The abandoned and shuttered Russian space shuttle hanger at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is a sad and lonely place, which constantly lures photographers and historians to its somber steel mausoleum to reflect on the failed Soviet enterprise.
Several prototype shuttles and mock-ups, designed from NASA plans obtained through some tricky spycraft, were built under the $16-billion Buran-Energia program to carry intrepid cosmonauts. But no Soviet star voyager ever slipped the bonds of Earth one. The first and only unmanned flight in 1988 orbited the Earth twice and landed.
That vehicle, the Orbiter K1, was destroyed when a hanger roof collapsed in 2002 in a ferocious storm. The remaining two prototypes were left to rust and rot when the Buran project was cancelled in 1993, abandoned unfinished in their cavernous 433-foot-long, 203-foot-high tomb. One of the neglected shuttles, nicknamed Ptichka (Little Bird), was primed for launch in 1992 for a hookup with the Mir space station, while the second spacecraft was only a full-size mockup used for docking tests and load limit experiments.
We already shared some incredible shots inside the hanger from Russian photographer Ralph Mirebs back in 2015, and now a group of adventurous souls have snuck into the storied crypt and shot some fascinating video of the rusting rampways and massive cranes. They even crawled inside the stripped-down space planes.
These daring YouTubers of Exploring the Unbeaten Path recently embarked on this stealth invasion of the derelict shuttle hanger, and they returned with some indelible images.
Have a look at their exploratory mission to the famed Russian spaceport, then let us know if you can envision the Avengers inside battling interstellar aliens!