Worst Space Program Tragedies, Disasters, or Accidents

Some believe the space program is a waste of time and money. I believe that space programs and exploration are a good thing as long as their open and truthful to the public about their findings. I would love to see humankind conquer the final frontier. Here are ten disasters and setbacks of the space program from multiple countries.

The Top Ten

1 Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

Very sad but nonetheless fascinating list. Thanks for posting it.

1/28/1986 - Space Shuttle Challenger blew up and fell into the Atlantic Ocean 73 seconds after take off from Cape Canaveral, Florida on the spacecraft's tenth mission. All seven crewmembers on board were killed. One of those killed was an elementary school teacher named Christa McAuliffe. She was selected out of 11,000 applicants who applied for NASA's Teachers in Space program. She was to be the first civilian to fly into space. She was to communicate with and teach school students while in orbit. The program was designed to generate more interest from the American youth in the space program and to show the reliability in space travel to generate more funding.
The cause for the explosion was a faulty O-ring allowed pressurized burning gas from the rocket into the fuel tank which then exploded. It is believed that the crew survived the explosion but died from the violent impact of the crew compartment hitting the ocean waters. Those who died on board (R.I.P.) :
Francis R. Scobee ...more - THC13

2 Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster

2/1/2003 - Space Shuttle Colombia disintegrated during reentry to Earth's atmosphere. All 7 crew members were killed. The disintegration of the craft was caused by damaged heat shields on the left wing. The damage was caused by a piece of foam insulation take broke off the shuttle's external tank and struck the wing during lift off. NASA knew of the damage but chose not to tell the crew because there was nothing they or the on board crew could do to fix it. NASA knew the the shuttle was doomed but never informed the astronauts. At 8:44 am the shuttle started to reenter Earth's atmosphere. By 8:53am numerous people on the ground reported seeing debris coming off the shuttle. At 8:54am people witnessed bright flashing coming from the shuttle. At 8:59am mission control received two messages from the shuttle crew but the message was breaking up and was not clear so it is unsure what the astronauts were trying to say. By 9:00am witnesses saw the shuttle begin to break apart near Dallas, ...more - THC13

3 Apollo 1 Launch Pad Fire

1/27/1967 - A cabin fire during a launch simulation killed three astronauts. The test was thought to be non hazardous due to no fuel or pyrotechnics being used. Because the test was thought to be not dangerous, no emergency rescue or medical teams were present. When the fire started, the astronauts reported the fire and immediately tried to escape the capsule. However, due to the high pressure from the fire in the cabin, the astronauts were unable to open the hatch. Cries of pain can be heard over the monitor as the astronauts were being burned. After the investigation it was determined that there were many factors that contributed to the fire and deaths of the three astronauts. They concluded that the ignition source was from faulty wiring. The high oxygen in the cabin helped intensify and spread the fire. Also there was highly combustible materials in the cabin which one of the astronauts repeatedly voiced concern about before the test. It took over five minutes after the fire ...more - THC13

4 Soyuz 11 Decompression Accident

6/30/1971 - Upon preparing to re enter Earth's atmosphere, the capsule experienced sudden cabin depressurization that killed all three on board. Ground crews waiting to recover the capsule thought everything went well and expected to cosmonauts to be alive and well. It was only when they opened the capsule they found out the cosmonauts were dead. All three men had dark blue botches on their faces and blood running out their nose and ears. They all died from suffocation. These three cosmonauts are the only humans (that are known) to have died while in actual space. Killed in this mission were Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev. - THC13

5 Soyuz 1 Parachute Failure

4/24/1967 - Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was killed when his module's parachutes failed to deploy upon re entry. After impacting the ground the module caught fire. The fire was so intense efforts to extinguish it were unsuccessful. They basically let the fire burn itself out before sifting through the rubble and ashes to recover the body. Autopsy reports show Komarov died from multiple blunt force injuries upon impacting the ground. He was the first in flight fatality in the history of space flight. - THC13

6 Chinese Rocket Crashes Into Village

2/15/96 - A Chinese long march rocket carrying a satellite veered off course immediately after lift off and crashed into a nearby village destroying over 80 houses. Chinese officials list the death count at 6 but many others reported over 100 fatalities. - THC13

7 Vostok-2M Rocket Explosion

3/18/80 - A Russian Vostok Rocket, which was a commonly used rocket by the Russians with 93 previous successful missions, exploded during prep and fueling for it's launch. The explosion was so massive it killed 48 (some reported 80+) crew members on the ground. The explosion also damaged the launch pad so severely it took over 4 years to repair. - THC13

8 New "Space Plane" Test Flight Crash

10/31/2014 - SpaceShip Two VSS Enterprise was to be the first of five commercial sub orbital spacecraft by Virgin Galactic. The craft took it's first powered test flight in April 2014. The test was successful. However during another test flight over California on Halloween 2014, the craft disintegrated due to premature deployment of the crafts "feathering system" (pilot error). Michael Alsbury was killed but Peter Siebold miraculously survived. This is the first spacecraft related accident in which at least one crew member survived. - THC13

9 Russian Water Recovery Training Accident

7/11/93 - Cosmonaut Sergei Vozovikov drowned while participating in a water recovery training sessions in the Black Sea. - THC13

10 Russian Low Pressure Altitude Chamber Endurance Test Accident

3/23/61 - The first death to be space related. During a 15 day training program to test endurance in a low pressure altitude chamber, cosmonaut Valentin Bondarenko dropped an alcohol soaked rag on a hot plate causing the chamber to be engulfed in flames. Bondarenko suffered third degree burns on most of his body and face. He died 16 hours later. - THC13

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