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Space Science

Soviet Shuttle Buran Found In a Junk Heap 226

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the wipe-away-a-single-tear dept.
gruenz noted the somewhat sad photo slideshow showing what appears to be the Soviet Space Shuttle Buran, lying in a Moscow suburb junk heap. Of course I don't read Russian, so it might also be a carnival ride rusting.
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Soviet Shuttle Buran Found In a Junk Heap

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  • by Danathar (267989) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @09:10AM (#33721270) Journal

    That they did not spend a crazy amount of money on what ended up in the U.S. as a net negative to what we COULD of had. The shuttle had some success and worked but it was way more expensive than it was sold to be and ended up tethering the U.S. to low earth orbit for decades instead of moving on like we should have to a permanent moon settlement and Mars.

    • Not News (Score:5, Interesting)

      by WED Fan (911325) <akahigeNO@SPAMtrashmail.net> on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @09:13AM (#33721280) Homepage Journal
      I remember seeing pictures of Buran on the junk heap about 10 years ago. Why is this news today?
      • Re:Not News (Score:5, Funny)

        by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @09:40AM (#33721342) Homepage

        I remember seeing pictures of Buran on the junk heap about 10 years ago. Why is this news today?

        THIS. IS. SLASHDOT!

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by smallfries (601545)

        I can read Russian just fine thanks. For your information this IS news because it is a carnival ride rusting. Sheesh even Taco pointed that one out for you.

        • "I can read Russian just fine thanks.

          Yeah, we commentators should have known YOU read Russian. Silly us.

        • Re:Not News (Score:5, Informative)

          by arivanov (12034) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @10:53AM (#33722372) Homepage

          I have some doubts about you being able to read russian.

          The original article (which is mostly pics) does not refer to any carnival rides. However it is in Moskovskij Komsomolec which is pretty much the Russian equivalent of the UK Sun or the German Build. Classic tabloid stuff.

          As far as seeing a rusting hulk of a spaceship on ax Soviet Block scrapyard. Well really - nothing new there. Quite a few other examples come to mind. For example if you drive around Sofia on the ring road there is a fighter jet in a reasonably good condition (much better than the Buran on the picture) parked in one of the laybuys. It is nowdays prime location on the ring road for "truck stop and servicing" by practicioners of the oldest human profession. I can think of at least a couple of examples where there are serviceable tanks, missile launchers and other gear located in similar locations. As the saying goes - welcome to the wild east...

          • Re:Not News (Score:4, Funny)

            by craash420 (884493) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:16AM (#33722748)

            For example if you drive around Sofia on the ring road there is a fighter jet in a reasonably good condition (much better than the Buran on the picture) parked in one of the laybuys. It is nowdays prime location on the ring road for "truck stop and servicing" by practicioners of the oldest human profession.

            Great, I discover this after I spent all of my time in Burgas!

          • And yet with all of this knowledge and my piss-takey reference to the summary you felt the need to write a long response. 10/10 for knowledge about russia, but whoosh none the less

    • ...ended up tethering the U.S. to low earth orbit for decades instead of moving on like we should have to a permanent moon settlement and Mars.

      I'll take the Hubble Space Telescope and the myriad of other LEO scientific/communication satellites over your pie-in-the-sky Buck Rogers fantasies any day of the week.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        We would have had all of that and a lot more without the shuttle.

        At some point, someone will mention the shuttle mission to fix Hubble's focus, without mentioning that we could have built and launched another five Hubbles for the cost of that mission alone.

        Face it: the shuttle was pure PR; they wanted something that looked like a plane. Re-usability looked good on paper but it cost more per launch than using disposable vehicles, and that's without even taking the massive manufacturing cost into account.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by GooberToo (74388)

          We would have had all of that and a lot more without Congress.

          Fix that for you. The shuttle that flies today is not the shuttle that was originally designed. In fact, the design criteria and requirements changes numerous times because of congressional mandate. When Congress was done, we suddenly had a pig on a fuel tank and dual boosters which could only service lower orbits. The original craft was much more utilitarian, capable of servicing much higher orbits, albeit with a smaller payload area.

          Realistically, the shuttle, at inception, did have potential to meet some

          • by joggle (594025) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:42AM (#33723148) Homepage Journal

            That was not the critical flaw to the shuttle. The flaw was its basic concept, of having a hypersonic space glider attached to the side of a rocket. It simply can't compete on a cost basis with traditional rockets (of having the payload carried on top of a disposable rocket). It also is more dangerous due to ice and foam falling from the fuel tank which can then strike the shuttle. If you watch old Apollo launches you will see large chunks of ice fall from the boosters but then harmlessly fall to the ground since there was nothing for it to his.

            I don't blame congress for that critical flaw since there really was no way to know how difficult it would be to solve the issue of falling ice and foam or how much it would cost to do the shuttle launches until they tried it since it had never been tried at that point in time. Once they saw how expensive it was they probably should have gone back to the drawing board, but this was going on at the end of the Cold War and I'm sure the political pressure to continue building shuttles was immense.

          • Realistically, the shuttle, at inception, did have potential to meet some level of desired service criteria but Congress ensured that was never going to be possible.

            There's a deeper issue: the Shuttle was conceived as part of a larger project, hence the name, Space Transportation System. Most of the System was cancelled, leaving only the Shuttle, an isolated component with no real function.

            ...laura

      • by J4 (449)

        All those things were fantasies once too. We only made them reality because it was cheaper and had an immediate business application.

        Rhetorical: Are you a realist or are you just settling?

      • Hubble - Could have been Launched without the Shuttle
        All other satellites - Could have been launched without the Shuttle

        The Shuttle was actually a hinderance for launching some satellites - some where too bit, the wrong shape, or needed to be launched in another orbit .....

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by blizz017 (1617063)

          Hubble - Could have been Launched without the Shuttle All other satellites - Could have been launched without the Shuttle

          The Shuttle was actually a hinderance for launching some satellites - some where too bit, the wrong shape, or needed to be launched in another orbit .....

          Hubble - Pretty difficult to repair without a shuttle; and up until the last servicing mission, couldn't be serviced or returned to earth intact without a shuttle.

    • by samkass (174571) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @10:10AM (#33721606) Homepage Journal

      That they did not spend a crazy amount of money on what ended up in the U.S. as a net negative to what we COULD of had

      In many ways, Buran was what the US could have had. It had no SSMEs, which remain one of the most complex engine systems ever built. It had no solid rocket boosters, which caused Challenger's demise and severely limited the failure modes of the vehicle. And it could be operated entirely by computer and remote control, meaning for many missions no crew or their equipment need consume launch weight.

      It lacked capabilities that Shuttle had, but it was a pretty reasonable compromise that would have probably had significantly higher return on investment.

      • by Animats (122034)

        Buran was a nice spacecraft. They had the advantage of doing it after the US, so they were able to avoid some mistakes. Buran's tiles aren't as fragile as the US tiles. Buran could fly through rain; the US shuttle can be damaged by raindrops.

        While Buran looks much like the US shuttle, it's not. Buran has no main engines. The carrier booster has the engines.

    • by rickb928 (945187)

      Actually, Buran probably cost 20B Rubles, and the expenditure was unsupportable. Some would say that this alone precipitated the economic collapse of the Soviet Union, but I think we can give their military and good ol' Ronnie some credit.

  • It looks authentic, but does anyone have a translation of the article?
    • by AaxelB (1034884) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @09:54AM (#33721412)
      I've heard good things about this small, obscure start-up that's done a lot of work on machine translation and has a pretty good site available. Maybe you should give them a shot [google.com] ;)
      • I started this small, unknown, a good thing to hear, many people are in machine translation is complete, there is a very good place. You May Have on the fire [google.com] ;)

        • I do not know how much is a good thing, a town full of listening machine translation, there is a great place. You [google.com] ;)
          • by mangu (126918)

            I don't know what's so bad about it. I pasted the word "fuck" and ten translations later it still came out as "fuck".

            It seems that, no matter the language, a fuck is still a fuck.

    • by Cyberax (705495)

      Basically translation is: "Authentic Buran lying in a junk heap. That's a shame, because no one cares about what had been a symbol of country's space might".

    • Chrome asked me if I wanted it translated automatically - did a fairly decent job of it.

  • by chfriley (160627) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @09:15AM (#33721286) Homepage

    I did take a year of Russian in college, and it is a bit (well, very, very rusty), but it seems to say that it is Buran and it has been "sacrificed" and it laments the fact that it was once a symbol of the Soviet power in space but is now junk. That is no where near an exact translation, but a rough translation of parts of the caption.

    "" is buran in Russian
    "" is essentially "Soviet" (some variation)

    • by Chrisq (894406)
      Google translate [google.com] says And unprecedented case. Seemingly abandoned spaceship on the streets of Moscow - it is something from the realm of fantasy. But alas, this is the true reality. Correspondent "MK" discovered orbiting Soviet "Buran" play like garbage on the outskirts of the capital. Nobody cares what was once a symbol of cosmic power of our country.
      • by ebuck (585470)

        Except that it isn't. The original poster is full of bull. Look at the photos to the rear, no space shuttle takes off with scaffolding welded to it's posterior. This must be a training / simulation mock-up of the real thing.

        There's other hints to it being a mock-up, like the lack of full tiling.

        • by hondo77 (324058)
          Looks like they put power lines on that scaffolding, too. ;-)
        • One of the photos DOES show a few tiles on the nose and underbelly near the front. It might be the real thing, the scaffolding might have been welded on as a platform to help disassemble part of it. (Note the wings are missing). I'm sure they did make some partial mockups in order to build the real thing, IIRC there were two obitors built, one was tested on top of a large aircraft. I don't know if any made it into space.

    • by chfriley (160627)

      I guess unicode didn't make it.
      The five letter word in quotations (looks like an upside-down "g" then "ypah" is Buran. (5th line, 4th word in the first photo caption)
      Then the "cobetckNN" (backwards NN) is essentially "Soviet" (right before Buran).

      There are a few other words about it being in the outskirts of Moscow.

  • Which one is it? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes AT xmsnet DOT nl> on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @09:18AM (#33721294)

    This page [aerospaceweb.org] contains a list of the Buran airframes and their locations. This page [aerospaceweb.org] has a photo of the OK-1K2 unfinished orbiter, this is the closest match to the photos shown in TFA. Aerospaceweb lists this orbiter as having been sold to the Technikmuseum Speyer in 2004, but I've recently been there and they have the OK-GLI atmospheric test bed on display, not OK-1K2.

    • Re:Which one is it? (Score:5, Informative)

      by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes AT xmsnet DOT nl> on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @09:26AM (#33721314)

      Wikipedia has a better list, it seems. Most likely candidate is orbiter 2.02 [k26.com]:

      At the time of the halting of the Buran-Energia program, Buran 2.02 was under construction on the factory floor at the Tushino Machine Building Plant just outside of Moscow. Her level of completion was estimated between 10-20 percent.

      With funding gone, Buran 2.02 remained unfinished on the factory floor for a number of years. Recently she has been dismantled and moved outside to the back of the premises. She now lies exposed to the elements. Many of her tiles have since been stripped, such as those shown below can now be bought on the internet.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by MacGyver2210 (1053110)

        Looking for it at the site via Google Maps, I came across something interesting in a nearby river.

        http://maps.google.com/maps?q=moscow&ie=UTF8&t=k&om=0&hl=en&hq=&hnear=Moscow,+Russia&ll=55.851752,37.456099&spn=0.002803,0.008256&z=18&iwloc=A [google.com]

        Is that a plane in midair, or is that a huge plane-shaped boat? Perhaps a huge seajet of some sort?

        • by MoonBuggy (611105)

          Google's scary data gathering skills to the rescue! I clicked on the little 'street view' icon, fully expecting to see nothing, but it popped up with a whole bunch of geotagged photos. Found one with a descriptive title and it's then just a short hop to the Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org].

        • by ebuck (585470)

          A plane in midair, the plane is listing slightly to the port (making the tail section appear to be slanting to the bottom of the screen). That said, it's an excellent shot if you wanted to start your own "Soviet super secret giant seaplane conspiracy theory"

          • by uglyMood (322284)
            As pointed out above and below, it is an Ekranoplan, AKA "The Caspian Sea Monster." A small one, actually. Given that it was a top-secret project and that some massive versions were built with the upper decks bristling with missile launchers, I'd say that "Soviet super secret giant seaplane conspiracy theory" is pretty much right on the money.
  • Its either part of an incomplete buran-class ship or a static test model.
    There were several of them partially built when the program was canceled
    in addition to several static test models.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buran_program [wikipedia.org]

  • Amazing... (Score:5, Funny)

    by advocate_one (662832) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @09:26AM (#33721316)
    slashdot having problems... target website holding fine... "In Soviet Russia, Buran slashdots you..."
    • I know that Soviet Russia meme gets overdone, but that is one of the funniest things I've seen here in a long time. Well done, advocate_one!
    • by igny (716218)
      Interestingly enough, their page's counter went up about 100k since this morning (ET). In the morning, when I first read the story, the counter was going up tens per second.
  • Ah, it is MK... (Score:2, Informative)

    Well, it's not newspaper analogue of Fox News, but still very close - well-known "yellow paper" tabloid. So it's not _the_ "Buran", it's just some model / unfinished project, as it was said above. Still, it's not much worse than fate of original "Buran", which now just serves as a cheap attraction in local theme park.
  • There is a Buran in Germany at the Speyer Technik museum.

    http://blog.flightstory.net/681/russian-space-shuttle-buran-transported-to-german-museum/ [flightstory.net]
    http://sinsheim.technik-museum.de/node/1327 [technik-museum.de]
    http://sinsheim.technik-museum.de/en [technik-museum.de]

    They have two awesome sister technical museums near Frankfurt/Stuttgart. Sinsheim has planes (both supersonic passenger planes) and the Buran is at the Speyer along with more space stuff. Both have a good amount of military stuff and tons of autos. Trains. Model trains. Chainsaws.

  • ...and it's fully automated first flight. As I recall, it did the whole thing under independent computer control -- was this an incredible achievement for the time?

  • I understand that there's a memory associated with the object and certainly the shuttle played a role in Earth history. But ultimately, it's just an object. As I'm gearing and girding up for another hurricane season, I keep on thinking how much *stuff* I have. I admire those people -- and in Russia it seems to be a cultural thing -- who can easily give up objects. Maybe it's years of living under the USSR, or maybe it's the bleak landscape (in some areas), but my Russian friends seem not to fret about throw

    • by JustNiz (692889)

      >> maybe it's the crappy cars they keep on telling me about. All of them were just a moment away from the trash heap anyway.\

      Boy those Russians really did copy *everything* from America.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by OmniGeek (72743)

      For me, as a space enthusiast and aerospace professional, the sad part is that *anyone* would get a shuttle orbiter project so close to operational that they could launch, orbit, and land a fully-automated prototype -- and then just lose that entire program. The physical remnant is, as you say, just "stuff," and not really important in itself. What I (and, I believe, others) mourn is the loss of a manned space-launch program that came THAT close to being operational, regardless of just whose program it was

      • I agree... But I also think that we spend far too much time looking at past accomplishments rather than pushing forward. Keeping a hunk of metal around to inspire a child (or an adult for that matter) may be valid, but maybe those funds are better spent on telescopes or model rockets.

         

    • "I admire those people -- and in Russia it seems to be a cultural thing -- who can easily give up objects. Maybe it's years of living under the USSR, or maybe it's the bleak landscape (in some areas), but my Russian friends seem not to fret about throwing things away. Me? I have a ticket stub from a U2 concert that I'm keeping. I have a cigarette lighter from my crashed 3000GT."

      I think your over-generalizing in your grand self-psychoanalysis of this story. People keep things, from Russia to, apparently, your house. I suggest that rather than draw parallels between your own rather nutty para psychological profile to Soviet times, you instead look to more practical matters such as the costs involved in housing and upkeep of a huge spacecraft like the Buran. As a symbol of Soviet technical achievement having made one un-manned space flight, it ranks with the Sputnik. Compared with y

      • Compared with your self-absorbed proclivity to pack rat junk, its not even in the same ballpark. Not even on the same planet.

        It actually is on the same planet. The rest of your post is invalidated. I win.

  • Naked chicks, booze, flipping over cars, and rusting aerospace; fucking awesome.

  • I seem to remember a slashdot story from a few years ago that the Russians had put the shuttle up for sale on Ebay.

    • According to an article someone else posted above - http://www.spacedaily.com/news/buran-00a.html [spacedaily.com] - you may be referring to a theme park company selling their prototype-Buran-turned-ride. They say it was a publicity stunt and that they don't have the legal right to sell it, even though they own it and operate it as a ride.

  • I wonder what the freight costs are from Moscow to Hutchinson [cosmo.org]?

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:50AM (#33723272)

    I see a much more enjoyable ride [www.mk.ru] on that web page.

  • There's a good history of Buran over at Astronautix. First the article [astronautix.com] about the craft itself, another (with a lot of overlap) about the project [astronautix.com], then a short piece about the Buran Analogue [astronautix.com]. A very good write-up with several good photos (sad ones at the end) over at Aerospaceweb [aerospaceweb.org].

    If you've got some time to kill, you can find a Buran mock-up sitting at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Google Earth. Also the final resting place of the Buran that flew and the Energia reusable launch vehicle, but it's a little hard to

  • Reading about the Buran doesn't really surprise me. Back around '95, I was on a business trip in the (fairly new) Czech Republic, and one day on a drive between Hradec Kralove and Pardubice, we passed this junkyard, and it was full of scrapped tanks, and artillery pieces and such, and to cap it all off there were a few old MiGs (old, like -15s and -17s IIRC) strewn across the top of the pile. All just pleasantly rusting away in the Bohemian countryside...

  • To tell if it's real, we can check to see if there is a tape loop of Shirley Bassey running at all times.

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