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Buran-Energia : The Soviet Space Shuttle 2.0 on a Moon Rocket

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To many the Soviet Space shuttle or Buran was just a copy of the NASA one, it looks surprisingly similar and was meant to do similar things but beyond the looks the two are really quite different, not only in the shuttle vehicles themselves but also the way it got into space, in many ways the Buran could be seen as the Space Shuttle 2.0. To build big things in space, you have to have an affordable way to get off the ground. As spectacular as the Apollo era rockets were on-camera, they were hardly efficient: the Titan IIIC cost …

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V Bombers – Vulcan, Victor & Valiant – The Last British Bombers

In planes, Videos, Weapons by Paul Shillito2 Comments

It took just 11 years to go from the first flight of the Lancaster Bomber in 1941 to the first flight of the VX770, the prototype Vulcan bomber in 1952. Yet the difference between them could hardly be greater, the Vulcan along with the Victor and Valiant was a new generation of the new planes known as the “V” bombers, planes for a new era and a newly, nuclear-armed Britain. In 1945 Great Britain emerged victorious from the Second World War: financially bankrupt but rich with engineering genius. The nation who had fought off the Luftwaffe and cracked the Enigma …

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Sputnik – 60 years on from the Start of the Space Race

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That simple little beep, beep, beep was the sound that started the Space Race. It was heard for the first time 60 years ago, when, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 into a low Earth orbit. It was only a metal ball, 22 inches or about 56 centimetres in diameter, with four antennae sticking out of it – but it had an impact far greater than its size. In fact, it changed the course of human history. The idea of a satellite was first raised in an engineering memo written by Mikhail Tikhonravov in 1954 whilst …

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Space Station Collision – Mir Crash with Progress Supply Vessel

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Of all the 100’s of thousands of pieces of space junk and nearly 1500 satellites in orbit around the earth, it may come as a surprise that so far there has been only one major collision involving a manned craft and it affected both Russians and Americans. After the Apollo Moon landings, the US switched it long-term goal to the Space Shuttle system and the Soviet Union shifted its focus to a permanent working presence in space. During the 1970s, the Soviet design bureau OKB-1 developed the first manned space stations called Salyut. As the Salyuts came to the end …

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How the First Spacewalk Nearly Ended in Disaster – Alexei Leonov Voskhod 2

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When Alexey Leonov made the world’s first spacewalk in 1965, it was hailed as yet another great success for the USSR in the space race against America. It was only after the fall of the Soviet Union that the west found out that while it may well have been made to look like a success by the Soviet Press, it was, in fact, it was teetering on the edge of disaster from the moment Leonov stepped out of the airlock till the crew were rescued from a desolate location in a frozen forest. In 1961 Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth …

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Salyut 7 – The forgotten rescue of a dead space station

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In 1985 one of the most audacious space rescue missions was launched by the Soviets to recover a space station that had been dead for months due to an unknown fault. A feat that was unparalleled in space exploration and rewrote the books on what was thought possible: and yet, its story has fallen into obscurity and conspiracy theories. In 1979, the Soviet Union was a superpower in search of a space station. ‘Mir’, the state-of-the-art orbital facility in development, was delayed and still six years from launch. But the military space station, ‘Almaz’, had also recently been cancelled, without …

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Why Russia Did Not Put a Man on the Moon – The Secret Soviet Moon Rocket

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It’s probably the most well known peacetime battle between the USA and the Soviet Union, in both technological and ideological terms of the 20th century. Although the USA won the race to the moon, if you’d been a betting person from the mid 1950’s to 1960’s, the chances are that you would have thought the Soviet Union had a very good chance of getting there first. So why didn’t Russia put a man on the moon? At the time the soviets were leading the space race, they had already started with the launch of Sputnik, then launched several probes to …