Model of rocket plane’s testing system and ejection seats: New exhibits at VDNKh’s Buran museum complex

September 2

VDNKh has upgraded its exhibition of the interactive Buran museum-complex. It now includes a replica of a test bench for checking the readiness of onboard systems prior to a launch. The new exhibit is located at the entrance to the cargo compartment of the orbiter’s model. Old crew seats inside the space shuttle model have been replaced with ejection seats.

“On 29 August, we celebrated the fifth anniversary of the opening of the interactive Buran Museum complex at VDNKh. This flagship museum project was implemented during the initial upgrading stages of VDNKh, and it still remains very popular. The museum opened in 2015 and has received about 200,000 visitors since then. We decided to renew its exhibits in the run-up to the fifth anniversary. Those wishing to see the exhibition should join small groups accompanied by a guide as individual tours are not available,” the exhibition’s press service pointed out.

Guides will show visitors one of the new exhibits, namely, the replica of a test bench for checking onboard systems of the Buran reusable space shuttle. This would have shown whether all of the shuttle’s systems were functioning correctly prior to the launch. This is a screen showing the spacecraft’s images at different angles, and an instrument panel is located below. The guide will initiate a pre-flight check of all of the rocket plane’s systems, and its results will be displayed on the screen.

The spacecraft’s nose section features models of new ejection seats, including two on the lower deck where a simulator is also located. Those using the simulator can try and “land” the orbiter “flying” 80 km above the ground at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The software completely simulates the Buran’s real-life landing on 15 November 1988. This is not the only interesting thing. The new adjustable seats simulate vibration levels experienced during the landing too. Another ejection seat is installed on the upper deck, that is, inside the recreated cockpit. These seats were developed especially under the Buran manned space shuttle programme for rescuing the orbiter’s crews in case of an emergency.

The imitation seat inside the cockpit also features oxygen breathing equipment for use during high-altitude ejections. Crew members were supposed to don Strizh (Swift) protective space suits, while using these seats. A Strizh space suit is also on display at the museum.

According to the VDNKh press service, visitors should wear face masks and gloves at the museum and workers there will oversee social distancing. Touchscreen exhibits for the time being are not available, and only members of the museum staff are allowed to operate the test bench, the seats and the simulator.

The Buran reusable space shuttle flew its first and only space mission on 15 November 1988. An Energia launch vehicle lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and placed the shuttle into orbit. During its 205-minute mission, the spacecraft circled the Earth twice and landed at Yubileiny airfield, part of the Baikonur facility.

The Energia-Buran programme was suspended in 1990 and terminated in 1993. The legendary Buran spacecraft and ready-made Energia rockets were stored inside the vehicle assembly and testing building at Baikonur. In 2002, the Buran together with these Energia rockets were destroyed after the building’s roof collapsed.

A life-size model of the Buran orbiter was put in Gorky Park in 1993 and was one of the many attractions there for quite a long time until 2011 when the city started overhauling Gorky Park.

On 5 July 2014, the 50-tonne Buran BTS-001 orbiter model was transported from Gorky Park to VDNKh. It was repaired a year later and converted into an interactive museum complex. On 29 August 2015, the Buran interactive museum complex received its first visitors. It is located on Industry Square near the Vostok launch vehicle and the Cosmos Pavilion.

A guided tour of the interactive Buran museum complex starts at a cinema that shows a film devoted to the history of developing the first Soviet space shuttle. The cinema is located inside a special custom-made pavilion in front of the orbiter’s model. Visitors then walk through futuristic-looking space port corridors and enter the shuttle. Once inside, they learn a thing or two about its design and specifics. After leaving the spacecraft’s nose section, they return to the pavilion where the 45-minute guided tour begins via a glass-pane corridor.

VDNKh, a unique public space with an 80-year history, consists of 49 cultural heritage landmarks, including historical pavilions and fountains. Its total area is over 325 ha. In 2019, 33 million people visited the exhibition centre.


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