Lara Croft and Indiana Jones are works of fiction, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t real adventurers out there. Explorers are uncovering hidden or forgotten secrets all the time, and their discoveries often pack just as much drama as those in the movies.
This Russian adventurer specialized in scoping out abandoned sites, but she decided to up the stakes and infiltrate a top-secret facility. She could hardly believe what she found — or the consequences she faced after she went too far.
Most people obey “No Trespassing” signs without hesitation, but not Lana Sator. Ever since her teens, the Moscow native chased thrills by exploring all kinds of derelict buildings and forgotten places. By 2012, she’d built up quite a reputation.
Facebook / Lana Sator
Lana regularly shared footage of her exploits online. Other adventurers, impressed by her accomplishments, offered to team up and share intel. Their combined research led Lana to a site that would prove to be her biggest expedition ever.
On the outskirts of the Russian city of Khimki, a mysterious factory pumped out smoke every day. Clearly, the site was still active — except no one could say exactly what went on there. Lana intended to find out.
Under the cover of night, Lana and her team made their move. Using a few storage sheds on the exterior of the facility as cover, the explorers edged closer to the main building. It was amazing — the site was far larger than they initially expected.
Lana anticipated the main gate would present their biggest challenge. They would likely have to sneak past professional guards, cameras, and spotlights. This was a big step up from the abandoned Cold War relics she usually visited. But what she saw around the central building blew her away.
Despite the factory still operating, there were no guards in sight. Lana and her friends just waltzed right in. They gazed up in amazement at the towering stacks and catwalks that loomed above them. There was so much to see!
Lana wanted to reach the highest point of the factory, but first she had to work her way up through various rooms filled with strange switches and meters. Halfway there, Lana froze. She led her team directly into the sight line of a security camera.
The team’s first instinct was to bail, but Lana made them wait. No guards came rushing in, and no sirens blared around them. If these cameras even worked, nobody on the other side was watching. The explorers had the entire factory to themselves.
With renewed confidence, Lana convinced her friends to continue their expedition. Their courage was immediately rewarded, as they came across sights that looked more like a sci-fi movie set than an actual factory. What could they possibly be building here?
After scoping out the base of the stacks for a while, Lana found what she was looking for: a way up. The passage was just a series of ladders — nothing fancy, or particularly safe — but Lana had no issues with that. She headed up.
The view from the top took Lana’s breath away. She could see everything around them for miles and miles, and more importantly, Lana got a birds-eye view of the entire facility. One central building really stole her attention.
She stared at the clusters of tubes before her, trying to figure out where she’d seen them before. Then it hit her — she knew exactly what went on the factory her teamed as exploring.
These tubes were the engines for rockets! Lana called her friends over, and they put it all together. This Khimki factory made weapon parts for the Russian government.
The team confirmed their theory when they located the main floor, complete with a huge cylindrical stand where workers assembled the rocket engines. Thrilling as it was, Lana and her pals realized they had to get going soon. Daylight was fast approaching.
Gizmodo / Lana Sator
Within days, a Russian cyber-security team came across Lana’s exploits. They were none too happy that a bunch of thrill-seekers snuck into a top-secret factory and shared its purpose.
Soon after, Lana received a cease and desist letter. Addressing the adventurers as “cheeky mice,” the message warned there would be severe consequences if Lana didn’t stop her meddling. And this was no form letter either. The sender was none other than Russian Defense Minister Dmitry Rogozin.
Was this the end of Lana’s adventures? She shuddered at the thought of giving up her greatest passion, but she also didn’t want to make herself into an enemy of the state. Her entire future was hanging in limbo.