The Hunt for Rocket Boosters in Russia's Far North

WIRED | 4/18/2019 | Laura Mallonee
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The boreal forest of the Mezensky district in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia, teems with wild reindeer, wolverines, and grouse. But the hunter photographer Makar Tereshin followed there in January—his fifth trip to the region while shooting his stunning series Fields of Fall— was after bigger, more exotic prey: a 65-foot-long Soyuz rocket booster.

It crashed among the birches and pines in 1989 after blasting off from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Mirny some 200 miles south. Constructed in the late 1950s as the world's first intercontinental missile base, the military facility performed more than 1,500 spacecraft launches between 1966 and 2005—more than 60 each year of the 1970s. Much of the launch refuse—boosters, fuel tanks, and fuselage—tumbled into the uninhabited forests and swamps of the Mezensky district, where hunters eventually found it.

Scavenge - Junk - Scrap - 1980s - Soviet

They never dared scavenge the junk for scrap until the late 1980s, when the Soviet Union began to fall. At first, they told Tereshin, they hacked the metal with axes. Then someone got the bright idea to use a circular saw. Still, it could take more than a week to dismantle a single booster, sometimes sleeping inside for warmth. They sold the metal—aluminum, gold, silver, copper, and titanium—for cash in the capital Arkhangelsk and also hammered it into whatever they happened to need: flat-bottomed boats (dubbed "ракетаs" or rockets), hunting sleds, fencing, gutters, and even saunas—infusing a region otherwise known for its traditional Russian culture and folklore with a touch of space punk.

These objects still litter yards and houses in the Mezensky district, though metal scavenging...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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