Project Time line:
2nd May 1974
Development of Block R LH2/LOX stage begins - Development of the Block Sr for the N1M cancelled; work on the smaller Block R LH2/LOX stage was resumed. This stage was eventually to have been used on the Buran / Vulkan launch vehicles
Buran project authorised - The government decree 132-51 authorising development of the Energia-Buran system had the title 'On development of an MKS (reusable space system) consisting of rocket stages, orbiter aircraft, inter-orbital tug, guidance systems, launch and landing facilities, assembly and repair facilities, and other associated facilities, with the objective of placing in a 200 km Northeast orbit a payload of 30 tonnes and returning a payload of 20 tonnes'. The Ministry of Defence was named the Program Manager, with NPO Energia as the prime contractor. The official military specification (TTZ) was issued at the same time with the code name Buran.
Decision to copy US shuttle for Buran project - Following exhaustive analysis and inability to improve on the design, a straight aerodynamic copy of the US space shuttle, was selected as the Buran orbiter configuration. MiG was selected as subcontractor to build the orbiter. For this purpose MiG spun off a new design bureau, Molniya, with G E Lozino-Lozinskiy as chief designer.
First ground test of Block R LH2/LOX upper stage - From 1976 to 1977 two Block R stages underwent thorough tests of all of their systems. The Block R could have operated up to 7 hours with 7 restarts. Not adopted for production for unknown reasons.
Buran draft project completed - The MKS draft project was completed on 12 December 1976. The military assigned the system the index number 1K11K25 and the launch vehicle the article number 11K25.
Soviet Presidium directs co-operation on Buran - A declaration of the Presidium directed co-operation between all concerned user, research, and factory organisations in realising the project. Chief Constructor within NPO Energia was I N Sadovskiy. Chief Designer for the launch vehicle was Y P Kolyako and for the orbiter P V Tsybin. NPO Yuzhnoye in the Ukraine would build the booster rockets.
Buran draft project reviewed by expert commission - A critical step in any Soviet project, this approved the design and paved the way for development to begin.
Government decree 1006-323: Buran project plan - The government decree 1006-323 of 21 November 1977 set out the development plan. The flight test plan was for first launch of the booster in 1983, with the payload being an unmanned OK-ML-1 mock-up of the orbiter. This would not have a heat shield and remain attached to the booster. A second mock-up, OK-ML-2, would be used on the second launch, but be separated from the vehicle after burnout. However, it would also be without heat shield, and be expended. The first flight Buran was to fly unpiloted in 1984. Manned flights were to be routine by the 1987 seventieth anniversary of the Soviet Union.
Buran technical project completed - Buran engineering details were definitised and drawing release began to the production shops.
31 December 1979
Energia model delivered to Baikonur - In 1979 the EUK13 dimensional model of the Energia launch vehicle was delivered to Baikonur for handling demonstrations and production of tooling.