Bor-4 was a technology demonstrator for the Buran Space programme. It was used to test the heat shield materials developed for Buran.

The BOR-4 flight vehicle was a scaled (1:2) copy of the Spiral. It had a tilting wing. The BOR-4 vehicle weighed 1.5 tons.

During works on the Spiral system the BOR-4 wasn't launched, but it was decided to use the BOR-4 for the Buran orbiter thermal protection tests. The real construction components - flexible thermal protection, quartz fibrous tiles and fuselage nose cap made of "carbon-carbon" material - had been installed on it.

Bor-4 was put into the orbit of 225 km by Kosmos 65M-RB5 rocket from the Kapustin Yar range and after doing one circle around the Earth descended along a trajectory close to the Buran trajectory. The BOR-4 flight vehicle was totally launched 5 times: one suborbital launch for the whole complex examination and 4 orbital launches:

Cosmos 1374 - June, 4, 1982
Cosmos 1445 - March, 16,1983
Cosmos 1517 - December, 27, 1983
Cosmos 1616 - December, 19,1984

In the first two launches the vehicles splashed down into the Indian Ocean about 900 km to the west of Australia, in the following two - into the Black Sea to the west of the Crimea peninsula. They failed to find one of the vehicles splashed down into the Black Sea, the others were raised on board by military ships.

The BOR-4 flight vehicle essentially differed from that of the Buran orbiter aerodynamic scheme and could not be used for aerodynamic researches. Thus the geometrically scaled (1:8) Buran model was manufactured. It was designated as BOR-5.

Did you know?

After Challenger Space Shuttle tragedy, NASA wanted a backup to the Space Shuttle that would provide assured access to the Space Station. A number of Earth to orbit transportation systems were studied. One referred to as a Personnel Launch System (PLS), could utilize the HL-20 and an expendable launch system to provide manned access complementing the Space Shuttle. HL-20 looked like the BOR-4. While HL-20 was seen as a successful program, it lost funding in 1992 in favour of the X-38 crew rescue vehicle.


Russia in Space

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Bor Vehicles: Molniya-makers of Bor-4

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Updated: Tuesday 1st, April, 2014