I’m a huge fan of abandoned buildings and urban exploration. Photographers and adventurers alike are picking up this relatively new hobby for the thrill of discovery and mystery. You never quite know what you will run into when you are exploring an old abandoned building. I’ve seen stories of people breaking into abandoned hospitals that look like some creepy scientific experiments were performed. I’ve seen stories of old abandoned asylums and churches that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up. One of the best stories of urban exploration that I’ve come across, until today, was the enormous warehouse in Portugal full of historic and rare cars that had been collecting dust for years. The fact that something so valuable was locked away and completely forgotten reminds me of being a kid and searching for buried treasure in my backyard. We love to discover new things, even if they’re not new at all but rather completely forgotten.
Sometimes we hear of some old coins being found, or a collection of vintage cars, but photographer and urban explorer Ralph Mirebs found something far more rare. He found something that has to be a one-of-a-kind find unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It is much more valuable than any sort of backyard treasure or some old photographs in an old dusty attic. While venturing around Kazakhstan, Mirebs came across an enormous abandoned building. The building looked similar to a large airport hangar but it was much larger. After breaking into the abandoned building, he found that this was a very special building with some of the most historical items in the world. Better yet, two of the most historical items in the world. You have to see these amazing images for yourself.
The abandoned hangar located at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Cosmodrome is miles away and still in operation today. Because the NASA Space Program was recently shut down, this is the only area that astronauts can make their way up to the International Space Station via Russian Soyuz space shuttles. This hangar in particular is from a previous time when the Russians and the Americans were competing in a race for space exploration.
The hangar was erected in 1974 for the Buran Space Shuttle Program where technology and design would fuse to create some of the most incredible exploration vessels ever conceived. The Buran Shuttle Program was halted in 1988 but the hangar was operational until 1993 and was the home to three of the most advanced pieces of technology of their time.
The collapse of the Soviet Union caused the demise of this facility in 1993. Sadly, only one shuttle of three ever partook in a mission. The shuttle completed one unmanned orbit before it was grounded and destroyed in a different hangar that collapsed on top of it.
There are two shuttles from the Buran Space Program left and they sit in idle, turning into historic relics, within a forgotten and abandoned building located in Kazakhstan.
The facility was an incredibly advanced building with atmospheric pressure control systems in place to keep dust and debris outside of its thick walls. Those systems have been turned off and now nature is slowly reclaiming this incredibly massive place.
The shuttles are being covered with dust and bird droppings more and more every day. The ceramic tiles that wrap the shuttles are starting to fall off and shatter on the floor below. It’s only a matter of time before these two pieces of space exploration history are gone forever.
Surprisingly only a few windows have been broken out but there is not much damage at all from vandals, which is a very rare sight when it comes to almost anything abandoned these days. It’s a good thing that urban explorers live by the motto, “Leave only footprints, take only photographs.”
These two shuttles never made it to launch. One shuttle was actually a mock-up shuttle that was used to test fit everything that would be used to build the two fully functioning shuttles. Of those two shuttles, only one made it to launch for an un-manned orbit. It was grounded soon after and destroyed when the hangar it was being stored in collapsed.
The facility used to build these shuttles is absolutely massive. I can’t imagine how massive this would be standing on the floor looking up. It’s so weird to me that there is an abandoned relic, completely forgotten about, that contains vehicles our civilization used to travel through space.
It seems like just yesterday we were sending robots to Mars and now we have forgotten space vehicles left abandoned. Either technology has advanced drastically or we have hit a wall in space exploration.