A Soviet Space Shuttle (1978)

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Three years before the U.S. flew its first space shuttle mission, Aviation Week revealed that the Soviet Union was developing its own reusable spaceplane. An article by space technology editor Craig Covault said that the Russians had developed a Delta-winged vehicle that “has design characteristics similar to the U.S. orbiter.

This significant new Soviet manned program indicates the USSR has the technology in hand to tackle the major engineering challenges involved in building reusable manned spacecraft.” The article included a fuzzy concept image of what the Soviet test shuttle might look like.  A decade later, shortly after the Buran flight vehicle made an unmanned orbital test flight, European editor Jeffrey Lenorovitz was given a tour of the Soviet shuttle integration facility and wrote of plans for a manned mission in 1989. But it was not to be. The Buran never flew again and the program was terminated following the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Read the March 20, 1978 and Jan. 16, 1989 articles on the Soviet shuttle program.

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Aviation Week & Space Technology marked its centennial in 2016. Here, we highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.

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