The first launch of LV Energia
carrying a spacecraft
on May 15, 1987, at 21:30

Few minutes to launch

The first launch
of the Energia-Buran Space System
on November 15, 1988

First seconds
of Energia-Buran System Space flight

The launch vehicle was first launched from the versatile "Stand-Start" complex on May 15, 1987, at 21:30 Moscow time. A mockup of spacecraft "Skif-DM" was used in the capacity of a payload instead of Buran. The launch was successful. Changing of all parameters of the rocket motion in time was in a full agreement with the preliminary simulation results.
The first successful launch of LV Energia proved that a versatile, heavy-lift LV Energia having no analogs in the world rocket building has been developed.
The second launch of LV Energia carrying the Buran Orbiter was scheduled on October 29, 1988. Pre-launch processing was carried out successfully, weather conditions were favorable, a wind speed was up to 1 m/s. All commands within the pre-launch processing timeline were properly executed. To move away a docking adapter from Buran was the final operation to be done, however, 51 seconds before the LV Energia propulsion actuation, the automatic pre-launch processing system served out command "Automatic launch termination". The Government Commission decided to delay the launch and drain low-boiling propellants from the Orbiter and LV. Analysis showed that the launch was terminated because the LV azimuth guiding (targeting) system plate was not deflected timely and, consequently, because of a delayed deflection of a truss accommodating this plate. After all critical comments were eliminated and a repeated launch readiness was reported, it was decided to repeat pre-launch processing and the launch was scheduled for November 15, 1988, at 6 o'clock in the morning of Moscow time.
At the time to which the launch was postponed weather conditions were suddenly switched. On November 15, 1988 weather conditions were on the limit of established restrictions to a launch - gusts of wind reached 20 m/s that was beyond the specified limits. The launch was carried out without critical comments. In flight, all systems were functioning properly. The spacecraft was lofted into the orbit with a maximum altitude of 263 k and a minimum altitude of 251 km. A total mission time of the Buran Orbiter was 206 minutes. Once all pre-landing maneuvers have been completed, the Orbiter flight accurately to the runway, landed, run 1620 m and stopped in the middle of the runway. A crossrange was only 3 m, an along track bias - 10 m at a headwind speed 17 m/s.
For the first time ever, a spacecraft of such a class was landed completely automatically.


Return of the Buran Orbiter after its first automatic mission






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