Did Buran & Engeria have any advantages over STS?

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qso1

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Cbased:<br />Does it mean that shuttle will still successfully reach orbit with 1 engine not working? I guess it is possible since the majority of the mass is fuel, so each second it gets lighter. If this is so then I appologise for the 2nd fact in my previous post. I thought this wasn't the case.<br /><br />Me:<br />This in fact has happened. STS51-F or Spacelab 2 in July 1985 was launched successfully but about 5 minutes into the ascent and abort to orbit (ATO) was initiated when the center engine shutdown prematurely. The 51-F crew went into a lower than planned orbit but salvaged the mission. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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qso1

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crazyeddie:<br />I'm getting the sense from the posts in this thread that the Buran/Energia was in more ways than not, a superior launch system to the U.S. STS. So why was it cancelled so soon after it's maiden flight? <br /><br />Me:<br />Only Boris Yeltsin and some insiders know for sure but it was largely economical. Considering that Buran would have been in flight test around the time the Russian economy was having it hardest after the fall of the Soviet empire. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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qso1

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gunsandrockets:<br />the Buran seems to be a superior spacecraft to the STS, and in light of NASA efforts to develop STS derived heavy launch vehicles the Energia and Buran are also instructive.<br /><br />Me:<br />The U.S. was looking at Shuttle Derived Vehicles (SDV) since almost the day shuttle was frozen as a design. One of the earliest concepts for an all cargo version of the shuttle was a Boeing proposal dating to 1977...long before we ever saw the Russian cargo configuration of their Buran/Energia system...seems to me we instructed them. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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qso1

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thedream:<br />Don't hold me to it, but the primary reason the russian shuttle was built was because they didn't know the capabilities in the first place.<br /><br />Me:<br />The Russians knew the capabilities of their system and ours before they committed to Buran. Buran was approved in the mid 1970s when enough information on our system was available to give the Russians a starting point. They made the changes they made because they knew the capabilities, and limitations of our system. Only the lay public thought the shuttle was some sort of bomber...that bombs would fall straight to earth from the shuttle payload bay which in reality they would not. Your right about the cancellation being due to economics and part of that equation was that they knew their shuttle was not going to be nearly as reusable as they originally wanted.<br /><br />They didnt launch in a full blown snowstorm though there seemed to be considerable cloud cover at launch and this simply means they got lucky. Had they have been forced to do an RTLS type abort, weather conditions might have contributed to a potential landing accident.<br /><br />It has been widely reported that Buran was the Russian word for snowstorm. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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qso1

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Christine16:<br />hmm quite strange, no one thinks Shuttle is better <br /><br />Me:<br />This surprises you?<br /><br />Look at the shuttle critics just on this board alone. Alway they criticize our shuttle in particulare calling it inherantly unsafe. They often cite the Apollo Saturn safety record ignoring the fact the Saturn V flew only 15 times as opposed to 115 shuttle missions. They often talk about how much better Soyuz is while ignoring the limitations of Soyuz. I expect that if a discussion about safety...our shuttle vs theirs, someone is going to say the Russian shuttle is safer. That would be based on what...1 flight?<br /><br />Some critics invoke an article written by Grege Easterbrook who wrote a highly critical piece on our shuttle. He turned out to be right about the economic promise. But years later, he was doing the critics comparison dance and before Energia made its first flight...Easterbrook in Newsweek Magazine stated Energia would be able to put payloads into orbit for $300 per pound simply because Easterbrook was among the folks who thought big dumb boosters as they were called...were inherantly better.<br /><br />Yes our shuttle was an economic failure...IMO, its not inherantly unsafe simply because there were opportunities for it to fail that were averted because of the built in safety checks. Its reliability is very high and the accidents it has been involved in were traceable to poor management decisions that pushed hardware beyond the limitations that they knew existed.<br /><br />I think it would have been nice to have both systems operational. I do not see either as being overwhelmingly advantageous over the other. Our shuttle benefits from advanced technology in areas such as computers and thermal protection. IIRC, they claimed their tiles were to be reusable up to 10 flights.<br /><br />Their systems primary benefit came from putting the engines on the LV and the LV being all liquid.<br /><br />Both systems could have been unmanned LV cargo carrying <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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qso1

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thedream:<br />You cannot compare the Russian Buran to the American STS. The russian Buran was a 2nd generation shuttle system while the American shuttle was the trial blazer.<br /><br />Me<br />Our system was definetily the trailblazer and still is. Their system however, was not IMO a second generation system. It was too similar to be second generation. The ideal situation would have been to see both systems being operated since the 1980s and eventually be replaced by fully reusable second generation systems.<br /><br />The Russians have done a fine job of pioneering space exploration in the early days and developing their own LVs. I would disagree with anyone who blanketly states that they copy our space program, spacecraft and LVs. But as you pointed out, they took insider...and actually, a lot of publically available info on our STS and built their orbiter nearly identical to ours. They decided against trying to reuse main engines and went with reliance on the LV engines.<br /><br />We will never know how well their shuttle might have done operationally but I suspect it would have been just as bad economically as ours has been and economics is why Yeltsin decided to cancel Buran. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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qso1

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willpittenger:<br />Those on the lower deck probably had to do without ejection seats.<br /><br />Me:<br />Yep...I don't think I'd want to be one of the lower deck crowd.<br /><br />Someone mentioned payload capacity of the two systems. I would say Buran would have more capacity based on LV performance capability but that capacity would still be limited by what the orbiter can return safely to earth with in a nominal landing situation. Some of the excess payload capacity may well have gone into providing the four crew escape seats. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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qso1

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rocketwatcher2001:<br />instead of developing a heavy launcher like Energia.<br /><br />Me:<br />We actually developed a heavy lifter along side our shuttle. The ET and SRB LV that launches our shuttle was capable of launching unmanned payloads. The only problem was, it lacked the MPS that was on our orbiters. Shuttle "C" was an example of what can be done with our system.<br /><br />You were right on target when you said "It's too bad that for the past 30 years, neither they or us, had such ambitious programs." <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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pmn1

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I vaguely remeber reading speculation in the BIS magazine when Energia was first launched about the possibility of a system that let the main engines be reused.<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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j05h

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<i>>> Christine16:<br />hmm quite strange, no one thinks Shuttle is better<br /> />(qso1)Me:<br />This surprises you?<br />Look at the shuttle critics just on this board alone. </i><br /><br />Here are two places the STS definitely is better than Buran: robotics and utility. The use of the CanadArm robot arm is something Buran would not have ever flown with. Also the generalized nature of the Shuttle, made from the combination of it's incredible maneuverability, modularity, robotics and EVA, and the fact that it has flown 100+ missions, gives the STS the crown for utility. Buran (which does mean snowstorm) only flew one robotic mission, while the Energia HLV system only flew twice.<br /><br />All-liquid is a nice feature. I'd discount reuse of Buran/Energia components until a 2nd-gen vehicle was fielded. On the flip side, Soyuz components are in fairly good shape after impacting the Kazakh steppe. <br /><br />Shuttle C only got so far as a mock-up, the US has lacked true HLV since the early '70s. If NASA really wanted to fast-track an HLV, they'd have dusted off those plans. Shuttle C makes a lot more sense than ARES I/V in that sense. <br /><br />On the Polyus "Pole" battlestation, it may or may not have been armed. The Soviet engineers helped Gorbachev inspect the craft to be free of weapons, but there is conjecture that it was fully armed and ready to rock 'n roll. <br /><br />http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyus_(spacecraft)<br />http://www.astronautix.com/craft/polyus.htm<br /><br />Between STS and Buran, which is better? The workhorse that actually flies or the single-flight stunt?<br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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davf

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<font color="yellow"> Between STS and Buran, which is better? The workhorse that actually flies or the single-flight stunt? </font><br /><br />Energia is the more useful launch system.
 
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willpittenger

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Does someone know if Shuttle C would have used mainly SSMEs that were at the end of their service life or relatively new ones? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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jimfromnsf

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"Energia is the more useful launch system."<br /><br />The question wasn't Energia, it was Buran vs STS/<br />
 
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willpittenger

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I can just see it now. The Commander sees an imminent explosion just prior to launch. The only safe way out is to eject. So he gets on the intercom and tells those on the lower deck "It was nice knowing you" and then ejects himself and the others on the upper deck. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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davf

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Buran was not a launch system. Energia was the launch system that carried the Buran orbiter into orbit. Buran was only the name given to the first orbiter, btw, like Columbia.
 
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jimfromnsf

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Again, the question wasn't launch vehicles, it was buran vs shuttle
 
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qso1

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J05H:<br />All-liquid is a nice feature. I'd discount reuse of Buran/Energia components until a 2nd-gen vehicle was fielded. On the flip side, Soyuz components are in fairly good shape after impacting the Kazakh steppe.<br /><br />Me:<br />I agree. The Soviets claimed the LRBs were reusable but they didn't recover them after the two flights Energia made. They hade fairings on their sides called panniers that were supposed to house recovery equipment for the boosters. They probably flew with empty panniers while the engineers were trying to figure out how to actually build the recovery system...or make an already built one work.<br /><br />Booster recovery is a tough job, especially LRBs of that size. Our own best and brightest have not found a practical way to do it, at least for now.<br /><br />J05H:<br />Shuttle C only got so far as a mock-up, the US has lacked true HLV since the early '70s. If NASA really wanted to fast-track an HLV, they'd have dusted off those plans. Shuttle C makes a lot more sense than ARES I/V in that sense.<br /><br />Me:<br />Couldn't agree more. I actually utilized a concept I came up with based on shuttle "C" for my graphic novels and did so to reflect the reality of the economics of human spaceflight.<br /><br />J05H:<br />On the Polyus "Pole" battlestation, it may or may not have been armed. The Soviet engineers helped Gorbachev inspect the craft to be free of weapons, but there is conjecture that it was fully armed and ready to rock 'n roll.<br /><br />Me:<br />I tend to think if it had been that close to operational capability, they would have launched another one once they got a handle on the problem with the upper stage engine that failed and caused the sinking of whatever was on that first flight.<br /><br />J05H:<br />Between STS and Buran, which is better? The workhorse that actually flies or the single-flight stunt?<br /><br />Me:<br />No doubt shuttle as in STS. If Buran had become operational, I suspect they would be pretty close and that would have <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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qso1

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willpittenger:<br />I can just see it now. The Commander sees an imminent explosion just prior to launch...<br /><br />Me:<br />The really cocky Commander might even wave at the lower deckers then get back into his seat for his ride. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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qso1

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willpittenger:<br />Does someone know if Shuttle C would have used mainly SSMEs that were at the end of their service life or relatively new ones?<br /><br />Me:<br />The plan called for initial use of aging SSMEs which was probably doable with mostly shuttle "C" two SSME flights in the planning, and low enough flight rates. But had demand for "C" flights increased, they would eventually have had to use new SSMEs. IMO, it was this reliance on existing shuttle hardware that was partly responsible for the end of shuttle "C". Between that and low flight rates, the actual cost of shuttle "C" missions were pretty close to the cost of shuttle orbiter missions. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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rocketwatcher2001

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<font color="yellow">Again, the question wasn't launch vehicles, it was buran vs shuttle</font><br /><br />Are you confusing "Shuttle" with "Orbiter"? <br /><br />The Shuttle *IS* the launch vehicle, the orbiter is the spacecraft that the people/cargo ride in. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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j05h

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<i>> Booster recovery is a tough job, especially LRBs of that size. Our own best and brightest have not found a practical way to do it, at least for now. </i><br /><br />Even without recovery, the Zenit has proven to be a workhorse for com-sat launch. My only addition on recovery of LRBs is that they should be lighter than an STS-type SRB on the way back down.<br /><br /><i>> I tend to think if it had been that close to operational capability, they would have launched another one once they got a handle on the problem with the upper stage engine that failed and caused the sinking of whatever was on that first flight. </i><br /><br />They built the Polyus mostly out of spare parts - it had a Mir-type FGB core connected to several Kosmos frames (which housed the goodies). Polyus was cobbled together with apparently no plans to build another, or think of it as the prototype. They couldn't afford a second one at the time. It wasn't an upper-stage failure, it was a failure on Polyus itself. The craft was supposed to pitch over 180 degrees, but instead did a 360 and deorbited itself.<br /><br />On whether it was armed or not, I tend to think that it had the 20mm cannon, laser and other defensive gear but probably not the Nuclear Space Mines (tm). The Sovs test-fired a 20mm cannon on a previous Salyut, so it makes sense they would have carried that forward with Polyus.<br /><br /><i>> Our will to send humans into space and get on with industrialization/exploration/colonization would have moved forward with a little competition.</i><br /><br />That competition is part of why Buran/Energia failed. Personally, it would great to see the technology used again, to build a commercial spaceplane and/or HLV. <br /><br />EDIT: (deep, James Earl Jones Voice) "And now, you will see Power of this fully armed Battle Station."<br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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davf

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Okay... so then I'm guessing that you actually mean the Orbiter, not the Shuttle? The shuttle is the entire system including the orbiter, ET, and SRBs. The orbiter is the winged spaceplane component of the shuttle. <br /><br />So comparing likes, it is:<br />Energia to Shuttle<br />Buran to Orbiter<br /><br />I think Energia is an easy win over the shuttle.<br /><br />On paper, Buran is a win over the orbiter: better glide ratio and a payload return of 20t. But given that they didn't have a chance to get some maturity on the tps like they have with the orbiter, I'd give the nod to the orbiter.<br /><br />It was pretty depressing walking through the Energia and Buran buildings at Baikonur and seeing all the hardware there gathering dust. One complete Energia was ready to go and three or four others were in various stages of completion. Buran and his sister ship were also in the processing building. Sadder still was hearing and seeing on google earth the roof cave-in that destroyed Buran, the completed Energia, and most of the rest. A tragic end. On the other hand, we should keep in mind that Energia-Buran was a military program...
 
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