Biggest Barn Find Ever: Russian Space Shuttles

Space Shuttle Find

Alright so this isn’t the biggest collection of barn finds ever found, as a matter of fact there aren’t even any cars here, but it’s definitely the biggest barn ever! To be honest, calling this massive hangar a barn isn’t exactly accurate, but given the dilapidated state of this old Russian facility it might as well be one. This is a sight unlike any other! I’ve seen rare exotics, massive muscle cars, and even an old fighter plane hidding in a barn covered in dust, but I never imagined I would see a pair of abandoned space shuttles! The story behind these shuttles is an incredible one, but more about that in a minute!

Buran Shuttle

Here at Barn Finds, we love all kinds of vehicles and I can’t think of any vehicle quite as cool as a space ship! What kid doesn’t dream of being an astronaut? I should say a cosmonaut, since these shuttles are Russian. If they look similar to the American built space shuttles, that’s probably because they have similar dimensions and basic design. After the successes (and problems) of the Apollo missions, America’s space program was redirected towards a new goal! NASA, with the encouragement of President Nixon, set the goal of building a space station. Since the shuttles would play a significant role in transporting and building the station, they were built first. Even though the station wasn’t a collaboration at this point, Russia decided to start building a shuttle of their own. It was to be called the Buran and would ride on the back of an NPO Energiya Rocket.

Russian Space Shuttles

The first Buran (Orbiter K1) to be completed was sent on an unmanned orbital mission and proved to be a solid performer, with no issues on take off, re-entry, or landing. Construction on three more Buran was also started, so as to stay ahead of the Americans. As things go in Russia, political instability lead to the demise of Energiya and the Buran program. Rather than officially terminate the project, it was just left in limbo so the shuttles were left in their hangar to rot. The one shuttle to actually fly was put in Site 112, which eventually suffered from a roof collapse.

Site 112

If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like when the roof of a 10+ story building falls in on a space shuttle and its booster rocket, this would be it! It’s an even sadder sight than the two shuttles just languishing in storage. Not only did this ship have significant historical value, but this was the building that Russia built their N1 Moon Rocket. For me, the hardest part of this sight is all the energy, knowledge, and materials just going to waste here. The facilities could have easily been repurposed, the shuttles could have gone to museums, and the scrap metal used to build new spacecrafts or equipment.

Russian Shuttle Hangar

I won’t pretend to know much about space shuttles or the Russian space program, so if you happen to know more about this story please share! And if you would like to read more about them and you just happen to know Russian you can find the original story here on livejournal. If you are like me and need the story in English, you can read more on Popular Science.



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  1. Chris formly of San Diego

    I think you guys should pick one of these up as the next Barn Find project vehicle! Now that would be a story to follow!

    • Josh Staff

      I agree Chris! Sadly, I don’t think it would fit in the garage. Maybe if we knock a wall or two out, we could make room for one!

      • Desi

        Bring a big trailer

  2. sunbeamdon

    WOW – WAW (what a waste!)

    Sometimes the bigger hammer theory overwhelms reality

    • Josh Staff

      It really is a massive waste. Just the hangar alone is an insane waste of resources. But I guess if it costs more to tear down than it’s worth, what else are you going to do with it? It will be interesting to see what happens to the shuttles and the facility in the future. Either mother nature will destroy it like it did to Site 112 or they will decide to do something with it. I would think the interest in the history of the space race would create enough interest to turn it into a museum, but I guess if it is in the middle of no where that might not be realistic option either.

      Like 1
  3. VistaCruiser

    A/C may need charge. Ran when parked…

    Like 1
    • John D

      Don’t they usually say “AC works, but doesn’t blow cold” ??? Which means, of course, that it doesn’t work . . .

      Like 1
    • francisco

      LOL. Nice patina. Good original glass. High mileage.

      Like 1
  4. Joe

    Definitely the best barn find ever! The dirt on top with interior mess looks familiar. The great thing is production was low and comes with parts shuttle.

    • Josh Staff

      I think there are even a few spare motors laying around nearby, maybe you could get them to throw those in too! After you put it all together, you would have one nice shuttle.

      Like 1
  5. David Frank David Member

    Fortunatly, the aircraft built to haul the Buran, the Antonov An-225, fared better than the shuttles and was another “Barn Find”. After sitting abandoned for eight years, it was refurbished and now hauls freight around the world along with the smaller Antonovs for Antonov Airlines. There was a second one that was never completed and was abandoned. This airplane is a monster, the longest and heaviest airplane ever built, hauling over half a million pounds, with a takeoff weight of over 700 tons. The wingspan of 290 feet is 94 feet longer than a 747.

  6. Karl

    If anybody is interested in reading about the Soviet space program’s early days, find yourself a copy of Red Star In Orbit by James Oberg. It’s long out of print, but very good. Oberg reviews the program from the very beginnings to the Salyut space station in the 1970s. While we aimed for the moon, the Soviets put their best efforts into a practical, working space station–and their best efforts were very, very good indeed. The Salyut was far better than our Skylab.
    It is sad to look at these photos and ponder the waste of resources and genius in this abandoned effort.

  7. Chris Saunders

    Has anyone given Richard Branson a call i am sure he would be interested.

  8. JW

    I can not believe these shuttles and the scrap building has not turned up on ebay, heck the photos are better than most sellers on there now. I’m sure there would be no reserve and shipping of course would be up to the buyer. ISIS may even put in a bid.

  9. Newport Pagnell

    Actually our first space station Skylab was born from the Apollo program and not the Shuttles. After the Apollo moon missions were done in ’72, NASA used some leftover hardware from canceled Apollo’s 18-20 and built Skylab(’73). The Space Shuttle’s didn’t come on-line till ’81-’82 and eventually helped to build the ISS in ’98. Also no “Y” in Energia.

    Like 1
  10. Mark E

    Just don’t be mistaken, these are completely different than the US Space shuttles and nothing is interchangeable. I heard 8-10 years ago that the Buran that had been flown was for sale for $35,000 with no takers. It would only be a display piece in a museum or front yard as it would need all its missing support equipment to ever fly again.

    Ah yes, the AN 225 is a MONSTER of a plane. I got to walk around and inside it when it visited the Oshkosh, WI fly-in back in the late ’80s. Walking inside and standing on the deck it seems like a small warehouse, not a plane!

    Like 1
  11. roger

    I am against any of that outer space stuff except for military projects to keep us safe as possible.
    All other is waste of money that could build free hospitals,clinics,etc to help the millions of poor people in this country .
    And yes most americans are poor,not rich like on TV.
    There are no jobs since factorys were allowed to leave to countries that use slave labor and our economy went service based.
    No money needs to be wasted on useless projects that help no one.
    I saw the moon landing in 69.What good did that do? Just a stunt and waste of money.

    • z1rider

      Poor is a relative term.

      America’s “poor” enjoy a higher standard of living than most of the rest of the world and have access to consumer products than the wealthy of 100 years ago couldn’t even dream of. Cell phones, big screen tv’s, microwaves as examples and many others.

      Shouldn’t you be perusing the Mother Jones website? You will find kindred spirits there.

      • Karl

        Just a thought for us to ponder–if you make $30K a year you are in the global top 10%. Ninety percent of the world is worse off than you. And yes, poor in America and poor in the 3rd world is so different from each other that the word “poor” is meaningless.

    • francisco

      Roger, What point are you trying to make exactly? This is a car lovers blog. Most of us in the hobby are cheerful and upbeat. Take your negative politics elsewhere. It has no place here. What else don’t you believe in? I would guess maybe underarm deodorant.

      Like 2
    • Mike_B_SVT

      Yeah, those DARPA guys probably shouldn’t have bothered setting up a network for internal communcations either (*cough*spawned-the-internet*cough*cough*) – what a waste of time and money that turned out to be!

      Aside from that, if you are such a concerned citizen then you should donate all of your money and volunteer your time for those who are less fortunate than yourself.

  12. kenzo

    Uh Oh better get MAACO and more.
    Interesting !

  13. glenn

    Apollo 18 wasn’t “cancelled” … didn’t you see the movie !?! ;-)

  14. Charles

    What? No pictures of the undercarriage? it’s probably rusted out, and the seller is trying to hide the true condition. Russia seems to have a habit of building grandiose projects, than letting them rot.

    As for nothing coming out of the space program, people who believe that nonsense need to go back and review history. Superglue came from the space program. Microwave technology came from the space program. Microwave technology makes much of our current medical technology possible. It also makes much of our modern communications systems possible. NASA played an important role in the development most of the early computer systems, and have played an important role kick-starting development of the computer industry. Most of the money paid that was paid out as costs in the space industry was paid to workers who worked in the space industry. That money was spent back into the economy which helped support the economy. Any doubters should look at the history of our economy when the space program laid off workers in 1973 when Apollo was completed. Anyone remember the big recession of 1973? I could go on and on, however there is no point in it. People will believe what they want to despite what the facts indicate.

    Like 1
  15. z1rider

    The Antonov An-225 is like so many Russian efforts. Build the biggest just so they can say they did it. I ever there was a country which made it’s citizens suffer for the sake of ill conceived projects like this it was Russia. A 3rd world country with a 1st world army.

    Another one of their triumphs; the worlds largest microchip.

  16. Charles

    There is a legend about the Russian space program that I heard over and over as a child. Both of my parents worked for NASA contractors during the Gemini and Apollo programs. The legend goes that Russia was in such a race with the US, that they fired manned rockets at the rate of three or four to each one we sent up. If the story is correct there are seven space capsules floating in the atmosphere with dead Russian astronauts in them.

  17. andrew

    So is there a “Buy It Now” or bid on ebay or Craigslist ??

  18. George

    They are not all languishing, hidden away. There is one at Gorky Park in Moscow.

  19. sunbeamdon

    To all our fellow Barn Finders, I find this sight too distracting (not); good fun to break-away from another IRS/taxpayer problem.

    ???What happens if I die before taking my omitted RMD??? I’ll get back to you after I read the good, inane and ugly comments on Barn Finds.

    I wanna retro this shuttle and run it on the Salt Flats; I’m sure there’s a way to stop it short of LA, or not, who cares!

    As my old hippy friends said “keep on keepin’ on”. Happy Friday

  20. Desi

    Bring a big trailer

  21. Pieter

    One of these Buran’s is in the Technik Museum in Germany, brought over as a gift from Russia to the german leader Kohl. You can visit iT at the museum in Speyer in Germany

  22. John H.

    If anyone is interested, we built a knockoff of one of these from the fiberglass kit. It uses a Chevy S-10 chassis, 327 engine and 700-R4 transmission. Looks just like the original. I’m sure today it would perform much better with fuel injection.

  23. Cameron Bater UK

    Hmmm, Normally replacing an engine and filling her up is considered fairly expensive but I think if you were to buy or commission a set of SRBs and then Fuel the system up you wouldn’t get change out of £Millions and thats without the cost of buying the things in the first place.
    Still it could be an opportunity for someone like Virgin Galactic to move into the sight do a bit of work on the existing shuttles and get themselves into space.

  24. Jordan

    The actual reason the Soviet shuttle looked so much like ours is they copied the plans of our shuttle that they stole from the library of Congress! When the CIA found out what they were doing they started providing altered blueprints/plans to sabotage their shuttle and make sure it would never work properly!! The Soviet shuttle program actually stopped/was cancelled because the protective heat shield/tiles failed on the first flight during re-entry due to the sabotage campaign by the CIA! Their shuttle was so badly burnt up/damaged on re-entry that it couldn’t fly anymore after that! But the heat shield/tiles were just one of the major things that failed, their were all kinds of things that were bad or didn’t work due to the sabotage campaign by the CIA!! So the Soviets quietly locked the shuttles away and scrapped the program! Serves them right, sneeky cheating ass Russians!! That’ll teach them to steal from us/copy our technology instead of having an original idea of their own! If this story interest you then I suggest you look it up online or their is a documentary about this also. I think the documentary was by the Discovery channel or the Smithsonian channel. I can’t remember where i saw it at now, just goggle it! It is really fascinating!!

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