While we’ve managed to make mind-boggling strides toward leaving our planet and reaching for the stars, our gains have come at some cost. The history of space exploration is filled with abandoned ideas and false starts.

One consequence of such trial and error is that we end up with lots of debris or junk left behind, but when it relates to our attempts to journey into space, this detritus is often fascinating.

Take this Russian photographer’s discovery for instance. He was wandering in the woods when he stumbled upon the crumbling remains of something that played a huge part in the Soviet Union’s race into outer space!

Photographer and explorer Aleksander Markin recently stumbled upon this excellent find in Russia…

shuttle-1Flickr / Aleksander Markin

It’s an abandoned 1/3 scale model of the Soviet Union’s VKK Space Orbiter, one of the earliest space shuttle designs!

shuttle-2Flickr / Aleksander Markin

The VKK was built as part of the 1970s Buran Program, Russia’s attempt to build a safe, efficient, and reusable manned spacecraft.

shuttle-3Flickr / Aleksander Markin

This model was likely used for wind tunnel testing and other simulations and experiments.

shuttle-4Flickr / Aleksander Markin

Unsurprisingly, the equipment that once lined the inside of the test craft was nearly all removed, leaving little but the outer shell of the shuttle remaining.

shuttle-6Flickr / Aleksander Markin

The Buran Program ended with the fall of the Soviet Union, and that’s likely why this model was ditched. Although it’s not in the best shape, it’s a truly unique part of the history of Russian space exploration!

shuttle-5Flickr / Aleksander Markin

That’s pretty cool, but it’s a little sad that it’s fallen into such disrepair. This thing should be in a museum somewhere!

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