The OK-GLI (Buran Analog BST-02) was a test vehicle ("Buran aerodynamic analogue") in the Space Shuttle Buran program. It was constructed in 1984, and was used for 25 test flights between 1985 and 1988 before being retired. It is now an exhibition at the Technikmuseum Speyer in Germany.
The development of the Buran began in the early 1970s as a response to the U.S. Space Shuttle program. The construction of the shuttles began in 1980, and by 1984 the first full-scale Buran was rolled out. The first suborbital test flight of a scale-model took place as early as July 1983. As the project progressed, five additional scale-model flights were performed.
The OK-GLI (Buran Analog BST-02) test vehicle ("Buran aerodynamic analogue") was constructed in 1984. It was fitted with four AL-31 jet engines mounted at the rear (the fuel tank for the engines occupied a quarter of the cargo bay). This Buran could take off under its own power for flight tests, in contrast to the American Enterprise test vehicle, which was entirely unpowered and relied on an air launch.
The jets were used to take off from a normal landing strip, and once it reached a designated point, the engines were cut and OK-GLI glided back to land. This provided invaluable information about the handling characteristics of the Buran design, and significantly differed from the carrier plane/air drop method used by the USA and the Enterprise test craft.
After the program was cancelled, OK-GLI was stored at Zhukovsky Air Base, near Moscow, and eventually bought by an Australian company, Buran Space Corporation. It was transported by ship to Sydney, Australia via Gothenburg, Sweden — arriving on February 9, 2000 and appeared as a static tourist attraction under a large temporary structure in Darling Harbour for a few years.
Visitors could walk around and inside the vehicle (a walkway was built along the cargo bay), and plans were in place for a tour of various cities in Australia and Asia. The owners, however, went into bankruptcy, and the vehicle was moved into the open air, where it suffered some deterioration and vandalism.
The OK-GLI test vehicle was then offered for sale, including by a radio auction on Los Angeles' News 980 KFWB-AM with a starting price of $6 million, however it did not receive any genuine bids.In September 2004 a German team of journalists found the OK-GLI test shuttle in Bahrain. It was then bought by the Sinsheim Auto & Technik Museum, to be transported to Germany in 2005. Due to legal issues, it remained in Bahrain for five years pending settlement of an international court settlement over fees.
On 4 March 2008 the OK-GLI started her journey by sea to the Technikmuseum Speyer where it is to be refurbished and then serve as walk-in exhibition.
The journey got off to an inauspicious start when, during the transfer from the storage barge to the ship, there was a failure of the aft spreader (part of the lifting mechanism) and the tail of the shuttle dropped from just above deck height to the bottom of the hold. Fortunately, no-one was hurt and both the ship and shuttle seemed to suffer only minor damage.