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Flight of the Buran space shuttle

TASS's press release

November 15, 1988 was marked by the formidable success of the Buran space shuttle flight in Soviet Union. After the departure of the Energia launcher and Buran shuttle, the orbital shuttle was placed on its orbit, made two rotations around the Earth and finally landed on the cosmodrome at Baikonur.

It is the extraordinary outcome of the technology and science of our nation, opening a new way in the Soviet program for the space studies.

The Buran shuttle is built according to the sketch of a plane with a delta wing with variable leading edge angle, which aerodynamic systems of flight were used for the landing after the travel in the low layers of the atmosphere. It was able to flight brilliantly during its descent in the atmosphere on more than 2000 kilometers.

The length of Buran is 36.4 meters, its scale is 24 meters and its height is 16 meters. The total mass of the system was of more than 100 tons including 14 for propellant. The payload bay of the shuttle can accomodate a load of 30 tons. The nasal part of the shuttle contains a hermetic cabin for the crew and a great room for the electronics component which guaranteed well functioning of the flight of the rocket-shuttle unit, the autonomous flight on orbit, the descent and the landing. The volume of the cabin is of more than 70 cubic meters.

A very important characteristic of Buran is its powerful heat shield which makes it possible to ensure the normal conditions of temperature for the structure of the shuttle through the dense layers of the atmosphere. This last includes a great number of tiles (nearly 38 000), made up of special matters (fibre of quartz, organic fibres, covered partially with carbon), manufactured with a high degree of accuracy then positioned in a single way. At the rear of the shuttle stand the main engine, two groups of engines for the orbital operations are located at the tail and at the nose of the shuttle.

The on-board systems includes more than 50 electrical and mechanical appliances, which are controlled by the programs installed in the main computer.

The first flight of Buran lasted 205 minutes and was completed by a successful landing on a landing strip especially conceived, of 5 kilometers length and 80 meters broad, in the neighbourhoods of the Baikonur's cosmodrome.

It was the first and until now the only landing in automatic mode of a shuttle in the history of the aerospace. This new and outstanding fact in the space conquest was gained brilliantly by the science and Soviet technology.


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