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The 37KB module

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On november 15th, 1988 took place the first flight of the space shuttle Buran (serial number 11F35). In its payload bay was fastened the module 37КБ N37070 or Block of the Supplementary Devices (BDP). This module remained for a long time unknown in the history of Buran.

Modules 37K were used as prototype to the 37KB module. According to the common decision N1 of February 11th, 1981 between the technological Ministry of mechanical engineering industries and the Ministry of the defence of the USSR, to assemble devices 27K (Saliout station) and 27KC (MIR station) it was planned to use 5 modules of the 37K series, put into orbit by the heavy launcher 11F72M. At the same time the engineers of Buran defined the payload of Buran. According to the estimations of the specialists of Energia, a hermetic module must be used on Buran to study the data of flight. It was then completely logical to use 37K as a base.


So, on April 19th, 1982 the general manager of NPO Energia confirmed the order N135 on "the creation of a supplementary block of devices (37КБ) for the good progress of the work of the product 11F35". According to the specifications the 37КБ module must be used several times and be used as a base of the future modules of Buran. The elaboration of the documentation of study was entrusted to the research department KB "Saliout" and the manufacturing to the factory Mr. V.Hrunicheva.

The following systems were installed in the 37КБ:
  • the on-board measurement system;
  • the safety power units (48 batteries);
  • the autonomous power units of the module (12 batteries);
  • the thermal regulator;
  • the system of detection of fire and putting out;
  • the system of guarantee of the air;
  • the system of the internal lighting;
  • a series of auxiliary devices of management of the system.
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The structure of the 37КБ was cylindrical of diameter 4.1m and length 5.1m, it included 4 anchor-points. The mass of the set was 7 150 kg and the volume 37 m3. Devices settled down inside the pressurized compartment as well as outside. The electric connection with Buran was made by 4 connectors.

In the case of a damage of an on-board equipment the crew could go inside. 2 modules, validated for the flight, were made and 6 for various tests. In February, 1986 the first one 37КБ N37070 was sent to Baikonur for the preparation of the flight of the 1K1 (first flight of the shuttle 1K). The tests took place in the building MIK 132-B, where was usually prepared orbiting space station "Saliout" and "MIR" and the module "Quantum". After the validation of the test the 37КБ was transported in the MIK-OK (254 area) where it was installed in the Buran's payload bay. It is interesting to notice that the cycle of preparation of the first flight of Buran took 2 years and half.

The flight of the 37КБ module with Buran (in November 15th, 1988) took place without problems. In 1987 the 2nd module 37КБ N37071 was made. In September of the same year it was delivered to NPO Energia for the electrical tests with the specific test shuttle. It was intended to build the 3rd module 37КБ N37072 for the shuttle 3K. In 1988 the order of creation was ready, but was not signed.

After the construction of the 2 first modules and their validation for the flight they must be certified for other flights with other scientific equipments (had to receive the names 37КБ N37270 and N37271). Devices 37КБ were slightly connected to the tests of Buran and were often modified.

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In 1989 the schedule was the following one:
  • 4th quarter of 1991 - flight of 2K1 (the second shuttle, first flight), length 1-2 days with the module 37КБ N37071;
  • 1st and 2nd quarters of 1992 - Flight of 1K2 of a duration of 15-20 days with the module 37КБ N37270;
  • On 1993 - Flight of 1K2 of a duration of 15-20 days with the module N37270.
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The 4 first flights of Buran were to be automatic. An automatic docking with MIR was planned with the shuttle 2K2. From the fifth flight it is the vessel 3K that must be used, equipped with survival system and with ejector seats. The flights up to the 8th (1994-95) were to consider as trial flights that is why the crew was made of only 2 cosmonauts. For these missions it was intended to make scientific modules just like the Americans systems Spacelab and Spacehab. For that KB "Saliout" suggested to reorganize the second module 37КБ N37271 and the extra module (3rd) 37КБ N37072, new naming 37КБИ N1 and 37КБИ N2. It was also intended to develop the module 37КБИЭ for the piloted flight of Buran 3K in 1994. For the flights 5 to 8 Buran had to deliver modules 37КБИЭ, 37КБИ N1 and N2 to MIR (27КС) by the manipulator remote system to the node module "Crystal". Modules 37КБИ was scientific experiments modules as well as material supply modules. Their return to earth was also insured by Buran. NPO Energia suggested another variant (so-called a laboratory) for the ministry of the defence, named 17Ф32 НПГ (not separable), created on the base 17Ф32 from which we know nothing.

However from 1989 the plans of creation of modules were changed. October 5th, 1989 was held the scientifico-technological council Minobshchemasha and the AN of the USSR for the elaboration of MIR-2. The council recognized the necessity to stop the works on, the "Dawn" 14Ф70 (multiple piloted vessel), 37КБИ, 37КБИЭ and within the framework of the creation of the new orbiting space station to insure the creation of a modernized module 17КС N128 delivered by the new launcher 11K77 "Zenit - 2".

The works on the modules of the 37КБ serie were stopped definitively in May, 1993 with the close of the Buran program.

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