A second attempt to launch the first Soviet space shuttle is not expected until after the Nov. 7 Revolution Day celebrations, a Soviet newspaper reported Sunday, and a Soviet official maintained there was no pressure to hasten the launch.
The Buran shuttle’s first launch attempt ended in failure Saturday with 51 seconds to go after a gantry safety platform failed to retract.
The tanks of the shuttle’s giant Energia booster rocket were fully drained of their 2,000 tons of propellant by Sunday night so that scientists could conduct a close-up inspection of the balky platform that triggered the automatic halt in the countdown.
Trud, the official newspaper of the country’s trade unions, quoted Maj. Gen Vladimir Y. Gudilin, the launch coordinator, as saying that officials were under no governmental pressure to make a second launch attempt during the two-day Revolution Day holiday period.
On Revolution Day, which marks the 1917 Communist takeover in Russia, newspapers traditionally trumpet economic and scientific achievements of communism.
Gudilin said that, in the past, it would have been likely that the Kremlin would have pressured space officials into launching the 100-ton Buran shuttle to coincide with the nation’s biggest holiday.
“Those times are gone when such launches had to be carried out to coincide with a holiday,” he said. “Haste in such critical matters as space exploration is inadmissible.
“It will probably be sent up after the November holiday, but anyway we are not in a hurry,” Gudilin said.
Gudilin did not say what might have happened if the countdown had not halted, but the Soviet media speculated that the system might have exploded on the pad.