As the American Space Shuttle fleet grinds achingly towards retirement, it’s only fitting that the Soviet shuttle Buran would be making one of the longest journeys in its 20-year history.
An engineering model abandoned in a park. Image from therefromhere on Flickr
In defense of the American space program, Buran (meaning “snowstorm” in Russian) isn’t making this journey on a rocket, or even on the back of its specially-built transporter planes. Yes, this trip is on a barge and it’s final. When the barge comes to rest at the Speyer Technical Museum, Buran won’t ever move again.
Buran, which entered orbit once while unmanned and had been on display at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, is almost a visual carbon copy of the U.S. workhorse. However, it was sabotaged by the scarcity of funding available in the last days of the Soviet Union.
With any luck the cursed existence of the craft is over although some concern has been expressed by officials over the ungainly nature of the three-barge raft being used and even low-clearance bridges.
We’ll even throw in a free album.