The Heart of the Soviet Missile Defense System Seems Out of This World

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Sometimes, reality beats science fiction. This is one of them: The heart of the Soviet missile defense system looks like a building designed by Industrial Light & Magic. It's believed to be the most precise orbital tracking system in the world.

Situated near Moscow, the 426 x 426-foot DON-2N pyramid is the centerpiece of the former Soviet missile defense system, still active and upgraded today. Experts estimate that it required 50,000 tons of concrete, 20,000 kilometers of cable and 32,000 tons of metal work, including 10,000 iron valves that regulate the 60,000 radiators needed to cool down the radar equipment.

It's considered the most powerful ABM radar and the most precise orbital tracking instrument in the world. In fact, when Discovery put six metal balls into orbit in December 1992, DON-2N was the only system capable of detecting the two that measured 1.9 inches in diameter.


The DON-2N pyramid is capable of functioning independently. In case of attack, the base is hermetically closed using giant steel doors. From the inside, the command center can control 68 short-range Gazelle interceptors. [Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces and English Russia]