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20 Photos Of Space Shuttles That Were Left Behind

Space is often considered the final frontier for man, the last unexplored area for us as species. Though there is much that can be said about this, for it and against it, there is the plain and simple fact that humans have a love affair with the stars. We dream of them, gaze at them in wonder, and we've done so for just about as long as we've been around.

Even knowing nothing about space, we cast our eyes heavenward. Since that distant past, we've dedicated our minds to understanding that great mystery, and in this day and age, we understand the depths of space better than ever before. We as collective humans have even reached space and landed on the moon. That is a spectacular feat, it really is.

Of course, divided into nations, there was a significant amount of political and nationalistic competition to get there, often referred to as the space race. Since the United States reached the moon, that competition has died down, but many countries have invested much money into space exploration. Not all of them have proven to be extraordinarily successful, and some have even gotten to the point that they've been completely mothballed, projects shuttered, and even entire hangars left abandoned.

Many people love abandoned things, and many people love space. A combination of the two is rarely seen, but fascinating nonetheless. Let's take a look at 20 photos of space shuttles that were left behind and abandoned.

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20 Abandoned Center Console

via messynessychic.com

Being inside the cockpit of a spacecraft is for many people one of their biggest dreams and one of their most unattainable. Not many people get to be in a spacecraft that was actually slated to be piloted into space.

But, for those with a passion for spacecraft and for abandoned things, they can have their dreams realized in a pretty awesome way with this abandoned ship, where it's possible to get inside to the cockpit, and to every part of the craft.

19 Accumulating Into Dust

via vice.com

This spaceship rests on the floor of a massive hangar in Kazakhstan, where it's lain in silence and decay for decades now, doors closed, windows shuttered, an entire program mothballed and forgotten, tucked away behind some really tall walls.

The dust and decay, which continues to keep accumulating, is only an empty echo of what was once the most glimmering hope for mankind, space. These days there isn't much money being put into space programs, especially in places like Russia.

18 Almost A Spaceship

via cultartes.com

The orbital ceiling is impressive, truly impressive, and the space that it covers is seriously big, too, a large arena dotted with eternal white light and snow that has drifted through the empty gaps, broken glass and network of rafters stretched out above the ground.

This can be found abandoned in the cold of Bulgaria, and it is an architectural phenomenon that brings people the world over, just to get a chance at this. While not technically a spaceship, it was modeled after one and built to commemorate the Bulgarian Party.

17 As Far From Space As Possible

via reddit.com

Tucked away, hidden behind the structures of a massive hangar, covered in decades of filth, dust, debris, decay, and bird droppings, these two Soviet spacecraft are about as far as they've ever been, and perhaps about as far as anything could be, from reaching space.

The melancholic humor behind it is that they are designed and built to go to space and be in space, not to be hidden away like this. Goes to show that not even the best plans are guaranteed to work out. As this rather sad and fascinating example demonstrates.

16 Decaying Away In Darkness

via cnn.com

The writing on this space rocket points to the fact that it, too, is a victim of the shuttered and mothballed Soviet Space Program, which saw an end not too soon after the last winds of the space race stopped blowing. In many ways, it is a relic.

It points to a time when mankind reached over the Earth in a desperate struggle to reach space, the final frontier, and ignore all the problems of the Earth. A tumultuous time for all of the powers of the world, and yet what remains at this facility is an empty echo of roosting birds.

15 Destroyed And Decayed

via pinterest.com

This is some abandoned space wreckage that has definitely seen better days. The scaffolding and stairs around the craft are the only things left standing, ironically, and the rest has toppled over and fallen leaving wreckage all around. Even the walls of the hangar look to be broken and in disrepair.

This forgotten spaceship looks like it is in the process of being demolished, and it won't be long before it becomes completely erased, left behind to be remembered by only a few. The wreckage is genuinely titan, too.

14 Docked For The Very Last Time

via popsci.com

Posing for a photo in front of this spaceship must have been a once in a lifetime opportunity for this man, and it would be a bit of a pipe dream for almost everyone else in the world. But, if you set your mind to it, you can do anything, and getting to Kazakhstan isn't all that difficult, not really.

With the hangar abandoned and in ruins, there's nothing stopping a person from exploring every inch that they wish in this spacious space hangar, where there are countless levels and artifacts, as well as ships to be explored inside and out.

13 Facing The Elements

via pinterest.com

This shuttle isn't as lucky as the shuttles that get to live out their retirement inside hangars or at least with a roof over their heads, no this space shuttle has the unfortunate demise of having to rot and wither away with time while facing the elements.

Rather brutal elements, too, as this spacecraft is located where the wind blows, the winters are cold and frozen, and the sun beats down relentlessly. It will no doubt lead to the quick decay and dilapidation of this particular vessel. Seems like such a waste, really.

12 Inside The Craft, Gravity Included

via cnn.com

This photo was taken inside the spacecraft within the hangar of the shuttered Soviet space project called Buran, and it's a fascinating sight to see, I can only imagine how much greater it would be in real life, versus an online photo of the thing.

The tunnels, designed for zero gravity, must have been difficult to crawl through with gravity still in full effect, and this opening shows how the layout is rounded and circular, perfect for getting around in zero gravity. But this spacecraft will never see the day it leaves the pull of our Earth.

11 Inside The Ship

via flickr.com

This view is from inside the spacecraft, perhaps the rocket ship, and looks downwards into the empty space of the body. It's a fascinating sight, and not in the least a little bit of a scary one. The darkness can't help but conjure within the mind horror stories of unwanted super predator aliens aboard a spacecraft. Yet, no aliens here, just an empty story.

It's fascinating to think about what it would be like to navigate the inside of a spacecraft without the effects of gravity, and especially is that so with an abandoned spacecraft condemned to the Earth.

10 Left To Rust Inside The Atmosphere

via YouTube

Far from where it belongs in space, this old shuttle has been committed to a life sentence here on the surface of the planet, deep within the atmosphere, with nothing above it but miles and miles of thick atmosphere.

The panels look in pretty rough shape, due to their exposure to the elements, day and night, decade after decade. It wears on a spacecraft, and there's no way that this shuttle will ever see the darkness of space, the vacuum or the cold. At least it has a view of the stars each and every night, shining forth like a dream.

9 Never To See The Stars

via ebaumsworld.com

This is the view out of the cockpit of a spacecraft, and it is an enviable one. Many people dream of reaching the stars in spaceships, to be space explorers and astronauts. Not many get much of a taste beyond at most a simulation.

This would be a pretty cool experience, though, to be in a real cockpit, looking out the same windows that the astronauts would be. It's not much of a stretch of the imagination to picture what their view would be from up there: cold darkness, the sparkle of stars and a distant blue orb.

8 Rows And Rows Of Empty Hallways

via urbanghostmedia.com

To climb to the top of the hangar here looks like it's the equivalent of climbing a mountain to get a good view or the top of a skyscraper. There are at least nine levels here, and perhaps many more, as this photo was taken around that level. The wide angle lens really showcases the vastness of the hangar.

With so many levels, it really highlights just how much money and resources went into this program, and how all of that is now for nothing, completely abandoned and forgotten, forsaken from the minds of those who created it.

7 Searching For The Stars

via rockcafe.com

Apart from the general decay visible in this photo, the dirt, dust, bird droppings, dilapidated metal and machinery, this photo inspires a certain amount of hope due to its clever framing and scope.

The shuttle, long since abandoned and hopelessly in ruin, points towards the hangar door in eager anticipation, ready to head forth, blast out the doors and off into space, far away from this purgatory of cold decay. It seems as if anything is possible, the entire universe lies in wait behind those massive doors. Alas, it may never happen.

6 Stowed Away For All Time

via cnn.com

Ready for take off, almost. This rocket stands tall in a massive structure, rows, and rows of catwalks and levels reaching up with it and surrounding it, ready for any preparations necessary for takeoff. Of course, this rocket won't be taking off any time soon.

It is abandoned and forgotten, left behind for good. It's a shame, really, as the number of materials, time, money, and impact on the environment must have been massive. Yet here it stands, and it was all for absolutely nothing. Can't really save this thing for later, being that it is rocket science.

5 T-Minus Never

via geektyrant.com

The man in the red t-shirt looks like he's having a jolly good time exploring this spacecraft, and his pose makes it seem like he's the captain of the craft, about ready to head into the controls and launch his machine into space.

That, obviously, isn't the case, as this abandoned spaceship isn't going anywhere anytime soon. But that didn't slow this man down from exploring every inch of it. Can't blame him, though, as this is a bit of a playground for those who love abandoned things or space things.

4 The Buran Shuttle Transport Machine

via pinterest.com

It's not just about the spaceship when it comes to a successful space program, and indeed a successful trip into space. Even though the space shuttle is the only thing that makes it into space, the fact is that there is a huge amount of logistics involved in not only building it, but moving it, transporting it, and in allocating any and all necessary materials.

That's why this mega-machine is so, well, mega. It's a shuttle transport, and that means it has to be big. Since the entire Buran program was shut down, this too is one of the many casualties. How cool would it be to shoot a music video here?

3 Command Center

via cnn.com

To see the command center of a spaceship is something often reserved for the movies, or for simulations, games, or even replicas in museums. It's not really a place for the average Joe to end up. Yet, in the case of this abandoned spacecraft, that's completely different.

As there is nothing stopping anyone from seeing these space crafts, anyone is able to explore the inside of a real space ship, and an abandoned one at that. Seems like a pretty cool thing to me, and maybe worth the flight to Kazakhstan.

2 The Shuttle Launch Pad

via flickr.com

This is a view of the launch pad, the very place where a space shuttle gets sent into space. The amount of scientific research and engineering behind this really is an incredible feat of human achievement, but in this instance, it's not much of anything at all.

The launch pad has fallen into disrepair, and grass grows through the cracks in cement, the structure stands tall and proud, yet it likely faces some serious exposure in a day to day scenario, meaning who knows what components are broken down and in disrepair.

1 The Whole Hangar

via buzznick.com

An aerial view of the entire hangar of the Buran space program initiated long ago by the Soviets was likely only possible with a drone, or perhaps a plane, and it shows just how abandoned the entire area really is, and how far away it is from, well anything at all.

Deserted in a vast desert, there really is an air of desperation and melancholy around this entire thing, emptiness, forgotten dreams and ambitions, all culminated in rusting beams, fading paint, and top-notch engineering slowly being erased by layers and layers of dust.

Sources: CNN, Messy Nessy Chic & Geek Tyrant

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