Check out these somber new shots of the Soviets' stunted space shuttle program

Don't fault us for thinking these cemetery-like photos taken inside the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Russia would make an epic setting for a spectacular superhero showdown.  Check out these eerie images by Russian photographer and adventurer Ralph Mirebs, who gained access to the cavernous superstructure where the rotting husks of two Soviet Burans lie in eternal slumber.

The $16 billion Buran-Energia space shuttle program ran between 1974 and 1993 in response to the U.S. shuttle program, with only a single automated orbital flight under its belt before funding was yanked due to the Soviet Union's political and financial implosion.  This colossal hanger was first built to assemble the Soviet's N1 moon rocket, then converted to an orbiter maintenance facility and final destination for the two shuttles.  One of the shuttles, nicknamed Ptichka (Little Bird), was primed for launch in 1992 for an automatic-mode hookup with the Mir spacestation, while the second spacecraft was merely a full-size mockup used for docking tests and load limit experiments.

Pay your respects to these decaying icons of a more ambitious period in Soviet space exploration in the gallery below, and a special thanks to Ralph Mirebs for braving the spooky interior of this abandoned Soviet tomb and capturing the Burans' sad state for posterity.

(Via Gizmodo)

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