Among the thousands of the hidden wonders, that are still lurking in the shadows of oblivion, the one that has recently been revealed is the Russia’s abandoned hangar. Created as a response to the United States Space Shuttle program, the Soviet space shuttle program, i.e., the Buran program launched in the year 1974 by Russia (then USSR) has been brought into the daylight by a chain of photos clicked by an urban explorer and photographer Ralph Mirebs. He was able to capture several snapshots of the dilapidated hangar at Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome that shelters the two gigantic space shuttles of the Buran program.
The first orbiter of the Buran program was the VKK Space Orbiter that was a reusable spacecraft. Orbiter K1, the second orbiter completed one unmanned spaceflight successfully in 1988, before the shutdown of the Buran program, and was never reused again, as it was crushed in a hangar collapse on 12 May, 2002 in Kazakhstan. Thus, it became the only Soviet reusable spacecraft to be launched into space ever. Both the space shuttle orbiters used the Energia rockets as a launch vehicle that are completely different from the one’s used in NASA’s space shuttles.
The building that now has turned into ruins; was humongous, with length of about 492 feet, 262 feet breadth and 230 feet height. The facility was initially designed to withstand even a blast of a fuel explosion, and its length is indicative of the Soviet approach to rocket construction. The facility was built with very advanced designs and technologies. For instance, it had atmospheric control systems in it to keep out the dust and dirt.
The project was the largest and the most expensive in the history of Soviet’s (now, Russia) space exploration. The project included sending BOR-5 test vehicles on multiple sub-orbital test flights, and also atmospheric flights of the OK-GLI prototype. The OK-GLI now resides in the Technikmuseum Speyer. Although Soviet/Russian Buran spacecraft was similar in appearance to NASA’s Space Shuttle, and could similarly operate as a re-entry space plane, its internal and functional designs are in a way unique that were the results of pinnacle of technology of that time.