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The Amazing Abandoned Space Shuttles in 57 Images

Viktoriia Makeenko
Abandoned Space Shuttle
Abandoned Space Shuttle

Space Shuttles: The Baikonur Cosmodrome  is the world’s largest space ‘hanger’, and it reached the grand age of 64 years old on June 2, 2019. A variety of spacecraft were tested here, including the Energia-Buran system.

A big thank you to Ralph Mirebs for the amazing photos! Check out more of his work on live journal.

The assembly and refueling complex with the two spacecraft in it was closed more than two decades ago. It was almost the largest building in Baikonur. It was designed by the Prikompromproject institute in Izhevsk.

Space Shuttles

The length of the structure is 433 feet (132 meters) long and 203 feet (62 meters) high. There are huge sliding gates at the ends of the building. The largest of these is 138 x 118 feet (42 x 36 meters).

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The bearing structures of the assembly and refueling complex are made of a special type of steel. These structures must withstand the pressure of the shock wave arising in the event of a possible explosion of a heavy launch vehicle at the nearest launch pad.

On the sides of the main building are four-story extensions which house a variety of equipment for testing, organizing ventilation, and providing power.

Since the room in which the work with the orbital spacecraft took place was not supposed to contain dust, a high atmospheric pressure was artificially created within it. All doors leading from the hangar to the corridors were airtight.

Three transverse beams moved under the ceiling, each of which had a lifting capacity of 400 tons. Even higher up is a complex system of walkways under the roof itself, which allows access to the lighting lamps.

Currently, there are two ships inside the refueling complex, one of which is the second flight copy of the Storm; the other is a technological layout for testing prelaunch operations. But, despite the fact that the latter is a mock-up, inside and outside, it looks like a real ship.

Neither is in the best condition and, because of this, they complement each other.

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The current state of the Space Shuttles is very pitiable. Some of the thermal protection tiles have fallen off, and the cockpit glazing has been broken. The wings and fuselage are covered in a rich layer of bird droppings that has accumulated over more than 20 years.

At the time that work on the Storm ceased, it was 95 percent ready. Externally, in addition to the individual pattern of heat-shielding tiles, it differs from OK-MT by the presence of installed orientation engines in the nose section.

In the tail section, the Storm has lost its container with brake parachutes, but the propulsion system looks completely intact. With the OK-MT model, the tail section was much better preserved, and the frontal glazing is in good shape.

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Inside the layout, almost everything is the same as on the “adult” ship.  Of course, it is no longer clear what became of the missing equipment — it was not installed nor torn out for precious metals. Defeat reigns in the module and the cockpit, but the payload compartment and the engine compartment are relatively clean.

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