As the Space Shuttle programme ends here in America, I can’t help but turn an eye toward Russia and the former Soviet Union. They too, at one point, had a fledgling shuttle programme. The space race heated up again when it came to light that the Americans were working on a vehicle that could go up into space, return to Earth, and then made ready to go back to space again. Up to then, space vehicles were mostly a one time use thing. A reusable vehicle, capable of delivering satellites, repairing satellites, and carrying out various other orbital missions was a totally new idea in space flight.
So the Soviet Union tried their hand at the idea, unabashedly copying the Space Shuttle design and adapting it to their own ideas. They called their shuttle, and the shuttle project, by the name Buran, which means snowstorm.
The thing is, developing and designing a space shuttle programme takes a lot of money, something the USSR was short on at the time. After one, unmanned, test flight into space, the Buran programme was cancelled. Their shuttle was stored away in a hanger and was eventually destroyed when that hanger collapsed.
However, the Buran destroyed in the collapse wasn’t the only shuttle. There are others and you can still see them here and there around Russia. Sadly, they’re a relic of a bygone time when nationalistic pride meant more than international scientific cooperation. So instead of being preserved, as Space Shuttle Discovery will be, they sit outside, in the weather, slowly falling apart.