The world’s consciousness has been greatly aroused by the recent news announcing loss of contact with an Indian-launched spacecraft. It has brought back memories of similar incidents in the past that beyond the understable enthusiasm ended in disaster.
In this write-up, we make a list of some of those mishaps, providing insight in what happened.
The Columbia Space Shuttle
On Feb. 1, 2003, the Columbia Space Shuttle which had served the United States for 22 years exploded in space upon re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. That explosion killed the seven astronauts on board. The agency in charge, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) suspended space shuttle flights for more than two years investigated the disaster.
NASA was started on October 1, 1958, in charge of U.S. science and technology that has to do with airplanes or space.
Soyuz II was a Russian space craft manned Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev. It was the only manned mission to board the world’s first space station, Salyut 1 had not been able to enter due to latching problems. It had arrived at the space station on 7 June 1971 and departed on 29 June, but the mission ended in disaster when the crew capsule depressurized during preparations for re-entry, killing the three-man crew.
The Nedelin Space Disaster
This Space Disaster occurred on 24 October 1960 at Baikonur test range during the development of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) by the Soviets. The resultant explosion killed or maimed hundreds of people. On account of the enormity of loss and prestige at stake, the Soviet authorities refused to acknowledge the extent of damage for a long time.
Voskhod 2 Spacewalk Near-Catastrophe
In March of 1965, Russian Alexey Leonov got global attention being the first human being to perform a spacewalk, The spectacle lasted for about 12 minutes, 9 seconds Leonov walked around in space, but attempting to re-enter proved challenging.
Somehow he was able to re-enter Voskhod 2, but sealing the door proved another challenge. The crew succeeded in sealing themselves off from space, but the spacecraft landed 300 miles off course, in the Siberian tundra, where rescue crews could not reach them via helicopter; it took a ski squad to do the needful but the diplomatic and political aftermaths had remained a bitter taste.
Intelsat 708 incident (February 15, 1996)
By current reckoning, China is dong very well with its space programme, relative to other powers, but it has not always been a roller coaster. At some point in the 1990s, in what is now known as the Intelsat 708 incident. Intelsat 708 telecommunications satellite was destroyed on 15 February 1996 when the Long March 3B rocket failed while being launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China.
The rocket veered off course immediately after liftoff and struck a nearby village, killing at least six people. This sparked Congress to pass some legislation that prohibited technology flowing so easily out of the United States. Corporations were fined millions of dollars. And 1996 was the last time the United States and China worked together on rocket science.
Alcântara VLS accident (August 22, 2003)
This refers to space accident involving a Brazillian Space Agency 1 launch vehicle. The rocket exploded on its launch pad at the Alcântara Launch Center, killing 21 people. This was the third attempt by the Brazilian Space Agency to launch the VLS rocket into space.
Smoke from the jungle fire that was started by the explosion could be seen from hundreds of miles away.
Plesetsk launch pad disaster
This refers to the explosion of a Vostok-2M rocket carrying a Tselina-D satellite during fueling at Site 43 of the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Mirny on 18 March 1980, two hours and fifteen minutes before the intended launch time.
44 people were killed in the initial fire and four more soon died in the hospital from burns. The authorities however announced its success to the Soviet people, and nobody knew about the death toll until, until much later.
Initially designated AS-204, was the first crewed mission of the United States of America, with intention to land men in the moon. It was to launch on February 21, 1967, but the mission never flew, due to a cabin fire.It claimed the lives of Apollo 1’s three crew members