Biggest UAV to date-Russian Buran


The Buran spacecraft (RussianБура́нIPA: [bʊˈran]Snowstorm or Blizzard), GRAU index 11F35 K1 is a Russian (Soviet) orbital vehicle (in Russian terminology: "орбитальный самолет", - "orbital airplane") analogous in function to the U.S. Space Shuttle and developed by Chief Designer Gleb Lozino-Lozinsky of Energia rocket corporation. To this day Buran remains the only space shuttle vehicle from the Soviet Buran program that was launched in space before the program closure. The Buran completed one unmanned spaceflight in 1988 before the cancellation of the program in 1993 and was later stored in a hangar at Baykonur cosmodrome before a hangar collapse accident in 2002 destroyed both the hangar and the orbital vehicle. [2]

Flight into space
The only orbital launch of Buran occurred at 3:00 UTC on 15 November 1988 from Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 110/37. It was lifted into orbit unmanned by the specially designed Energia rocket, which to this day remains the heaviest rocket running on liquid fuel. Unlike the Space Shuttle, which is propelled by a combination of solid boosters and the Shuttle's own liquid-fuel engines sourcing fuel from a large fuel tank, the Energia-Buran system used only thrust from the rocket's four RD liquid-fuel engines developed by Valentin Glushko. From the very beginning Buran was intended to be used in both fully automatic and manual mode. Although the program accumulated a several-years delay, to this day Buran remains the only space shuttle to ever perform an unmanned flight in fully automatic mode. 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, the Buran orbiter landed, having lost only five of its 38,000 thermal tiles over the course of the flight.[4] 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.[4] The unmanned flight was the first time that a spacecraft of this size and complexity had been launched, completed maneuvers in orbit, re-entered the atmosphere, and landed under automatic guidance.- 

wiki source:Buran (spacecraft)

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  • really? :D

    well... still, they are pretty damn smart ;)

  • That space pen/pencil story is an urban myth.
  • Russians are geniuses... it's impressive what they can do with so little capital.

    One remarkable "space dispute", for me, that shows what I'm saying is how Americans and Russians tackled the same problem: writing in space.


    While Americans spent millions of dollars designing a pen that could write without gravity, Russians simply used pencils. Brilliant. :)

  • And what's incredible is that almost 20 years before all this, they sent a remote control lander to the moon which functioned through multiple lunar day/night cycles and sent video data back to earth. Not an AUAV, but a UAV nevertheless. 


  • I believe the point of the post was to bring up the fact that the Buran was the largest UAV, I would say the X-37 is a UAV.. Just not the largest.
  • @Chip,

    I'm just confused.

    X-37 is a returnable space vehicle - and it operates autonomously (not merely remotely controlled)?

    But it doesn't qualify because it is too small? perhaps because it cannot carry people, it's in a different class?





  • The X-37 is not nearly as big as the Buran and Space Shuttle Orbiter.. But the Russians pulled off a fully autonomous flight, while our orbiter has never been flown without a human pilot.
  • Wait - didn't Boeing just launch an Autonomous shuttle?




    So the Russian device not the only Autonomous relander?

    Kudos for 12 year advantage. Sorry the Soviet experiment relied so heavily on torture, gulags, and perpetual detention without cause (I guess they were a bit ahead on that as well.)



  • Developer

    To bad it didn't get into full production. The landing with high crosswind was great. A human might not do as well.

    Thanks for posting.

  • More than 10 Buran spacecrafts were made. Some were never completed and only OK1K1 made it to orbit. There are still some on display, the one in Speyer technik museum is OK-GLI that made the first test flights (similar to the space shuttle Enterprise).
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