Yesterday I wrote about the animals that had been launched into space, and the fact that most of them did not survive. That got me thinking about how many humans had died trying to go to space. The number differs, on how many humans have actually gone into space (I’ll cover that tomorrow), but at least 448 people have traveled outside our planet.
However, some people either died training to leave the Earth, or died while trying. In-flight accidents have killed 18 astronauts, in four separate incidents.
About two percent of the manned launch/reentry attempts have killed their crew, with Soyuz and the Shuttle having almost the same death percentage rates. Except for the X-15 (which is a suborbital rocket plane), other launchers have not launched sufficiently often for reasonable safety comparisons to be made.
About five percent of the people that have been launched into space have died. Twenty-two died while in a spacecraft: three on Apollo 1, one on Soyuz 1, one on X-15-3, three on Soyuz 11, seven on Challenger, and seven on Columbia. By space program, 18 NASA astronauts (4.1%) and four Russian cosmonauts (0.9% of all the people launched) died while in a spacecraft.
Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the loss of the Challenger and her crew below. I still remember that day vividly.
In comparison about 15% of every 100,000 drivers are killed each year according to the Department of Hi-way Transportation and Safety web site.
Others, such as the 3 Apollo Astronauts (Grissom, White, Chaffee) that died in a capsule fire during a test on a flight pad in 1967. Grisson and White had been in space before, it was to be Chaffee’s first trip off the Earth. This tragedy happened 45 years ago on the 27th.
It seems that January has not been a good month for space travel.
Wikipedia has a complete list of everyone that died trying to reach for the stars.
I remember laying in our family room glued to the TV, watching Neil Armstrong step on the moon. I had never seen Walter Cronkite get that emotional ever. Not even when he said his final “Goodnight.”
I have a great appreciation for all those men and women that have paved the way for our future and salute them all. Their bravery insures a brighter future for us all, and I thank you.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +