The Buran doubled up on strap-on boosters beside the external tank, fitting four sticks of scientific dynamite designed to literally blow people off the face of the planet instead of NASA's traditional two. This let the gleaming vision of future space travel lift an extra two tons into orbit. The Buran was so beautifully built for space that it didn't bother waiting for a crew. In 1988, it orbited the Earth on automatic, lifting off and circumnavigating the globe twice before the life support systems were even finished. The monitors didn't even work, because it knew what it was doing and didn't see any point in telling any monkey cargo.
You know a ship is amazing when it makes HAL 9000 look stupid. Why bother cleaning up after dead humans when you can just leave before the meatsacks are ready?
If the ship was a paean to the glory of humanity, its death was a Greek tragedy of our failures. The Buran was literally crushed by the collapse of the Soviet Union. They didn't just defund the space program (which is always the sign of a government that's forgotten what it's for), they couldn't even afford to maintain the hangar it was held in. And after 10 years of ignoring the embodiment of everything humanity is capable of, the roof collapsed.
No joke. This picture makes me want to cry.