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Space History
Part 3: Space Disasters

Columbia - February 1, 2003
Tribute by Shrox Rocketry to the Columbia shuttle and crew.

We continue here with more space history with a look at disasters and tragedies in space.

The recent Shuttle Columbia tragedy unfortunately reminds us of the sacrifices made for the cause of space exploration. Space programs have been national causes with the astronauts and cosmonauts closely held by the public as heros. When a disaster occurs that leads to the deaths of space explorers, it becomes a cause of national mourning.

Here we provide resources about some of the worst disasters in space history.

Space Shuttle Children's Trust Fund

February 1, 2003

Martian hills dedicated to fallen Columbia crew - Spaceflight Now- Feb.2.04
(Flying Over the Columbia Hills of Mars - Astronomy Picture of the Day - May.19.08)

Columbia by Eric Johnson:

Guitarist Eric Johnson wrote a tribute song to the Columbia crew for his album Bloom from 2005.


Read about the song here: Eric Johnson’s NASA Tone - Premier Guitar March 2008.

Here is a cover of the song by another (unnamed) guitarist.


January 28, 1986

Craters on Moon named after Challenger astronaut s
Challenger Astronauts Memorialized on the Moon - LROC News System - Jan.28.11
(Larger size version)


The landing site for the Mars Opportunity rover was named the
"Challenger Memorial Station" in honor of the Challenger crew. Larger Image
Space Shuttle Challenger Crew Memorialized on Mars - NASA JPL - Jan.28.04

Stephen Kay wrote this song to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Shuttle Challenger disaster. He also created the website - The Challenger 25th Anniversary Tribute Song - which provides the story behind the song, the lyrics and more.

Soviet Space Disasters

Spacecraft Deaths
(via Spaceflight Now):

  • Apollo 1, 01/27/67: Launch pad fire

    Commander Virgil "Gus" Grissom
    Edward White
    Roger Chaffee

  • Soyuz 1, 04/24/67: Re-entry parachute failure

    Vladimir Komarov

  • Soyuz 11, 06/29/71: Capsule depressurization during entry

    Georgy Dobrovolsky
    Viktor Patsayev
    Vladislav Volkov

  • Challenger, STS-51L: 01/28/86: Booster failure during launch

    Commander Francis "Dick" Scobee
    Pilot Michael Smith
    Mission Specialist Judith Resnik
    Mission Specialist Ronald McNair
    Mission Specialist Ellison Onizuka
    Payload Specialist Gregory Jarvis (private sector engineer)
    Spaceflight Participant Christa McAuliffe (school teacher)

  • Columbia, STS-107: 02/01/03: Left wing plasma intrusion during entry

    Commander Rick Husband
    Pilot William McCool
    Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla
    Mission Specialist Laurel Clark
    Mission Specialist Michael Anderson
    Mission Specialist David Brown
    Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon (Israel)

Other Disasters and Failures

Martian landmarks dedicated to Apollo 1 crew - Spaceflight Now - Jan.27.04
See also this view from orbit.


The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey
NewSpace Watch at NSG





Disasters and Accidents in Manned Spaceflight
David Shayler - 2000
Amazon: US UK

Lost Spacecraft:
The Search for Liberty Bell 7

Curt Newport - 2002
Amazon: US UK

Challenger's Shadow: Did Government and Industry Management Kill Seven Astronauts?
John C. Macidull, Lester E. Blattner - 2002
Amazon: US UK 
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