Just with an airplane, train, or automobile, flying off into space can be just as dangerous. Since a space shuttle flight is not one of the most common modes of transportation, many people often forget just how risky space exploration is. Even training to become an astronaut places a life in danger just as much as space flight missions. To date, 19 people have lost their lives in space during a mission with at least ten additional lives taken by training incidents that took place on the ground. The five space flight tragedies to date include:
Soyuz 1 Parachute Failure
On April 24th, 1967, Vladimir Komarov died during the landing of Soyuz 1 when the parachute attached to the capsule did not open as it should.
Test Pilot Killed
On November 15th, 1967, a United States Air Force test pilot named Major Michael J Adams was killed when his X-15-3 aircraft set for research began to spin upon reentry, which ended in its disintegration. All of this took place close to Randsburg, California. In the end, Adams was posthumously given astronaut winds for his last flight on the craft, which had reached an altitude of 266,000 feet.
The crew of Soyuz 11 (Georgi Dobrovolski, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patayev) underwent suffocation on June 30th, 1971 after undocking from the space station, Salyut 1. The accidental opened of a valve on their spacecraft at the time of separation from the service module was the cause of letting air leak out into space.
It was not but little over a minute that the entire crew of the space shuttle, Challenger, lost their lives after the launch on STS-51-L. Seven members aboard died, including Greg Jarvis, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, and the well-known school teacher, Christa McAuliffe. The Challenger disaster took place on January 28th, 1986.
On February 1st, 2003, the space shuttle called Columbia broke apart during the STS-107 mission during reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. As a result, damage to the thermal protection system installed on the shuttle led to a failure in the structure of the left wind, which took the lives of all seven astronauts aboard. The loss of life includes Ilan Ramon, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Michael Anderson, William McCool, and Rick Husband.
Space Training Accidents
When it comes to the many different accidents in space training that has taken lives, it is usually fire on board, malfunctioning controls, and crashes to blame. The first space-related casualty took place on March 23rd, 1961 when Valentin Bondarenko was undergoing training in a specialized chamber with low pressure within an atmosphere consisting of pure oxygen. During an accident, he dropped a cloth soaked in alcohol on an electric hotplate, causing a fire to consume the entire chamber. A barely alive Bondarenko emerged form the chamber, but later died as a result of his burns. Additional life-taking accidents include the crash on landing of the original Gemini 9 crew in 1966, as well as the controls failure of the T-38 that Clifton Willion manned in 1967.