In 1961, NASA's Plum Brook Reactor Facility in Sandusy, Ohio went live, with a focus on researching nuclear-powered vehicles — first airplanes, and then rockets. It was shut down 12 years later, and in 1998 NASA finally decided to begin the process of decommissioning the site. Wired has published a photo tour of the facility, taken before its final demolition on May 31st this year, and when paired with NASA's own site on the decommissioning process it provides a haunting look at the last days of the 27-acre installation.
Plum Brook's reactor differed from many others in its focus: research. The uranium core was used to bombard small experiments with neutrons, usually components that were intended to be used in nuclear-powered airplanes or the end-result of the agency's NERVA — nuclear engine for rocket vehicle application — program. Neither project came to fruition, but the images nevertheless provide a glimpse inside a facility that would never be allowed under today's regulations. The full set of pictures from both Wired and NASA are definitely worth a long look.