ORBITER NAME: OK-M (later became OK-ML-1)
CONSTRUCTION DATE: 1982
SPACE FLIGHTS: NONE (STATIC TEST MODEL)
CURRENT LOCATION: TEST-FIRING PAD, SITE 254, BAIKONUR COSMODROME
STATUS: RETIRED TEST MOCK-UP
PICTURE: The OK-M (OK-ML-1) in Moscow as a parts tester.
PICTURE: The OK-M (OK-ML-1) at Baikonur performing interface tests with a mock-up Energia.
PICTURE: The OK-M (OK-ML-1) during horizontal intergration tests with a mock-up Energia.
PICTURE: The OK-M (OK-ML-1) in the MIK building, prior to being moved outside.
PICTURE: The OK-M (OK-ML-1) today is the subject of frequent visits by tour groups.
PICTURE: THE OK-M static test fitter today sits permanently at the Baikonur Cosmodrome having avoided its initial fate of being used a guinea pig 'dummy' shuttle on the first tests of the Energia rockets.
Take a trip of Baikonur space port these days and the static test Buran OK-ML-1 is, in all likelihood, one of the first things you'll see... Sitting peacefully between two small hills, doing not much at all, this static test Buran could easily be mistaken for one of the three space flight capable Burans. OK-M is, however, not a space Buran at all, instead it's but a humble mock-up tester.
This ageing static test Buran began its life in Moscow as OK-M. OK-M, in addition to serving as a parts tester, was also used in normal temperature static loads tests, to determine the eventual space capable Buran obiter's moment of inertia, and to test payload mass mock-ups. After this work was completed it was redesignated OK-ML-1 and flown to Baikonur on the 3M-T and used for interface tests (horizontal and vertical) with the launch vehicle.
In the original program plan, OK-ML-1 would have been expended on the first launch of the Energia, remaining attached to the core and eventually burning up in the atmosphere. For a long time OK-ML-1 sat in the MIK Building. Eventually though she was moved outside when the room was needed by Starsem operations.
OK-ML-1, hence, ended her days at the test firing pad, near Area 254 at Baikonur. There she still lies today, exposed to the elements and the visits of the local school children. There are plans to eventually preserve her as a museum exhibit. Baikonur officials were considering moving the orbiter into the city as a monument, however, the size of the vehicle made it impossible to overcome a low bridge of the Moscow-Tashkent railroad, which cuts the cosmodrome from its residential area.