8 Abandoned Launch Pads, Missile Silos and Decommissioned Space Centres

Buran Flight Complex (Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan)

Baikonur-Cosmodrome-abandoned

Baikonur-Cosmodrome-abandoned-2

Baikonur-Cosmodrome-abandoned-3 (Images: English Russia)

In 1974, the Soviets launched the Buran Flight programme in an attempt to rival NASA’s shuttle. Although an unmanned flight was completed in 1988, the meltdown of the union and subsequent economic collapse left the project in limbo. All that now remains of the near-resurgent space race is a vast, desolate array of launch pads and test centres: rusted, withered and empty. Situated in the middle of a high-desert plain, the remains of the Buran complex constitute possibly the single most-complete set of space age ruins in the world; left-standing through a combination of inaction and Russia’s refusal to knock them down (other parts of the Baikonur Cosmodrome continue to be used to this day). Battered, haunted and weirdly-beautiful; the disused launch pads stand today as a monument to what could have been.

 
 


 
 
 

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