Pin It

This isn't what you would expect a "science city" to look like. They hunt for mysterious cosmic oddities like wormholes and white holes here, but as I step out of the car I see grey concrete-slab buildings that take me back to the drab days of my Soviet childhood.

The tiny science city of Pushchino, on the outskirts of Moscow, was founded in 1956 to house the Soviet Union's first radio astronomy research facility. Back then, Soviet space science was riding high, with Sputnik about to start circling Earth and Yuri Gagarin's space flight still a top-secret mission.

In the early 1980s, the Soviet government lined up Pushchino for one more scientific feat: to be the heart of the biggest radio telescope ever built. Project RadioAstron would sync up the signals from many telescopes to produce one highly detailed picture. A radio dish in orbit around Earth, dubbed Spektr-R, was supposed to be launched and linked up with radio antennas around the world, creating an uber-telescope whose "dish" had an effective span 30 times Earth's diameter.

To read more, click here.