Was reading another question involving the Lunokhod missions and then I stumbled across this wikipedia page which stated:

In mid-1968, at the facility KIP-10 or NIP-10 (КИП-10 or НИП-10)[3] in the secret village Shkolnoye (ru:Школьное (Крым) - closed town Simferopol-28), near Simferopol, a lunodrom (лунодром - moondrome) was built. It covered an area of one hectare (120 meters by 70 meters) and was very similar to some parts of the lunar surface. It was constructed using more than 3,000 cubic meters of soil, and included 54 craters up to 16 m in diameter and around about 160 rocks of various sizes.

The pictures in the linked flickr account show someone's recent vacation photos of an overgrown patch of land, like the following (note, this guy had a really cool vacation):


But I don't see any historical pictures of the area. I know the Soviets were pretty air-tight with secrecy though... Do any photos of the first lunar rover testing grounds exist other than what I've provided above? Preferably from during a test-- or before the plants took back over the area. I cannot seem to find anything like that.

I'm pretty interested in what the first "simulated lunar surface" looked like...

I have found pictures, but a lot of them are not from good websites and could be pictures of anything.

@OrganicMarble pointed out a Google Maps Location for the American equivalent. If you have information/historical photos about this lunadrom instead I would also accept that. He also provided the answer for this :)! I'd like remaining answers to provide results for the Russian equivalent.

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    $\begingroup$ It may not have been the first...there's still an itty-bitty one at Johnson Space Center. google.com/maps/@29.5648213,-95.081418,148m/data=!3m1!1e3 $\endgroup$ May 20, 2019 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble looks like 3 separate terrain configurations! Are any of those facsimiles of Mars...? A... Martiadrom? $\endgroup$ May 20, 2019 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ I actually know nothing about it except that I've seen it as I was driving by. $\endgroup$ May 20, 2019 at 20:46

2 Answers 2



I found what I believe may be pictures that you are seeking. My knowledge of the Soviet program is limited so I could easily be fooled if these pictures are bogus. The vehicle appears to be an early development version of the rover.

A caption on one of the images says the facility was located in the Crimea in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The town "Simferopol" mentioned in the question appears to be in the Crimea which may lend some credence to these being legit.

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Image source


The JSC site was built in 1964.

Next came the "rock pile" which was installed at MSC in late 1964 to early 1965 as a place to run suited subjects and/or astronauts over a simulated lunar surface having a 63 feet diameter. It had two large craters and several smaller ones and a concrete ridge that represented mountains on a fairly rough surface of volcanic rocks and cinders. As more information about the lunar surface became available it became clear that the surface of the “rock pile” was not as lunar as it should be for the best available simulations. By 1968 a new “rock pile” was constructed at MSC with 188 craters ranging in size from 3 to 60 feet in diameter. It covered 2 acres with a diameter of 328 feet.

MSC = Manned Spacecraft Center, what is now JSC

Source: Science Training History of the Apollo Astronauts

A Google Maps picture of what it looks like nowadays.

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Historical pictures from the source:

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Another picture of the area in use, with the MSC under construction in the background.

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Hope you don't mind my edits, I like the historical pictures better than the google maps :). That's such an awesome document too, I downloaded it to my phone to read it later. $\endgroup$ May 20, 2019 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ No, much appreciated. I was actually googling for some photos...I didn't think to look in the actual document, silly me. $\endgroup$ May 20, 2019 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ It took some severe scrolling hah! Google doesn't like the word "lunadrom" or "Shkolnoye" (gives pointless results)-- that's half the reason I asked in the first place. $\endgroup$ May 20, 2019 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ The last one, google image search didn't turn up much; but that does look a lot like the one in the source you provided. Can even see the cranes in both. $\endgroup$ May 22, 2019 at 0:03
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    $\begingroup$ Agreed, I linked that site in the answer. They seem to take Nasa photos as well and slap watermarks on them, not sure what's up with that. If you were curious, the search term that worked was 'lunokhod testing simulated lunar surface'. Thanks for a fun question. $\endgroup$ May 22, 2019 at 12:21

The Wikipedia quote is too simplistic about events.

This place at former closed town Simferopol-28 can be found by these coordinates - 45°03'15.3"N 33°53'38.1"E

The current state of this facility: enter image description here

A frame from an old documentary: enter image description here

The same time - filming for documentary films and television: enter image description here enter image description here

Several old documentaries with crew training footage. Playlist. Some films with English subtitles.

These videos provide an answer to this question:

first "simulated lunar surface" looked like...

The key points in these videos:

  1. Chassis development and testing at TransMash. With its own artificial O-shaped track for testing the chassis.

  2. Testing on the slope of the volcano in Kamchatka.

  3. Testing at NPO Lavochkin

  4. Training crew Lunokhod at the lunodrome in Crimea.

Those tests in the Crimea are tests of the crew and the remote control system. Medical data, ergonomics of the control system, stress, driving training etc.

Details can be read in English in the book Infinity Beckoned: Adventuring Through the Inner Solar System, 1969–1989 by Jay Gallentine Or ask the author of the book directly (Facebook, Twitter or at the recent Spacefest (Aug.2019 and maybe next in 2020)). enter image description here

P.S. In Russian, the best collection info about Simferopol-28 (the current name is Shkolnoye) is this section of the KIK SSSR site. enter image description here

In this photo, the wall of the destroyed Lunokhod control center. P.P.S. Chapter 10 "Prepared Area" in this book is devoted to the lunodrome. This is the name of this section of the technical zone at Simferopol-28 ground station in the diagram in the CIA report. CIA experts estimated that this was a prepared foundation for the construction of a new facility.


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