Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Security The Military

Lax Security At Russian Rocket Plant 116

theshowmecanuck writes "Reuters reports that there is little or no security at one of the main factories in Russia responsible for military and Soyuz rocket manufacture. Blogger Lana Sator was able to walk right into the empty (off hours) facility through huge gaps in the fences that no-one bothered to repair, and there was no security to stop them aside from some dogs that didn't bother them either. In fact Lana even has one picture of herself posing next to an apparently non-functional security camera, another of her sitting on what looks like to be possibly a partially assembled rocket motor (someone who knows better can fill us in), and has about 100 photos of the escapade all told on her blog about this (it's in Russian... which I don't speak... any translators out there?). Russian officials are said to be deeply concerned. I wonder if this has any bearing on why Russian rockets haven't been making it into space successfully, or whether it and the launch failures are all part of some general industrial malaise that is taking place."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Lax Security At Russian Rocket Plant

Comments Filter:
    • rocket motor seems to be described as a test stand.
      Amazing how the lights are even left on and how there seem to be no locked doors.
    • Yeah, I deal with Russian all the time and find that Google Translate does a pretty decent job of Russian to English. Not so good the other way around, but in a pinch...
  • ... a Soviet era washing machine to me.

    another of her sitting on what looks like to be possibly a partially assembled rocket motor []

  • ... and probably won't see ever again in the future.

    Sorry, sometimes it's so sad you get jaded.

  • They're making these things as cheaply as possible. Know what happens when you do that? #1: Shit doesn't work as well as it should. #2: Repairs to things that aren't mandatory, like security systems and fences, they don't happen.
    • They have the best security they need to prevent anybody from stealing these rockets.

      These things have great record of blowing up on the launch pad. Who wants to steal crappy rockets? Or even the designs for crappy rockets?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is exactly the same problem that's existed in any big beauracracy since the beginning of time.

    e.g. read how Feynman irked the guards at Los Alamos by leaving the secure area 5 times without entering.

    The beauracracy spends so much effort putting on a show at guarding the official entrances and any other place you might leave or enter? It can't even fit into the minds of the security guys.

    • Actually, no... Feynman's reason for those antics was not to show that you can't guard things, but to show they weren't being guarded very well. He did believe things could at least be safer than they were.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @09:51AM (#38555628) Journal
    I imagine that the sophisticated espionage types who want to abscond with your rocket-building expertise(for competitive purposes, or because you aren't selling toys to their nation state of choice) probably aren't stopped by fences and dogs. If they are really serious, you've already hired them and they just walk in the front door every morning. If that is your concern, the prison-camp props probably aren't a huge deal.

    I am somewhat surprised, though, that they haven't had a greater incentive to repair the fence and put together something resembling a night watch for reasons of simple theft. Rocket surgery presumably involves some expensive tools, and big piles of parts and stock in various rather pricey metals and alloys. If your security is so fantastic that bored bloggers are wandering in, I'm amazed that the whole operation hasn't been melted down at the nearest scrapyard of loose morals...
    • I think that will be more obvious then just 1 person snooping around.

    • by Cyberax ( 705495 )

      These rocket motors are sold freely. For example, they are used in Atlas V rockets by Lockheed Martin & Boeing.

      So there's no great secret in their production. China or India might be interested in technologies used, but I somehow think they already have them.

      • by Amouth ( 879122 )

        having a product in hand and knowing how to build it are completely different things. I'm constantly in and out of plants that make products you can buy in stores in bulk.. but they all have a very strict no camera policy - and we have to sign NDA's because it is their process for building the products that is the important secrete.

        find an average product in your home.. a light bulb.. a pen.. a drink in the fridge.. all things you can buy - all things you your self MIGHT be able to make - even though yo

        • Wasn't there even a story about archiving know-how in companies a couple of weeks back that mentioned a company that ran and maintained an old plant but had no idea how it actually worked?
          • by Amouth ( 879122 )

            yeap - that is more common in process plants than people would like to believe.. people know how to do it - they just don't know why they are doing a particular step/task - only that they need to.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by NNKK ( 218503 )

            Not really what you were thinking of, but FOGBANK was a bizarre twist on/subversion of the idea: []

            Basically this material used in US nuclear weapons hadn't been made in 15+ years, and when they tried to make it again, the result failed in testing. Of course, people started assuming they'd "forgotten" how to make it, but it ended up being that they never knew how to make it in the first place -- impurities in one of the ingredients turned out to be important, and the ingred

      • It wouldn't surprise me if the cost establish the capital equipment to replicate the manufacturing process wouldn't greatly exceed the cost of just plain buying it from the Russians. The Russians have amortised their capital costs over thousands of units, all they have to do is maintain that infra-structure. The amount of un-repaired fences, un-swept floors and unpainted iron in the factory does make one skeptical that the Russians are treating the factory like a going concern.

    • by KZigurs ( 638781 )

      The kind of chemicals expected to be on site should be sufficient deterrent for 99% of casual metal thieves.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why is Los Angeles Airport's [] security at a Russian rocket plant?!?

    There needs to be an investigation!

  • Just maybe.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    They think people are generally pretty decent and no one is going to come and steal their rockets.

    This OMGWTFTERRORISTS mentality is thankfully not yet universal.

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      Yep, this is my suspicion too.

      The rocket programme is a source of national pride for Russia, and what external forces would have an interest in sabotage? the rest of the world is dependent on Russia's launch facilities now for the most part, and let's be honest, the difficulty with a rocket programme isn't so much figuring out how to run one, that groundwork has mostly already been done and is pretty well known, but the issue is of cost to run the programme - even the US has had to pull back from funding th

  • by Guppy ( 12314 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @10:16AM (#38555706)

    The Washington Post (reg required) just had a good report on how Russia's scientific base has changed for the worse. Apparently, the labs are populated with a bimodal mix of young and elderly scientists -- the middle has been hollowed out over the last two decades. And while a new funding push has sent money towards science, much of it is wasted through corruption:

    In Russia, the lost generation of science []

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      Over the last few I think Russia has lost ambision time and strength to continue developing diplomatic. While a considerable percentage of Russians want to emigrate to the U.S., and I say poruqe conosco to 3 Russians who want to emigrate to another country [] Cristian
  • I frequently walk in out-of-the-way places in Wales and Scotland and have often been suprised to round a bend and come across places where I simply should not be. However, I don't take photos or do anything to attract attention. I simply have a 'hmmm' moment or two, then quietly turn round and walk back the way I came.
  • Shouldn't this be appraised as the first crowdsourced space program? And look how cute and friendly the puppies are! No full body scans either!

  • Old Plant? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Skylax ( 1129403 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @10:51AM (#38555864)
    This looks pretty vacant to me. Here the location on google maps:
    Khimki, Russia []
    A little wikipedia research tells you that this is the old OKB-456 development and test facility for the RD-100 engine, a predecessor of the modern RD-107 engines. the plant was build right after WWII to build a copy of the german V2 rocket and probably has not been used for years. Todays Sojus rockets fly with the RD-107 or with its upgrades RD-117 and RD-118. These are produced by NPO energomash in samara at this location:
    Progress Plant, Samara []

    This was a 5 min research, so I could be wrong.
    • by Skylax ( 1129403 )
      Sorry it should be soyuz rocket. I'm german and we call it "sojus".
    • If it is vacant then who is paying the power bill? The lights are on and the lift works.
      • by Skylax ( 1129403 )
        Well, maybe 'vacant' is not the right word. It just looks like it has not been used for a long time and somebody forgot to switch of the electricty.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Khimki isn't out of the way; the best shortcuts into Moscow from the principal international airport Moscow-Sheremetyevo run through there. The area is a strange combination of old industrial sites and high-security gated communities.

          The site doesn't look abandoned, old facilities often look like this. I'll bet there is a genius old-school engineer keeping the thing running with duct tape and bubble gum. He probably comes out of retirement every time a test is fired.

      • In my Western experience, I have a hard time conceiving of power being provided by somebody other than a private commercial interest that'd rush right out and pull the meter the moment bills stopped getting paid. However, would a state-run facility receiving state-owned power in a non-capitalist nation even bother with a meter? In that situation, when the facility was shut down, would workers just throw anything of interest in trucks and drive away, not bothering to disconnect power or do any other rigorous

        • Wouldn't this pose a fire hazard in the long run? Abandoned factories tend to decay (metal rusts, plastic becoming brittle, ...), and eventually a short will develop, burning the whole thing to the ground.

          So, even in Soviet-Land, an abandoned factory still having power after all these years looks odd if it is not a huge pile of ashes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Eadwacer ( 722852 )
      One of the photos is of an active test at the site (seen from a distance), and there's a link to a Russian news release that says (google translation): " The engine number A165 has been successfully fire tested: December 8th, 2011 at booth number 1-751 NEC JSC "NPO Energomash them. Academician VP Glushko "took LPS engine RD171M number A165 for" Zenit ". The test is successful, the comments on the process of testing have arisen. This was the last fire-LPS in the past year. " So, it's an active test faci
    • This is an active R&D test facility. The photo of the document which can be found on the blog says it's a "ÐÐÐs-751" (R&D test facility) and according to Energomash's website [] they had 21 tests there in 2011 and more tests were planned in 2012.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 01, 2012 @10:58AM (#38555900)

    This is not a "plant" where rockets or parts would be assembled. It is just a testing facility where new rocket engine designs can be mounted and studied. It provides a system for dealing with high-temperature engine exaust, which, naturally, is a problem if one wants to monitor the engine in a laboratory conditions. It also provides some measures to deal with test failures, mainly a fire-extinguishing system and blast doors. Apart from that, it is just another low-security building and there's nothing interesting there when no tests are being conducted. It has nothing to do with the actual rocket assembly. Just one big test stand.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's funny how this is an article about "lack of security" and not "cool photos of rocket plant".
    Americans..... just can't stand when people aren't being groped by a security guard.

  • That's not the motor (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @11:29AM (#38556094)

    She's sitting in the socket into which the rocket motor is plugged. The motor is lowered through the doors in the ceiling and conected to the fuel and power lines in the socket. The big round red lid covers the exhaust pipe, which leads outside into that huge tower in the middle of the complex. And as for the security camera, there is no mention of it being broken. Lana says it's likely used to monitor the tests. Since there was no motor in the building at the time, there isn't much reason to watch it. Yeah, sure, there might be sabotage, but I doubt anybody would bother. General vandalism is the most likely threat and those kind of people aren't too keen on trudging a mile through the snow to get to the hole in the fence. Same goes for stealing metal and stuff; people will do it, but they probably won't bother if they have to haul it that far.

    • by Peil ( 549875 )

      Not exactly a mile through the snow, the site appears to be on the edge of a fairly large town.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Correct, in my years of rocket testing in the 80-90s its called the thrust cup or thrust adapter... the motor being tested or validated is bolted to the big ring... you will notice the angled, radially arranged tubes leading to a central hub in the background which is obscured. A load cell or measuring device is bolted between the central hub and the immovable mass of a test stand. In this manner they can static test the motor's performance like a dynamometer does with automotive engines etc.

  • I wonder if this has any bearing on why Russian rockets haven't been making it into space successfully, or whether it and the launch failures are all part of some general industrial malaise that is taking place.

    It is quite obviously part of a sickneß, but not an industrial sickneß: it is a civilisational sickneß, and as part of ðe periphery of our exChristian civilisation Rußia is bound to feel its effects even heavier ðan the civilisational core.

    Historically, new civilisations start eiðer at ðe periphery of old ones (think Barbarians occupying ðe Roman empire) or out of it, so Rußia might still have some hope, but ðese ings typically take many generations of

    • What the Romans called barbarians were all the people who didn't speak a language they new, and often them had more advanced technology. Romans understood the power of roads, and were very good at large stone construction and military construction, but in general their tech level was not very high. The barbarians didn't go out and occupy the land as the Romans left, they were already there all along.

      • by leandrod ( 17766 )

        Barbarians with more advanced technology ðan Romans? Now you have my attention, please provide any references.

        Actually, what really set apart Romans (including Greeks and oðer subjects of ðe empire) was a civic superstructure, not any technology; but ðat superstructure sure had technological implications. Only, at ðe time, ðe military aspect was more important ðan ðe technological one.

        Barbarians were not ðere all along, but ðey were already occupying parts

        • Barbarians were not ðere all along, but ðey were already occupying parts of the empire, particularly around ðe borders, as Romans not left, but dwindled away due to lack of fertility, just as with our civilisation now. Ðe parallels are stunning.

          How are they not there, if they are in fact occupying?

          And not particularly around the borders, it would be more accurate to say, most of the people inside the Empire's borders, and everybody outside of it.

          • by leandrod ( 17766 )

            Barbarians — mainly Germans — for many years were incorporated as auxiliarii to the legionarii, around ðe borders. As ðey suffered injustices — today we would say ‘discrimination’ — and sensed ðe empire crumbling down, ðey just took compensation by occupying lands more and more into ðe heart of ðe empire, until ðey reached Rome itself.

            Where you went wrong is ðat you seem think of Romans as ðose who inhabited Rome and ðe s

  • by Anonymous Coward

    stop wasting everyones time saying this plant is defunct or vacant. look at the pictures, the water in the tower one day and not the other. or look at their website where they specifically list the plant as a mailing address.

    For display room of the enterprise visiting the letter with the request for visiting by group of employees of the organization (pupils of school or institute, etc.) with the indication of desirable time for visiting is necessary to send to

  • by Archon-X ( 264195 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @12:28PM (#38556510)

    "Lax Security" is pretty much everywhere.

    USA: Genuine NASA motor: []

    Russia, particle colliders: []

    France, air tunnels []

    USA, a certain famous bridge in NYC []

    The only reason this never comes to public attention is because generally, the people that do it don't want public attention.

  • Used to be that ordinary Russians marveled at American openness, but now it's the other way round! You'll get arrested for taking a photo of the Brooklyn Bridge.

  • Backed up the web page and images.

  • jezus, add a few zombies and imps, and you essentially got Doom 3
  • blame capitalism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by decora ( 1710862 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @04:00PM (#38557834) Journal

    novaya gazeta recently had a story where they interviewed some actual technicians who work at actual rocket factories.

    basically the problem is that the managers are too focused on money, and the quality is slipping as a result.

    the quality assurance measures that used to be in place have been stopped and deemed too costly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 01, 2012 @04:11PM (#38557902)

    I've walked into facilities who have absolutely no security in the US, France, Germany and the UK which would be considered important to the nation. Defense contractors who keep their backdoor open all day and a false sense of security with a locked front door and to facilities with no secretary and doors open all day long, you can waltz in, take what you want, and no one will notice, they'll think you work there or you're an outside contractor. Hell, even with a secretary, they just let you in without question. And to those who say they have "security" that there's no way that happens, I probably was already through your entire building without notifying anyone during one of your new installations in the building. You're part of the joke.

    Hell, I was at the Boeing plant in Long Beach where they build the C-17, and I just waltzed right into there without any questions from anyone, all that security they have there is a joke.

    The only reason no one blogs about it or posts pictures of these issues because they'll probably lose their jobs or not work with said companies ever again. Or they just simply don't care like me.

  • by Goonie ( 8651 )
    The Soyuz rocket family is now 45 years old, and liquid-fuelled rockets are of limited military utility. Virtually all modern missiles use solid-fuelled rockets because you don't have to sit there with the rocket on the launchpad waiting to fill it up. As such, the security implications of anyone getting a peek at a Soyuz would seem to be rather small.
  • this is unreal that, but completely believable considering the lackadaisical ways things are going in Russia these days. I always love seeing sites of people wandering through abandoned places in the old Soviet Union, but this is an operational facility where their (recently, much maligned) space program runs from. Wow, wonder if they'll ever pull out of this rut they've been in.
  • by IonOtter ( 629215 ) on Sunday January 01, 2012 @08:54PM (#38559782) Homepage

    American tech and machines are all so clean. Gleaming, shiny, spotless and built in clean rooms where everyone wears body-covering overalls and face masks. In order to work on it, you need a special facility and all manner of special equipment and clothing.

    Whereas the Russian factories look like a steel mill. All you need to work on Russian equipment is a tool kit, shade tree and a bottle of vodka. And up until now, it's worked pretty good? To the point where we're dependent on them now.

    Perhaps that's part of the problem, rather than "sabotage" or "terrorism"? Things have become too dirty, and could use a little cleaning up.

    • actually, other than the ak-47, Russian tech has been a by-word for "awful hunk of near junk which will kill you before days out." while they have had some elegance, ie giving cosmonauts pencils instead of billion dollar space pens, mostly their efforts are disastrous. Most of their original spacecraft were basically elaborate death traps, their cold war era missile defence systems nearly kicked off ww3, and I don't think they've ever made a decent automobile ever. And the American shuttle program was mostl
  • In the maintenance guy's defense, the only real difference between an operational Russian rocket factory and one that's been abandoned for 30 years is that most of the lights work in the former and more lazing about is done in latter. He probably didn't realize he was expected to repair fence gaps.

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.