Russia continues the Buran program in the 1990s and halts production of the Proton rocket

Vahe Demirjian

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What would Russia's heavy lift needs have been like from the 1990s onwards if Russia in the post-Soviet period had chosen not to cancel the Buran space shuttle program and instead let NPO Energia finish the Buran shuttles Ptichka/Burya (1.02) and 2.01, while saving money for the Buran program by canceling production of the Proton rocket (which would have mollified critics of the Proton rocket for spewing toxic propellants)? Would the Buran space shuttle have been capable of hauling Russian-made components of the ISS like the Zarya and Zvezda?
 

Orionblamblam

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What would Russia's heavy lift needs have been like from the 1990s onwards if Russia in the post-Soviet period had chosen not to cancel the Buran space shuttle program and instead let NPO Energia finish the Buran shuttles Ptichka/Burya (1.02) and 2.01, while saving money for the Buran program by canceling production of the Proton rocket (which would have mollified critics of the Proton rocket for spewing toxic propellants)? Would the Buran space shuttle have been capable of hauling Russian-made components of the ISS like the Zarya and Zvezda?
Russias heavy lift needs would have been fully met by Buran: because Buran would have so totally drained Russias finances that they would not have been able to afford *any* heavy payloads. They would have been out of the market, and thus their fleet of Burans would have negated the need for any Protons. Any space station that was built starting in the 1990's would have been built without Russia.

Buran was all the worst things about the Shuttle. It was a misbegotten and stupid program.
 

paralay

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The Energy -Buran system is optimal. Much more effective than a flawed Shuttle. Types of combat load have been developed for it. It's just that she was ahead of her time

38. Перспективный ряд ракет-носителей

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Orionblamblam

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The Energy -Buran system is optimal. Much more effective than a flawed Shuttle. Types of combat load have been developed for it. It's just that she was ahead of her time
Energia was fine. But Buran was nothing but a ridiculously heavy and expensive reusable payload shroud. It wasted the payload potential of the Energia while adding no real value.
 

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The idea that a Shuttle could dive over the capital and drop nuclear bombs haunted Soviet strategists. In addition, it allowed the satellite to return to Earth, theoretically
 

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If you want to replace Proton, you don't need Energiya / Buran but just the booster on the flanks - that is, Zenit.

Problem: Zenit the booster was "outsourced" to Ukraine - the former Yangel design bureau, rival of Korolev: went there in 1960 thanks to Brezhnev, also an ukrainian.

Ukraine - Russia relationship being... complicated, even before 2014, Russia prefered created its own "Russian Zenit" to replace Proton: Angara.

Except it took 25 bloody years to develop Angara.

And thus Proton kept flying for Russia and ILS private company; and so did Zenit, for Ukraine and Sea Launch: the private company on the modified oil rig.
 

Orionblamblam

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The idea that a Shuttle could dive over the capital and drop nuclear bombs haunted Soviet strategists.

It's also a ridiculous idea.

In addition, it allowed the satellite to return to Earth, theoretically
Something that turned out to not be useful. There's almost no such thing as a payload in orbit that is more valuable back down on the ground. About the only payloads that make sense to return to Earth are *humans.* And Energia could have easily sent humans to orbit and back in a capsule of some kind, sitting on top of a payload far larger and heavier than could be stuffed in a Buran cargo bay. You deliver more cargo to orbit, you get your crew up and back, and you do it far cheaper than if you had to maintain and refurbish the Buran. Why bother with the Buran?
 

Archibald

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It's also a ridiculous idea.

Surely it was. Problem was Keldysh and Andropov were obsessed by it in 1973, and since Breznhev was senile..."hurry up, scrap N1-L3 and build Energiya-Buran !"

The Shuttle business case was ridiculous, yet the Soviet answer to it was even more stupid.
 

royabulgaf

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The idea that a Shuttle could dive over the capital and drop nuclear bombs haunted Soviet strategists.

It's also a ridiculous idea.

In addition, it allowed the satellite to return to Earth, theoretically
Something that turned out to not be useful. There's almost no such thing as a payload in orbit that is more valuable back down on the ground. About the only payloads that make sense to return to Earth are *humans.* And Energia could have easily sent humans to orbit and back in a capsule of some kind, sitting on top of a payload far larger and heavier than could be stuffed in a Buran cargo bay. You deliver more cargo to orbit, you get your crew up and back, and you do it far cheaper than if you had to maintain and refurbish the Buran. Why bother with the Buran?
True. But when the shuttles were being developed recon satellites still used film which had to return to the US. Also, zero G manufacturing was envisioned, and stuff is routinely unmanned now needed to be manned then. They had no idea the shuttles would be more fragile and maintenance intensive than they were, and would cost a good order of magnitude than they figured. To look at it one way, it seemed like a good idea at the time. To look at it another way, we were sold a bill of goods.
 

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True. But when the shuttles were being developed recon satellites still used film which had to return to the US. Also, zero G manufacturing was envisioned, and stuff is routinely unmanned now needed to be manned then. They had no idea the shuttles would be more fragile and maintenance intensive than they were, and would cost a good order of magnitude than they figured. To look at it one way, it seemed like a good idea at the time. To look at it another way, we were sold a bill of goods.

While it's true that: 1) films were returned and 2) zero-G crystals and such were promised, both were a tiny fraction of the whole payload delivered to orbit. Payloads that required a Shuttle or a Titan IV to deliver to orbit, could send back to Earth payloads that could fit in a basketball. An orbital manufacturing facility - crystals, pharmaceuticals, etc. - could be lofted by a Shuttle-C with an Apollo capsule for the crew... and every capsule that returns to Earth with crew could probably contain all the product produced while that crew was there. Stuff crystals into the storage containers that the crew brought their food up in.
 

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