Russian Rocketry Test Stand Urbex in 2011-2012 creates national controversy


Yes, yes, the photos are cool (read: amazing), but I don’t think any of the articles I’ve seen online go into enough detail about why these pictures are even more amazing than the usual well-framed industrial urbex photography.

image

This NPO Energomash* rocket-testing facility wasn’t actually abandoned. Above is a picture taken in December 2011, with smoke rising from one of the site’s exhaust stacks. As a producer of high-tech, high-value rockets, NPO Energomash’s sites are under the “special custody” of the Russian Federation - in other words, they are “top secret” facilities.

How in the hell does an urbex blogger end up in a top secret rocket engine test facility? Russia’s Federal Security Service was just as curious as you presumably are. Apparently - and this is what the blogger told the security service - you just walk right in. According to one of the infiltrators, the Energomash facility was missing part of its outer perimeter fence. She and a few other urbex bloggers accessed the facility on five different nights. They never saw a single human being. Dogs, they said, were scared of them and hid. They never encountered a locked door, or even a working security camera.

Faced with responsibility for this patent absurdity, Energomash initially chose not to comment on the infiltration by tiny, unarmed bloggers and instead left its managing company, RSC Energia, to make the following statement:

We are aware of intrusions. Unfortunately, such incidents occurred, said “Izvestia” senior vice president of RSC “Energia” Vladimir Osmolovsky. We work with the the company for just one year yet, and we just inherited this fence full of holes. Therefore, the entire perimeter had not yet been repaired. We are very sorry about what’s happened, but to close the fence around, we need money, and the company now is not too well-off financially.**

In short, a company that makes rockets with international military and spacefaring applications didn’t have enough money to keep their top-secret facility staffed with guards, or to repair a fence. Google Translate, while very helpful, isn’t perfect - so I can’t substantiate it, but comments in Lana Sator’s Livejournal post about the infiltration seem to imply that the company, and possibly its security, are (at least in part) government funded.

Ouch.

The failure to protect a top secret facility is just another blow in a chain of embarrassing Russian state-subsidized industry scandals, which is perhaps why the exploits of Livejournal urbex bloggers were irritating enough to provoke the Russian Deputy Prime Minister:

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said harsh measures would be taken to enforce security and punish the “sleepy cats” responsible for the plant’s security.

“There will be no freewheeling,” he told Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin, and also gave a warning to the bloggers, who he called “cheeky mice.”

“I don’t advise anybody to penetrate strategic installations anymore,” he said.***

It’s in an environment of chronic rocket launch failures and deadly hydroelectric dam explosions that nobody wants to take responsibility for, that compulsive troublemaker Lana Sator chides:

And of course, thanks to the security service of the NGOs for irresponsible approach to the protection of its plant and the control of economic security for failing to contain the emotions of sadness about the property damage caused by the loss of a wonderful perimeter, previously presented himself capital structure.

Frankly, I think teasing the company AND the government about their poor security and economic problems, accompanied by uncensored pictures of yourself inside a top secret facility, is a bridge too far. Then again, I am not an urban explorer, nor a Russian. Maybe I’m just not angry or edgy enough to understand. Many of the Livejournal comments echo the sense of deep-rooted spite toward the government over its failures, and are laden with nostalgia for a rose-tinted Soviet past:

With such a mess at the sites of national importance neudevitelny test results “Bulava” and the like, disgrace! Here’s where to direct attention to the FSO and the FSB, not the servants of the Kremlin’s ass! (Which anyone on the dick, do not need!)

-natan21

Now I understand why we do not fly rockets and planes fall. This is similar to the creation of the apocalypse. and not to the plant producing anything at all, a lot of rusty metal and chaos reign. Disgrace to the country, if it is still there. 
A Well done, informative and interesting tour.

-niks31


Every honor you, Lano, you announced this. Dogs can bark all he wants, but does a girl have to show where the rabble, so do not do anything, and how miserable they are hiding behind the attack on you, rather than take responsibility for this negligence. 
Which they refer to FSB It is because they are afraid because they are cowards. And you’re very brave. I will be sorry if you are touched, and I hope that there are many who will defend you and that you will not give. Christ is born! Greetings from the Balkans, Branko

-Anonymous

rotting remains of those times, when the country was still able to something

-z_is_dead

appendix

*What is an NPO? An NPO is a “Scientific Production Organization”. These are descended from the state-run design bureaus (OKB) of the Soviet era.

**From an English translation of an article from izvestia.ru.

*** From en.rian.ru.

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