Ohio Valley Soaceport

Ohio Valley Soaceport

Friday, September 13, 2019

Ark Models 1:144 Scale Buran Shuttle: Quick Look

I would say that the Ark Models 1/144 scale Buran orbiter kit is one of the most exciting new kit releases of the past 12 months. When I first saw its appearance on Ebay I knew that I had to acquire one! Over the past summer I finally purchased one through a vendor in the Russian Federation. Prices for the kit are varied. Mix in the international shipping and the kit ranged anywhere from $18(US)to $40(US). As far as U.S. distributors I have yet to see one. Hopefully that will change in the coming months!

The Molniya Space Shuttle

The Buran spacecraft was a space shuttle developed by Molniya Research Industrial Corporation for the Soviet Union in the late 1970's and early 80's. It was in response to NASA's space shuttle program. From the perspective of the former Soviet Union, the United States Space Shuttle was viewed as a type of potential orbital nuclear bomber(1*). With that in mind the Soviet government decided to respond to the 'Shuttle threat' by developing its own space shuttle.

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The Buran/Energia Shuttle System. (credit: www.laboriteverte.fr)
Buran meaning "Snowstorm" or "Blizzard"; was the first space shuttle was to be produced as part of the Soviet/Russian Buran program. The Buran was the first of a intended operational space-plane fleet consisting of at least 2 additional orbiters!  The Buran (OK-1K1) completed only one spaceflight in 1988 and it was unmanned. The Buran-class orbiters used the expendable Energia heavy-lift rocket. 

The Buran was supposed to hold up to six passengers in its crew cabin. A separate cargo department would allow for satellites up to 17 meters (56 feet) long and 4.5 meters (15 feet) in diameter.

Soviet Era Buran space shuttle following its one an only orbital flight: November 15, 1988

A Buran Analog (OK-GLI) trainer was was constructed in 1984, and was used for
25 test flights between 1985 and 1988 before being retired. This shuttle was quipped with 4 jet engines. It could take off under its own power for flight tests. Once it reached a designated point, the engines were cut and the OK-GLI 
glide back to land. 

After being sold to various entities, a team of German journalists found the Ok-GLI in Bahrain in 2004, having been abandoned following a display at the 2002 "Bahrain Summer" festival.It was then bought by the Sinsheim Auto and Technik Museum and later transported to Germany in 

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An analog OK-GLI , BTS 02 shuttle trainer aircraft. (credit: http://www.boris-lux.de)

At first appearance the Buran looked suspiciously similar to the American space shuttle. As a whole the 2 shuttles have the same dimensions, mainly because Buran orbiter was made to be a counterpart of the STS orbiter. The major difference is the rear of the shuttles, STS have 3 powerful engines SSME for the lift-off whereas Buran has no main engines capable of launch into low Earth orbit. Buran was only a payload of the Energia so, its engines was only for the orbital trajectories (2*).

Comparison of the United States Space Transportation System (Shuttle) and the Soviet era Buran/Energia (credit: Everydayastronaut.com)

Schematic of the Buran shuttle. (credit: buran.ru)

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Abandoned Russian shuttles today! (credit: National Geographic)

Sadly,  the only Buran used in space was destroyed after the roof fell in at its storage facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan sometime around 2000. There are a couple of surviving orbiters still intact yet they are rotting
away in a hangar at Baikonur.

One of the wildest videos on Youtube features some guys who sneaked into Baikonur Cosmodrome to get an up close and personal look at the abandoned shuttles. Check out this Cool VideoAbandoned Soviet Space Shuttles (Buran) in Baikonur

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A Quick Look at the Ark Models 1:144 scale Buran Orbiter

Below are photos of the kit. Overall there are 61 crisply molded parts in gray styrene plastic.  I am looking forward to tackling this kit over the coming winter months! 

The 11 x 18 inch kit box.

Here's the content of the kit. Neatly wrapped parts tree.

Here's the main fuselage in crisply molded detail!

The flip side of the parts tree. Nice clean-no flash!

Nice molding on the inside of the payload doors!

The flip side. Fine detail on this kit!

Nice recessed lines on the wings and underside!

The flip side.
Nice, bright decals. I thought this kit would have included tiles decals. It is my understanding they are included in subsequent reissues of the kit.

A color illustrated sheet is included giving the story of the Buran. Too bad I don't read Cyrillic! 

The kit includes a nicely illustrated, easy to follow instruction booklet!  

The supplemental Buran shuttle tiles decal sheet is available for purchase via EBay for around $20. US. I will be purchasing this prior to building the kit!

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1*- Buran Space Shuttle
2* - American and Russian Shuttle Comparisions