While traveling through Kazakhstan, urban explorer and photographer Ralph Mirebs found what appeared to be a large, abandoned airplane hanger. Thinking there might be something interesting inside, he entered the building and got the surprise of his life.
Underneath many layers of dirt, dust and bird droppings were three partially constructed space shuttles. The vehicles were part of the Buran Space Shuttle Program, which was discontinued in the late 1980s although the hangar itself remained active until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1993.
The building was incredibly advanced for its time and included sophisticated climate control. Considered to be the best technology ever developed by Russia, the shuttles are slowly crumbling away and will eventually disappear forever. The hangar is part of the Baikonur Cosmodrome complex and was constructed when Russia and the United States were in a tight competition for space exploration.
Only one shuttle built in the Buran program made it to the launch pad for a single, unmanned trip into orbit. Afterward, it was permanently grounded and later destroyed when a storage facility collapsed on it. Like NASA, Russia is currently without space shuttles. The two countries utilize Soyuz rockets to travel between Earth and the space station.