Buran (spacecraft)

Buran (Russian: Бура́н, IPA: [bʊˈran], Snowstorm or Blizzard) was the first space shuttle orbiter to be produced as part of the Soviet/Russian Buran program. It carried the GRAU index serial number 11F35 K1 and is – depending on the source – also known as OK-1K1, Orbiter K1, OK 1.01 or Shuttle 1.01. Besides describing the first operational Soviet/Russian shuttle orbiter, "Buran" was also the designation for the whole Soviet/Russian space shuttle project.

OK-1K1 completed one unmanned spaceflight in 1988 and was destroyed in 2002, when the hangar it was stored in collapsed. It remains the only Soviet reusable spacecraft to be launched into space. The Buran-class space shuttle orbiters used the expendable Energia rocket as launch vehicle.

Country Name Origin Year
Russia (USSR) 1988

Orbital flight

The only orbital launch of a Buran-class orbiter occurred at 3:00 UTC on 15 November 1988 from Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad 110/37. OK-1K1 was lifted into space, on an unmanned mission, by the specially designed Energia rocket. The automated launch sequence performed as specified, and the Energia rocket lifted the vehicle into a temporary orbit before the orbiter separated as programmed. After boosting itself to a higher orbit and completing two revolutions around the Earth, ODU (engine control system) engines fired automatically to begin the descent into the atmosphere.

Exactly 206 minutes into the mission, Orbiter OK-1K1 landed, having lost only eight of its 38,000 thermal tiles over the course of the flight. The automated landing took place on a runway at Baikonur Cosmodrome where, despite a lateral wind speed of 61.2 kilometres per hour (38.0 mph), it landed only 3 metres (9.8 ft) laterally and 10 metres (33 ft) longitudinally from the target mark. Specifically, as Buran approached Baikonur Cosmodrome and started landing, spacecraft sensors detected the strong crosswind and "the robotic system sent the huge machine for another rectangular traffic pattern approach, successfully landing the spacecraft on a second try." It was the first space shuttle to perform an unmanned flight, including landing in fully automatic mode.

Projected flights

In 1989, it was projected that OK-1K1 would have an unmanned second flight by 1993, with a duration of 15–20 days. Because the Buran program was cancelled after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, this never took place.

Country Soviet Union
Named after "Snowstorm"
Status Decommissioned; program halted in 1993; 1K1 destroyed in a 2002 hangar collapse, 2K1 in storage in Baikonur; 1K2 at Zukhovsky Airport; 2 others barely started when cancelled. Test articles in various exhibitions.
First flight 1K1
15 November 1988
Last flight 1K1
15 November 1988
Number of missions 1
Crew members 0
Time spent in space 3 hours, 36 minutes
Number of orbits 2

End notes