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Research & Industrial Corporation

NPO Molniya, 6 Novoposelkovaya Street, Moscow 123459, Russia
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Buran Orbiter

The BURAN orbiter is the first reusable manned space vehicle in our country. The BURAN is our first vehicle capable not only to put pay-loads into Space, but also to provide their orbit maintenance and repair as well as return to the Earth.

The BURAN predecessors could execute only separate roles: VOSTOK and SOYUS vehicles were intended only for crew flights, PROGRESS - for cargo delivery onto the orbital station. Put into the orbit by a rocket carrier of the average size they had modest transport potentials. Whereas the cargo flow on the Earth-orbit line increased and the development of a reusable vehicles of large carrying capacity has become inevitable.

The BURAN orbiter is able to put up to 30 tons into Space and to return up to 20 tons of payload to the Earth.
BURAN in mounting-test building of Baikonur space vehicle launching site The availability of a cargo compartment of impressive sizes on the vehicle permits to transport orbital station modules or large structures up to 17 m long and 4,5 m in diameter and not only 2-4 crew members but up to 6 passengers can be accommodated in a crew cabin.

Expendable space vehicles perform a ballistic descent in the atmosphere and parachute landing. The necessity to provide a space vehicle return from the Space and to bring it to the airdrome forced the designers to decide many complex problems.

The gliding descent from the orbit through dense layers of atmosphere has stipulated the necessity to use a principally new reusable thermal protection system designed to sustain 100 flights. For the BURAN orbiter three kinds of thermal protection have been developed: BURAN analogue over airfield in Zhukovsky

"carbon-carbon" material with maximum operating temperature up to 1650 degrees C for the components with the highest thermal load -the fuselage nose and wing leading edge, ceramic tiles for parts heating up to 1250 degrees C, flexible material for surface parts with the temperature not higher than 379 degrees C All of them surpassed by strength the materials used in the USA Space Shuttle construction.

Each of almost forty thousand tiles of ceramic thermal protection had its original geometry differing from the others by plane form, side surfaces view and inside and outside surfaces curvature, availability of cuts and notches.
Touchdown The measurements of a real frame surface geometry under each tile in more than 100 points were made to ensure the tiles fitting closely. To execute all this manually was impossible. The special software was developed and as a result
form building, manufacturing and installation of tiles were carried out completely on paperless technology without drawings and templates, using the bank data.
The BURAN descending from a space orbit passes all possible for an airplane flight performances in the atmosphere starting with large hypersonic (M-25) up to landing (M=0,2) speeds. After landing
In this connection the aerodynamic scheme without a horizontal tail with a double swept wing, with elevons, rudder-aerodynamic brake and balance flap as control surfaces has been chosen. This assembly has been worked up during wind tunnel tests and evaluated in the BOR-5 suborbital flying model flights.

For working up the most responsible flight phase -landing approach and landing - the BURAN flying prototype was constructed. In general it distinguished from the orbital vehicle by installation of four turbojet engines and accordingly by capability of an independent takeoff from the airfield. 24 flights were executed on the prototype, in 15 of them completely automatic mode landing was made.

After landing There was no pilot onboard the orbiter but it having made two turns around the Earth completely automatically controlled touched the runway with the accuracy which experienced pilots could envy.
It was the first in the world automatic landing of a spaceplane. The SPACE SHUTTLE defaults it so far.

The BURAN orbiter flight was a necessary step in the space engineering progress but it has left its trace not only in this field. Born in the course of work on the BURAN project new materials, technologies, computer designing methods and equipment components find an application in far, at first sight, from Space branches of economy.

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