TechWorld's largest cargo plane An-225 Mriya, pride of Ukraine

World's largest cargo plane An‑225 Mriya, pride of Ukraine

AN-225 "Mrija" in Microsoft Flight Simulator
AN-225 "Mrija" in Microsoft Flight Simulator
Images source: © Youtube

6:21 AM EST, December 22, 2023

Brought into existence by the Antonov Design Bureau, the An-225 Mriya (Ukrainian: dream/sleep) was a singular marvel, designed based on the An-124 Ruslan, under the purview of the Buran program. Its construction began in the 1980s, and it graced the skies for the first time on December 21, 1988. Sadly, this unique machine will never take to the skies again.

The plane was stationed at the Hostomel airport near Kyiv when Russia commenced its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. It was one of the initial targets of the Russian forces. The extent of the destruction could only be evaluated once the Russian soldiers had vacated the area. The damage was so widespread that the machine was beyond repair. This unfortunate development left aviation enthusiasts crestfallen, as the An-225 was the only one of its kind in existence; plans for the construction of a second one were never fulfilled.

The Buran program

The An-225 was an imposing structure with impressive dimensions. It was 276 feet long, over 59 feet high, and its wingspan extended beyond 289 feet. It was conceptualized keeping in mind the Buran program, whose mission was to transport the Buran shuttle and components of the Energia launch vehicle. Initiated in the early 1970s, this program sought to create a machine that would rival the American shuttle Columbia, which made history with its first shuttle flight.

The Buran program is often perceived as one of the most ambitious endeavors in the Soviet's history of space exploration. However, the dissolution of the USSR led to the downfall of the entire space shuttle program as the Russian authorities could no longer afford to fund it. After the program's discontinuation, the An-225 Mriya was put to commercial use by the Ukrainian airline, Antonov Airlines, starting in 2001. Its impressive payload capacity, which was 551,156 pounds, facilitated the transportation of many heavy loads.

Related content