Welcome to the Energia-Buran section of the site!
If you don't know much about Buran-Energia this is the place to find out...
Buran-Energia is the Russian Space Shuttle system made up of the space orbiter called Buran (Snowstorm/Blizzard) and its ultra powerful heavy lift booster system known as Energia (Energy).
Buran-Energia is Russia's answer to the American space shuttle program. Envisioned before the American shuttle, yet only built some years after Columbia blasted off into space, the Buran-Energia project was one of the largest, most ambitious and expensive space programs ever attempted in history.
Yet sadly, Buran-Energia had but one successful unmanned space flight before the whole project was suspended through lack of funds in 1993.
The Buran-Energia is composed of the the Buran shuttle, the Energia core booster and the Zenith strap on boosters, all designed to be fully reusable.
The Buran orbiter is a Russian adaptation of the American space shuttle design. While it resembles the American orbiter on the surface, it is in fact quite different underneath. Because of its very powerful boosters that launch it into space the Buran doesn't need any of its own engines, and hence, has a larger cargo bay.
The Energia central booster is one of the most powerful rockets ever made. Energia is a dedicated heavy lift system: Energia in fact is the only heavy lift rocket system in the world today. At its capacity, the Energia can lift a staggering estimated 120-175 tonnes of cargo into Low Earth Orbit! To put that into perspective, the nearest equivalent, the European Space Agency Ariane V rocket, can only manage 20!
The Energia is responsible for getting Buran into orbit, but being a dedicated heavy lift rocket, the Buran shuttle is just one of any number of cargos it can lift. The Energia was originally designed to lift the Russian Mir-2 Space Station into orbit. It was also designed to be the launch vehicle for planned Russian manned missions to Mars. With the financial problems prevalent in Russia over the last decade, however, these roles have not been able to be fulfilled, and the Energias lie unused.
It is hoped that an international mission to Mars could utilise the Energia's heavy lifting power.
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