Is it true the Russians built a space shuttle to rival NASA’s?

Turns out the Soviets had a few more tricks up their sleeves than you might have thought…


Asked by Timothy Ball

They did indeed, although it was less of a success than NASA’s Space Shuttle. In 1988 the Soviet-built Buran spacecraft took flight, nearly identical in both its design and functionality to NASA’s Space Shuttle. Its only launch in 1988 saw it take off on the heaviest ever liquid-fuelled rocket, Energia, and complete two automated orbits of Earth before landing. The program was scrapped in 1993, though, following the dissolution of the USSR. Sadly, the sole Buran shuttle was destroyed in 2002 when a hanger in which it was stored at the Baikonur Cosmodrome collapsed.

Image credit Ralf Manteufel

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