Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space

Soviet Space Shuttle Found In Bahrain? 401

Posted by michael
from the grain-of-salt dept.
An anonymous reader writes "German news source Spiegel are reporting (english babelfish translation) that some TV journalists have found a seemingly abandoned Russian space shuttle in the Persian Gulf. It looks like it could be the atmospheric test demonstrator Buran OK-GLI which was in Sydney, Australia. Pictures here (external) and here (internal). Boy, what I would give to be able to sit in that seat and flip those switches!" Another reader, grm_wnr writes "German tabloid newspaper Bild reports that a russian Buran shuttle has been found in the Bahrain desert. Here is the story (in german, Google translation here). What's funny is that noone knows how it ended up there. At least the fate of one of the four Buran prototypes is now confirmed." There is not much confirmation on this, outside of a few pictures... let the reader beware.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Soviet Space Shuttle Found In Bahrain?

Comments Filter:
  • Funny... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by daveschroeder (516195) *
    ...how much that thing looks like the US space shuttle.
    • Re:Funny... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DaHat (247651)
      I heard a former Russian engineer respond to a thought like that once... that the shape was governed by aerodynamics, that there are only so many configurations a functioning craft like that could take and they too independently came up with a similar one to the Americans.

      I had also heard a NASA engineer respond a little later saying that if the Russians asked for the plans for the shuttle, that he doubted that NASA would have said no.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        ive heard the same thing (on the history channel)

        it is actually public record. i believe they got the plans in what would probably be considered espionage? but had they just filed a FOIA request they would have gotten it legally.

        anyone remember the specific history?
      • That first response sounds like a big load of horse hockey to me. While there is a nugget of truth to the statement (it still has to be aerodynamic), regular aircraft have the same limitations. Look at the wide variety of aircraft designs in the world today.

        It wouldn't be so bad if the Soviets had at least given it a different paint job, but from the outside it looks like a complete rip-off. I would be curious to learn just how different they are on the inside. People are claiming that it is original
        • by number6x (626555) on Friday September 24, 2004 @11:45AM (#10340447)

          The shape is the same, but not too much else.

          The American (US and Canada) shuttle had integrated engines. Fuel fed from the big external tank into those engines during lift off. Buran was not designed with those engines. Buran was to use a modified Energia rocket to lift into space. This is a major design difference that does not show in the shots here.

          This design by the soviets lowered the cost of developing their shuttle, and would give Buran more cargo space and load capacity. However the soviet design would need new engines for each launch. The American design reuses the engines for several launches.

          The Soviets could have copied the general shape of the shuttle in order to implement a known working aerodynamic design. This is not the same thing the first poster is saying. They could have spent money developing a completely new working aerodynamic design, but chose to copy instead of innovate. The USSR wasn't exactly swimming in cash during this period, so I can see why they chose the cheaper route.

          • by Buran (150348) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:35PM (#10341877)
            The Soviet system places the main engines on the Energia booster because the system is powerful enough to do this. That reduces some complexity in the orbiter due to it not having to carry the main propulsion system and it also increases the maximum payload capacity. The Buran orbiter only carries the engines required for achieving the final orbit, on-orbit maneuvering, and retrofire (for the US system, these are the OMS and RCS engines -- two OMS engines and 44 RCS jets.)

            See Buran - In Depth History [astronautix.com] for more info.
        • Re:Funny... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Buran (150348)
          It looks similar for several reasons:

          1. The work was based in part on non-classified US shuttle information that was publicly available.

          2. The US design was already tried, tested, and known to work. Why do something new when you can duplicate? The Soviets were very good at this; e.g. quickly copying the jet engines they were given during the 1950s, even going so far as to secretly collect metal shavings dropped on the floor by machining tools at the engine factory in England to find out what thte turbine
    • Re:Funny... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pbranes (565105) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:30AM (#10339778)
      Check out the wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuttle_Buran [wikipedia.org]

      It looks like the US shuttle on the outside, but inside it is totally different. Interestingly enough, in many ways it is superior to the US space shuttle - for example if could do everything automated - including the landing.

      • by dpilot (134227) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:53AM (#10339982) Homepage Journal
        The shuttle not being able to land was a conscious decision. Opening the landing gear doors is one of those actions that cannot be undone except in the service bay. When the Shuttle was being designed, they were quite frightened about the way computers had to be integrated, and their dependence on them. Hence the fabled 5-way, multiple fail system. The thing was designed to be recoverable from just about *any* computer glitch. But a glitch that opened the doors too early would cause a bad day, with no chance of recovery. They left the decision to open the landing gear up to a human.

        Other than that, the shuttle can land automatically, too.
        • by Buran (150348) on Friday September 24, 2004 @01:54PM (#10342151)
          There is no need for the orbiter to be able to close its gear doors in flight because it performs a "dead stick" (unpowered) landing with no opportunity for a go-around. Thus, systems meant to close the doors would be unnecessary dead weight. Instead, systems were designed and fitted that are designed to ensure that the gear goes down, up to and including explosives that will force the gear into the down position. The bay doors and gear are mechanically linked, so that if the door is opened the gear is automatically pulled into position.

          The gear is lowered near the end of the flight, just before touchdown, far later than is done on other aircraft. If you have ever flown on a commercial or private plane, you will know that the aircraft slows down and begins to noticeably rumble when the gear goes down, due to the large amount of drag it creates. Minimizing the amount of time the gear is down maximizes the chance that the pilots can correct for any final-approach anomalies.

          A gear door opening early might be a problem but not unrecoverable unless it opened far too early during descent, and a gear door that opened too late could cause a partial or total belly landing which could possibly (not definitely; it would depend on the situation) cause the unrecoverable loss of the orbiter. But the crew would probably survive, especially since they train for such ditchings.
      • Re:Funny... (Score:2, Funny)

        by choas (102419)
        From the article: Buran piggybacked on an An-225 carrier

        Kinda weird since there was only one An-225 ever built... should be the An-225 I think.

      • Re:Funny... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@@@gmail...com> on Friday September 24, 2004 @11:14AM (#10340187) Homepage Journal
        Interestingly enough, in many ways it is superior to the US space shuttle - for example if could do everything automated - including the landing.

        This is true. The Russians has NASA's 10+ years of experience behind them when they were working on the Buran. As such, they avoided several points which made the shuttle such a difficult craft. A few items:

        - The Buran had no launch engines. All lift power was provided by the Energia it was strapped to.

        - The Buran had more advanced computers with real-time control abilities instead of the "key in the program" design of the shuttle.

        - The Buran stack was lighter due to the single-booster design.

        - The complexity lost in the single-booster design meant that turn-around times would have been far faster than the shuttle.

        - Future versions of the design would have made the Energia booster able to fly back to Earth and be reused.

        All of this did come at a price, however. IIRC, the Russian program was about twice as expensive in R&D as the US program. As for the aerodynamics, my understanding is that the Russians did have stolen shuttle specs as a reference. Even if they didn't, they still had a large collection of photographs from which they could divine the areo-shell design. As a result, the Buran was nearly an exact aerodynamic copy of the space shuttle.

        And for anyone who thinks that may have been a coincidence, think again. There was no need for the Russians to have built a large cargo craft. They already had excellent cargo boosters, so they could have built a man rated vehicle for much less. They built the Buran to compete with the shuttle on every point, but did it in such a way as to show that Russian design was "better".

        That being said, I'd love to see the Energia program revitalized. With those rockets, we could have cut the costs of ISS construction several fold!
    • Re:Funny... (Score:4, Funny)

      by perly-king-69 (580000) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:30AM (#10339780)
      Just like Concorde [wikipedia.org] and the Soviet TU144 [wikipedia.org] aka Concordski!
    • Re:Funny... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wwest4 (183559) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:30AM (#10339786)
      In an old defense industry job I had, they still had cold war era security warnings around the buildings. They were printed two-tone on posterboard with war propaganda cartoons and obnoxious fonts... one had pictures comparing our shuttle to theirs, and the F-15 to the Mig-29, etc, with the heading "Somebody Talked!" Since they were propaganda sheets, I don't know if there was any truth behind the idea that the Russians actually spied to get ideas for their shuttle, or just copied the basic airframe by looking at it. Looks pretty damning superficially, at least.
      • Re:Funny... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by BigGerman (541312) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:43AM (#10339899)
        realistically, it is not like stealing how a new car looks.
        All the things that fly require a great deal of design "inside" to work well with what "outside". Similarities in COncorde and Tu144 and in Buran and "classic" shuttle are caused by aerodynamics. Both machines had to perform in identical environments so no wonder they come out looking the same. Kind of mechanical darvinism at work.

        The only exception I know of is the B-29. Soviets got hold of several shut down over Europe and replicated it bolt-by-bolt (Tu-4?).

        • Re:Funny... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by HeghmoH (13204) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:59AM (#10340045) Homepage Journal
          A minor correction; the B-29s that the Soviets used to create the Tu-4 came into their hands because they performed an emergency landing in the USSR after a raid on Japan. The B-29 never performed any missions in Europe. It was indeed as close to an exact copy as you could reasonably expect.

          The OP's examples (F-15/MiG-29 and Shuttle/Buran) are pretty poor; they look similar only to one who is not familiar with them.
      • I've heard too that the old Yugoslavia used to act as middle man, buying Soviet equipment then selling at a mark up to the West. Who then dissasmbled and studied the technology, including live fire testing.
        It probably happened both ways, with certain states selling, no questions asked, technology to the Soviets. Remember too that we were a huge weapon supplier to Iran, and we supplied them with 'state of the art' weapons in the 70's including F-14s, F-15s and F-16s before the Islamic revolution.
    • Re:Funny... (Score:2, Insightful)

      It is, of course, no accident. If you look closely, you'll see that there are some subtle differences - Buran doesn't have main engines at the back, for example. All the launch/orbital injection thrust comes from the Energia booster. This actually improves the Buran's flight performance, as the US Shuttle has a weight/balance/stability issue with those heavy main engines at the back - precisely where you DON'T want weight if you're flying.

      What I imagine happened is the Soviet engineering team was show
    • Well, there are a lot of major differences between the two. For one thing, Buran has no main engines, whereas the NASA STS orbiters do.
      • Lots of other differences too, namely STS actually made it to orbit!! I was told by an old Shuttle guy during my days at NASA that the Buran had a number of stability issues as well as a lack of advanced computers to handle the automatic flyback. The program was cancelled due to those issues. IIRC, the Thermal Protection System (Tiles) was never really tested either. So, it was a LONG way from ever going into orbit. The cost to complete the Buran was very high and thus it was never finished. Hmmm..seems lik
        • Just for the record, Buran flew twice, both times to orbit and unmanned.
          • I thought it only flew into space once? They had a second flight planned, but it was pulled because of minor issues like the Soviet Union falling apart. ;-)
          • Re:Funny... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by phayes (202222) on Friday September 24, 2004 @11:09AM (#10340136) Homepage
            Given that there were no western witnesses, nor videos nor pictures of Buran in the process of being launched, it is widely assumed that buran never achieved orbit & that the pictures being presented as the return from orbit are actually those of one of the atmospheric tests (like Enterprise).

            Corrections welcome of course, but it's been 20 years & you'd have thought that someone would have turned up a picture if buran had really made it to orbit.
            • Re:Funny... (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward
              IAAA (astrophysicist) and I've personally seen the launch and landing videos and some of the telemetry from the flight. I'm convinced they launched, orbited and landed sucessfully. There are some videos are on the net if you look for them, but I'm not going to subject the already flakey server to /. . You can find them if you spend a little time looking. :)
          • Re:Funny... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by twiddlingbits (707452)
            The link to astronautix.com has a great history of the effort, how they copied the STS (without engines) and how they developed the N-1 Launch Vehicle. The test flight discussed seemed to a bit odd with a very eccentric orbit of like 150km x -20km, so they barely got into LEO. And I don't think they tested payload delivery either. The big debate was if the first flight was to be manned or unmanned. Unmanned won. I am assuming with the fall of the Soviet Union that the history of Buran is pretty solid by now
    • It was well known that it was stolen during the Nixon Admin. What is sad is that no matter how secure you are, information can always be stolen.
    • it was intentionally made to be like the us space shuttle.

      for whatever stupid reasoning in the management part of things("the amerikans have one! make one for us too! i don't care if it doesn't make sense!").
  • Nie (Score:2, Funny)

    by essreenim (647659)
    Njet. WE zont need ze bakup systems. We need moore thruzt .

  • Grain of Salt (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RainbowBrite (524252) * on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:22AM (#10339705)
    I'm am definitely sceptical. I live in Bahrain and it is about three times the size of Washington DC. I think I would have heard of this. I do not see an exact location in the story. If I can find one I will go check it out.
    • Re:Grain of Salt (Score:5, Interesting)

      by troggan (118761) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:29AM (#10339776) Homepage
      http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/weltraum/0,1518 ,319521,00.html

      (Sorry, only German)

      The Location is Secret. The Shuttle is only "parked" there.

      A German Museum has bought it and is waiting to ship it to Germany. The Museum has bought many things like this in the past (Tupolew TU-144, a Concord...)
    • by Simonetta (207550) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:38AM (#10339853)
      I agree with the poster.

      Bahrain is a small island about ten miles wide and twenty miles long. It is long known as an important trading center in the Gulf where fundamentalists don't impose arbitrary social restrictions on international business.

      The idea that a space shuttle could fall from the sky and land here undamaged as opposed to any point in the millions of square miles of ocean on the Earth's surface is absurd. Suppose the navigational on-board computer was damaged and it missed landing in the Soviet Union. It still would have gone into the ocean or broken up.

      Maybe someone bought it under the table and then was told that it was going to be used to create an international incident, so they towed it out to the desert where it would be found and assumed that it had fallen from the sky.
      Maybe some enterprising Russians sold it to someone with a lot of money (hmmm, anyone like that in Bahrain?) and convinced them that they could use it to begin an Islamic space program. Then they towed it out to the desert before anyone found out how gullible and backward they were (or how much money they got taken for).
      • Maybe some enterprising Russians sold it to someone with a lot of money (hmmm, anyone like that in Bahrain?) and convinced them that they could use it to begin an Islamic space program. Then they towed it out to the desert before anyone found out how gullible and backward they were (or how much money they got taken for).

        Hahaha that was great, I laughed so hard I probably extended my life by a good few minutes!

        Islamic space program :-) it is perfect!
  • by idontgno (624372) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:22AM (#10339707) Journal
    What's funny is that noone knows how it ended up there.

    Uhhh... it flew?

    OK, not under its own power. But it had to be flown, right? So that's how.

    • by Nexus7 (2919)
      There was a transporter aircraft, a modified Antonov An-124, I think. Or a Myasischev (sp?). The CCCP definitely had it's pick, the russians always had great transport planes.
    • by Itsik (191227) <demiguru-at-me DOT com> on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:37AM (#10339852) Homepage
      What scares me is that if they lost such a huge spacecarft can you imagine what else they could have easily "misplaced" without anyone knowing???

    • Uhhh... it flew? OK, not under its own power. But it had to be flown, right? So that's how.

      The US shuttles are piggybacked on a specially outfitted 747. If I had to guess, customizing a 747 to carry the Buran would cost more than it's worth. And it's been 10 years since that thing was rated airworthy... I wouldn't want to pilot the 747 with a big pile of junk on the back which could disintegrate at any time and damage my own plane, or lose the lift of the shuttle's wings.

      Since it's never going to fl
      • Its an athmorspheric test version. It did 20 flights on its own, so its quite possible it landed there...
        or it was just shipped there with a ship, it isnt THAT large.
  • Folks remember the pics back in the 80's of one of the prototypes sitting bogged in mud at the end of a runway taxi test?
  • Who? (Score:2, Funny)

    by savagedome (742194)
    What's funny is that noone knows how it ended up there.

    Who is this Mr. noone you talk about?
  • Parking (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nos. (179609) <andrew@nOspAM.thekerrs.ca> on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:23AM (#10339716) Homepage
    What's funny is that noone knows how it ended up there
    You ever tried to parallel park one of those things... trust me its easier just to park it in the desert.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:23AM (#10339720)
    ...Noah's space shuttle.
  • Space Camp (Score:2, Funny)

    by cyb3rllama (625448) *
    Hey, that's the shuttle simulator I used at Space Camp back in 1987. ;) How'd it get out there?
  • Trolls (Score:2, Funny)

    by Ghotli (670032)
    God, here come the "In Soviet Russia" trolls.
  • by CheechBG (247105) * on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:25AM (#10339738) Homepage
    "So which one of these buttons turns on the hyperdrive? I need to get the hell out of Tatooine... /watched way too much Star Wars the past few days :)
  • seriously (Score:2, Informative)

    by ilovelinux (129476)
    tell me this wouldn't be the coolest find ever. One day you're walking out in the wilderness and you find a spacecraft.

    If they did actually abandon it out in the desert (which I find unbelievable, you think they would lock it up in a hanger or something), it's probably been completely gutted for the cool parts anyway.

    Did this thing actually get used at all?

    • by Mateito (746185)
      it's probably been completely gutted for the cool parts anyway.

      If you look carefully at the photo, you can see that the wheels have been taken and that the shuttle is actually up on small piles of bricks.

      Also the hood ornament's been torn off and the driver's side window smashed to take at the radio (which since a small shunt in the late 80s has been able to pick up AM anyway, so that's not too much of a loss).

  • Lost? (Score:3, Informative)

    by BannedfrompostingAC (799263) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:28AM (#10339759)
    How could it be "lost"? Bahrain is only about 650km squared in size.
  • Stop press! (Score:5, Informative)

    by grm_wnr (781219) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:28AM (#10339762)
    Well, in the meantime I have a non-machine translation of the Bild article ready. Note that I seem to have my facts wrong: 1. It IS known how the shuttle ended up there 2. The fate of the other three prototypes is known. This is due to the fact that I actually got hold of this information in a newspaper (the Welt, and grabbed the first relevant link I could find. The newspaper article had some facts quite different, and I don't know which source to trust more. Anyway, here is the Bild text:
    German tourist wants to buy lost russian shuttle Russian spacecraft lands in arab desert by DITTMAR JURKO (image caption: The russian shuttle was deemed lost for years und was now found in the arab desert) Moscow - It was the most ambitious project of the russian space program, code named "Buran" (snowstorm): The first space flight with a russian space shuttle! The flight was a success, but experts have been wondering ever since where the four prototypes went. Now BILD readers have found one of the russian space gliders in the arab desert! Volker Hartmann (54) from Schaumburg, Chris G. Maier (32) from Düsseldorf and Kai Niedermeier (39) from solingen met the crown prince of the island state Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa (34). He told him of the hiding place: "We drove near the border to Saudi-Arabia in a jeep. There was the shuttle - covered and abandoned." The glider is the "Buran 002", one of the four airworthy space ships of this type. 36,67 metrs long and 17,37 meters high. She took off 25 times. 1993 the space project was cancelled. A Saudi bought the shuttle, but forgot it in the desert. And the other spacecraft? One was destroyed, one dismantled, the mothership is now on display in Moscow's Gorky Park. One of the german finders now wants to buy the "Buran 002" for 300,000 dollars, and go on a world tour with it: "The sheik approves".
    • by troon (724114)

      Volker Hartmann (54) from Schaumburg

      I preferred Google's "foam castle" translation of Schaumburg.

    • Re:Stop press! (Score:5, Informative)

      by MonkeyCookie (657433) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:44AM (#10339902)
      According the Spiegel website (yes, I can read German), the shuttle was purchased by the Automobile and Aerospace Museum in Sinsheim, near Heidelberg. That sounds quite plausible to me, as that museum has a very impressive collections of cars inside the museum and a large collection of aircraft sitting outside the museum. Some of the aircraft are open to visitors to walk into.

      If anyone find themselves in southwestern Germany, and is interested in this sort of thing, I would strongly recommend going to visit this museum. It was quite interesting even to someone like me. Even though I don't find cars interesting and aircraft only mildly interesting, I still enjoyed this museum. Seeing the full-size aircraft in person instead of in pictures is a worthwhile experience. The presence of the Buran shuttle would make it even better.
  • Buran history (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Leomania (137289) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:28AM (#10339764) Homepage
    I read with great interest the history [astronautix.com] of Buran on astronautix.com. Man, once I found that site I burned several hours reading about the N1 program, Buran, just tons of Soviet-era information that I had no idea was out there. Amazing that the N1 engines were bought by an American company and will end up being used; great story about how they were squirreled away after being ordered destroyed.

    I was amazed to learn that Buran flew into space completely by remote control. Kudos to the Russians for this feat.

    - Leo
  • In the mean time (Score:2, Informative)

    by triptolemeus (538604)
    I already posted this one here two days ago, but it got rejected, no wonder that things have happened. The shuttle already got sold to the German Sinsheimer Museum (for cars and technik). More info here [spiegel.de]. Sorry it is in german and my company doesn't allow translations.
  • by trailerparkcassanova (469342) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:30AM (#10339779)
    Some cosmonauts left it idling in front of a convenience store while they ran in for some smokes and carbs. When they came out it was gone. Apparently it ended up in a Bahrain chop shop and the parts ended up on eBay. The pictures tell the rest of the story.

  • by AyeRoxor! (471669) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:30AM (#10339781) Journal
    What's funny is that noone knows how it ended up there.

    I went to school with Chuck Noone. He was always getting in these kinds of situations... I'll have to track that ol' devil down...

    /no-one
  • Was there a white cloth tied to the antenna or door?
  • Ahh, remember the good old days of manned space travel and rapid advances in aeronautics. Seems like just yesterday.
  • by The Dobber (576407) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:31AM (#10339801)
    Christ, haven't you guys ever watched Close Encounter Of The Third Kind?

  • How can I? (Score:4, Funny)

    by robpoe (578975) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:33AM (#10339814)
    How do I buy it for $5 (10000000 rubles) and bring it home? It would make a cool yard ornament, definately a sort of "I'm a better redneck than you -- instead of cars on blocks, I have a RUSSIAN SPACE SHUTTLE, BIAOTCH!!!".. *sigh* oh well...Guess not..
  • by teslar (706653) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:35AM (#10339831)
    Also at the Spiegel, the shuttle in question appears to have been bought [spiegel.de] by a German Museum and the reason why it's in Bahrain is because it was supposed to be shown at an exhibition in 2002. However that never happened and a legal struggle resulted, which is apparently still going on and left the shuttle stranded in Bahrain, the exact location being kept secret.
  • Ebay (Score:5, Funny)

    by bp2179 (765697) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:35AM (#10339834)
    Lets see how long this takes before it ends up on Ebay.

    1 slightly used space shuttle prototype.....
  • by Spencerian (465343) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:35AM (#10339837) Homepage Journal
    This find is likely similar to the STS structural test article vehicle--an engineering-exact duplicate of an Orbiter vehicle used for tests in the early days of the Space Shuttle program in America. The Russians needed something similar, obviously.

    Our STA, STA-099, was retrofitted after it was clear that retrofitting the test Orbiter Enterprise would be too costly. So, STA-099 become OV-099, Challenger. There might have been much gnashing of teeth to have seen Enterprise destroyed on that cold January day in 1986 for some fanboys than Challenger, I would think--not to belittle that death of a vehicle or its crew would seem any more or less important based on its name.

    Everything you want to know about the Buran program in Russian, amongst many other space information, can be found at this popular and comprehensive web site. [astronautix.com]
  • by kippy (416183) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:36AM (#10339838)
    I just told a coworker who grew up in Romania under the Soviet influence about this. He said that it was sort of common knowledge that Yuri Gagarin was by far not the first human in space. Rather, he was the first one to come back.

    Of course, there's no way to prove that one way or the other but it does illustrate the fact that the soviets didn't have the "burden" of a free press to publicize when things went really haywire as this shuttle seems to have.
    • If this is the case then how come the western media has not picked up on these stories before?
      This would be a significant change to our established history of space exploration.
      • Like I said, it may or may not be true.

        Even if it were true, the Soviets would have kept it under wraps. NASA underwent a lot of public crap whenever something blew up on the launching pad. In Soviet Russia all they had to do was tell Pravda to shut up and their space program looked flawless. If it never got out of Russia, how would we find out about it?
      • If this is the case then how come the western media has not picked up on these stories before?

        Because all the proofs are burried deep in the archives of the KGB.

        However, the Russian media wrote about this [pravda.ru] (in English)

        As 40 years have passed since Gagarin's flight, new sensational details of this event were disclosed: Gagarin was not the first man to fly to space.

        Three Soviet pilots died in attempts to conquer space before Gagarin's famous space flight, Mikhail Rudenko, senior engineer-experimenter w

    • This page [astronautix.com] would tend to indicate that the rumours are not true. If they were, I'm sure by now the truth would have come out.
  • What they're NOT reporting is that the Buran was found along with an ENTIRE SQUADRON of Grumman Avengers that disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle over 50 years ago.

    Anyone up for a trip to Wyoming?
    • Re:Cover up (Score:3, Funny)

      by mrgreen4242 (759594)
      This is the problem with Slashdot... I can't tell if you are being funny or are serious and one of those paranoid conspiracy theory types. We need a mod catagory for that, like +1 crazy, or -1 depending how you look at it.
  • Buran in Sydney (Score:5, Interesting)

    by G4from128k (686170) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:39AM (#10339863)
    We toured the Buran in Sydney when it was an ill-fated tourist attraction. It was a very nice exhibit, video on Soviet space accomplishments and it included sitting in the actual cockpit.

    The Buran in Sydney lacked the navigation avionics, leaving a rather large empty space in the deck below the cockpit. The Russians removed that before they exported the shuttle. The guide claimed the avionics were heavily borrowed from Russian ICBMs and had even included targeting data for U.S. sites.

    It's sad that Buran failed as a tourist attraction.
  • This article [spiegel.de] (in german) reports that the Technik Museum Sinsheim [museum-sinsheim.de] has bought the shuttle for an undisclosed six figure sum.

    The Technik Museum Sinsheim [museum-sinsheim.de] already has a Concorde, the Tupolev TU144 (soviet counterpart of the Concorde), and a Porsche 959, "The blue Flame" and a lot of others tech stuff.

    The shuttle will be kept in good company :-)

  • oh my god. (Score:5, Funny)

    by flacco (324089) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:42AM (#10339886)
    Boy, what I would give to be able to sit in that seat and flip those switches!

    yeah, then you could go watch spongebob in your footie-pajamas, and drink hi-c from your sippie-cup!

    actually, that sounds kind of fun.

  • Headline in the supermarkets next week: "Lost Atlantean shuttle found in the desert. New 'Bermuda Triangle' to blame."
  • by Lispy (136512) on Friday September 24, 2004 @10:52AM (#10339979) Homepage
    on the lower right corner of that Bild.de [t-online.de] link. ;-)

    Now you can see all those small details Nasa doesnt want you to know about. Geez, this must be the lamest incarnation of digital zoom I ever saw. But then again, Bild is germanies most unreliable newssource anyway so I have to wonder why it was linked to on /.
  • Buran in Bahrain. Someone has dyslexia ... or is it a kids book?


  • Russian space program = strapped for cash

    Bahrain oil sheik = using treasury notes for kleenex

    Russian space program: "Who wants to buy a shuttle prototype? Some assembly required."

    Bahrain oil sheik: "That would make a cool water pipe!"
  • The story looks very far fetched. I do not just loose a space shuttle. This things cost an arm and a leg. You might abandon one prototype due to lack of funding in a desert junk yard but deffinitely not in Bahrain and also forget about it.
  • by Apogee (134480) on Friday September 24, 2004 @11:11AM (#10340143)
    Here's a manual translation of the article. It may not be very elegant; I didn't have much time ...

    Soviet space shuttle: Curious discovery at the persian gulf

    While shooting footage for the formula 1 race in Bahrain, a TV crew from Düsseldorf by chance stumbled over a rumour about a russian space shuttle, said to be located since some time in that region, without anybody taking an interest in it. A little while later, the Germans were standing in front of a relic of the soviet space shuttle program of the eighties: A vehicle strongly resembling the US shuttles. It may be a prototype version of the space shuttle "Buran" ("Snowstorm".

    With this shuttle project, at times employing up to 30'000 people, the soviets wanted to catch up with the americans in manned space flight. But the project was not under a good sign. Already at its inception in the late seventies it was clear that the Soviet union actually had no use for a re-usable space craft. "Buran", the name of the sole soviet shuttle ever to make it into space, was a pure prestige project - and an extremely expensive one at that.

    November 15 1988, after more than ten years of development, Buran took off for the first and last orbital flight, without crew. This flight ended according to plan after two orbits of the earth. One year later, the iron curtain came down - and with it, the major part of funding for soviet space exploration.

    [CAPTION]: TV producer Maier in the cockpit of the shuttle: Relic from the soviet union

    While the "Buran" shuttle was able to carry more payload than US shuttles and could be controlled remotely, neither its on-board computer nor its life support system ever worked satisfactory. The space ship was decomissioned, and was destroyed in May 2002, when the ceiling of a hangar in the Baikonur space center crashed. A second shuttle named "Ptitchka" ("Little bird"), which was completed in 1990, was never used: The program was stopped officially in 1993.

    Besides the two soviet shuttles that were ready to fly, there were said to be three more, unfinished, shuttles, and a series of test versions. Today, one is being used as a restaurant in Moscow, another was sold by Russia to Sydney as an exhibition piece for the 2000 olympic games. "Ptitchka" is said to be in Baikonur still.

    It is not clear which model was found at the persian gulf by the TV crew from Düsseldorf. Nobody knows, how this museum piece ended up there. According to TV producer Chris Maier, this could be the model once located in Sydney. This notion is supported by the fact that the shuttle supposedly performed 25 atmospheric test flights. Various reports claim that the Russians delivered the aerodynamic test plane "Buran OK-GLI" to Australia, which was used to test the automatic landing system of the space shuttles. For this reason, the shuttle was the only test variant equipped with engines.

    "We need to get confirmation on which version this is", concedes Maier. However, the shuttle has already attracted a potential buyer: According to Volker Hartmann, a member of the TV crew, German enterpreneur Kai Niedermeier, who is doing business in the gulf states, wants to do a world tour with the space shuttle - and auction parts of its hull on the internet.
  • A poorly translated summary of the dialogue regarding the shuttle's untimely disappearance...

    Slava: Zutroy, what is red light?
    Zutroy: Red light is bad.
    Slava: Was it last vector?
    Zutroy: Last vector, yes. Last vector is bad.
    Slava: Light is bad, vector is bad, what is good?
    Zutroy: Chance of hit desert is good.
    Slava: Pass the Stolchinaya.
    Zutroy: Yes, Stochinaya also good.
  • by Oriumpor (446718) on Friday September 24, 2004 @11:29AM (#10340304) Homepage Journal
    One is on display as a park for children.

    One is under a pile of rubble [bbc.co.uk]

    One has been sold to the Germans.

    And one is still missing.

A consultant is a person who borrows your watch, tells you what time it is, pockets the watch, and sends you a bill for it.

Working...