Here's the way its reported in Russia. It still does not point out the judgement of all parties involved, but its a good first look.
...Smirnov, former VPK [military-industrial complex] chairman and a member of the same Dnepropetrovsk team, in his regular report to Brezhnev on the state of our space efforts, once mentioned in the end: The Americans are intensively working on a winged space vehicle. Such a vehicle is like an aircraft; it is capable, through a side maneuver, of changing its orbit in such a way that it could find itself at the right moment right over Moscow possibly with a dangerous cargo. The news disturbed Leonid Ilyich [Brezhnev] very much, he contemplated it intensively, and then said: We are not country bumpkins here. Let us make an effort and find the money. Of course, nobody dared to contradict "No. 1." The VPK leadership took the instructions from the four-times Hero of the Soviet Union as gospel. In the documentation, the idea of creating the Buran is justified by the necessity of maintaining military-strategic parity with the Americans. Another person who was successfully pushing this concept was then Central Committee Secretary D. Ustinov, in charge of defense and space issues. Once again, economic interests were sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. In 1974, when the work was started, this grandiose project had been seen as a military program. Later, our Pentagon rejected it as holding no future promise.
[Moscow KURATY in Russian 2I Dec91 pp. 8, by Engineer B. Olesyuk: "The 'Buran' Blind Alley", JPRS USP-92 001, 27 January 1992]
On 17 February 1976, a decree was signed in the CPSU Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers concerning the creation of the reusable Buran space system. I wasn't able to ascertain who fathered the idea that one must look for the roots of Buran in the Ministry of Defense. Indirectly, that is confirmed by two other decrees dated May 1977 and December 1981. Those venomous tongues say that, after becoming familiar with the American Shuttle, the leaders of our armed forces became very afraid and ran to Marshal Grechko [Minister of Defense] to try to talk him into building the same kind of airplane. The Minister of Defense very sanely decided that that would hardly be necessary. So then, going around Grechko, they began to use the Shuttle to frighten L.I. Brezhnev, and they explained to him that that damned Shuttle could zoom down on Moscow at any minute, bomb it to smithereens and fly away. And they're all hoping that Leonid Ilich himself understands how much responsibility rests on his shoulders, the shoulders of the Marshall of the Soviet Union and Chairman of the Defense Council. Brezhnev understood. Yes, of course, an alternative weapon is necessary.
[ Moscow IZVESTIYA in Russian 12 Dec 91 pp 1,3;13 Dec 91 p3; 14 Dec 91 p 3; 17 Dec 91 p 3;18 Dec 91 P 3, by Yaroslav Golovanov: "Just Where Are We Flying To?", JPRS USP-92 001, 27 January 1992 ]
"It is no secret to anyone in our sector," says Yu. Semenov, "that the Energiya-Buran system was ordered from us by the military. It was said at meetings on various levels that the American Shuttles, even on the first orbital revolution, could perform a lateral maneuver and turn out to be over Moscow, possibly with a dangerous cargo. Parity is needed, we need the same type of rocket-space system. We made a better one than the Americans did. But the former customers are now abandoning it, outlays for defense are being curtailed.
[Moscow Izvestiya in Russian 4 Apr 91 p 3, by Ye. Konovalov, IZVESTIYA science commentator: 'Domestic Companions of Rockets: Why There Will Be No Mass Firings at the Firm Where Gagarin's Spacecraft was Developed", FBIS-UPS-91-004, 8/20/91]
When the decision on the development of the Soviet aerospace system was made, the Molniya Scientific Production Association, which Lozino- Lozhinskiy heads, proposed to take as a basis its "ancient" (13 years had been lost) Spiral design. However, it was rejected with a quite strange explanation: "This is not at all what the Americans are doing."
[Moscow KRASNAYA ZVEZDA (First edition) in Russian 31 Jul 91 p 4, [Article by Colonel M. Rebrov "The Revolutions of 'Spiral'. A Biography and Portrait of the Chief Designer of the Buran Space Plane"] FBIS-UPS-91- 004, 8/20/91]
The Spiral design was used for heatshield test flights of the BOR-4 (16K).
[The Spiral] was very good project, but it was one more mistake of our government. They said Americans didn't have a space shuttle and we shouldn't have one [either] and it was destroyed. And then after you made your space shuttle, immediately they demanded a space shuttle. It was very crazy of our government.
[Interview with cosmonaut Georgi Grechko by Dennis Newkirk, 4/6/93]
In March 1988, rumors circulated that a US photo- reconnaissance satellite detected an Energia booster being placed on the launch pad and then it was removed. The Soviets acknowledged that they were testing an retesting systems for the shuttle launch. The booster was being tested with launch pad systems to insure there would be fewer problems when the shuttle was taken to the pad. In May 1988, the chairman of Glavkosmos stated that the second Energia launch would carry the Soviet shuttle and that it would be the only Energia launch of the year.
In September, Radio Moscow reported that cosmonauts were undergoing shuttle training in simulators, practicing takeoff, maneuvering and landing, fuelling rumors that a manned flight might be attempted soon. Vladimir Dzhanibekov reported that there were six cosmonauts in training for the two positions on the first manned flight of the shuttle, whenever it would occur. In the last week of September, rumors circulated that US a photo-reconnaissance satellite had detected the shuttle being moved to the launch pad.[187,188,189,190]
On April 29 1988, the Soviets announced that their shuttle would be launched shortly on an Energia booster. Pictures released of the Buran orbiter being prepared for flight, showed a cylindrical module mounted in the cargo bay, similar in size to the Kvant module. There was no explanation for the purpose of the module, but it probably carried instrumentation to measure the launch and reentry conditions inside the cargo bay that future spacecraft would have to withstand.
The launch was originally scheduled for Oct. 29 at 7:30 A.M.. As the countdown proceeded into its final hours, a fault occurred in the ignition system which required the countdown to be delayed for four hours. After recycling the countdown, the count continued to T minus 51 seconds when it was stopped again because the crew access platform did not retract as fast as expected. Even there was no crew in the orbiter, the crew access and escape arm also provides electrical connections from the ground to the orbiter. Specifically, the orbiters guidance gyroscopes were updated with accurate ground information. The access platform should have retracted in three seconds, but required 38 seconds. The design of the hinge mechanism for the platform was said to be inadequate. Review of problems and corrections would take about two weeks.
On or about Nov. 11, the next launch attempt was set to Nov. 15. The Soviet's announced that live television coverage would be provided of the launch, but as with the previous launch attempt, no live coverage was provided. As launch time approached, launch officials met to consider the worsening weather at Baykonur. The temperature was 4° C and the cloudy weather was predicted to grow worse as a storm moved from the Aral Sea toward Baykonur. The countdown was allowed to continue and workers cleared the pad at 12:00 A.M. Nov. 15, as hydrogen loading of the Energia core stage began. During the final preparations, shuttle cosmonauts flew MiG-25 launch observation aircraft and a Tu- 154 shuttle training aircraft making landings at the shuttle recovery runway to test abort landing conditions. At 4:49 A.M., the shuttle was switched to an internal launch sequencer, and about eight seconds before lift-off, the core stage main engines started followed by the four strap-on boosters. Lift-off occurred on scheduled at 6:00 A.M..
After 2.75 minutes, the strap-on boosters were jettisoned in pairs as their propellant was depleted at 60 km. altitude. The core stage continued firing, carrying the orbiter toward orbit. The core stage shutdown eight minutes after launch and separated from the orbiter at 160 km. altitude. The trajectory of the booster and orbiter were both sub-orbital,descending into the atmosphere over the Pacific. The core stage would continue on that path and make a destructive reentry. Two and a half minutes after separation, the orbiter fired its orbital maneuvering engines for 67 seconds to boost the trajectory to about 250 km. and avoid falling into the atmosphere. Over the Pacific at 6:47 A.M., the orbiter made another maneuver for 42 seconds circularizing the orbit to 252 * 256 km..
The launch was announced over an hour later as the orbiter was on its first orbit. The orbiter was in communication with mission control in Kaliningrad during the entire mission using a combination of tracking ships and satellites. The ships Volkov and Belyayev were stationed in the south Atlantic. The Marshall Nedelin was stationed off the coast of Chile and the Dobrovolski was stationed to the west of the Nedelin's position. The Marshal Nedelin was normally used to support military launches. Two Molniya communications satellites were used to relay information, probably from ships to mission control, and a Gorizont and a Luch satellite were also used. During the flight, mission control received television pictures of the Earth taken from cameras mounted in the shuttle cockpit. The orbiter made its first orbit over the pacific, South America, the South Atlantic, Africa, the USSR and back to the Pacific.
The second time over the South Pacific, the orbiter turned its tail into the direction of flight and performed retrofire at 8:20 A.M.. The orbiter then turned around and coasted toward reentry. The orbiter touched the fringes of the upper atmosphere at 122 km. altitude. For the next 20 minutes, the orbiter was in radio blackout as aerodynamic braking created a plasma shield under the spacecraft. As the orbiter flew through about 40 km. altitude it had completed altering its flight path to the East by about 1000 km. to head toward the Baykonur Cosmodrome. Before the arrival of the shuttle, the Tu-154 trainer was flown on approaches and landings to determine weather conditions at the landing site. The orbiter was also intercepted by two MiG-25 chase planes flown by shuttle test pilots Ural Sultanov and Magomed Tolboev. They relayed television pictures of the orbiter as it made its final approach to the runway. As the orbiter approached the ground, winds of 64 km per hour (40 mph) blowing 30 degrees to the runway made for a cross wind of 55 km per hour (34 mph) which was well above acceptance values for NASA shuttle landings. The orbiter touched down at 9:25 A.M., traveling about 180 knots (207 mph) with the main landing gear was only 1.5 meters from the runway center line.
Three braking parachutes were deployed to help slow the orbiter to a stop after traveling about 1150 meters down the runway. Inspection revealed that only five of the delicate 38,000 heat shield tiles had been fallen off the orbiter during the flight. After the landing, the orbiter was parked outside the orbiter processing facility for initial inspections and propellant removal. The orbiter was scheduled to have some of its major systems disassembled for inspection but this was still not done by the next June when the orbiter was flown to Paris on the new An-225 carrier aircraft for display at the Paris air show.[192,193,194]
 Furniss, Tim "Soviet Shuttle will fly on Energia 2." Flight International March 12, 1988, pp. 49
 "Soviet Spaceflight Update." Soviet Spaceflight Report Ed. Kappesser, Peter J. No. 5, Sept./Oct., 1987, pp. 14
 ABC News, May, 16, 1988
 National Space Society, Space Hotline, Sept. 23, 1988
 Science and Engineering, Radio Moscow, North American Service, April, 29, 1988
 Lenorovitz, Jeffrey M. "Soviets Planning Manned Shuttle Mission for 1989." Aviation Week & ST Jan. 16, 1989, pp. 34
 Kidger, Neville "Soviet Shuttle." Spaceflight, Vol. 31, Jan., 1989, pp. 5
 Furniss, Tim. "Energia and Buran, The Soviet Space Union." Flight International Feb, 1989, pp. 26
The western press has paid some minor notice this spring to the movement of a static test mock-up Buran orbiter from NPO Molniya Tushino plant to Gorky park in Moscow. The Kosmos-Zemlya company formed by NPO Molniya, the park, Kosmoflot and headed by Gherman Titov, is trying to make a buck by using the test article as the framework for a new space motif restaurant. Videokosmos is producing a video production of Earth views to be shown in simulated port holes as up to 60 patrons eat from a 100 varieties of space food for a cost of $70. Following a May 25, 1993 decision of the Council of Chief Designers the Buran project has been placed in mothballs. Orbiters at Baykonur are being placed in storage and LII and Air Force cosmonaut groups trained for Buran flights are waiting to hear of their reassignment. Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS announced the imminent launch of the Buran, on April fools day.
Countdown magazine, Cosmonautics News, by Dennis Newkirk, July/August 1994
|This page is maintained by :