(CNN) — For years it’s sat abandoned in a dilapidated hangar in Kazakhstan, visited only by intrepid urban explorers keen to photograph a spectacular if unloved piece of space history.
At least one Buran resuable spacecraft — closely modeled on the US Space Shuttle — currently sits in storage at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, a remote active spaceport about 1,500 miles southeast of Moscow.
Only one Buran mission was ever completed, in 1988, a year before the Berlin Wall came down. As the Soviet Union eventually broke apart, the space program was suspended and eventually canceled.
While one full-scale test model is currently housed in a museum at Baikonur and one was destroyed by a roof collapse, at least one more sits in storage at the disused hangar. It was this that was apparently targeted with graffiti.
The Russian state news agency TASS this week quoted the country’s space agency Roscosmos saying a “group of unidentified persons infiltrated the Baikonur cosmodrome facility” before decorating the side of the Buran craft.
According to TASS, the graffiti included the inscriptions “Yura, we have arrived” — an apparent reference to Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin — and “Before climbing to the stars, a person needs to learn to live on Earth.”
This file photo from 2010 shows he abandoned hangar where the shuttle is stored.
Ralph Mirebs/Exclusivepix Media/Zuma
“They stained a cool abandonment site,” she told CNN. “I went there about two years ago. Before me there were hundreds and after me hundreds, and none of them took a s–t there, because the place itself is almost sacred.”
Sator said that while the location of the Baikonur facility is relatively remote and involved a 35 kilometer hike at night, accessing the shuttle location was easy. She said on-site security guards were friendly.
She added: “It’s understandable that any derelict site has a lifespan, but it’s a shame that this place is about to see such a disgusting finale.”
While many lamented what they viewed as an act of desecration on a piece of Soviet space history, the incident may actually help efforts to preserve the spacecraft.
Roscosmos said the possible relocation of the shuttles would be raised at the next meeting of Russian and Kazakh government officials.
Sator said she would prefer to see the spacecraft preserved in place. “I think that the shuttles should not be removed anywhere, but they could transform all the building where they are kept into a museum.”
Lead photo shows an abandoned Space shuttle, taken in 2010 | Exclusivepix media via ZUMA Press