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NASA's graveyards: Haunting images reveal remnants of the space race

The Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft descending under its main parachute near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. (Photo credit: Bill Ingalls)

This fascination started with the Cold War Space Race, an early period of space exploration that became one of the most significant technological undertakings of the 20th century, culminating with Neil Armstrong’s legendary first steps on the moon.

The incredible infrastructures that were erected to support this endeavor served as a symbol for the high-stakes urgency of the time period—but these once-crucial sites have been abandoned and left to become modern ruins. Over the past 25 years, photographer Roland Miller travelled to over 16 sites across the country, documenting the current state of these space-launch and research facilities.

Through images that are at once documentary and artistic, he captures the temporal nature of sites that once captivated the entire world. “These abandoned space launch and test facilities bring to mind archeological sites,” he stated in an interview. “There is a spiritual quality to Launch Complex 34. The launch pedestal with its large round opening to the sky gives it the look of some ancient astronomical archaeological ruin, something like Stonehenge.”

All of the images below were taken by Roland Miller. They will be collected in the forthcoming book “Abandoned in Place: Preserving America’s Space History” to be published in March 2016 by the University of New Mexico Press.

Launch Pad and Gantry with Hermes A-1 Rocket, V2 Launch Complex 33, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, 2006
Launch Ring, Launch Complex 34 (Apollo Saturn), Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1990
Apollo Saturn V F1 Engine Cluster, NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas, 1996
Atlas Rocket, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1993
Wind Tunnel Test Chamber with Model, NASA Langley Research Center, Virginia, 1997
Mobile Service Tower Platforms, Atlas Launch Complex 36B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 2005
Rubber Room, Launch Pad 39B, Kennedy Space Center
Telemetry Receivers, Strip Chart Recorders, Blockhouse, Redstone Complex 36, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 2000
Missile Fuel Tank, Atlas Launch Complex 13, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1992
Saturn V F1 Engine, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, 1997
Launch Complex 34 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 2000
Horizontal Gantry from Base, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1991
Flooded Room Beneath Pad 19, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1992
Launch Control Room, Titan II ICBM Silo 395-C Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, 1995
Pressure Gauge Panel, Apollo Saturn V F1 Engine Test Stand Boeing Facility, Santa Susana Field Laboratory, California, 1998
Solar Simulator and 120-Foot Vacuum Chamber A, NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas, 1996
Liquid Fuel Tank Support, Launch Complex 37 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1993
Blockhouse, Launch Complex 37 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1992
Plug Board, Complex 26 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
Fuel Tank, Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center

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