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Space Disasters
Space accidents, either during operations or training for spaceflights, have killed:
Five percent of all people who have been in space
Two percent of individual spaceflights
A much larger number of ground crew (70)
Not included are alleged Russian space accidents that were not reported by the Soviet Union.
As of November 2004, 439 individuals have flown on spaceflights:
Russia/Soviet Union (96),
USA (277),
others (66).
Twenty-two have died while in a spacecraft:
three on Apollo 1
one on Soyuz 1
one on X-15-3
three on Soyuz 11
seven on Challenger 1986
seven on Columbia 2003
The Apollo 1 Disaster, 1967
The first tragedy to strike the fledgling space endeavour didn’t even make it into space.
The Apollo/Saturn 204 (later known as Apollo 1) mission was performing tests on the launch pad.
A fire broke out, killing all three crew members
Although a specific initiator could not be determined,
the final report of the investigation board blamed the fire on arcing.
It was further exacerbated by the large quantity of flammable materials in the cabin
and the oxygen enriched atmosphere.
For future missions,
most flammable materials were replaced with self-extinguishing materials.
pure oxygen was replaced by a nitrogen-oxygen mixture at launch.
the hatch was redesigned to open outward
and to be able to be removed quickly.
January 1967, Cape Kennedy (Canaveral), Florida
The Soyuz 1 Disaster, 1967
Soyuz 1 was part of the Soviet Union's space program.
Launched into orbit in April 1967
Carried a single cosmonaut, Colonel Vladimir Komarov
He was killed when the spacecraft crashed during its return to Earth.
This was the first ever in-flight fatality.
What Happened? Parachute failure.
After 18 orbits, Soyuz 1 fired retro-rockets and was deorbited as soon as it passed above the USSR .
Despite all of the technical difficulties up to that point, Komarov might still have landed safely,
but the main parachute did not unfold due to problems with a pressure sensor,
and the manually deployed reserve chute tangled, making the spacecraft fall
to Earth nearly unbraked, at about 40 meters per second.
Prior to launch,
Soyuz 1 engineers are said to have reported 200 design faults.
Their concerns "were overruled by political pressures for a series
of space feats to mark the anniversary of Lenin's birthday
The X-15-3 Disaster, 1967
A test flight of the North American X-15 experimental aircraft.
Launched by dropping away from a B52 Bomber.
It took place on November 15, 1967 and was piloted by Michael J. Adams.
At 230,000 feet, encountering rapidly changing air pressure,
the X-15 entered a Mach 5 spin.
The aircraft broke apart
minutes after launch.
Space begins at 50 miles (USA)
100 kilometres (elsewhere)
The Apollo 13 near-disaster, 1970
In the most celebrated "near miss", the Apollo 13
crew came home safely after an explosion crippled their
spacecraft two days after launch en route to the moon.
They survived the loss of most of their spacecraft systems by
relying on the Lunar Module to provide life support and power for
the trip home.
Despite great hardship caused by severe constraints on power,
cabin heat, and potable water, the crew successfully returned to
Earth. The mission was thus called a "Successful Failure".
A radio transmission from Lovell[4] during the mission, "Houston,
we've had a problem" spawned the misquoted phrase in popular
culture, "Houston, we have a problem".
The Soyuz 11 Disaster, 1971
June 30, 1971: crew exposed to vacuum of space .
The crew of Soyuz 11,
Georgi Dobrovolskii, Viktor Patsayev and Vladislav Volkov,
were killed after undocking from space station Salyut 1
after a three-week stay.
A valve on their spacecraft had accidentally opened
when the service module separated,
letting their air leak out into space.
The capsule reentered and landed normally.
Their deaths were only discovered
when it was opened by the recovery team.
The 2003 Columbia Disaster
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