Here are some frequently asked questions about Buran-Energia, I've sourced answers from around the internet and the constructors Molyina and Energia where appropriate, it's small at the moment but it will grow:
Why doesn't Buran - Energia fly anymore?
Plain and simple - There is no money! There is no money not only for the continuation of the Buran-Energia program but also even for the official closing! The official closing of program implies a minimum output by the government for the required conservation of equipment used in the program, even that's too pricey at the moment.
How much was spent on the Buran-Energia program and how much does one launch cost?
All in all, the Buran-Energia program cost between 16 and 17 billion dollars, by comparison the US STS program cost between 3-5 billion dollars. There is no reliable data on the cost of one launch, but this value can be obtained indirectly, using the cost of the launching 1 kg of payload with the Energia superbooster, using data from Stanford University Studies. Using these figures, a standard Buran-Energia launch costs 131.25 million dollars all up. According, however, to evaluations by specialists at NPO Molniya, the constructors of the shuttle, the cost of lifting 1 kg of payload with Energia is in the range of 3000-5000 $/kg
How many Burans were built?
Five space Burans were completed or under construction when the program was halted. One, article 1.01, better known as 'Buran' was finished and flew in space, a second was virtually finished but had it's flight scrubbed, the remainder were left unfinished at the factory and either abandoned or dismantled.
Was the Space Buran 1.01 destroyed in the hangar collapse at Baikonur in 2002?
Yes it was, as was the Energia mockup it sat upon. As such there is now only one space capable Buran at Baikonur, that being Buran 1.02.
So whatís the status of Buran 1.02 then?
Check my Orbiter Status pages to find out. Overall Buran 1.02 is notoriously difficult to photograph or pinpoint its exact location.
Why doesnít NASA uses the Burans in its space shuttle program?
Well thereís only 1 left now that hasnít been dismantled or destroyed. In addition the shuttles were never very efficient things to begin with, so there isnít much point. As well as that thereís a lot of modification that would be needed to fit it on the US shuttle boosters, the main problem being Buran doesnít have any engines, and the US core boosters engines are on... you guessed it... the shuttle.
What are the names of the five intended space shuttles?
Space Shuttle 1.01 = Buran (Snowstorm/Blizzard)
Space Shuttle 1.02 = Ptichka (Little Bird)
Space Shuttle 2.01 = unknown (possibly Baikal (Typhoon).
Space Shuttle 2.02 = unknown
Space Shuttle 2.03 = unknown
So technically are they all called 'Burans'?
Not really, but as the sole fully complete article, Space Shuttle 1.01's name - "Buran" has become commonly accepted as the name for the shuttle type, it's a little like referring to the U.S shuttles as all being 'Challengers'. According to some accounts, Buran was officially adopted as the shuttle type name recently, so that may have changed.
Did Buran, meaning Snowstorm, actually launch in a Snowstorm?
Funnily enough yes it did, in conditions that exceeded abort levels, but it went without a hitch anyway.
Are Burans 1.01 and 1.02 now really the property of Kahzakstan ?
Apparently so. Kahzakstan also owns the Baikonur space port, which it leases to Russia. On top of this, and apart from this, Burans 1.01 and 1.02 were exchanged in return for credit with Kahzakstan.
So the two countries with shuttle fleets are the U.S. and Kahzakstan?
It would seem so. Though only Buran 1.02 remains in Kahzakstan and itís not flight worthy any more.
Is the Buran that was on display in Sydney a real space Buran?
No, it is the aerodynamic tester Buran OK-GLI. It never flew in space nor was it designed to. It was, however, used to conduct tests on the automatic landing system for the eventual space orbiters, as such it flew in the low atmosphere. That's what it needed the engines for - so that it could get up to a height of around 5000 metres and practice landing approaches. Itís back in Moscow now btw.
How many full size tester Burans were built?
Eight - seven static and one flight tester (OK-GLI (BST-02)).
I read on a newsgroup that Buran was heavily damaged on reentry on its first flight, resulting in warping of the airframe, is this true?
No. There is no evidence at all to support this. Looking through Google I managed to trace this rumour back to one misinformed newsgroup post about five years ago. Buran in fact survived reentry very well, losing a remarkably small amount of tiles. Itís heat tolerance levels are actually better than the US shuttles.
Were the Burans to eventually be fitted with jet engines for assisted landing purposes?
Iíve seen pictures of Buran on a huge plane... What was that plane?
That transport plane was the Antonov-225 Dream, the largest plane ever built, and built specifically to transport Buran. Itís six engines and huge frame gave it the ability to lift over 250 tonnes, as opposed to 70 tonnes for NASAís 747 shuttle transport. Hereís a page I made about the An-225 that gives its current status. There was only 1 ever built (though a second one might get finished).
Could a Buran shuttle be launched from another booster, such as Arcane V?
Not recommended. Arcane V can only launch around 1/3 or Buran's weight, suffice to stay it would'nt get off the ground;)
Couldn't Energia be used to launch the ISS much quicker into orbit, thereby saving time and money?
The idea was proposed to NASA by the RSA in the early 1990's. Had it been chosen the ISS would have been completed much quicker. NASA, however, rejected the idea, in favour of building the ISS thru 25 tonne shuttle and Proton launches over a longer timeframe. I don't know the exact reasons, some have suggested it was because the parts of the ISS did not fit the available space of the module that would strap onto Energia.
Sometimes on footage of Baikonur from CNN and other sources I see what looks like a Buran sitting out in the open, is that a Buran?
No, itís a test article and itís in a bad state from being exposed to the elements for so long. The actual space Buranís are tiled differently and in much better condition, and not just sitting in the middle of nowhere like that.
Iíve seen pictures of a daytime Buran launch of ĎBaikalí on www.buran.ru, are these pictures for real?
No, this was a April fools joke from the constructors sites (translate the relevant page to see), the picture of Baikal launching is taken from a picture of Buran 1.01 on its train transport inverted 90 degrees and Photoshoped. The pictures of Baikal on the ground, are video caps of Buran 1.02 with the words ĎBaikalí photoshoped onto the fuselage, and the picture of Baikal on approach is a picture of Buran 1.01 taken from when it was sitting on an An-225, and heavily photoshoped. All up they are good, if easy to recognise fakes if you know what to look for, but they do fool a lot of people.
Where can I get more information on the Buran?
www.buran.ru is your best source, it's Russian though so English users who want to read the extensive technical articles on the site are advised to use a web page translator.