This page no longer updated from 31 October 2001. Latest version can be found at www.astronautix.com

astronautix.com And you though Apollo 13 was bad...


Astronauts and especially cosmonauts have faced death squarely in the face on several occasions. Consider the following:


Re-entering with the service module still attached, covering the heat shield, with the thin aluminum crew hatch taking the brunt of the atmospheric friction...

The second stage interstage wouldn't separate, the booster began to gyrate and tear itself apart. Ground control didn't see anything wrong on their telemetry and refused to push the abort button...

The spacecraft came down on a frozen lake in a howling blizzard. The parachute dragged the craft along the ice, which threatened to give way. When the rescue parties arrived in the morning, they expected to find the crew dead...

The solar panel didn't deploy, the spacecraft was unable to line itself up for reentry. The pilot had to use the moon as a reference point for the crucial reentry procedure....

The pilot was left flying an inoperative spacecraft. The electricity had completely failed, the environmental system was no longer functioning, the guidance system was broken. He lined up for the reentry maneuver by looking out the window and eyeballing the correct spacecraft attitude, maneuvering the spacecraft using manual valves to open the propellant lines, then pushed the reentry button and hoped for the best...

The booster ignited, but there was no motion. Suddenly there was a tremendous explosion, and the crew was pulled with a 20 G acceleration from the fireball by the launch escape system. As the capsule drifted to earth in view of the pad, the launch crews could only wonder if the crew had survived...


Back to Index
Last update 12 March 2001.
Contact Mark Wade with any corrections or comments.
Conditions for use of drawings, pictures, or other materials from this site..
© Mark Wade, 2001 .