'Lost' Soviet space shuttle lands in Germany
A SOVIET space shuttle abandoned in the desert after it was sent there for an exhibition that ran out of money has now found a new home after being snapped up as the star exhibit in a German technology museum.
A television crew from Dsseldorf came across the forgotten Soviet-era relic in Bahrain on the Persian Gulf last year. The Russian shuttle, known as the Buran, or ‘Snowstorm’, had been left in the massive harbour area of the desert nation because the Russians could not afford to ship it back when the plans for the exhibition collapsed in 2000.
"It was lying there for a long time and nobody showed any interest in it," said TV producer Chris Maier, who stumbled upon the shuttle following a tip-off. "It’s a good thing it doesn’t rain much here as it was in perfect condition - not a scrap of rust."
The Soviet project Buran began in 1976 with the aim of developing a reusable space shuttle that would ensure the USSR was keeping technological pace with the US.
Physically, the Buran even strongly resembled the American Space Shuttle. But the Soviet orbital glider was able to carry up to 14 people or up to 30 tons of payload.
The Buran made its first and only unmanned orbital flight on November 15, 1988.
The machine discovered in Bahrain is believed to be the Buran 002 model, one of the shuttle’s four prototypes. It completed 25 test flights within the earth’s atmosphere during its working life.
The Buran 002’s odyssey included a trip to Sydney in 2000 where it was displayed within the framework of the Olympic Games. A planned exhibition in Bahrain two years later was scrapped due to financial wrangling, with the Buran abandoned as nobody wanted to pay to have it returned to Russia. Since then the orbiter has been gathering dust in the port of the Gulf nation.
After its rediscovery last year, a German businessman indicated his willingness to display the Buran at worldwide events. Those plans have also been dropped.
Its final resting place will be the Car and Technology Museum in the southern German town of Sinsheim, which has confirmed it has signed a six-figure deal to buy the Buran.
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