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The Soviet reusable spacecraft program Buran (meaning "Snowstorm" or "Blizzard" in Russian) began in 1974 at TsAGI as a response to the United States Space Shuttle program. The project was the largest and the most expensive in the history of Soviet space exploration. The idea saw its first iteration in the Burya high-altitude jet aircraft, which reached the prototype stage. Several test flights are known, before it was cancelled by order of the Central Committee. The Burya had the goal of delivering a nuclear payload, presumably to the United States, and then returning to base. The cancellation was based on a final decision to develop ICBMs. The next iteration of the idea was Zvezda from the early 1960s, which also reached a prototype stage. Decades later, another project with the same name was used as a service module for the International Space Station. After Zvezda, there was a hiatus in reusable projects until Buran. 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 (BOR-5) took place as early as July 1983. As the project progressed, five additional scale-model flights were performed. The only orbital launch of the (unmanned) Buran shuttle 1.01 was at 3:00 UTC on 15 November 1988. It was lifted into orbit by the specially designed Energia booster rocket. The life support system was not installed and no software was installed on the CRT displays. The shuttle orbited the Earth twice in 206 minutes of flight. On its return, it performed an automated landing on the shuttle runway at Baikonur Cosmodrome. After the first flight, the project was suspended due to lack of funds and the political situation in the Soviet Union. The two subsequent orbiters, which were due in 1990 and 1992 were never completed. The project was officially terminated on June 30, 1993 by President Boris Yeltsin. At the time of its cancellation, 20 billion roubles had been spent on the Buran program. The program was designed to boost national pride, carry out research, and meet technological objectives similar to those of the U.S. shuttle program, including resupply of the Mir space station, which was launched in 1986 and remained in service until 2001. When Mir was finally visited by a space shuttle, the visitor was a U.S. shuttle, not Buran. The Buran completed only one unmanned spaceflight in 1988 before its cancellation in 1993. The Buran spacecraft was destroyed in the Buran hangar collapse on May 12, 2002. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



A drydock (also commonly dry dock) is a narrow basin or vessel that can be flooded to allow a load to be floated in, then drained to allow that load to come to rest on a dry platform. Drydocks are used for the construction, maintenance, and repair of ships, boats, and other watercraft. Drydocks appeared in China by 1070 A.D. In 1088, Song Dynasty scientist and statesman Shen Kuo (1031–1095) wrote in his Dream Pool Essays: At the beginning of the dynasty (c. +965) the two Che provinces (now Chekiang and southern Chiangsu) presented (to the throne) two dragon ships each more than 200 ft. in length. The upper works included several decks with palatial cabins and saloons, containing thrones and couches all ready for imperial tours of inspection. After many years, their hulls decayed and needed repairs, but the work was impossible as long as they were afloat. So in the Hsi-Ning reign period (+1068 to +1077) a palace official Huang Huai-Hsin suggested a plan. A large basin was excavated at the north end of the Chin-ming Lake capable of containing the dragon ships, and in it heavy crosswise beams were laid down upon a foundation of pillars. Then (a breach was made) so that the basin quickly filled with water, after which the ships were towed in above the beams. The (breach now being closed) the water was pumped out by wheels so that the ships rested quite in the air. When the repairs were complete, the water was let in again, so that the ships were afloat once more (and could leave the dock). Finally the beams and pillars were taken away, and the whole basin covered over with a great roof so as to form a hangar in which the ships could be protected from the elements and avoid the damage caused by undue exposure. A floating drydock is a type of pontoon for dry docking ships, possessing floodable buoyancy chambers and a "U" shaped cross-section. The walls are used to give the drydock stability when the floor is below the water level. When valves are opened the chambers are filled with water, the dry dock floats lower in the water, allowing a ship to be moved into position inside. When the water is pumped out of the chambers, the drydock rises and the deck is cleared of water, allowing work to proceed on the ship's hull. Harland and Wolff Heavy Industries in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is currently the largest in the world. The massive cranes are named after the Biblical figures Samson and Goliath. Goliath stands 96m tall, while Samson is taller at 106m. Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding's Dry Dock 12 is the largest drydock in the USA. The Saint-Nazaire's Chantiers de l'Atlantique owns one of the biggest in the world: 1,200 by 60 metres (3,900 × 200 ft). The largest graving dock of the Mediterranean as of 2009 is at the Hellenic Shipyards S.A. (HSY S.A., Athens, Greece). The by far largest roofed dry dock is at the German Meyer Werft Shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, it is 504m long, 125m wide and stands 75m tall. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



A microwave oven, or simply a microwave, is a kitchen appliance that cooks or heats food by dielectric heating. This is accomplished by using microwave radiation to heat polarized molecules within the food. This excitation is fairly uniform, leading to food being more evenly heated throughout (except in dense objects) than generally occurs in other cooking techniques. Basic microwave ovens heat foods quickly and efficiently, but do not brown or bake food in the way conventional ovens do. This makes them unsuitable for cooking certain foods, or to achieve certain culinary effects. Additional kinds of heat sources can be added to microwave packaging, or into combination microwave ovens, to add these additional effects. The heating effect of microwaves was discovered accidentally in 1945. Percy Spencer, an American self-taught engineer from Howland, Maine, was building magnetrons for radar sets with the American company Raytheon. He was working on an active radar set when he noticed that a peanut chocolate bar he had in his pocket started to melt. The radar had melted his chocolate bar with microwaves. The first food to be deliberately cooked with Spencer's microwave was popcorn, and the second was an egg, which exploded in the face of one of the experimenters. To verify his finding, Spencer created a high density electromagnetic field by feeding microwave power into a metal box from which it had no way to escape. When food was placed in the box with the microwave energy, the temperature of the food rose rapidly. On October 8, 1945 Raytheon filed a U.S. patent for Spencer's microwave cooking process and an oven that heated food using microwave energy was placed in a Boston restaurant for testing. In 1947, the company built the Radarange, the first microwave oven in the world. It was almost 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in) tall, weighed 340 kilograms (750 lb) and cost about US$5000 each. It consumed 3 kilowatts, about three times as much as today's microwave ovens, and was water-cooled. The first Radarange was installed (and it's still there) in the galley of the NS Savannah nuclear-powered passenger/cargo ship. An early commercial model introduced in 1954 consumed 1.6 kilowatts and sold for $2000 to $3000. Raytheon licensed its technology to the Tappan Stove company of Mansfield, Ohio in 1952. They tried to market a large, 220 volt, wall unit as a home microwave oven in 1955 for a price of $1295, but it did not sell well. In 1965 Raytheon acquired Amana. In 1967 they introduced the first popular home model, the countertop Radarange, at a price of $495. Nearly all modern microwave ovens have a control panel with an LED, liquid crystal or vacuum fluorescent display (early models used an analog dial-type timer). The control panel keypad always contains a Start button and a Stop button (the latter sometimes also performing a Clear function), numeric buttons for entering the cook time, a button for selecting the power level (usually decrementing by 10 from 100 to 50, or using words such as High, Medium High and Medium; see more below), and a Defrost button. Other buttons may be present which name the type of food to be cooked, such as meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, frozen vegetables, frozen entrées, and popcorn, which when pressed cook the item for a preprogrammed time. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



Native to central and eastern South America, the Hyacinth Macaw, or Hyacinthine Macaw, is the largest macaw and the largest flying parrot species in the world, though the flightless Kakapo of New Zealand can outweigh it at up to 3.5 kg. In terms of length it is larger than any other species of parrot. While generally easily recognized, it can be confused with the far rarer Lear's Macaw. Their popularity as pets has taken a heavy toll on their population in the wild. They have a very strong beak for eating their natural foods, which include the kernel of hard nuts and seeds. Their strong beaks are even able to crack coconuts and macadamia nuts. In addition, they eat fruits and other vegetable matter. Pine nuts are also one of the most popular foods. They will also take snails. These birds nest in existing holes in trees. The clutch size is one or two eggs, although usually only one fledgling survives as the second egg hatches several days after the first, and the smaller fledgling cannot compete with the first born for food. Juveniles stay with their parents until they are three months old. They are mature and begin breeding at seven years of age. Eggs are regularly predated by corvids, possums, coatis and (most prolifically) toucans. Adults have no known natural predators. The Hyacinth Macaw is an endangered species due to overcollection for the cage bird trade and habitat loss. Annual grass fires set by farmers can destroy nest trees, and regions previously inhabited by this macaw are now unsuitable due to cattle-ranching, hydroelectric power schemes, agriculture and plantations. Locally, it has been hunted for food, and the Kayapo Indians of Gorotire in south-central Brazil use its feathers to make headdresses and other baubles. While overall greatly reduced in numbers, it remains locally common in the Brazilian Pantanal, where a specific program, the Hyacinth Macaw Project, among others involving artificial nests and awareness campaigns, has been initiated by several ecolodges, and many ranch-owners now protect the macaws on their land. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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