Monday, November 16, 2015

The Lone Soviet Space Shuttle Launch

As a young boy watching the American space program compete with the USSR on who will make it to the moon first, I became a lifelong fan of NASA. I, like so many others my age, wanted to be an astronaut but it never came to be. As an adult I obtained the opportunity to re-live that feeling when I picked up NASA as a customer and actually got to touch a wing of the shuttle in the assembly building back in the early 1990s. It was a thrill! I was in my 40s in age but was as excited as that young NASA fan so many years before.

In the early days of the Cold War the USSR was winning the Space Race with many "First"; Sputnick, a dog launched into space, and then man, and woman, orbits. The USA caught up, passed, and then surpassed anything the USSR could do and reached the Moon first. The USSR never did reach the Moon with humans but they did catch up to us with the Space Shuttle program.

I wondered about how much their shuttle looked like ours and was thinking they stole the design but in reality the American Space Shuttle program was an "Open" development effort with the information and engineering provided to anyone who wished to build a shuttle. That fact probably saved billions of Rubles and countless years of work.

Here is the story of the only flight of the Soviet Space Shuttle on November 15, 1988.

Buran Soviet Space Shuttle 

Here is an excerpt from the article on

In the early morning hours of November 15, 1988, the desert land beneath Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome began to rumble. Moments later, a huge column of red flame ignited the darkness as the gleaming black-and-white Buran reusable spacecraft, the Soviet version of the American space shuttle, thundered into the heavens.

The launch of Buran (Russian for "snowstorm") from the same patch of central Asia from which Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin rocketed into space marked a new milestone in the Soviet space program. The first test flight of the Soviet space shuttle came in . . .

To read the rest of the story please link over to the full article at this link.

Here is a video of the launch:

Thank you to the website for the link and photograph usage. Thank you to and the Russian poster that provided the video (I cannot replicate the name in English).

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Where did you serve? Military or Civilian? Stateside or Overseas. Fulda Gap? Berlin? NATO? CIA? State Department? The Dew Line? On a Missile Battery? Down in a Silo? At Sea? Under the Sea? In the Air? According to the VA over 26 million Vets are still alive. I'd bet that most served in the 1945-1991 time frame and I'd like to share your story on this blog. As long as it isn't still classified, email me with your story and I will post it here.