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In Energiya-Buran: the Soviet Space Shuttle System, the authors describe the long development of the Soviet space shuttle system, its infrastructure and what was planned to follow the first historic unmanned mission. Comparisons are made with the American shuttle system and details of the talented Soviet test pilots chosen to train to fly the system are included, as well as the operational, political and engineering problems that finally sealed the fate of Buran and ultimately of NASA’s Shuttle fleet.
The coverage starts with a Foreword provided by a former Buran cosmonaut, and goes on to provide a detailed description of the first orbital test flight of the Buran shuttle in 1988, giving details of the development of the various Soviet space plane projects of the 1950s and 1960s. A review is included of the decisions to proceed with the US space shuttle in 1972 and the Soviet decision to construct Buran in 1976 and a physical description of the Energiya system and a comparison with the American system is provided in tabular form.
The authors then detail ground support, and the facilities and infrastructure created to prepare, launch, control and recover the Buran vehicle. They go on to detail the selection and training of teams of civilian and military test pilots for crew assessment to Buran missions, and despite the fact that no cosmonaut flew on a space shuttle, the authors describe how several Russian cosmonauts have experienced shuttle missions, courtesy of the American shuttle as part of the ISS co-operative program. In addition to detailing the work on preparing the first flights of the Soviet shuttle which commenced in the l980s and the problems they encountered, the authors conclude with a comprehensive view on what might have been had the Buran program been fully developed.
The Energiya-Buran programme was primarily a story of unfulfilled promises and shattered dreams and is a story that deserves to be told.
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