From the Khaleej Times, 2 July 2002:
MANAMA - Bahrain spread open yesterday its welcoming arms with splendour and grandeur like never before to an estimated 300,000 visitors, expected to arrive at the kingdom during the two-month-long summer bonanza.
Other events include Bab Al Bahrain Experience, float parades, stratosphere experience and Buran Space Shuttle.
Do any of you Bahraini residents remember the summer festival two years ago described above? And remember that they managed get, Buran, a Russian space shuttle from somewhere to put on display as part of the exhibition? I went and had a look and it was really quite interesting.
Well, apparently that space shuttle is STILL lying around somewhere on the island! A few days ago, German news sources Spiegel (English translation) and Bild (English translation), reported that some TV journalists came across the shuttle in the desert while they were here for the Formula 1 Grand Prix (via Slashdot). The funny thing is the way it was initially reported as though no one knew how the shuttle got to Bahrain and that it was some X-files type mystery. But they finally figured out how it got there, and now Spiegel has reported (translation) that the shuttle has already been purchased by a German museum, and it will be on its way to its new home in a few months.
Now I'd really like to have a second look at Buran (this time without throngs of little kids in the way), and maybe take some pics to share with you before it leaves for Germany. The problem is that its location is being kept "secret". I am assuming (and hoping) that means that it is just lying somewhere in the desert where people don't usually go. So I'm going to do a bit of wandering in the Sakhir area this weekend and hope that I might bump into it. And in the probable case that I don't find it, then it will have been a fun outing anyways. But if any of you have any tips about where to look then please do drop me an email or leave a comment!
UPDATE (27-Sep-04): Thanks to the GDN for saving me some trouble! The GDN incidentally just published an article today about the shuttle! Apparently, Buran is in the storage yard of a company called Pico, somewhere in Sitra (and not in Sakhir!). I'll be there as soon as I get a chance.
Here is the real story of why the shuttle is still in Bahrain (from the GDN):
Once the festival was over [Buran] should have been dismantled and shipped to Thailand as a tourist attraction. But it is still in the Sitra storage yard of Bahrain company Pico, which brought it here for the festival.
"NPO Molniya, the company which we negotiated with to bring the spacecraft and another Russian company both claim ownership of Buran," Pico chairman Khalid Juman told the GDN. First, a case was filed by a Bahrain-based foreign company at Bahrain's civil courts in October 2002, to order NPO Molniya to remove the craft from the Manama dock area. NPO had allegedly delayed meeting the terms of a contract with the foreign company to dismantle the spacecraft and ship it to Thailand, where it was set to go on display later that month.
Early last year it was dismantled into four pieces - the hull, two wings and the tail section - and moved to Pico's storage area. Mr Juman said a ruling was still pending in the case over the ownership of the craft, also being dealt with in Bahrain's courts. (Continued)