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Update the Buran

We are low on space shuttles just now...
 
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As most of you know, the Russians once built and flew a space shuttle, apparently copied quite thoroughly from NASA's design. It is named Buran, and it flew just ONCE. It's been sitting on the ground ever since, but in theory it is an actual working space shuttle. Not like NASA's first machine, the test vehicle Enterprise.

Let's ignore politics for the moment, and ask some simple technical questions: Is there any reason Buran can't possibly be refurbished, updated, and put into service alongside NASA's other shuttles? (Sure, I know that mounting points and other fittings would probably have to be changed, but all that goes under the generic "refurbish/update" heading.) Wouldn't this cost less than building another replacement (as Endeavor replaced Challenger at more than $1billion), to solve an immediate problem, the shortage of space transports? Sure, we know we need all-new shuttles, but what do we do until then? They are quite a few years away, and it seems to me that this could work, for the time being.

Vernon, Mar 17 2003

Buran http://liftoff.msfc....gov/rsa/buran.html
This looks like the bad-boy. [Jinbish, Oct 17 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Related idea http://www.halfbake...20Shuttle_20Program
[RayfordSteele, Oct 17 2004]

Some related 'blog chatter http://www.k26.com/...m1/HTML/000051.html
[RayfordSteele, Oct 17 2004]

Some related 'blog chatter http://www.k26.com/...m1/HTML/000051.html
[RayfordSteele, Oct 21 2004]

[link]






       Ha! Who are you going to convince to go into space in that tin can?   

       How many space transports do we need anyway? How many do we have?
snarfyguy, Mar 17 2003
  

       Rods Tiger, the answer to many questions similar to yours is "Money". I think the USSR went bankrupt not too long after Buran flew.   

       snarfyguy, lots of people would be willing to go, if they thought a refurbishing was done well enough. With respect to shuttles, currently there are only three, the Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor. Originally NASA wanted to launch shuttles at a rate of every week or two, so you can see that they have no shortage of stuff that they want to launch. No way do they have enough transports for that, given the proven turn-around time of a month or two.
Vernon, Mar 17 2003
  

       Wow, actually beat Madradish to a space post :p   

       Considering some of the stuff the Chinese are doing it doesn't suprise me that people would be willing to go up in an old de-comissioned Russian shuttle.   

       I'm sure there's at least one more crazy American billionaire willing to pay to go up, even in a de-comissioned Russian craft.
Freelancer, Mar 17 2003
  

       From [madradish]:   

       "I wondered about this myself. The first mission ended badly, it landed slightly wrong and bent the frame. That's why they didn't use it again afaik."
Freelancer, Mar 17 2003
  

       Cheers [Freelancer]. Yeah, it was a good craft. Had more cargo capacity than the American orbiters (since it didn't have it's own engines). It was also able to be flown automatically and sent up without crew.   

       It was sent up sans cosmonauts that one time and bent the airframe on landing. I don't know much more than that but I imagine more could be dug up if anyone had the inclination. It was out in Sydney not long ago. Unfortunately I didn't get around to visiting it (still kicking my elf for that one).   

       I heard a rumor that a prototype was converted to a hotdog stand in Gorky park!
madradish, Mar 18 2003
  

       // gazillionaire //   

       Send Oprah and Ted Turner. If it blows, who cares?   

       The prototype is indeed in Gorky. Saw it with my own eyes.
RayfordSteele, Mar 18 2003
  

       Wow! Did you take any photos Ray?
madradish, Mar 24 2003
  

       I might've, they're probably packed someplace.
RayfordSteele, Mar 24 2003
  

       Pretty please :)
madradish, Mar 26 2003
  

       Would that be the little Chelomei starfighter? Gorgeous little craft.
Madcat, Apr 08 2003
  

       Folks, thanks for the info about the bent frame of the Buran. I'm not quite sure that someone has stated that the vehical has since been destroyed, but if not, there STILL may be a solution. Some years ago I read in (I think) "Popular Science" about how modern cars are built using "unibody construction" and how doing this makes the cars lighter (no chassis; the body is the chassis) but harder to repair if a collision occurs. They have devised special jigs in which the whole body of the car is mounted, and forces are applied to straighten out the car as a whole. It seems to me that such a jig for the Buran would cost a lot less than a whole new vehicle.
Vernon, May 02 2003
  

       I recently worked at the Baikonur cosmodrome. The roof of the building next door had collapsed, due to the guys fixing the roof putting all the materials in one place. 7 were killed. Inside was Buran. It's still there, wrecked. Out the back was the huge vehicles (2 off) used to move Buran/Energia to the launch pad. I think this is documented on www. russianspaceweb.com
RusNash, Jun 23 2003
  

       Apparently from what I've heard, it wasn't destroyed much at all in the roof collapse, just slightly damaged and in need of some minor fixes. Also, the one that was in Sydney was NOT th one that flew in space, it was one fitted with normal jet engines for structural testing. Initially, this sounds liks a good idea. But I wonder what the "true" cost would be... i.e., knowledge of systems, structure, how it flys, replacement parts, etc. There were between 6-12 "prototypes," of various scales, to test different systems. Only one fuly functioning one was built, plus half of a second, and some rumors say, the structure of a third. It only flew once since the Soviets ran out of money and their government collapsed. BTW, the one landing it has was flawless, went perfectly, landing only five feet from the center of the runway, in 34 mph winds. The airframe was not damaged by the landing. This was also the first computer controlled landing, ever.
abcom, Dec 16 2003
  

       The real problem with the Buran was that it was pointless. The Soviets wanted one because the US had one, but didn't have a mission for it other than propaganda. The funny thing is that the US didn't really have a mission for the Space Shuttle either. Thats why the ISS was built - to give the Space Shuttle something to do.
toiyabe, Dec 16 2003
  

       toiyabe, I can agree that the Soviets mostly wanted a shuttle for propaganda, but I think you are somewhat mistaken about NASA. They have wanted a space station for decades. The shuttle was supposed to be part of the infrastructure for building one. Budgetary and mission-objective compromises interfered with the original design of the shuttle, and other budget problems delayed the station for a long time.
Vernon, Dec 16 2003
  

       Vernon, I agree that the Space Shuttle was created to help build the ISS. It's just that the ISS was thought up to give purpose to the Space Shuttle. It all makes sense in a new age spiritualtiy sort of way.
toiyabe, Dec 16 2003
  

       toiyabe, sorry, but you are still mistaken. Note that the "I" in ISS stands for "International" -- and the fact is, that when NASA originally wanted a space station AND a "cheaper" way to space than throw-away rockets, they expected the U.S. to be able to foot the bill alone. The U.S. STILL COULD do that, but too much else has come along to make it politically feasible. And, of course, it is politically good stuff to share, so ISS is what NASA agreed to work toward. But again, that was long after the Shuttles were built. Do recall that NASA wanted to launch one shuttle every WEEK, simply because of all the stuff they wanted to put into orbit, BESIDES space station parts. Telescopes, comsats, manned Mars mission(s!), etcetera. NASA STILL wants to do all that and more, but the existing fleet is not able to carry the load.
Vernon, Dec 16 2003
  

       My point is that NASA and friends need a purpose far more than they need more space shuttles (IMNSHO). The original shuttle justification was long on pipe-dreams and short on actual needs.   

       If NASA/politicians can sit down and figure out what the heck they want to and can reasonably expect to accomplish, then they can figure out what kind of launch system can best meet those goals. I am quite certain if they do that honestly, that system will look nothing like the space shuttle.   

       The Soviets/Russians figured that out a long time ago, which explains why Buran got cancelled. It would be pretty ironic if Buran got revived because NASA didn't figure it out.
toiyabe, Dec 16 2003
  

       Yes, I agree that the Shuttles should be replaced with something more efficient and cost-effective. But the point of this Idea is that we need more shuttles NOW, and that Buran apparently still exists in a possibly-workable way....
Vernon, Dec 17 2003
  
      
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