How We Got “Buraned” by Buran, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Soviet Space Shuttle
By Emily Carney, Co-Moderator, Space Hipsters
Some background information: Buran (translated from Russian to “Snowstorm” or “Blizzard”) was supposed to be the Soviet equivalent to the U.S. Space Shuttle. However, the vehicle only made one unmanned flight, and the orbiter was destroyed when its hangar collapsed a while back. However, the Internet ensured that Buran would have a colorful life after death, much to my consternation.
A few weeks ago a LiveJournal post started making the rounds online – a gentleman had taken some photos of an abandoned warehouse containing some Buran prototype shuttles (my history may be wrong; honestly I’ve been avoiding this story like the plague, and you’ll find out why soon enough). In his defense, they were cool photos (the first time around).
It must have been a very slow news week, because then the story caught fire. Apparently NO ONE knew the Soviet Union had space shuttles until about four weeks ago, at least that’s what it seemed like on Facebook. I’m pretty sure Phil Clark wrote about Buran in his 1988 book The Soviet Manned Space Programme, but I guess people skipped that chapter…
This story appeared on several websites with really “clickbait-y” titles such as, “This Urban Explorer Found Space Shuttles In An Abandoned Warehouse… AND YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!” I co-moderate the Space Hipsters group on Facebook, and this story spread like a virulent disease. When I had deleted 50 of these same posts with Buran and this damn abandoned warehouse, I stopped counting deletions…
FINALLY I put up a post stating yes, we knew about Buran, but the story had served its purpose, please don’t share it again. It was time to let the healing begin concerning Buran; I’m sure even Russians were sick of seeing this story. Then Buran started trolling me everywhere on the Internet. On Pinterest, “Recommended for You” posts frequently involved photos of Buran. People I didn’t know really well would email me these links: “Hey, you should write about this, for AmericaSpace.” NOPE.
Now “getting Buraned” or “[Insert story here] is the new Buran” is a colloquialism on Space Hipsters. It means a story, while nice the first time, has been shared a whole lot and please don’t post duplicates. Every week it’s something – this week, “the new Buran” was the lovely photo of the Moon transiting the Earth, taken by the DISCOVR satellite at the first Lagrangian Point. It’s a beautiful photo, but about 30 people shared it. We’re glad people are enthusiastic about space, we really are, but we delete duplicate posts! In the friendliest way possible, of course.
The online Buran saga became so ubiquitous, even one Apollo astronaut weighed in on it, giving his (strong) opinions about it. Hysterical. While the Buran shuttle made only one flight, this situation has had one positive outcome: Buran is now a verb, and it will NEVER die!
Emily Carney is a spaceflight writer who contributes to AmericaSpace.com. She also founded and co-moderates Space Hipsters on Facebook.