There's Always a Price

>> Monday, July 20, 2009

While we're celebrating the triumph of the moon landing forty years ago, I think it's only fair to remember those that have fallen in the pursuit of human space exploration. These are not just Americans because, to be frank, I think human exploration is more than one country, but for all mankind, just as Neil Armstrong said.

When we've trod on the moon, there were tragedies that paved the way for our success. When we built the ISS, there were losses that taught us (or tried to teach us) important lessons. If we forget those that have been lost to our lack of foresight and the lessons we have had at the cost of their lives, their lives were lost in vain.

  • 1930 Max Valier killed by rocket engine explosion
  • 1933 Explosion in rocket manufacturing room of Reinhold Tiling (Tiling, his assistant Angela Buddenboehmer and his mechanic Friedrich Kuhr were killed)
  • 1934 Ground test engine explosion (3 lost)
  • 1944 An A4-rocket crashes at a test launch in a trench. Several soldiers who were in the trench were killed (7 lost)
  • 1960 The Nedelin catastrophe; Explosion of R-16 ICBM on launch pad (126 lost)
  • 1961 Valentin Bodarenko died in a chamber fire in a 100% oxygen training run from excessive burns. (Information about this death was not released until 1986 and might have helped prevent Apollo 1).
  • 1964 Delta rocket ignited in assembly room, killing 3 technicians and injuring 9 others. The ignition was caused by a spark of static electricity
  • 1964 Theodore Freeman was killed when a goose smashed through the cockpit canopy of his T-38 jet trainer. He ejected but was too close to land, which led to zero-zero ejection system currently in use with many aircraft.
  • 1964 Mail rocket built by Gerhard Zucker exploded and debris hit crowd of spectators (3 lost)
  • 1964 Oscar Simmons falls from the 46th floor of the Vehicle Assembly Building during construction
  • 1965 Lightning killed Albert J. Treib on launch pad B of Launch Complex 39
  • 1966 The original Gemini 9 crew, Elliot See and Charles Bassett, were killed while attempting to land their T-38 in bad weather.
  • 1967 A fire claimed the lives of the Apollo 1 crew (Gus Grissom, Edward White II and Roger Chaffee) as they trained in their capsule. High pressure, 100% O2 and offgassing materials may have contributed as well as a multitude of electrical issues.
  • 1967 Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov died on board Soyuz 1 when his parachute malfunctioned during reentry.
  • 1967 Clifton 'C.C.' Williams (backup Apollo 9 and likely Apollo 12 crewmember) died after a mechanical failure caused the controls of his T-38 to stop responding.
  • 1967 Michael J. Adams died while piloting a suborbital spaceflight in a rocket plane (X-15).
  • 1967 Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. (first African-American astronaut for the U.S. Air Force Manned Orbiting Laboratory program) died when his F-104 Starfighter jet crashed at Edwards Air Force Base, California. He never made it into space.
  • 1968 First human in space Yuri Gagarin died when his MiG-15 jet trainer crashed while he prepared for the Soyuz 3 mission.
  • 1971 The crew of Soyuz 11, Vladislav Volkov, Georgi Dobrovolski and Viktor Patsayev, were killed after undocking from space station Salyut 1 after a three-week stay. A valve opened during separation and exposed the crew to vacuum during reentry.
  • 1973 Launch explosion of Cosmos-3M rocket (9 lost)
  • 1980 Explosion while fueling up a Vostok rocket booster (48 lost)
  • 1981 Anoxia during preparations for STS-1 (2 technicians suffocated during nitrogen purge during ground ops)
  • 1986 The Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed 73 seconds after lift-off on STS-51-L when SRB blow-by impinged on External tank. Greg Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Michael J. Smith, and Dick Scobee were killed.
  • 1995 Long March rocket veered off course after launch (At least 6 lost)
  • 1995 Anoxia; Luc Celle and Jean-Claude Dhainaut died during an inspection in the umbilical mast of the launchpad
  • 1996 Long March rocket veered off course 2 seconds after launch, crashing in the nearby village (56-200 dead)
  • 2001 Crane operator Bill Brooks was killed in an industrial accident at Launch Complex 37
  • 2002 A Soyuz-U exploded 29 seconds after launch, killing a soldier, Ivan Marchenko, and injuring 8 others.
  • 2003 The Space Shuttle Columbia was lost as it reentered after a two-week mission, STS-107 due to damage to the thermal protection system. Rick D. Husband, William McCool, Michael P. Anderson, David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel B. Clark, and Ilan Ramon were killed.
  • 2003 A search and rescue helicopter involved in searching for debris following the disintegration of the Space Shuttle Columbia crashed, killing Jules F. Mier Jr. and Charles Krenek, and injuring three others.
  • 2003 Explosion of an unmanned rocket during launch preparations (21 lost)
  • 2007 Explosion during a test of rocket systems by Scaled Composites during a nitrous oxide injector test (3 lost)
(Although I first found these in Wikipedia, I have cross checked almost all of these elsewhere).

All honor to them.


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