There is actually a lot of history from the Apollo program on why they chose to use what they did. Trains and barges were considered as well as the crawler they ended up using. Remember that Cape Canaveral is on a marsh, and that they had to make a turn between the VAB and the launch pads.
Choosing a method:
Details on the crawler:
Whatever's going on here looks convoluted enough -
Seems pretty hard to tell what solution is 'obviously superior' unless you're a rocket-moving engineer or somesuch.
Because it's pad was built on top of an earlier Apollo pad the shuttle launches in the wrong orientation and has to make a roll just after takeoff to head into orbit.
The Russians copied this non-optimal arrangement for Buran believing that there must be some advantage that they didn't know about but Nasa had discovered,
Any rocket needs roll, pitch and yaw to get into the right orbit, or to reduce stress along a certain axis, or to orient comms antennas towards the ground. Saturn V did this too.
The aspect of this I find more surprising is that the Soviet space program went so far in emulating the entire idea of a reusable space plane, well after it must have become quite clear just from the US experience that it's very hard, very expensive and likely incapable of meetings its original design goals.
This is a better article than Wikipedia's: http://www.astronautix.com/craft/buran.htm
But yes, of course, I tell it mostly as a joke to counter the space pen story. I'm sure that there is some reasonable rationale for this solution.
(again, no facts to back this up, just conjecture)
If you've seen the shuttle on the back of a 747, that's just for transport, not landing.
Both crafts land on runways, of course I don't think it somehow lands on the back of a 747...
Taken from : http://speyer.technik-museum.de/node/647
"After the end of the Russian space shuttle program, a long odyssey began for the BURAN OK-GLI. In 1999, after 10 years of storage, it was shipped to Sydney where it was exhibited as a tourist attraction during the Olympic Summer Games. Subsequently the shuttle was taken over by an investment group from Singapore who was planning a world-tour with the BURAN. However, the first and last station of the tour was Bahrain. Due to financial differences the shuttle was seized and put into storage in the harbor of Bahrain. In the summer of 2003 the BURAN was acquired by the museum but transport to Germany was delayed because of legal struggles for five years. In early March 2008 finally the time had come - The BURAN was loaded onto a cargo ship. The voyage to the Technik Museum Speyer could begin."
google images reveals some amazing pictures of the transport to the museum.
(Disclaimer: haven't spoken Russian regularly since I was 10, but luckily, newspapers are written for that sort of literacy levels anyway.)
Nice swindle eh?
If the project doesn't work out, they keep the cash donations, if the project works out, they charge people to see it.