The claim sounds incredible, but despite the fact that our planet has sent out 515 people to Earth Orbit, 24 people have traveled beyond Earth’s orbit, and 12 people have walked on the surface of the moon no one has ever died while in space with the exception of one technicality the Soyuz 1 in 1971. What’s the secret to world space programs never losing a man while in space? The truth is, there have been many close calls but something incredible is always done to ensure everyone is brought home alive.
The Soyuz 1 caused the deaths of all crew members while it was reentering Earth’s atmosphere due to a pressure leak. While the crew was exposed to the vacuum of space prior to their reentry, there is still some controversy over whether the crew actually died in space or died as a result of their injuries sustained while in space. Considering the human body can survive several minutes in the vacuum of space before dying of exposure or asphyxiation and the crew was inside a craft, there have been cases presented for the crew surviving until they had reentered Earth’s atmosphere 100 kilometers above the ground. To date this technicality is considered the only death that may have occurred while the crew was in space.
The Apollo 13 almost met with a major disaster as it was on its way to the moon. When one of the liquid oxygen tanks on board exploded the crew on the ship as well as Houston Ground Control were terrified that the NASA mission may have resulted in the deaths of all three crew members. It was only due to the ingenuity of the crew and ground control working together to use the Apollo’s Lunar Lander as a life raft (or onboard escape pod) that the crew were able to survive the long journey without heat or electricity and only extremely limited oxygen. The Apollo 13 crew all survived the mission despite incredible odds stacked against them.
In 1997 a fire errupted onboard the Mir Space Station that could have resulted in the entire crew dying due to a leaking oxygen tank. After the fire was put out, the crew had to contend with a second danger – smoke inhalation. Luckily they found refuge and were able to clear out the heavy smoke and survived.
The TM-5 almost suffered the death of all crewmembers on-board while on reentry but Alexandr Lyakhov and Abdul Ahad Mohmand disobeyed direct orders to wait from ground control. The two cosmonauts from Afghanistan ultimately noticed a systems failure and burned the engines until they were sent spiraling into orbit yet again. As the computers were jettisoned at the last minute for reentry, the two were left hovering in space for two days before they could get back to Earth. During this time they had to deal with dehydration concerns, atmospheric risks, and incredibly cramped and uncomfortable conditions. Luckily the pair was able to avoid all potential disasters and made their reentry without being harmed.