By that time, American shuttles had been on orbital duty for several years already. The USSR was falling behind, as the problem of thermal insulation looked challenging. When it was finally solved, and Buran was ready for flight, the members of acceptance commission felt that their eyes pop out of their heads. One of the heatproof tiles costing about $20,000 per m2 featured inscription Demobee-90 scratched with a nail – a cry from the heart of a guard soldier.
Buran performed only one space flight without the crew. The spacecraft made two circuits around the Earth and landed on Yubileyny airdrome in Baikonur. Then, the program was closed as it was believed unpromising. By the way, the program of using space shuttles in the USA was closed as well. However, the Americans produced 5 shuttles with two of them having crashed and made 135 launches. Modern scientists cannot study the details of historical flight: the major part of technical data was recorded on magnetic tape for BESM computers, none of which is working today. Fortunately, printed versions with sample data of ground and on-board telemetry were partially preserved.