The United States and the Soviet Union fortunately never engaged in direct battle during the Cold War, but there were times when events could have turned out very differently.
This is why the Buran Is Only a Footnote in Space History. On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, into orbit, which was a significant event. The Soviet Union and the United States engaged in a fierce, risky, and expensive 12-year competition to dominate the new frontier of space. Although the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969 marked the end of the so-called “space race,” the two countries’ bitter competition endured into the 1970s and 1980s. The United States returned its attention to the Space Shuttle, its fourth human spaceflight program, after the Apollo program was completed. The Space Shuttle successfully completed routine transportation of people and cargo from Earth to orbit from 1981 to 2011. It carried 355 astronauts from 16 nations into orbit on 135 flights that were completed safely. Tragically, two shuttles—STS-107 Columbia and STS-51-L Challenger—were destroyed in mishaps. The Soviet space program did attempt to create its own reusable spaceplane despite a number of obstacles. The program and the orbiter/spacecraft were both given the name Buran, which is Russian for “Blizzard.” Many people have compared it to the Soviet space shuttle.