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[i]Amid much international speculation and after many delays, the Soviet Union launched the Buran (Snowstorm), its first full-scale reusable space shuttle, on November 15, 1988. Although they tested the Buran extensively in the Earth’s atmosphere with trained pilots, the maiden, and only, orbital launch was made without a crew. The Buran launched strapped onto the Energia launch vehicle, the largest among Soviet launch vehicles. It resembled the American shuttle quite closely — not by coincidence. Through espionage, the Soviets obtained the design specifications of the US shuttle...[/i]
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