What would a self-launching Space Shuttle look like?

This is the OK-GLI, part of the Soviet Shuttle Buran program, the largest and most expensive space program in the history of the Soviet Union.

The OK-GLI completed 25 test flights between 1985 and 1988 before being retired. The OK-GLI was powered by four AL-31 jet engines with the fuel tank in the cargo bay. The highest altitude it achieved was 6000 meters or 19,000 ft. It never reached space.

A sister ship in the Buran program, the Buran Spacecraft did reach orbit and completed two unmanned Earth orbits. It was the only orbital flight in the Buran program.

NASA’s little security oops

Last night I logged on to NASA’s Mauna Kea observatory live video feed to watch LCROSS slam into the moon. After LCROSS was finished pancaking into the moon and not producing the expected 6 mile plume, I noticed an IP address flash on the top right of the video display. So I hit it with a web browser. I found this:

NASA videoconf system

The big green button was begging to be hit, so I did. And up came a directory:

Picture 4

So I made a call and holy crap the video feed for Mauna Kea stopped and switched to the call I was busy making.

Making NASA call

So I called “Bob’s Office” and watched Bob at his desk for a while, then I called something else and these guys showed up on the feed:

Picture 6

At at this point sanity took over and I realized I’m controlling a federal government video feed that probably still has a few hundred people logged on. So I Googled around for as many email addresses as I could find at AMES Research Center (@mail.arc.nasa.gov) and emailed them to let them know about their open feed. Of course NASA engineers are very busy and probably speak in formulas anyway, so they didn’t reply. But today thankfully the feed is password protected.