Not Another Standard Abandonment

As something of an artist in my early years, I delighted in taking crayon to butcher's paper like a madman with my tongue hanging out the side of my mouth. The subject was most often crudely drawn rockets and spacecraft that my proud mother displayed on the kitchen wall. Once the next door neighbours took a holiday in the USA and returned bearing gifts - a navy blue baseball cap emblazoned with NASA in bold red stitching. I wore that cap until it disintegrated. My childhood dream was one to day see a real rocket.

QX and I sat upon a rusty gate staring vacantly down a rough asphalt road that veered not an inch far as the eye could see. Below a cloudy winter sky it split the swamp neatly in two. Beside it ran a line of rotting power poles, looking like an army of withered old men simply waiting for a good break in traffic to cross. A chill wind spurred us to action and we dropped from the gate and began to walk.

Clear minded and relaxed we wandered through the marsh feeling further and further removed from all civilisation. The tall marsh plants rustled in the breeze and I forgot how tired I really was. On two hours sleep we'd boarded a 5am flight, missed our connection, been bumped to first class, arrived 4 hours late into Florida, lost our drivers license, sweet talked the car hire place, gotten lost, gotten found and finally arrived at the one road in the entire world we wanted to be. Far in the distance a white vehicle grew from a speck and approached slowly. Despite having walked passed two locked gates  he just rolled on by without a second glance - happy to share this road to almost nowhere.

After a mile we passed a cluster of buildings - the primary research site. It was loosely guarded by rocks and rusty wire, faded tags on the rooves showing the local kids had long ago braved these security measures. In this marshy wilderness the dozen buildings stood decayed and silent but for the birds and wildlife who had come to reclaim their lands. We pressed on.

As the cluster shrunk behind us a single outline on the horizon grew larger and larger. Over the next 3.5 miles the corrugations upon the roof became visible and slowly the harsh shape of a solitary shed grew bold. Long weeds overflow from cracked concrete and sheet metal roofing littered the ground as we approached the shed. The spacious interior was barren but for scrap metal and discarded relics of the US space program. A suspicious checkerplate circle 60ft in diameter filled the center of the floor. We'd arrived.

FINISH-HIM
Paused above to contemplate our fate, sporting the appropriate attire of the day. Sub-Zero and Daiper Man?

The checkplate was broken up by a small rusty hole, through which we dropped a piece of debris. Seven seconds later it clanged against metal and splashed into something liquid. The echo was immense. We geared up, warpped ourselves in protective astronaut attire and climbing gear and squeezed ourselves in into the chasm below. Inside the 190ft deep, 60ft wide concrete abyss I rotated slowly feeling the incredible freedom of my limbs in the stale damp air. Two spiral staircases bolted to the nearby wall promised an easier descent into the black pit below, their turquoise hand railings contrasting strongly against the silo's grey interior. Rows of massive concrete and steel anchors protruded from the walls at 3m intervals encircling the space. Presumably the rocket engines were tied down during tests. I spun slowly towards the silo's centre and came face to face with the beast. An 260-SL, the world largest solid rocket motor. I vainly tried to reach out and touch its smooth metallic surface but all sense of proportion and perspective was lost from my vantage point.

The silo is divided horizontally into two sections by a large hexagon of mesh floor. It's not quite as decrepit as the levels above confluence but give it another 40 years and it will be close. Opposite the stairs, on the backside of the rocket, we finally found our proof. Halfway up its length in faded red faded letters it said: NASA.

It-rocks-my-world
Chilling with the NASA rocket. Staring into the abyss from the top level of the stairs. The cavity extends far below the...

From the underside it was clear the rocket engines were dropped nose first into the firing pit with the tail of the rocket sitting at ground level. According to my research there were 3 such engines, the rumour being this engine has never been fired. This is an old photo taken by Jack Levi shows a test firing of a 260inch solid rocket engine. Originally the shed was on wheels to be moved during these tests.

N-A-S-A
Finally, my own rocket. I've been waiting a long time for this, those four little letter has haunted me for so long.

The key to exiting the hole gracefully seemed to be hunch right over, get your hand ascender as high as possible then stand up through the hole. Once topside the ropes were checked for wear, derigged and stowed; lost lens caps were found and we scuttled out from the lone shed into the crisp night. Drained and weary we began to walk and the adreline high slowly slipped away. The rope bag and camera gear never seemed so heavy.

Behold

With eyes closed we wandered back taking in the scent and sounds of the marshes. We'd just seen something special, the likes of which we may never see again. I doubt many know or care what's hiding below that thick steel floor but I couldn't be happier - I'd finally seen my rocket. When I arrive home I'm going to dig out that old NASA cap and sport it like a G.

About the author

Found frigid and dying in the snow by a passing missionary at the abandoned Soviet airbase in Choir, Mongolia, little dsankt never had a chance. The Dreams Foundation granted his wish to one day travel the world, thinking he'd only last a month or so. To everyone's amazement he's still going strong. When asked for comment the foundation's treasurer would only say, "The little mongrel cunt just won't fucking die, it's costing us a fortune!"

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Croesor Rhosydd
nomeus   8 years ago
been there done that....you did it better ;)
qx   8 years ago
you had to go all the way to Texas to find your rocket? Coulda just looked down your strides in australia!
birdman   8 years ago
Wow, I'm waiting for a Darth Vader to appear from the left of that 2nd photo and throw The Emporer into the abyss and watch his arse implode in a plume of blue electricity.
Cam   8 years ago
Im so jealous...
Air33   8 years ago
pretty friggin nifty!
Rudeboy Ninja   8 years ago
That's awesome. Great location!
Pizzy   8 years ago
Is this the infamous location I have heard about? Is there a similiar one in xxxxxxxx??? Thats badass.
dsankt   8 years ago
Yeah Piz it's the one. Mighty fancy huh. Get your ass to North America!
s///   8 years ago
so this wasnt the Xxxxxxxx one?
dsankt   8 years ago
Siolo that's it.
glass   8 years ago
I guess there's a similar testbed in FL that's totally underwater. Great pics and location, D.
s///   8 years ago
whoooops!
DurgiN   8 years ago
raz my taz - "is that a 60 meter long rocket in your pocket or are you just happy to see me"
Agent Kaos   8 years ago
I fucking hate you guys. We spent an entire day searching the complex a few miles north of there for that thing. Shitcakes.
dsankt   8 years ago
K, you have cheap flights - bounce on back down there. You got the rope skills and the locals are rad. I'm sure Nomeus would be up for it.
India   8 years ago
ace - the bottom support ring with the bulb of the engine cradled in it is beautiful!
Dinny   8 years ago
That is the most awesome thing ive ever seen. I'm inspired
Happiedaze   7 years ago
I knew it. Wow, this is in Texas? Sweet.
magga   7 years ago
Yee-haa! My psychologist is helping me to look at your photos again with out deep feelings of failure and despair! Pretty fucken cool rocket man! I remember your NASA cap. My plate has a VW beetle and a jet on it. Also a tree.
jimbo   7 years ago
Hey, Sweet writeup, awesome pictures, only the text on this website really fucks your eyes up, not a good combination!
dsankt   7 years ago
I've never had anyone mention that, I chose the font because it seemed simple and easy to read. Care to suggest an alternative?
Mr. Kimberly   7 years ago
I'm blogging about some Texas UE and was wondering if I could snag a picture to accompany the link to this article? Danke.
dsankt   7 years ago
Just a tip, this isn't really suitable for the nature of your article. Its geographic location is a little hazy and my US geography isn't the best.
daniel   7 years ago
interested in posting some scottish based stuff how do I sign up
dsankt   7 years ago
You can't, this is a personal site. If you email me a link and it's good stuff I will link to you.
Rin   7 years ago
Beautiful, quite possibly the height for years to come in Urban Exploration, I keep trying to think of something greater to find, and well, everything that comes to mind would never be left alone, although I suppose you never know, I mean, heres a Rocket Silo, and it's quite abandoned. I'll keep my hopes up for now, and stick with the mills and dog food factories.. Although our site is deeply under construction at the moment, we've been at it day and night to get it up, perhaps, when it's done, we could link up as friends? Thanks.
dsankt   7 years ago
Thanks, I've seen your site before - you're in one of the greatest exploring cities in the WORLD. I had so much fun in MSP and saw some memorable places. Fuck the mills and factories go hit the underground. I can think of a few things that would top the Door but I'm not too keen to get shot yet. Let me know when your site is finished.
Rin   7 years ago
For sure, and what are you referencing, when talking about the "Door"? It's not that hard to get shot here in general. We've got some plans for the underground were putting in action very soon, if you have some location you think we should hit first, email me, that'd be tight.
Rin   7 years ago
Right, so we've worked out a majority of the site issues, and are seemingly ready to launch, At this moment, we're going to be adding more locations to our venture page as soon as we finish the rest of them up, and post, but otherwise, it's done mostly. Care to affiliate?
Nerevarine   5 years ago
Holy Shit, Great pics guys. And some pretty good story telling. So that entire complex was completely abandoned. What a waste of taxpayer money. At least someone is getting some use out of it.
Pickleman   5 years ago
Engine was fired, according to this motor feasibility report: link. Plus, there's some good information on ow to build your own rocket.
dsankt   5 years ago
Thanks for the link, I'll have a read. I fixed up the link in your post to.
Willaim Rivers   4 years ago
That was poetic in an awesome kind of way.
Richard   4 years ago
The interior of the building no longer looks like it does in your pictures. I live close by and have been there twice this week. send me an email if ya want some new pics.
Tadalafil   4 years ago
Coulda just looked down your strides in australia, yes!))
Black Friday   4 years ago
Seeing their teacher;s good academic credentials, I would like to recommed to young vietnamesee interested in economic to continue their education in this institution.
ben   3 years ago
very interesting place, my congrats to you for your nice photos and your exploration there.
dsankt   3 years ago
Thanks
Macka   3 years ago
Dead image: dsankt.com/uploads/l evy_day_fire_small.j pg
Johnny   3 years ago
I need to know where the entrance to this is. I am going to Texas in a few months. I must adventure here. Please share
dsankt   3 years ago
We all need things, often in life you get them quicker by asking nicely. Good luck.
Joey Vars   3 years ago
This link should be proper. The one I previously posted had some formatting errors that would make grabbing the link not work.
C e smith   2 years ago
I was working there when the engine arrived. If this reaches you, if you're the one who took the photos, and are interested in some info and stories about the place, mail me.
Floss   2 years ago
You mention the anchors in connection with the rocket being tied down during tests. I think they are there to stop the concrete caisson floating up in the water saturated FL soil.
RussianBEAR   1 year ago
Ha-ha-ha!
RussianBEAR   1 year ago
Is it lavatory?