When it comes to space missions and the great blackness up yonder, we are all enthralled. Only a real handful have managed to launch themselves or be allowed to be launched in outer space. For those brave men and women, we do commend you. For those that are still to make their way, and maybe it will be you one day, we salute your bravery.
However, while outer space may be a place you would like to venture someday, one must know that the greatest and most catastrophic failures have happened in that dark nothingness.
We have collated our Top 10 Failures in Space Missions just for you and to make you aware of how dangerous and exciting space travel is. Note, too that there are a few 2016 space missions failures too, so don’t think these types of accidents aren’t happening in the here and now.
Image Credit: Chinaspacereport
10. Defective Spy Satellite In Japan Costs Millions
Image Credit: Flickr
While supposedly transporting two satellites meant to be used to spy on North Korea, a rocket launched out of Japan defected and had to be abolished. While they had spent already over $78 million on the rocket since 2003, the total loss to date and since the recent culling, sits on $97.1 million. Named the H2-A rocket, this guy was to be their saving grace after the former rocket brought on countless issues, but unfortunately didn’t make it either. Just another space missions failures worth loads of cash.
9. X-15 Flight 3-65-97 Failure
Image Credit: Wikipedia
During a project to scan the horizon using an advanced camera system, the X-15 unfortunately met its demise and took with it its pilot Michael J. Adams in 1967.
Adams had performed similar flights in this aircraft 6 times before and this trip should have been a piece of cake.
The run through went something like this. Adams reached a speed of 5,000 km per hour (that’s 3,000 miles per hour) over the Delamar Dry Lake in Nevada. In the beginning, there were a few issues caused by an electrical hiccup but they managed to reach an altitude of 81,000 meters (266,000 ft). At that point, he was instructed to start his wing-rocking maneuver, which would allow him, that scan, but due to turbulence Adams decided to not complete the move.
He started to descend and although he went into an inverted, angled Mach 4.7 dive, he managed to stay true and the team on the ground didn’t think there was anything to worry about.
By the time he reached 20,000 meters (65,000 ft) the aircraft literally fell apart and Adams with it. Because of the maximum altitude reached of 80,5 km, the pilot was awarded astronaut wings. Although the flight wasn’t technically a space flight, because of that height it was deemed to be one. Another tragic space missions failure.
8. 2016 Insight Mission To Mars Suspended
Image Credit: Time
2016 space missions’ failures have occurred as well. This year March was to be the official launch of the Interior Exploration, which was to use Seismic Investigations Heat and Geodesy Transport or Insight, as its known. Due to a leak that was found earlier in the year, and not the first time, they decided to abandoned or rather postpone the mission.
The Insight Mission was to find out how the distant planet’s rocks were formed, and in turn all rocky planets. The mission, hopefully soon, will be set to go, and will bring back important data about the Red Planet’s crust, core and mantle, all vital for science exploration.
7. Apollo 1 Disaster
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Failures in space missions do occur in weird and not so wonderful ways, such as this next tragedy. In 1967, three astronauts took to their simulated launch mission and unfortunately never made the actual launch. Edward H. White, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, and Roger B. Chaffee took to their seats and from word go experienced issues. From odd sour odors from a space suit to various technical problems, they should have abandoned the simulation there and then. But, alas, they did not, and a few minutes later they were close to countdown.
9 minutes before launch one pilot said he smelt fire and then a second called out ‘fire in the cockpit”. Sadly, it was too late, and a minute later all three were killed.
Their demise was met by asphyxiation from Carbon Monoxide and not the fire itself, although that surely would have killed them too, rendering three-degree burns over their entire bodies.
Even after much investigation, the tragedy is still officially unexplained.
Some surmise that the combustible materials widely spread throughout the cabin and some plumbing and wiring issues; these could have been the culprits for this space missions failure.
6. Soyuz 1 Fiasco
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The Apollo 1 tragedy was sadly repeated in Russia and this only 3 months afterwards. But this time the spacecraft actually managed takeoff and started experiencing issues minutes into launch.
Colonel Vladimir Komarov, was the first cosmonaut to board the Soyuz 1, and the last. A solar panel that was to power most of the spacecraft wouldn’t open and Komarov even resorted to kicking and banging the side of the panel in a hopes to dislodge it. By the time they reached 13th orbit the low power initiated ground crew to send Soyuz 2 up to perform a rescue mission. Due to an electrical storm they had to forego that plan.
After failed attempts to open his parachute and backup parachute, after correctly placing the craft on its course back to earth, Komarov was launched fully conscience and alive towards earth at a speed of 140 km (90 miles) per hour. The impact killed him instantly.
5. Soyuz 11 Mishap
Image Credit: 1Peluchinga
Now, here is a tragic story of three space pilots, who could have been saved if they only had been given space suits. Sounds bizarre, right? But, it is true. These astronauts were sent off into space to perform a few experiments, mostly to ascertain a person’s reaction to prolonged weightlessness.
Viktor Patsayev, Georgi Dobrovolski, and Vladislav Volkov were making their way back to Earth aboard the Soyuz 2 when they started to experience problems. A valve had blown which caused all their life-giving oxygen to expel from the craft.
They may have died within minutes from the high-altitude decompression, but a further autopsy later revealed that they suffered a great deal. Damaged eardrums due to middle ear bleeding and subcutaneous bleeding in the brain area would have caused them severe pain before their final breath was taken.
And, again, if they had had space suits on, they would have survived.
4. Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
Image Credit: NatGeo
1986 saw one of NASA’s most frightening space tragedies ever. The Space Shuttle Challenger was 72 seconds into its launch off when disaster struck.
The crew, Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, Judith Resnik and Dick Scobee must have mini heart attacks when they heard the pilot, Michael J. Smith mumble an “Uh Oh”.
Within seconds the shuttle was in flames and it turned out to be an O-Ring that weakened the fuel tank. The shuttle continued to ascend to 20,000 meters (65,000 feet) before it started to drop.
Although the shuttle broke up it would not have killed the passengers. It is very sad to know that the crew were alive right up to the moment of impact and they had to endure a frightening ride of 3,33 km (207 miles) per hour before meeting their demise.
3. Cape Canaveral SpaceX Launch Explosion
Image Credit: Chicago
Another 2016 Space Missions Failures. A rocket carrying a sattellite to be used by FaceBook exploded in the past week at Cape Canaveral launch pad. The rocket was being refueled and suddenly caught alight, exploding shortly afterwards. The cause of the explosion has not yet been revealed, but there are many dour faces at FaceBook due to the loss.
Mark Zuckerberg made a comment shortly afterwards stating his deep disappointment that his satelite had been destoryed. The satellite was to be used to provide internet connection to Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
2. Space Shuttle Columbia Tragedy
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2003 brought us another tragedy and we are happy to report it was the last space failure reported. The crewmembers, namely, Kalpana (mission specialist), Ilan Ramon (payload specialist), William C. McCool (pilot), David M. Brown (mission specialist), Rick D. Husbend (commander), Michael P. Anderson (commander) and Laurel Clark (mission specialist) were very prepared for their mission.
It is super sad to know that it was because of a small foam insulation breaking off from the tank externally that caused all the trouble.
1. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory Satellite Failure
Image Credit: Popsci.com
While there were no losses of lives in this number 1 of our failures in space mission’s entry, the intention of this OCO was commendable at best. When it comes to climate change, the best position to analyze the phenomenon is in outer space. So, the OCO was built for this purpose, so that the scientists could work out how carbon dioxide worked its way through our atmosphere.
As with a rocket launcher and satellite, they are meant to separate at a point in their journey together, but sadly these two didn’t want to part ways. This resulted in a failed mission and a crash landing into the ocean only 17 minutes following launch.
While most of these space mission failures are all in our long ago past, and we certainly do not hope to be posting too many more 2016 space missions failures still this year, we have to be very aware that it is a possibility.
Failures in space missions did seem to happen more frequently in the couple of decades since first space ventures, but since then we have learnt much and hopefully will learn more in years to come.
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