoughts on “Buran-Energia : The Soviet Space Shuttle 2.0 on a Moon Rocket”

  1. Your heart bleeds for Buran, i hear a violyn playing somehow. You Should marry the sad Buran, maybe?! To say Buran flopped, is a major understatement!

  2. The Cruise missile like reusable boosters look really cool – but I have to wonder how much stress they'd be under and realistically how much use you'd get out of them. But as Materials tech improves all the time ideas like this look quite reasonable – if a little complicated.
    I like the Buran I think it looks "Cute" with the lower engine profile making it more bird like in shape and perhaps a little prettier.

  3. Share.

    An interesting word. I think that if NASA, the ESA, JAXA, and Rosco – and anywhere else for that matter – came together to form…

    The ISA. The International Space Agency. Pool their resources, their talent, their engineering expertise, then I think mankind can move forward in a good way towards the stars.

    Just a thought.

  4. There must be one left BC I saw a russian youtube channel that goes exploring. This just references that video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjNZPryqKjU

  5. Does the Buran have the same jet engine configuration as the non-space shuttle, does it have the same catastrophically aerodynamic jet engine air inlets which are designed not to tear the non-space shuttle apart at mach 20? Just wondering…

  6. Morton Thiokol didn't sign off on the challenger launch, Know it all 'Lockmart' (the thief) with their superior technology said it would be ok. Nope again from solid rocket booster manufacturers. Design flaw lies 'Lockmat'. Not our fault. . .

  7. Yes, the Rd-170 versus the F-1 engine had more thrust but you leave out the launch time factor of 1986 versus 1967! Pretty important point. Where was the world in 1967 versus 1986???

  8. Cool idea to save lives!!!!

    Классная идея, чтобы спасти жизни !!!!


  9. Cool idea to save lives!!!!
    Классная идея, чтобы спасти жизни !!!!


  10. Cool idea to save lives!!!! Классная идея, чтобы спасти жизни !!!!


  11. HAHA. Only ruskies can waste such craft. They can't even store it. S its good it never had crewed flight as it would be certainly ended with more deaths.


    So do You believe Your teacher in school, or they who really know?


  13. Give russian engineers the leftovers from western projects and whatever they come up with will be as good or even superior. Space shuttle,tank,space station… The proof is in the pudding: MiG29,Sukhoi SU-27,Sukhoi SU-35,T34,Buran,MIR space station,Borei/Yasen subs….They build good shit with cruddy 2nd grade materials

  14. Buran was an unpowered space glider. Maneuvering thrust only. It accomplished everything of which it was capable, and had nothing in common with the heavy-lift shuttle. Any attempt to carry a payload would have put it so far off center, that it would have been unlaunchable.

  15. the Buran didn't have a lifecsuppotrt system so it couldn't carry a crew therefore had to o have an autoland system so as it couldn't carry people into space and is obviously far more inferior to the space shuttle! the Buran couldn't carry a crew and so was garbage!

  16. I think it would have been a cool idea if the USA had bought the soviet shuttles from Russia after the fall of the Soviet union for use with the space shuttle program since they were so similar. Sounds like the backdrop for a fiction book.

  17. Oh brother!
    Clearly the soviets took American space technology and re-tooled it.
    Be careful Putin….those rockets are dangerous! 😆

  18. The Buran was a failure because the CIA knew Nasa had Soviet spies and there was no way to keep everything quiet with all of them and their contractors. So they changed the shuttle plans every so slightly and let them be stolen from the start almost to the point of begging them to take them.

  19. In the US near earth orbit missions are being left to private industry. Barring a lot of spectacular engineering breakthroughs the notion of a manned mission to Mars in the next decade or two seems insane given the engineering challenges. I don't think the crew would survive the flight. If by some miracle they did they wouldn't survive on the surface very long and there's no way they'd make it back alive.

  20. Socialists do not think at all, they believe in whatever crap anyone tells them, same with globalists, as I have noticed in these globes files where the comments are only, -thanks for making me dream me out in the universe, that maybe one day I can build me a house on Jupiter unless a big black hole doesn´t swallows the planet.

    You live in a dream life just like these totally incompetent socialists do, and it is not wise that you can live a full life in denial and only trust people who happen to say they are scientists.

    1. How can a boat disappear in the curve and you can zoom it in 35 km away?

    2. If the boat disappears in the x-axis on the horizon but not in the y-axis, do we live on a cylinder then?

    3. Horizon is the word for straight flat surface, nothing is called curvizon

    4. Why has 13,000 telemetry data disappeared from NASA from all lunar landings, and why no one has traveled back in 50 years, is it maybe because today we have cameras with zoom, so we can follow them all the way and even see where they land ?

    5. Can the moon be 384,000 km and the sun 15 million kilometers from us, can a sun so far away from us illuminate our world, while at the same time with my Nikon camera I can film both their surface and on the moon also see stars shine through the moon?

    6. What does Freemasonry stand for and why are all astronauts members of Freemasonry?

    7. Satellite launch, why is it secret and those filmed there, show that these satellites are lifted up with helium balloons and cannot pass lower orbit.

    8. 3 astronauts, one president = Obama and two NASA employees, all say the same thing, they can't get any further than lower orbit = 110 km up.

    9. Why does no astronaut dare to swear on the Bible that they were on the moon, if they had been there they could have done so.

    10. Challenger 10 exploded with 7 astronauts, how can 6 of them live today, three with the same name and date of birth and all with their families?

    11. Why do we only see they play and do somersaults in ISS, in our TV box, they never work there, and no one can get further than lower orbit, so they can not do it either.

    12. Why do we pay for satellite TV when 99% of its communication comes from cables located on our seabed that interconnect the communication?

    13. LORAN Long Range Navigation works with cell stations that connect to our earth, it only works on a flat earth, giving us the position we are in, and we call it today GPS.

    14. Moonstones were taken home from the moon and given to many museums, when checked in a French museum it turned out that these were made of old wood, so is the moon made of wood?

    Would you like you out there WITHOUT looking in science journals for explanations you also do not understand, and answer honestly IF the points I note may be possible on a spinning globe at 1,600 km per hour and at 100,000 km per hour through an expanding universe.

  21. Заметили , американцы ? Никакой монтажной пены ! Если бы не Горбачёв , сейчас бы возили вас в космос с комфортом ! А может и без вас станцию построили бы …

  22. NEWSFLASH! Russian space technology catches up to American technology before the disco craze! lol

    Somebody put a Helen Reddy album on the 8 track!

  23. Yes. The money being diverted from NASA by Obama in order to rebuild historic mosques in the Middle East surely nothing to do with the decommissioning of the Space Shuttles.

  24. With the collapse of the USSR, Americans thought that they would dominate in space, but as a result they fly on our rockets into space =))

  25. hello sir, I love your videos😁
    you might wanna try playing KSP and SimpleRockets2. theres also a mobile version for easier access anywhere.

  26. Would have hoped with 700k subscribers you would have done more than glance at wikipedia for 5 minutes before making this

  27. Buran was an amazing project for us. If you are interested in how things are going with BURAN now, be sure to watch this video.


  28. I always thought Russian are superior than Americans in those matters , indeed look the use of Soyuz to go on the space now…inside myself I hope USA will collapse soon in every sense. We are tired of them , mostly everywhere in the world..

  29. it was military program to surprise-nuke fuckin americans from manned space stations and reflect retailatory strike with orbital laser platforms (first payload)

    so you are happy poor bastards it was not succesful, but now new advanced weapon systems are under development and will be finally used someday

  30. 💠🐰💠🍓🚀🐹🚀🍓💠🐰💠

  31. we have enough space debris in orbit … it is time for technically feasible concepts that make it possible to capture the space debris and to recycle it into the resource cycle … elon musk prefers reusable and self-landing
    boosters … the previous method is outdated and no longer up-to-date … before we fly to Mars or moon we should clean the orbit

  32. Droid, this is fascinating. I've only seen a couple or so of your videos, but that was enough to make me an admirer. You're making YouTube what it was meant to be, instead of the travesty that it has ended up becoming.

  33. 5 Space Shuttles…..From 1981 to 2011. A total of 135 missions were flown, all launched from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. During that time period the fleet logged 1,322 days, 19 hours, 21 minutes and 23 seconds of flight time. Two exploded killing 14 people…. expensive but dangerous… Buran flew once.. The United States completed most of its manned space flights through incrementalism.. the key to success in the Space Program.

  34. я там работал в 1988 89 г. . теперь в буран можно зайти и взять что надо . всё без охраны. охраняют только двойку. то есть Гагаринский старт.

  35. I worked there in 1988 and ' 89 . now in a snowstorm you can go and take what you need . all without protection. guarded by only a deuce. that is Gagarin's start.

  36. Wonder if at one point they considered selling off all or part of the Buran project to China? (The last thing they'd do is sell it to the USA!)

  37. The Energia-Buran system was objectively a better design than the American STS, but let's not forget that it came 10 YEARS LATER. The Soviet designers knew the Shuttle inside out, courtesy of the KGB, and they had the time to learn a lot from it, its strengths as well as its drawbacks and problems. Ultimately the Shuttle was the first and, to this date, the most successful attempt to develop a truly reusable spacecraft.

  38. Excellent! Sober, objective and nearly impartial. Very well edited and well done in general. Thanks for this historical approach.

  39. There should be no more shuttles until material science and coatings have improved… The heat protective tiles will always be a major weak point.. The Buran used them too and Russia would most definitely have suffered the same problems as the US if many missions had been launched…. A super-strong heat protection coating that is sprayed and baked onto all the bodywork parts….

  40. Идеи никогда не будут забыты нашими предками, мы живем ради покорения вершин. Космос будет наш товарищи!!!

  41. It’s also important to note. That the Soviets had a very good rockets “Soyuz”. And it was much cheaper to launch it than Buran. Thus, the fate of the project was already sealed. Simply, was not needed.

    And the Buran with the engine was used for flight testing purposes. It was not designed to be used on the actual one.

  42. Aw, I burst in tears when I saw Buran lands. It was such a marvel of technology. It's so sad when politics destroys science and this is what happened in the USSR – the horible times in the 90s destroyed generations of scientists and engineers. And I think the whole mankind lost from this, because it takes so long to educated and specialise a person in rocket science.

  43. It was a dead end and useless branch. This was known in the USSR even before the Buran was built. But because of the Cold War, the USSR had to build such a ship, because it could be the carrier of nuclear blocks to strike at the enemy. After the American shuttle demonstrated a bombing attack on Moscow from space, it was decided to build the Soviet system. And also because NASA tried to decorate the Soviet cosmic station Salute.There were 6 ships built, for various flight tests, 1 of which flew into space, the second space shuttle for space was built at 75 percent, and remained in the hangar on Baikanur

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