Tucked away deep inside a Russian forest exists a rather mysterious place called Star City. Back in the early 1960s, people officially knew the place as "closed military townlet No. 1," which is appropriate since the whole area is surrounded by barbed wire. For decades, Russia has tried keeping the town off everyone's radar. In fact, it wasn't until recently that Star City could even be spotted on Google Maps.
That's because Star City is home to the Yuri Gagarin Russian State Science Research Cosmonaut Training Centre, where all Soviet and post-Soviet astronauts have been training since the late '50s. Yuri Gagarin, who was the first human to venture into outer space lived and trained there.
For this reason, getting into Star City requires "lengthy negotiations, permission letters, and brown envelopes," as Mitch Karunaratne has explained on her website. Lucky for us, the UK-based photographer managed to secure permission and traveled to the ghostly city with her camera. "The city holds the weight of the past, with traces of history, power, and a ghost-like presence," Karunaratne wrote of the enigmatic place. At the same time, it also continues to help foster Soviet scientific technical progress. All of this is evident in the images Karunaratne has captured. Take a look at the pictures above. They're fascinating because they allow us a rare look into the closed off community.