A top secret missile testing center

Let me take you on a tour of a most fascinating place. This is one of the grounds of a missile testing center that is located near one of the small towns in the Moscow region.

So, after a couple of suburban train rides, a bus ride and a 3-mile walk I have finally reached the site. A recently built fence and some barbed wire indicated that guests were not very welcome here.

Well, my so-called teleportation across the fence went quite well, and I headed deeper into the thicket. As it is typically the case, large territories are difficult to keep in order, so they are often let out for lease.

This place is no exception, and so I had to disguise myself as a pile of humus while a tractor was loading (or maybe unloading) something nearby. The only way to get to the objects that I was interested in seeing lay past it. After some 20 minutes of waiting I went on and came across several other fences along the way.

Suddenly the trees ended and the first signs of civilization started to appear, so to say.

A big patch of moss.

The first interesting objects.

Some bare facts:
Federal state owned enterprise «Missile and Space Research and Testing Center» is the leading Federal Space Agency research center in the field of developmental testing of liquid rocket engines and power plants working on various fuel components, spacecraft testing in space simulation chambers, carrier rocket take-off problems research and launching installation research.

Please meet: Static strength tester station

In 2012, A5A2C aerospace product, commonly known as Angara carrier rocket, was tested for cytostatic stability at this very station. Here’s the rocket itself (photos taken from russpace.ucoz.ru)

The goal of static station strength tests is experimental verification of spacecraft and missile construction elements durability under maximum operational and design loads.

Let’s not linger here. My attention then was taken by a huge crane tower. This is a weird place for a crane tower.

Let’s take a closer look.

It turns out that the crane belongs to an absolutely fascinating structure. Here is a part of it.

Please meet: Dynamic tester station (D1-M)

In the years 1964-1967 the D-1 dynamic tester station was built and put into operation in order to conduct experimental development for the panel discharge and withdrawal on the nose cone and the tail cone.

The testing station still looked more or less operational.

Of course I couldn’t help but climb on top.

There are observation cabins of some kind on the sides, apparently for the personnel who watched over the course of the testing.

This is what I spotted from the top and then rushed down to get there as fast as possible.

But as the Russian saying goes — the deeper you get, the thicker the woods are. This is the command center. Thick walls, armored doors and window blinds. This is no joke.

This is a vertical dynamic firing station.

The station was designed for carrier rocket blast-off gas dynamics developmental testing on large scale models (1:5-1:10) with up to 50 tons propulsion power.

The structure is in pitiful condition, outdated and will likely soon be sawn apart for scrap metal.

Well, I kept moving on..

On my way I came across some high-pressure tanks.

A bit farther on there was a ground with a huge testing station. Please meet: A multi-purpose solid fuel engine tester station.

Inside the protective building another miniature tester station was hiding.
A gasodynamic vertical multi-purpose medium scale tester station.

The station provided opportunity for researching gasodynamic, shock-wave, thermal and acoustic processes that take place during a carrier rocket take-off.
This “baby station” (if we compare it to its elder brothers) was designed in the late 1980s in order to conduct medium-scale (1:30) model rocket testings. Until the mid-1990s this station served for a long series of developmental testings of the legendary Zenith product line launch pad cooling system.

There was silence all around, only the birds were signing about something of their own.

When I found a passage leading underground, I went there right away.

Here’s one of the two entrances to the place where fire is raging during testings, the fire that pushes spacecraft up to the infinite skies. The armored door was open and I came inside.

Simply epic.

As the night drew closer, I was starting to get hungry. But there was still a crane I haven’t taken a look at! Of course, I decided to climb up.

The crane cabin

The engine room

Wasting no time I quickly put out some food right onto the platform of the crane. It’s hard to think of a better place to take your meal.

After having a snack I headed down.

When I came down I discovered a obvious sign of funding cuts in the space industry.

This is a net specifically designed for catching parts of rockets that may shoot off during dynamic station tests.

I decided to leave the territory using a passage different from the one I used to get in because I would have to take a 40-minute walk to reach the spot where I had entered the site.

Approaching the intended escape spot and twisting the camera in my hands I was stopped by a voice coming from a loud-hailer (it was not talking to me, but anyway…) and, what is more, a dog’s barking. The barking sounded as if the dog was the size of a cow.

So, holding the camera with one hand, I turned around and bolted towards the place where I had entered until I was hidden in the thicket. After I caught my breath I realized that I was not being followed and went on quietly to the spot where I infiltrated the site and finally left it.

10 minutes later I saw a jeep with security personnel slowly driving along no man’s land. Since I already was on the other side of the fence I had strong urge to wave to them, but something stopped me; maybe it was my good manners.

That’s all. Thank you for your time and attention, I hope you had fun reading this post.

Images by artuniar, reproduced with permission

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