39 The Greatest Failure of MAKS-2011

The Greatest Failure of MAKS-2011

Posted on September 4, 2011 by team

We have already slightly mentioned the Buran in the first part of our MAKS posts, but today we decided to devote the whole article to it.

“What a shame!”, “How could they possibly exhibit this junk?” say people who saw the right (hidden from the visitors) side of the Buran. Let’s try to find out the real reasons of such a failure.

The Buran was transported to the city of Zhukovsky only several weeks before the beginning of MAKS. It was pretty clear that such a short period of time wouldn’t be enough for its full restoration and nobody expected it to be exhibited until at least 2013. So, you can imagine everybody’s surprise when this “work of art” appeared at the show…

The photo above proves that, besides the assembly (the attachment of wing panels, keel and landing gear to the fuselage), the whole process of “restoration” was nothing more than poor painting. The paint was applied over the scraps and fragments of heat shielding. The absence of major structural components and assembly units was ignored completely!

This is how the cockpit of the Buran looked in 2000. You see that the windows are shut with protective covers.

And this is year 2011. No glazing at all! The glass is not broken – there are simply NO window units.

During the transportation, there still was a hint of hope that the windows had been specially taken off for their better preservation and later would be installed back. But nothing of the sort! They were simply painted with gray paint over the protective covers.

As it was explained later, the window units were “lost” as a result of long-term “storage”. However, the journalists picked a more appropriate term – long-term “decay”.

The result of such “restoration” is quite deplorable. 1 – the windows in 2011, 2 – before the flight in 1988, 3 – after the flight in 1988.

1 – the absence of a fuselage nose cone before transportation, June 26, 2011. 2 – the painted slot of the missing nose cone, August 13, 2011. 3 – after the flight in 1988. When comparing the last pic with the two first ones, any comments are needless. Only the blind won’t see the difference.

1 – piled in a heap wing panels were in such a position for a very long time.  2 – the left wing panel. August 13, 2011. 3 – before the flight in 1988.


They didn’t even bother to paint the right wing panel…

Now we finally know what it means to “put a museum exhibit in a proper condition” – it means to paint its left side in a terrible and awry way and forget to paint the right one.



Many other details are also very striking. For example, a “castrated” plywood rudder.

The first two pictures show the rudder parts which were transported to Zhukovsky but, for some reason, were never installed. The third picture shows the place of their installation.

The question is: what did the “restorers” lack of if they decided not to install the rudder? Time? Money? Or maybe conscience? But wait, what conscience are we talking about? People who made THIS out of national pride don’t seem to have one…

via buran.ru

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39 responses to “The Greatest Failure of MAKS-2011”

  1. People's Commissar says:

    RIP Buran. Never forget.

  2. Duncan says:

    Poor gal 🙁

  3. Archy Bunka says:

    Very cool stuff. Where is the Buran that actually flew into space?

  4. Hobbes says:

    These photos suggest that the Buran shown at MAKS was the one that flew in space in 1988. That is incorrect.
    The one shown at MAKS is nr. OK-2K1, one of the unfinished spacecraft. This one was incomplete when the Buran program was cancelled.
    The Buran that flew in space was destroyed when the hangar collapsed on top of it.
    See this page for more info:

  5. Ivan Ivanov says:

    cobbled together, Just a little more obvious this time.

  6. Dee_Ann says:

    How sad… 🙁

    They should fully restore this machine and put it in a museum in Moscow.

  7. Zonda says:

    I don’t think also this space ship will be able to fly ever. Like other lost billions $ in Russia, will rust in peace. Too petty!

  8. Sarkus says:

    As usual, it looks like whoever created this particular piece is confused about which Buran is being displayed. There were several “Buran” craft built, but some were simply mockups for testing purposes. The one that was completely finished and flew (once, unmanned) was destroyed in a hanger collapse in 2002. From what I understand, the one being shown here is the third on the production line, which was only about 50% complete when the program was shut down. It was then left for years. So expecting something more from it is unrealistic, though you would think they could do a better job of making at least the outside look good. But its not a complete ship and they obviously don’t have the parts to make it complete at this point.

  9. Verto says:

    Buran with “diaper” ! ! ! ! ! !

  10. DouglasU says:

    it looks like people have taken off black tiles for souvenirs.

  11. mike says:

    what is the failure? that was the greatest times. by the way, where can i see an english (not american) mistake of such a kind?

  12. marxistworker says:

    “People who made THIS out of national pride don’t seem to have one…”
    I think socialism made this (no national pride necessary) because real socialism promotes science and technology for all people, regardless of artificial boundaries. Now, we’re all little ants laboring for wealthy capitalists who by and large want to use “their” money to buy themselves summer homes, luxury autos, private security, etc. The U.S. and Russian Gov’ts. are scrambling over themselves giving subsidies and tax breaks to the wealthy instead of investing their resources in science and tech, letting little Kings (Wall St. execs in the U.S., oil oligarchs in Russia) rule society.

    • marxistworker says:

      Happy Labor Day to all workers (although the real Labor Day is 1 May).

      • historian says:

        Especially Medvedev, who studied law like Obama want to follow the ideas of free markets, all the neoliberal ideas. Lucky that with the soviet background the most important compannies belong to state. So there are only two states with surplus, Russia and China.
        I thank Putin that the oligarchs are ruled by state and not otherwise like in USA.

    • SMERSH says:

      That was the theory but never the practice. In USSR, just like China, Cuba, N. Korea, etc, the working masses are slaves to an elite ruling caste of gangsters and bureaucrats. Most of the trillions spent in USSR on science and technology was done for military advantage or national prestige. The common people saw very little return on this investment. Witness the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of rusting and rotting military equipment scattered around the former Union. Behold such boondoggles as the Tu-144 and Buran.

      • marxistworker says:

        Well, I deal in theories. I do agree with you the U.S.S.R. squandered a lot to their military but it was the neo-Stalinist Brezhnev and his conservative cronies in the post-Krushchev years that did this while undermining progressives like A. Kosygin and Yuri Andropov. What you see as a rotten, criminal system was in reality a neo-Stalinist agenda that won the day (and ruined the U.S.S.R.) after 1964. You are right but things could have been different.

  13. cockatrice says:

    Well, for something that was simply left out in the Russian winters to rot, it’s actually in pretty good shape. Those thermal tiles don’t hold up too well to letting be soaked in water and then freezing, do they? And so, since if they’re like the US shuttles’s tiles, each one, especially in the curved sections, is a one of a kind. Betcha don’t have a warehouse full of them. So, the next complaint is that someone gets hold of the plans and CNC reproduces them from wood so it’ll mostly look realistic after applying yet another coat of paint.

  14. historian says:

    How come modern international space programms use methods developed by bad soviet government? Like Mir, Sputnik, Sojus …

    • Fossil says:

      @historian. I agree the soviets have a very good and reliable space program. I feel this is due to staying with and improving older and proven technology rather than trying to fix something that is not broken. I feel America would be much more advanced had we continued to use and improve our rockets we sent to the moon.

      • Hans says:

        They are “secret” because nobody knows where the funds come from. Russian Soyuz will be the choice for US Astronauts for a long while.

        • Dickey Splurge says:

          @Hans. US astronauts love the Russian Soyuz, and it is great to be in cooperation for manning the International space station. NASA is helping private corporations to take over our “simple” space tasks, and they will probably send a load of groceries to the station by the end of the year. They will be funded by the capitalist profit motive, not by the government.

  15. SMERSH says:

    This Buran will never fly. It wasn’t intended to when it was built. It could certainly serve as a training platform, though. The engineering and research are all still there but sadly, the engineers themselves may have emigrated, retired or died. The unique industry associated with the program has also likely evaporated. A common theme with such big projects in USSR was having the actual factories and labs spread over a number of republics. You probably couldn’t just restart the Buran project today without virtually starting from square one. The shuttle program in the US is in much the same state.

    • Mr. T says:

      This one was indeed intended to fly… It was in production and about 30-50% completed. It was to be the third Russian shuttle and the first of the second generation of Russian shuttles. So this is the OK-2.01 The Buran that flew in 88 was the OK-1.01 and officially named the Buran. Before it were static test and atmosferic flight models. Unfortunately it was destroyed in a hangar collapse. But there is a remaining flight shuttle. The Pitchka or OK-1.02 it was 97% completed and is sitting in a hangar somewhere in Baikonur. Next to Pitchka in that hangar is a test model OK-MT which is intact. The mechanical test model, which also is in ok condition was stored outside in Baikonur and this site has some pictures of it at it’s old location and it being moved with a lorry. It was actually restored to prestine condition and is now outside at the Baikonur Museum. The OK-TVA model used for thermal and acoustic testing is in Moscow and the OK-GLI atmospheric flight test model is in Bahrein.

      If you want to read more, check out http://www.buran-energia.com

  16. EngrishBob says:

    What’s the big deal? It’s something that wasn’t adopted as enthusiastically by the Soviets and Russians. It’s not worth spending public money on.

  17. mono says:

    Its simple there was a Buran that went to space and came back but it was sadly destroyed when the roof of the hangar it was in collapsed. This Buran is one of the unfinished ones.

  18. TB says:

    You all missing the point!!!
    Why the hack they don’t paint the whole aircraft.
    If You put such effort to look good, why don’t finish the job?

  19. John says:

    At least Russia still has a manned space program! Which is more than I can say for the USA…

  20. alessio says:

    I had alot of thumbs down the previous time when I said:
    Why restore an old Buran, leave it as a museum piece

    Buld a new buran with new metal sheets,AND START THE RUSSIAN SPACE AGE AGAIN!
    there are alot of stinking ritch in russia, but they are selfish capitalists

  21. kbr says:

    It is sad and painful to watch it.

  22. Hans says:

    The “restorators” should be hanged. That is no way to treat a piece of history.

  23. NeuroManson says:

    That’s a sad end for such a beautiful bird. I was 18 when Buran first flew. It had some impressive additions that a lot of designers of the US shuttle wished they had, such as jet engines for maneuverability, remote flying capabilities (the first launch was completely remote controlled), and a different heavy lift vehicle (Energia if I recall correctly).

    Myself, I hoped it would launch a new friendly competition in space between the USSR and the US. Unfortunately, however, Buran and Afghanistan wound up largely bankrupting the USSR (just like what’s happening to the US now).

    • Mark says:

      If you think that Afghanistan, wiith its paltry expense of less than 3 trillion is bankrupting the US, you have NO clue as to what’s really going on, and why the rest of the world is being taken down with the US…. yes, even Russia. It doesn’t matter what you make, if nobody can buy.

  24. texastwostep says:

    Give the Russians a break, will you. Its a mockup.Maybe its more important to spend the money on something more useful…like a new mansion for Putin, or a new prison for Pussy Riot, or more special priviledges for the rich.
    Why spend money on national heritage if you can waste it somewhere else. Save the Buran!

  25. Hansjörg says:

    It was a shame to display this wreck. This versio of Buran is a wreck!

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