List of spaceflight-related accidents and incidents

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Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrates 73 seconds after its 1986 launch resulting in the death of all seven crew members.

This article lists verifiable spaceflight-related accidents and incidents resulting in fatality or near-fatality during flight or training for manned space missions, and testing, assembly, preparation or flight of manned and unmanned spacecraft. Not included are accidents or incidents associated with intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests, unmanned space flights not resulting in fatality or serious injury, or Soviet or German rocket-powered aircraft projects of World War II. Also not included are alleged unreported Soviet space accidents, which are considered fringe theories by a majority of historians.

As of 2018, there have been 18 astronaut and cosmonaut fatalities during spaceflight.[1][2] Astronauts have also died while training for space missions, such as the Apollo 1 launch pad fire which killed an entire crew of three. There have also been some non-astronaut fatalities during spaceflight-related activities.

Astronauts Memorial Plaque at Cape Canaveral (2015)
Fallen astronaut memorial on the moon, includes most spaceflight-related fatalities up to 1971

Astronaut fatalities[edit]

(In the statistics below, "astronaut" is applied to all space travellers to avoid the use of "astronaut/cosmonaut".)

During spaceflight[edit]

As of March 2018, in-flight accidents have killed 18 astronauts, in four separate incidents.[2]

NASA astronauts who died on duty are memorialized at the Space Mirror Memorial at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Merritt Island, Florida. Cosmonauts who died on duty under the Soviet Union were generally honored by burial at the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in Moscow. No Soviet or Russian cosmonauts have died during spaceflight since 1971.

There have been a total of five fatal in-flight accidents, three of them flew above the Kármán line, and one was intended to do so. In each case, the entire crew was killed.

Orbital spaceflight fatalities
Date Incident Mission Fatalities Description
1967-04-24 Parachute failure Soyuz 1 Soviet Union Vladimir Komarov The one-day mission was plagued by a series of mishaps with the new spacecraft type, culminating with its parachute not opening properly after atmospheric reentry. Komarov was killed when the capsule hit the ground at high speed.[3][4]

The Soyuz 1 crash site coordinates are 51°21′41″N 59°33′44″E / 51.3615°N 59.5622°E / 51.3615; 59.5622, 3 kilometers (1.9 mi) west of Karabutak, Province of Orenburg in the Russian Federation, about 275 kilometers (171 mi) east-southeast of Orenburg. In a small park on the side of the road is a memorial monument: a black column with a bust of Komarov at the top.[5][6][7]

1971-06-30 Decompression in space Soyuz 11 Soviet Union Georgy Dobrovolsky
Soviet Union Viktor Patsayev
Soviet Union Vladislav Volkov
The crew of Soyuz 11 were killed after undocking from space station Salyut 1 after a three-week stay. A cabin vent valve accidentally opened at service module separation. The recovery team found the crew dead. These three are the only human fatalities in space (above 100 kilometers (330,000 ft)) thus far.[8][9]

The Soyuz 11 landing coordinates are 47°21′24″N 70°07′17″E / 47.35663°N 70.12142°E / 47.35663; 70.12142, 90 kilometers (56 mi) southwest of Karazhal, Karagandy, Kazakhstan, and about 550 kilometers (340 mi) northeast of Baikonur, in open flat country far from any populated area. In a small circular fenced area at the site is a memorial monument in the form of a three-sided metallic column. Near the top of the column on each side is the engraved image of the face of a crew member set into a stylized triangle.[10][11][12]

1986-01-28 Vehicle disintegration during launch – Space Shuttle Challenger disaster STS-51-L United States Gregory Jarvis
United States Christa McAuliffe
United States Ronald McNair
United States Ellison Onizuka
United States Judith Resnik
United States Michael J. Smith
United States Dick Scobee
The Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed 73 seconds after lift-off on STS-51-L at an altitude of 15 kilometers (49,000 ft). The investigation found that cold weather conditions caused an O-ring seal to fail, allowing hot gases from the shuttle solid rocket booster (SRB) to impinge on the external propellant tank and booster strut. The strut and aft end of the tank failed, allowing the top of the SRB to rotate into the top of the tank. Challenger was thrown sideways into the Mach 1.8 windstream and broke up with the loss of all seven crew members. NASA investigators determined they may have survived the spacecraft disintegration, possibly unconscious from hypoxia; some tried to activate their emergency oxygen. Any survivors of the breakup were killed, however, when the largely intact cockpit hit the water at 320 km/h (200 mph), about 32 km (20 miles) east of Cape Canaveral at 28.64 degrees north, 80.28 degrees west.[13][14] About half of the vehicle's remains were never recovered, and fragments still wash ashore occasionally on the coast of Brevard County, Florida.[citation needed]
2003-02-01 Vehicle disintegration on re-entry – Space Shuttle Columbia disaster STS-107 United States Rick D. Husband
United States William C. McCool
United States Michael P. Anderson
United States David M. Brown
United States Kalpana Chawla
United States Laurel Clark
Israel Ilan Ramon
The Space Shuttle Columbia was lost as it returned from a two-week mission, STS-107. Damage to the shuttle's thermal protection system (TPS) led to structural failure of the shuttle's left wing and the spacecraft ultimately broke apart during reentry at an altitude of under 65 km. Investigation revealed damage to the reinforced carbon-carbon leading edge wing panel resulted from the impact of a piece of foam insulation that broke away from the external tank during the launch.[15]

The vehicle broke up over the southwestern United States and fell in fragments over eastern Texas and central Louisiana.


Spaceflight fatalities below the Karman line
Date Incident Mission Fatalities Description
1967-11-15 Control failure X-15 Flight 3-65-97 United States Michael J. Adams During X-15 Flight 191, Adams' seventh flight, the plane had an electrical problem followed by control problems at the apogee of its flight. The pilot may also have become disoriented. During reentry from a 266,000 ft (50.4 mile, 81.1 km) apogee, the X-15 yawed and went into a spin at Mach 5. The pilot recovered, but went into a Mach 4.7 inverted dive. Excessive loading led to structural breakup at about 65,000 feet (19.8 km).[16] Adams was posthumously awarded astronaut wings, as his flight had passed an altitude of 50 miles (80.5 km),[17][18]

During training or testing[edit]

In addition to accidents during spaceflights, 13 astronauts, test pilots, and other personnel have been killed during training and test flights.

Fatalities during training or testing for spaceflight
Incident Date Mission (program) Fatalities Description
Fire in altitude chamber 23 March 1961 (Soviet Air Force Group 1) Soviet Union Valentin Bondarenko First space-related fatality. During a 15-day endurance experiment in a low-pressure altitude chamber with at least 50% oxygen atmosphere, Vostok cosmonaut trainee Bondarenko dropped an alcohol-soaked cloth onto an electric hotplate. He suffered third-degree burns over most of his body and face, and died in a hospital 16 hours later.[19]
Training jet crash 31 October 1964 (NASA Astronaut Group 3) United States Theodore Freeman Before being selected for a Gemini crew, Freeman was flying a T-38 jet trainer on landing approach to Ellington AFB near Houston, TX, when a goose smashed into the left side of the cockpit canopy. Shards of Plexiglas entered the engine intake and caused both engines to flame out. Freeman ejected too close to the ground for his parachute to open properly.[20][21]
Training jet crash 28 February 1966 Gemini 9 United States Elliot See
United States Charles Bassett
See and Bassett attempted to land their T-38 at Lambert Field in St. Louis, Missouri in bad weather, and crashed into the adjacent McDonnell Aircraft factory, where they were going for simulator training for their Gemini 9 flight.[22][23]
Fire during spacecraft test 27 January 1967 Apollo 1 United States Virgil "Gus" Grissom
United States Ed White
United States Roger B. Chaffee
An electrical fire in the cabin spread quickly in the pure oxygen atmosphere and claimed the lives of all three Apollo 1 crew members during a "plugs-out" test in preparation for their planned February 21 launch.[24]
Training jet crash 5 October 1967 (Apollo) United States Clifton C. Williams Williams, flying alone in a T-38 jet from Cape Kennedy, Florida to Houston, Texas, crashed due to an aileron control mechanical failure, about 15 miles (24 km) north of Tallahassee, Florida.[25] Williams ejected too low for the parachute to open properly.[26] Williams had been selected as lunar module pilot on an Apollo crew with commander Pete Conrad and command module pilot Richard Gordon.
Training jet crash 8 December 1967 (Manned Orbiting Laboratory) United States Robert Henry Lawrence Jr. The first African-American astronaut, selected for the Air Force Manned Orbiting Laboratory program, was killed when his F-104 Starfighter jet crashed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, while practicing a series of high speed, quick descent landings as copilot with Major Harvey Royer. Both crewmen ejected; Royer survived with injuries, but Lawrence was found in his ejection seat, the parachute unopened.[27][28]
Drowned during water recovery training 11 July 1993 (Soviet Air Force Cosmonaut Training Group 11) Russia Sergei Vozovikov Sergei Yuriyevich Vozovikov was a member of the Soviet Air Force Cosmonaut Training Group 11. His Cosmonaut training was from 1 October 1991 to 6 March 1992. He drowned 11 July 1993 during water recovery training in the Black Sea, near Anapa, Russia.[29][30]
Spaceplane crash during test flight 31 October 2014 VSS Enterprise PF04 United States Michael Alsbury Michael Alsbury was killed and Peter Siebold was seriously injured when SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise disintegrated during a powered atmospheric test flight over California due to premature deployment of the feathering system.[31]

Non-fatal incidents during spaceflight[edit]

Apart from actual disasters, a number of missions resulted in some very near misses and also some training accidents that nearly resulted in deaths.

Incident Date Mission Description
Separation failure 12 April 1961 Vostok 1 After retrofire, the Vostok service module unexpectedly remained attached to the reentry module by a bundle of wires. The two halves of the craft were supposed to separate ten seconds after retrofire. But they did not separate until 10 minutes after retrofire, when the wire bundle finally burned through. The spacecraft went into wild gyrations at the beginning of reentry, before the wires burned through and the reentry module settled into the proper reentry attitude.[32]
Landing capsule sank in water 21 July 1961 Mercury-Redstone 4 After splashdown in the Atlantic, the hatch malfunctioned and blew, filling the capsule with water and almost drowning Gus Grissom, who managed to escape before it sank. Grissom then had to deal with a spacesuit that was rapidly filling with water, but managed to get into the helicopter's retrieval collar and was lifted to safety.[33] The spacecraft was recovered in 1999, having settled 300 nmi (560 km; 350 mi) southeast of Cape Canaveral in 15,000 ft (4,600 m) of seawater. An unexploded SOFAR bomb, designed for sound fixing and ranging in case the craft sank, had failed and had to be dealt with when it was recovered from the ocean floor in 1999.[34]
Spacesuit or airlock design fault 18 March 1965 Voskhod 2 The mission featured the world's first spacewalk, by Alexei Leonov. After his twelve minutes outside, Leonov's spacesuit inflated in the vacuum to the point where he could not reenter the airlock. He opened a valve to allow some of the suit's pressure to bleed off, and was barely able to get back inside the capsule after suffering side effects of the bends. Because the spacecraft was so cramped, the crew could not keep to their reentry schedule and landed 386 km off course in deep forest. They spent a night sheltering in the capsule from the cold, and a second night in a temporary hut built by rescuers before skiing with them to a clearing where a helicopter flew them to Perm.[35][36]
Engine shutdown at launch 12 December 1965 Gemini 6A The first on-pad shutdown in the US Manned Program. Gemini 7 orbiting 185 miles (298 km) directly over Missile Row witnessed the event and reported they could clearly see the momentary exhaust plume before shutdown.[37]
Equipment failure 17 March 1966 Gemini 8 A maneuvering thruster refused to shut down and put their capsule into an uncontrolled spin.[38] After the Gemini spun up to one revolution per second, Neil Armstrong regained control by switching from the main attitude control system to the reentry system. Mission rules required a landing as soon as possible once the reentry thrusters were used, causing an early end to the flight.[39]
Separation failure 18 January 1969 Soyuz 5 Harrowing reentry and landing when the capsule's service module initially refused to separate, causing the spacecraft to begin reentry faced the wrong way. The service module broke away before the capsule would have been destroyed, and so it made a rough but survivable landing far off course in the Ural mountains.
Struck twice by lightning during launch 14 November 1969 Apollo 12 Two lightning strikes during launch. The first strike, at 36 seconds after liftoff, knocked the three fuel cells offline and the craft switched to battery power automatically. The second strike, at 52 seconds after liftoff, knocked the onboard guidance platform offline. Four temperature sensors on the outside of the Lunar Module were burnt out and four measuring devices in the reaction control system failed temporarily. Fuel cell power was restored about four minutes later. The astronauts spent additional time in Earth orbit to make sure the spacecraft was functional before firing their S-IVB third stage engine and departing for the Moon.[40][41]
Struck by camera during splashdown 24 November 1969 Apollo 12 Astronaut Alan Bean was struck above the right eyebrow by a 16mm movie camera when the spacecraft splashed down in the ocean. The camera broke free from its storage place. Bean suffered a concussion,[42] and a 1.25 cm cut above the eyebrow that required stitches.[43]
Premature engine shutdown 11 April 1970 Apollo 13 During launch, the Saturn V second stage experienced a premature shutdown on one of its five engines. The center engine shut down two minutes early. The remaining engines on the second and third stages were burned a total of 34 seconds longer to compensate. It was later determined that the shutdown was caused by pogo oscillation of the engine. Parking orbit and translunar injection were successfully achieved.[44][45][46]
Equipment failure 13 April 1970 Apollo 13 The crew came home safely after a violent rupture of a liquid oxygen tank[47] deprived the Service Module of its ability to produce electrical power, crippling their spacecraft en route to the moon. They survived the loss of use of their command ship by relying on the Lunar Module as a "life boat" to provide life support and power for the trip home.[48]
One of three main parachutes failed 7 August 1971 Apollo 15 During descent, the three main parachutes opened successfully. However, when the remaining reaction control system fuel was jettisoned, one parachute was damaged by the discarded fuel causing it to collapse. Spacecraft and crew still splashed down safely, at a slightly higher than normal velocity, on the two remaining main parachutes. If a second parachute had failed, the spacecraft would probably have been crushed on impact with the ocean, according to a NASA official.[49]
Separation failure 5 April 1975 Soyuz 18a The mission nearly ended in disaster when the rocket suffered a second-stage separation failure during launch. This also interrupted the craft's attitude, causing the vehicle to accelerate towards the Earth and triggering an emergency reentry sequence. Due to the downward acceleration, the crew experienced an acceleration of 21.3 g rather than the nominal 15 g for an abort. Upon landing, the vehicle rolled down a hill and stopped just short of a high cliff. The crew survived, but Lazarev, the mission commander, suffered internal injuries due to the severe G-forces and was never able to fly again.
Chemical poisoning 24 July 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Test Project During final descent and parachute deployment, the U.S. crew were exposed to 300 µL/L of toxic nitrogen tetroxide (Reaction Control System oxidizer) fumes venting from the spacecraft and reentering a cabin air intake, because a switch was left in the wrong position. 400µL/L is fatal. Vance Brand lost consciousness for a short time. The crew members suffered from burning sensations of their eyes, faces, noses, throats and lungs. Thomas Stafford quickly broke out emergency oxygen masks and put one on Brand and gave one to Deke Slayton. The crew were exposed to the toxic fumes from 24,000 ft (7.3 km) down to landing. About an hour after landing the crew developed chemical-induced pneumonia and their lungs had edema. They experienced shortness of breath and were hospitalized in Hawaii. The crew spent five days in the hospital, followed by a week of observation in semi-isolation. By July 30, their chest X-rays appeared to return to normal except for Slayton; he was diagnosed with a benign lesion, unrelated to the gas exposure, which was later removed.[50]
Landing capsule sank in water 16 October 1976 Soyuz 23 The capsule broke through the surface of a frozen lake and was dragged underwater by its parachute. The crew was saved after a very difficult rescue operation.[51]
Engine malfunction 12 April 1979 Soyuz 33 Engine failure forced the mission to be aborted. It was the first-ever failure of a Soyuz engine during orbital operations. The crew, commander Nikolai Rukavishnikov and Bulgarian cosmonaut Georgi Ivanov, suffered a steep ballistic re-entry, but were safely recovered.
SRB ignition shock wave overpressure reached design limits of orbiter structure 12 April 1981 STS-1 During launch, the Solid Rocket Booster ignition shock wave overpressure was four times greater than expected (2.0 psi measured vs 0.5 psi predicted). Some of the aft structures on Space Shuttle Columbia reached their design limits (2.0 psi) from the overpressure. The overpressure bent four struts that supported two RCS fuel tanks in the nose of Columbia and the orbiter's locked body flap was pushed up and down 6 in (15 cm) by the shock wave. John Young and Robert Crippen in the crew cabin received a 3 g jolt from the shock wave. An improved water spray shock wave damping system had to be installed on the launch pad prior to launch.[52][53][54][55]
Fire in launch vehicle 26 September 1983 Soyuz T-10-1 A fuel spillage before the planned liftoff caused the vehicle to be engulfed in flames. The crew was narrowly saved by the activation of their launch escape system, with the rocket exploding two seconds later.
Leaked hydrazine fuel fire and explosion 8 December 1983 STS-9 In the last two minutes of the mission, during Space Shuttle Columbia's final approach to the Edwards AFB runway, hydrazine fuel leaked onto hot surfaces of two of the three onboard auxiliary power units (APU) in the aft compartment of the shuttle and caught fire. About 15 minutes after landing, hydrazine fuel trapped in the APU control valves exploded, destroying the valves in both APUs. The fire also damaged nearby wiring. The fire stopped when the supply of leaked fuel was exhausted. All of this was discovered the next day when technicians removed an access panel and discovered the area blackened and scorched. It is believed that hydrazine leaked in orbit and froze, stopping the leak. After returning, the leak restarted and ignited when combined with oxygen from the atmosphere. There were no injuries during the incident.[56][57]
Space Shuttle in-flight engine failure 29 July 1985 STS-51-F Five minutes, 45 seconds into ascent, one of three main engines aboard Challenger shut down prematurely due to a spurious high temperature reading. At about the same time, a second main engine almost shut down from a similar problem, but this was observed and inhibited by a fast acting flight controller. The failed SSME resulted in an Abort To Orbit (ATO) trajectory, whereby the shuttle achieves a lower than planned orbital altitude. Had the second engine failed within about 20 seconds of the first, a Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) abort might have been necessary. No bailout option existed until after mission STS-51-L, the Challenger disaster. But even with that option, a bailout (a "contingency abort") would never be considered when an "intact abort" option exists, and after five minutes of normal flight it would always exist unless a serious flight control failure or some other major problem beyond engine shutdown occurred.[58][59]
Sensor failure 6 September 1988 Mir EP-3 At the end of the mission, Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Lyakhov and Afghan cosmonaut Abdul Ahad Mohmand undocked from Mir in the spacecraft Soyuz TM-5. During descent they suffered a computer software problem combined with a sensor problem. The deorbit engine on the TM-5 spacecraft which was to propel them into atmospheric reentry, did not behave as expected. During an attempted burn, the computer shut off the engines prematurely, believing the spacecraft was out of alignment.[60] Lyakhov determined that they were not, in fact, out of alignment, and asserted that the problem was caused by conflicting signals picked up by the alignment sensors caused by solar glare.[60] With the problem apparently solved, two orbits later he restarted to deorbit engines. But the engines shut off again. The flight director decided that they would have to remain in orbit an extra day (a full revolution of the Earth), so they could determine what the problem was. During this time it was realised that during the second attempted engine burn, the computer had tried to execute the program which was used to dock with Mir several months earlier during EP-2.[60] After reprogramming the computer, the next attempt was successful, and the crew safely landed on 7 September.[61]
Thermal tile damage 6 December 1988 STS-27 Space Shuttle Atlantis' Thermal Protection System tiles sustained unusually severe damage during this flight. Ablative insulating material from the right-hand solid rocket booster nose cap had hit the orbiter about 85 seconds into the flight, as seen in footage of the ascent. The crew made an inspection of the shuttle's impacted starboard side using the shuttle's Canadarm robot arm, but the limited resolution and range of the cameras made it impossible to determine the full extent of the tile damage. Following reentry, more than 700 tiles were found to be damaged including one that was missing entirely. STS-27 was the most heavily damaged shuttle to return to earth safely.
Spacesuit puncture 8 April 1991 STS-37 During an extravehicular activity, a small rod (palm bar) in a glove of EV2 astronaut Jay Apt's extravehicular mobility unit punctured the suit. Somehow, the astronaut's hand conformed to the puncture and sealed it, preventing any detectable depressurization. During post-flight debriefings, Apt said after the second EVA, when he removed the gloves, his right hand index finger had an abrasion behind the knuckle. A postflight inspection of the right hand glove found the palm bar of the glove penetrating a restraint and glove bladder into the index finger side of the glove. NASA found air leakage with the bar in place was 3.8 SCCM, well within the specification of 8.0 SCCM. They said if the bar had come out of the hole, the leak still would not have been great enough to activate the secondary oxygen pack. The suit would, however, have shown a high oxygen rate indication.[62]
Explosive release device punctured cargo bay bulkhead 12 September 1993 STS-51 While releasing the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite from the payload bay, both the primary and backup explosive release devices detonated. Only the primary device was supposed to have detonated. Large metal bands holding the satellite in place were ripped away, causing flying debris. The debris punctured the orbiter's payload bay bulkhead leading to the main engine compartment, damaging wiring trays and payload bay thermal insulation blankets. The puncture in the bulkhead was 3 mm by 13 mm in size. The crew was uninjured and the damage was not great enough to endanger the shuttle. The satellite was undamaged.[63]
Eye injury from Mir exercise equipment 18 May 1995 Mir While exercising on the EO-18/NASA 1/Soyuz TM-21 mission, astronaut Norman E. Thagard suffered an eye injury. He was using an exercise device, doing deep knee bends, with elastic straps. One of the straps slipped off of his foot, flew up, and hit him in the eye. Later, even a small amount of light caused pain in his eye. He said using the eye was, "like looking at the world through gauze." An ophthalmologist at Mission Control-Moscow prescribed steroid drops and the eye healed.[64]
Fire on board 23 February 1997 Mir There was a fire on board the Mir space station when a lithium perchlorate canister used to generate oxygen leaked. The fire was extinguished after about 90 seconds, but smoke did not clear for several minutes.
Collision in space 25 June 1997 Mir At Mir, during a re-docking test with the Progress M-34 cargo freighter, the Progress freighter collided with the Spektr module and solar arrays of the Mir space station. This damaged the solar arrays and the collision punctured a hole in the Spektr module and the space station began depressurizing. The onboard crew of two Russians and one visiting NASA astronaut were able to close off the Spektr module from the rest of Mir after quickly cutting cables and hoses blocking the hatch closure.
Main engine electrical short and hydrogen leak 23 July 1999 STS-93 Five seconds after liftoff, an electrical short knocked out controllers for two shuttle main engines. The engines automatically switched to their backup controllers. Had a further short shut down two engines, Columbia would have ditched in the ocean, although the crew could have possibly bailed out. Concurrently a pin came loose inside one engine and ruptured a cooling line, allowing a hydrogen fuel leak. This caused premature fuel exhaustion, but the vehicle safely achieved a slightly lower orbit. Had the failure propagated further, a risky transatlantic or RTLS abort would have been required.
Toxic ammonia leak during EVA 10 February 2001 ISS/STS-98 During EVA 1 on the mission, NASA astronauts Robert L. Curbeam and Thomas D. Jones were connecting cooling lines on the International Space Station while working to install the Destiny Laboratory Module. A defective quick-disconnect valve allowed 5% of the ammonia cooling supply to escape into space. The escaping ammonia froze on the spacesuit of astronaut Curbeam as he struggled to close the valve. His helmet and suit were coated in ammonia crystals an inch thick. Mission Control instructed Curbeam to remain outside for an entire orbit to allow the Sun to evaporate the frozen ammonia from his spacesuit. When they returned to the airlock, the astronauts pressurized, vented and then repressurized the air lock to purge any remaining toxic ammonia. After they removed their spacesuits, the crew wore oxygen masks for another 20 minutes to allow life-support systems in the airlock to further filter the air. No injuries resulted from the incident.[65]
Ballistic reentry, injured shoulder 3 May 2003 Soyuz TMA-1 The capsule had a malfunction during its return to Earth from the ISS Expedition 6 mission and performed a ballistic reentry. The crew was subjected to about 8 to 9 G's during reentry. The capsule landed 500 km from the intended landing target. In addition, after landing the capsule was dragged about 15 meters by its parachute and ended up on its side in a hard landing. Astronaut Don Pettit injured his shoulder and was placed on a stretcher in a rescue helicopter and did not take part in post-landing ceremonies.[66][67][68]
Unplanned rolls during ascent 29 September 2004 SpaceShipOne-16P On suborbital flight 16P, the first of two flights that won the X-Prize for exceeding 100 km in altitude, astronaut Mike Melvill experienced 29 unplanned rolls during and after powered ascent. The rolls began at 50 seconds into the engine burn. The burn was stopped 11 seconds early after burning a total of 76 seconds. After engine cutoff, the craft continued rolling while coasting to apogee. The roll was finally brought under control after apogee using the craft's reaction jets. SpaceShipOne landed safely and Mike Melvill was uninjured.[69][70]
Separation failure 19 April 2008 Soyuz TMA-11 Reentry mishap similar to that suffered by Soyuz 5 in 1969. The service module failed to completely separate from the reentry vehicle and caused it to face the wrong way during the early portion of aerobraking. As with Soyuz 5, the service module eventually separated and the reentry vehicle completed a rough but survivable landing. Following the Russian news agency Interfax's report, this was widely reported as life-threatening[71][72] while NASA urged caution pending an investigation of the vehicle.[73] South Korean astronaut Yi So-Yeon was hospitalized after her return to South Korea due to injuries caused by the rough return voyage in the Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft. The South Korean Science Ministry said that the astronaut had a minor injury to her neck muscles and had bruised her spinal column.[74]
Aborted spacewalk after water leak in suit 16 July 2013 ISS Expedition 36 During EVA-23, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano reported that water was steadily leaking into his helmet. Flight controllers elected to abort the EVA immediately, and Parmitano made his way back to the Quest airlock, followed by fellow astronaut Chris Cassidy. The airlock began repressurizing after a 1-hour and 32 minute spacewalk, and by this time Parmitano was having difficulty seeing, hearing, and speaking due to the amount of water in his suit. After repressurization, Expedition 36 commander Pavel Vinogradov and crewmembers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Karen Nyberg quickly removed Parmitano's helmet and soaked up the water with towels. Despite the incident, Parmitano was reported to be in good spirits and suffered no injury.[75][76][77] By December, 2013, NASA had determined the leak to have been caused by a design flaw in the Portable Life Support System liquid coolant. The designers failed to take into account the physics of water in zero-g, which unintentionally allowed coolant water to mix with the air supply.[78]
Hole detected in station 30 August 2018 Soyuz MS-09 attached to ISS Expedition 55 Ground controllers detected a dip in cabin pressure, which astronauts traced to a 2-millimeter hole in Soyuz MS-09, which was quickly patched up by Soyuz commander Sergey Prokopyev with epoxy.[79]
Launch booster failure, ballistic re-entry 11 October 2018 Soyuz MS-10 During ascent, the crew reported feeling weightless and mission control declared a booster had failed. Shortly after, a contingency was declared and the spacecraft carrying the crew performed an emergency separation from the rocket. It returned to Earth at a sharper than normal angle, called a "ballistic descent" and the crew experienced 6.7G during the landing.[80] The crew did not need immediate medical care when recovered.

Non-fatal incidents during training[edit]

Test pilot Stuart Present ejects safely from the Lunar Landing Training Vehicle. Neil Armstrong also made such an ejection. (NASA)

Spaceflight-related accidents and incidents during assembly, testing, and preparation for flight of manned and unmanned spacecraft have occasionally resulted in injuries or the loss of craft since the earliest days of space programs.

List[edit]

1960–1969[edit]

  • Three of the five Lunar Landing Research and Training vehicles (LLRV and LLTV) were destroyed in crashes near Houston, Texas:
    • 1968 May 6: LLRV No. 1 crashed at Ellington AFB, Texas, caused by loss of helium pressure that controlled the steering jets. Neil Armstrong ejected safely.[81]
    • 1968 December 8: LLTV No. 1 crashed at Ellington AFB, Texas, caused by failure of the fly-by-wire control system. MSC test pilot Joseph Algranti ejected safely.[82]
    • 1971 January 29: An LLTV crashed at Ellington AFB, Texas, caused by failure of the fly-by-wire control system. NASA test pilot Stuart Present ejected safely.[83]
  • 1960 July 16: Injured during centrifuge training : Soviet cosmonaut Anatoly Yakovlevich Kartashov suffered pinpoint hemorrhages of the spine during centrifuge training. Due to the injuries he was grounded by the medical staff and retired from the cosmonaut group on 7 April 1962[84][85]
  • 1961 August 19: Parachute training accident, broken left foot : Cosmonaut Pavel Belyayev broke his left foot during a parachute jump related to cosmonaut training. As a result, he was out of cosmonaut training until 30 August 1962.[86]
  • 1961 Sep 2: T-33 jet engine failure, emergency landing : Astronauts Gus Grissom and Alan Shepard experienced a broken rotor blade in the jet engine of their T-33 jet while flying a training mission over Lake Erie. Grissom made an emergency landing at Selfridge Air Force Base near Detroit, MI. Both astronauts were unharmed and the aircraft was not further damaged. The astronauts left in the same jet a day later.[87]
  • 1962 Oct 22: Experimental Paraglider, hard landing : Astronaut Gus Grissom was piloting an experimental paraglider at Edwards Air Force Base, CA, that was towed aloft by another aircraft and released. The paraglider made a hard landing that crumpled the nose wheel. The craft remained upright and Grissom walked away unhurt. The craft was part of experiments that were to lead up to landing Gemini spacecraft using a similar paraglider wing on dry land.[88]
  • 1963 March 13: F-102 jet, ran off paved runway : Astronaut Elliot See was piloting a NASA F-102 fighter jet used to maintain astronaut pilot proficiency when it ran off the end of the paved runway while landing at Ellington AFB near Houston, TX. Officials said the astronaut landed the plane too fast and was unable to stop on the paved portion of the runway. Astronaut See was not injured and the aircraft was not damaged and was flown later in the day by another astronaut.[89]
  • 1964 Aug 25 : Simulated Moon Walk in Spacesuit, fall on steep, rocky lava bed : Astronaut Walter Cunningham was wearing a full spacesuit with 13.5 kg backpack. He was simulating a moon walk on a rocky lava bed near Bend, Oregon. While climbing a 15-meter, 30 degree slope, he was 3 meters from the top when he fell backward. At first, observers thought he might roll all the way to the bottom of the slope, but Cunningham spread out to slow his motion and a nearby engineer also provided assistance. Cunningham was uninjured, but there was a slight pressure loss in the suit from a glove puncture.[90][91]
  • 1964 Nov 4 : T-38 jet, ran off wet runway, landing gear damaged : Astronauts Charles "Pete" Conrad and James Lovell were landing at Ellington AFB near Houston, TX, during a rainstorm, on a flight from Washington, DC. They were returning from the funeral of astronaut Theodore C. Freeman. They were unable to stop their aircraft on the wet runway. The aircraft ran off the runway and into a muddy, grassy area damaging the landing gear. The two astronauts were not injured in the mishap.[92]
  • 1966 Jan 14 : Altitude Chamber, oxygen valve explosion, fire : Astronaut Edward Givens was testing the Gemini 9 astronaut maneuvering unit (AMU) while wearing a spacesuit in an altitude chamber at the Manned Spacecraft Center (Johnson Space Center), Houston, TX. While in the altitude chamber, an oxygen valve exploded outside the altitude chamber burning four technicians and sending one of them to the hospital. One of the technicians' clothes was set on fire and the other three technicians suffered minor burns extinguishing the burning clothing. Astronaut Givens was not injured in the incident.[93]
  • 1966 January 28 : Zero G Training, dislocated shoulder requiring surgery : Astronaut Donn F. Eisele underwent surgical repair of his left shoulder due to a dislocation received during zero G flight training in 1965. The shoulder was reinjured during physical training at the Manned Spacecraft (Johnson Space) Center later the same year.[94]
  • 1966 July 18 : T-38 jet takeoff abort, ran off runway : Astronauts Edward H. White and Russell Schweickart experienced an engine failure during takeoff from El Paso International airport, TX, on their T-38 jet aircraft. The takeoff was aborted and the aircraft ran off the end of the runway, suffering a nose gear collapse and blowouts of both main landing gear tires. The astronauts were flying from Houston, TX to Los Angeles, CA. The stop in El Paso was to refuel. Both astronauts were uninjured and continued their journey on a commercial airliner.[95]
  • 1966 October 8: Parachute training accident, broken foot : Cosmonaut Georgi Grechko broke his foot during a parachute jump related to training for the Soyuz 7K manned lunar flyby missions. The injury forced him out of training for those lunar flyby missions.[96][97]
  • 1968 May 15 : Parachute training, fracture : Astronaut Dr. Robert A. R. Parker suffered a fractured coccyx (the final bone in the spine), while taking part in parachute training. The injury occurred at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. The injury was not thought to be serious.[98]
  • 1968 September 26 : Physical training, fractured collar bone : Astronaut Dr. Karl G. Henize suffered a fractured collar bone during a physical development class as part of astronaut training. He was placed on non-flying status for about five weeks.[99]
  • 1969 : Rope training accident, serious leg injury : Cosmonaut Vladimir Kovalyonok suffered a serious injury to his leg while rope training (climbing?) during cosmonaut training. He recovered and was able to continue cosmonaut training and graduated 18 August 1969.[100]
  • 1969 Aug 2 : helicopter landing accident : During NASA astronaut helicopter flight training, astronaut Edward G. Gibson, flying solo, landed a helicopter on a mud flat, near Laporte, TX. The helicopter sank in the mud, flipped over and its spinning rotor blades tore the craft apart. Gibson was uninjured.[101][102]
  • 1969 Aug 15: T-33 jet crash landing : Astronaut Joseph Kerwin made a belly landing on a foam covered runway in his T-33 jet trainer at Ellington AFB near Houston, Texas due to a landing gear problem. He survived the crash landing uninjured.[103]

1970–1979[edit]

  • 1971 January 23: helicopter crash: Eugene Cernan was flying a Bell 47G helicopter as part of his Lunar Module training as Backup Commander for Apollo 14. The helicopter crashed into the Indian River at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Cernan nearly drowned because he was not wearing a life vest and received some second-degree burns on his face and singed hair.[104] According to official reports at the time, the crash was the result of mechanical failure. Later accounts, written by Cernan himself in an autobiography, admit he was flying too low and showing off for nearby boaters. The helicopter dipped a skid into the water and crashed. James McDivitt, an Apollo Manager at the time, demanded that Cernan be removed from flight status and not be given command of Apollo 17. Cernan was defended by Deke Slayton and given the Apollo 17 command. James McDivitt resigned as an Apollo Manager shortly after the Apollo 16 mission.[105]
  • 1971 Apr 2 : T-38 jet, rear cockpit canopy lost, takeoff aborted : Astronaut Richard Truly was taking off from Kellogg Field, Battle Creek, MI in a NASA T-38 jet. During the takeoff roll, the rear cockpit canopy flew off the aircraft. Astronaut Truly aborted the takeoff and was not injured. The aircraft suffered minor damage.[106]
  • 1972 May 10 : T-38 jet, electrical malfunction, out of fuel, ejected : Astronaut Charles "Pete" Conrad ejected safely from his NASA T-38 jet near Bergstrom AFB, Austin, TX. He landed about 90 meters from the base operations building. An electrical malfunction that caused loss of instruments during severe weather was listed by the review board as a major factor in the accident. Conrad was on a flight from Dover, DE via Dobbins AFB, GA to Ellington AFB, Houston, TX. Due to bad weather, he was diverted first to Hobby Airport, Houston because Ellington AFB was below minimums for landing. While on final approach to Hobby Airport, in darkness, heavy rain and lightning, the T-38 generator failed, causing a loss of cockpit lighting and partial loss of navigation instruments. Conrad broke off the approach and tried to climb above the bad weather. The generator was brought back online along with cockpit lighting. Because of the electrical problems, he requested a diversion to an airport that was under visual flight rules. Controllers sent him toward Randolph AFB, San Antonio, TX. It soon became apparent the T-38 did not have enough fuel to reach Randolph AFB. Controllers then diverted him to Bergstrom AFB. The T-38 ran out of fuel as it reached Bergstron AFB. Conrad ejected at 1100 meters. The aircraft was destroyed. He was taken to the base hospital for a routine examination and returned to Houston later that night.[107][108][109]
  • 1974 Feb 6 : T-38 jet, landing mishap, gear collapse : Astronaut Dr. Karl G. Henize was involved in a "landing mishap" in his T-38 jet aircraft while landing at Bergstrom AFB near Austin, TX in low visibility conditions. He was on an instrument flight from Ellington AFB near Houston, TX. A landing gear on the T-38 collapsed and the aircraft was damaged. Henize was not injured.[110][111]
  • 1979 October 19: Altitude chamber accident, electrical burns, brain concussion : Cosmonaut Alexander S. Viktorenko was conducting tests in an altitude chamber as part of cosmonaut training. Due to errors by a person operating the altitude chamber, Viktorenko was struck by an electric current, causing burns, a fall and a brain concussion. He was unconscious for 17 hours. As a result of the injuries and recovery, he did not complete his cosmonaut training until 24 February 1982.[112][113][114]

1980–1989[edit]

  • 1982 May 21: T-38 jet struck by lightning, damaged : Astronaut Gordon Fullerton was piloting a solo flight of a NASA T-38 jet aircraft from Houston, Texas to Cleveland, Ohio to make a speaking engagement. While on final approach to Cleveland's Hopkins Airport, his aircraft was struck by lightning. Fullerton landed safely but a post-landing inspection showed that a 2-foot by 6-foot section had been torn from the tail of the aircraft. The astronaut later commented, "It felt like a howitzer hit the cockpit. It was as strong a lightning (bolt) as I've ever experienced.".[115][116]
  • 1982 Dec 1: T-38 jet landing accident, ran off runway : Astronaut Thomas K. Mattingly was not injured when his T-38 jet aircraft ran off the runway at Ellington AFB near Houston, Texas. The aircraft ended up 30 feet off the end of the runway during a landing in heavy rain. There was substantial damage to the wings, nose and landing gear of the aircraft during the incident.[117]
  • 1984 Apr 5 : T-38 jet, struck birds, engine flameout, aborted takeoff : Astronaut James van Hoften was taking off in a T-38 jet on the KSC Space Shuttle runway for a training flight. This was training for the STS-41-C mission of Challenger that launched the next day. At about 1.5 km (1 mi) down the 4.8 km (3 mi) runway, while going 260 km/h (162 mph), his jet struck a flock of birds, causing the right engine to flame out. He applied the brakes and safely aborted takeoff without further aircraft damage. Bird remains were later found on the nose landing gear and the aircraft engine needed to be removed and inspected for further damage.[118]
  • 1987 Feb 24: T-38 jet engine failure, fire, emergency landing : Astronaut Brewster Shaw and NASA pilot Robert Rivers experienced an engine failure and fire in their T-38 jet aircraft. The jet was on approach to Los Alamitos Army Air Field, CA, when the right engine failed and caught fire. There was smoke in the cockpit. The crew chose to land the plane rather than bail out because it was over a populated area. They landed successfully and climbed out of the burning jet. The jet experienced substantial damage. The crew was taken to the Long Beach Naval Hospital for observation and later released.[119]
  • 1989 May 15 : T-38 jet, near midair collision with airliner : Astronaut David M. Walker was flying a NASA T-38 jet into Dulles Airport near Washington, D.C. for a presidential ceremony. At about 8 km (5 mi) from the airport at an altitude of 2100 meters, he came within 150 meters of colliding with a Pan Am Airbus 310 airliner. He was later found at fault for the incident and suspended from flying for 60 days by NASA. He was also removed as commander of the STS-44 mission.[120][121]

1990–1999[edit]

  • 1993 May 3 : Emergency egress training, broken bones in foot : Astronaut Dr. M. Rhea Seddon broke four metatarsal bones in her left foot during emergency egress training from the Johnson Space Center orbiter training facility. She was using an inflatable slide similar to those used on airliners during landing emergency evacuations. While sliding down the slide, her left foot became pinned under her, breaking four minor bones. She returned to full-time training after a few weeks.[122]
  • 1993 May 28 : frostbitten fingers in thermal vacuum chamber : While training in a thermal vacuum chamber for the STS-61 Hubble repair mission, astronaut Story Musgrave suffered frostbite on the fingertips of his right hand. He was working in a spacesuit in the chamber for about six hours at low temperatures. His fingertips were blackened and numb from the incident. Surgery was not required and they were sufficiently healed in time for the repair mission in December 1993.[123]
  • 1993 Oct 16: Medical experiment, heart and breathing stopped : Astronaut Bonnie Dunbar suffered an allergic reaction to an experimental drug and collapsed during medical tests at Johnson Space Center, Texas. Her breathing and heart stopped and she was rushed to a local hospital. She recovered and was later declared in good health. The experiment involved injecting dye and a drug to measure the effect of weightlessness on fluids in the body.[124][125]

2000–2009[edit]

  • 2000 Mar 15 : sprained ankle delays shuttle launch : Astronaut and commander of the STS-101 mission, James D. Halsell sprained his ankle climbing down steps inside of a space shuttle simulator at Johnson Space Center, Houston. This caused him to miss some training activities and delayed the launch of his mission by about a week.[126]
  • 2003 Dec 2 : NASA Gulfstream II Shuttle Training Aircraft - engine thrust reverser fell off aircraft in flight : A NASA Gulfstream II shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) was flying a series of simulated shuttle landings to the Kennedy Space Center shuttle landing facility. On board the aircraft was an unidentified NASA astronaut pilot and two training personnel. The aircraft was on final approach at 13,000 feet when on-board instruments indicated a malfunction on one of the jet engine thrust reversers. The aircraft landed safely. A post-landing inspection showed that one of the 585-pound, 4-foot-wide, 5-foot-long thrust reversers had fallen off the aircraft. Divers later found the thrust reverser on the bottom of the nearby Banana River. An investigation showed that a bolt failed, causing the part to fall off the aircraft.[127][128]
  • 2003 Dec 17 : SpaceShipOne - Landing accident, ran off runway : While piloting SpaceShipOne on its first powered test flight, 11P, astronaut Brian Binnie reached a peak altitude of 20.7 km (13 mi) and exceeded the speed of sound. Upon landing, SpaceShipOne experienced a roll oscillation that caused the left main gear to collapse. The craft ran off the runway and rolled to a stop in soft sand. The craft sustained minor damage, later repaired, and the pilot was uninjured.[129]

2010–2019[edit]

Non-astronaut fatalities[edit]

Fatalities caused by rocket explosions[edit]

This list excludes deaths caused by military operations, either by deliberate detonations, or accidental during production - for example German V-2 rockets reportedly caused on average an estimated 6 deaths per operational rocket just during its production stages.[130]

Date Place Dead Rocket Description
1930-05-17 Berlin, Germany 1 Max Valier, "first casualty of the modern space age",[131] killed by rocket engine explosion.[132]
1931-02-02 Mount Redoria near Milan, Italy 1 A liquid fueled, 132-pound (60 kg) meteorological rocket, that was constructed by American physicist, Dr. Darwin Lyon, exploded during tests, killing a mechanic and injuring three others. Dr. Lyon was not present when the explosion occurred.[133]
1933-10-10 Germany 3 Explosion in rocket manufacturing room of Reinhold Tiling[134]
1934-07-16 Kummersdorf, Germany 3 A2 Research project under the supervision of Walter Dornberger killed Kurt Wahmke and two assistants as part of the Aggregat_ rocket development, during a fuel test of a premixed hydrogen peroxide/alcohol propellant when the fuel tank exploded.[135]
1960-10-24 Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakh SSR 78 R-16 The Nedelin catastrophe caused by ignition of second-stage engines on the pad.[136]
1963-10-24 Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakh SSR 7-8 R-9 Desna On the same day as the Nedelin catastrophe, another catastrophe took place: due to the evaporation of fuel and a short circuit, a fire took the lives of 7[137] or 8[138] people. Since then, 24 October is considered a "Black Day", and Russia has not launched rockets on that day.
1964-04-14 Cape Canaveral, US 3 Delta rocket The third stage of a Delta rocket had just been joined to the Orbiting Solar Observatory satellite in the spin test facility building at Cape Kennedy. Eleven workers were in the room when the 205 kg of solid fuel in the third stage ignited. Sidney Dagle, 29; Lot D. Gabel, 51, and John Fassett, 30, were severely burned and later died of their injuries. Eight others were injured, but survived. The ignition was caused by a spark of static electricity.[139][140][141]
1964-05-07 Braunlage, West Germany 3 Mail rocket Mail rocket built by Gerhard Zucker exploded and debris hit crowd of spectators.[142]
1966-12-14 Baikonur Cosmodrome, USSR 1 Soyuz 7K-OK Soyuz 7K-OK No.1: Second unmanned Soyuz test flight. Launch escape system fired 27 minutes after an aborted launch causing a fire and subsequent explosion when pad workers had already returned to the launch pad.[143]
1973-06-26 Plesetsk Cosmodrome, USSR 9 Kosmos-3M launch vehicle Launch explosion of Kosmos-3M rocket
1980-03-18 Plesetsk Cosmodrome, USSR 48 Vostok-2M launch vehicle Explosion while fueling up a Vostok-2M rocket[144]
1990-09-07 Edwards AFB, CA United States 1 Titan IV A Titan IV launch vehicle solid rocket booster was being hoisted by a crane into a rocket test stand at Edwards AFB, California. The bottom section of the booster broke free, hit the ground and ignited. One person, Alan M. Quimby, 27, a civilian employee of Wyle Laboratories, was killed and 9 others were injured in the accident.[145][146]
1991-08-09 Komaki, Aichi, Japan 1 H-II launch vehicle Engineer Arihiro Kanaya, 23, was conducting a high pressure endurance test on a pipe used in the first stage rocket engine of the H-2 (H-II) launch vehicle when it exploded. The explosion caused a 14 cm thick door in the testing room to fall on Kanaya and fracture his skull, killing him. The accident happened at the Nagoya Guidance and Propulsion Systems Works Of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Komaki, Aichi, Japan.[147]
1993-02-27 Esrange, Sweden 1 Nike-Orion[148] Bror Thornéus, a technician from Sweden was killed when a sounding rocket ignited during testing of its ignition system at the European Sounding Rocket Range (Esrange), in northern Sweden.[149][150]
1995-01-26 Xichang, China 6+ Long March rocket Long March rocket veered off course after launch [151]
1996-02-15 Xichang, China 6-100 Long March rocket Intelsat 708 Satellite, a Long March rocket, veered off course immediately after launch, crashing in the nearby village 22 seconds later. and destroying 80 houses. According to official Chinese reports there were 6 fatalities and 57 injuries resulting from the incident, but other accounts estimated 100 fatalities.[152]
2002-10-15 Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia 1 Soyuz-U A Soyuz-U exploded 29 seconds after launch, killing a soldier, Ivan Marchenko, and injuring 8 others. Fragments of the rocket started a forest fire nearby, and a Block D strap-on booster caused damage to the launchpad.[153]
2003-08-22 Alcântara, Brazil 21 VLS-1 VLS-1 V03: Explosion of an unmanned rocket during launch preparations[154]
2007-07-26 Mojave Spaceport, California 3 engine test for SpaceShipTwo Explosion during a test of rocket systems by Scaled Composites during a nitrous oxide injector test[155]

Other non-astronaut fatalities[edit]

Date Place Dead Associated mission/vehicle Description
1968-05-16 Kennedy Space Center, US 1 Apollo 4 Pad worker William B. Estes, 46, was killed while hooking up an 8-inch (20 cm) high-pressure water line to the mobile service structure on Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A, which should not have been pressurized at the time. The cap blew off with 180 psi pressure, striking him in the chest.[156][157]
1981-03-19 Kennedy Space Center, US 3 STS-1 Anoxia due to nitrogen atmosphere in the aft engine compartment of Columbia during a countdown demonstration test for STS-1. Five workers were involved in the incident. John Bjornstad died at the scene; Forrest Cole went into a coma and died two weeks later, and Nick Mullon died 14 years later from complications of injuries sustained.[158][159][160][161]
1981-05-05 Kennedy Space Center, US 1 STS-2 Construction worker Anthony E. Hill, 22, fell more than 100 feet (30 m) from the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39B service structure. Workers were preparing LC-39B for a planned September 1981 launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia.[157]
1985-12-04 Vandenberg AFB, US 1 Carl Reich, 49, of Lompoc, CA, an iron worker employed by Hensel Phelps Construction of Greeley, CO, fell 18 stories from the mobile service structure of the SLC-6 Space Shuttle launch complex, while bolting a platform onto the structure.[162][163]
1988-05-04 Henderson, Nevada, US 2 PEPCON disaster, explosion of a factory that produced ammonium perchlorate for solid-fuel rocket boosters of the Space Shuttle and other launchers.
1989-12-22 Cape Canaveral, US 1 A worker refurbishing the 11th level of the Cape Canaveral, Atlas Launch Complex 36B launch tower, was killed when an air hose he was using was caught by the pad elevator. The hose wrapped around the worker and pulled him into the elevator shaft, crushing him. The pad was being refurbished for commercial satellite launches by General Dynamics starting in 1990.[164]
1995-05-05 Guiana Space Centre, French Guiana 2 Ariane 5 Two technicians died from Anoxia due to major nitrogen leak in confined area of umbilical mast at Ariane 5 launch area during cryogenic M1 main stage testing.[165][166]
2001-07-08 Cape Canaveral, US 1 Worker disconnecting a coupling on a temporary pipe used to purge a liquid oxygen system near Launch Complex 37. Unexpected buildup of pressure caused the coupling to break loose and strike the employee in the head.[167][168]
2001-10-01 Cape Canaveral, US 1 Crane operator Bill Brooks was killed in an industrial accident at Launch Complex 37.[168]
2002-05-12 Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan 8 Space Shuttle Buran Workers repairing the roof of the Baikonur Cosmodrome N-1/Energia vehicle assembly building died when the roof suffered a total structural collapse and crashed 80 meters (260 ft) to the ground. Buran Shuttle was destroyed.[169]
2004-02-24 Satish Dhawan Space Centre, India 6 After curing process of an experimental solid propellant segment weighing 14.5 tonnes, during removal of bottom plate from casting assembly, propellant within segment caught fire resulting in death of four engineers and two assistants. Three workers escaped the inferno with burn injuries. Cast Cure facility building suffered extensive damage.[170][171][172][173]
2010-05-05 Redstone Arsenal, US 2 Ammonium perchlorate explosion in a solid rocket fuel test area.[174]
2011-03-14 Launch Pad 39A, USA 1 STS-134 A person working as a swing-arm contractor fell to his death during preparations for a Space Shuttle mission.[175][176]
2013-11-09 Plesetsk, Russia 2 Two workers cleaning out a propellant tank died when exposed to poisonous nitrogen tetroxide gases within the tank[177][178]
2017-06-14 Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan 2 Progress MS-06 An ISS resupply mission, debris from the launch caused a wildfire which killed one worker employed to recover rocket debris. Another employee was injured and died a few days afterward in hospital.[179]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

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  2. ^ a b Musgrave, Larsen, Tommaso (2009), p. 143.
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  6. ^ "Google Maps - Soyuz 1 Crash Site - Memorial Monument Photo". Retrieved 2010-12-25.
  7. ^ "Google Maps - Soyuz 1 Crash Site - Memorial Monument Photo closeup". Retrieved 2010-12-25.
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  10. ^ "Google Maps - Soyuz 11 Landing Site - Monument Location". Retrieved 2010-12-25.
  11. ^ "Google Maps - Soyuz 11 Landing Site - Monument Photo". Retrieved 2010-12-25.
  12. ^ "Google Maps - Soyuz 11 Landing Site - Monument Photo closeup". Retrieved 2010-12-25.
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References[edit]

Books and journals

Other online sources

External links[edit]