Birds of a Feather? How Politics and Culture Affected the Designs of the U.S. Space Shuttle and the Soviet Buran
What can we learn from comparing similar technologies that were designed and built in different countries or cultures? Technical products depend upon both technical and non-technical goals as socio-cultural factors determine which projects get funded and how they are conceived, designed, and built. These qualitative socio-cultural factors mean that there is almost always more than one possible design solution for a particular problem. By comparing how two major space projects were conceptualized and designed in the United States and Soviet Union, this case study aims to illuminate more broadly how political and cultural factors can influence the selection of technical designs, as well as the general conduct of engineering and science, in the space sector.