The Deadliest Space Disasters of All Time

Space travel can be one of the most thrilling experiences ever, but it comes with its fair share of terrifying risks. No doubt, the excitement of space travel can blow your mind “out of the world”, but the smallest malfunctions in a spacecraft could be tragic for the astronauts on board.

Over the years of space exploration, there have been multiple disasters related to space travel which are utterly shocking. In this post, we are compiling the most catastrophic space accidents of all time.

1. Challenger, 1968

On January 28, 1968, the space shuttle named Challenger blasted off from Cape Canaveral on its way up. However, only 1 minutes and 13 seconds after its launch, the space shuttle crashed into the Atlantic Ocean from about 50,000 feet high. Seven astronauts died on board the shuttle, among whom was Christa McAuliffe who was a schoolteacher selected to be a part of the voyage. Tragically, many of her students were watching the launch live and were shocked to see such a shocking end to their teacher’s life.

2. Apollo 1, 1967

While NASA staff were preparing to launch Neil Armstrong and his crew to the moon in the famous Apollo mission, an unfortunate incident occurred. A fire suddenly broke out in the command module of the space shuttle during a simulated launch at Cape Canaveral. Three astronauts lost their lives to the fire. A spark inside the oxygen rich chamber led to the tragic fire.

3. Soyuz 1, 1967

As the United States and Russia were racing each other on reaching the moon, the Russian mission, Soyuz 1, which aimed to reach the moon. As the Russians were rushing to beat the Americans in the space race, they launched Soyuz 1 at the experimental stage. About 9 minutes after its launch, one of the solar panels malfunctioned which cut the power supply and messed up the controls of the spacecraft. This caused Soyuz 1 to crash down to the Earth. Russian cosmonaut, Vladimir Komarov, tried to deploy the parachute before the crash but failed and his life met a tragic end.

4. Columbia, 2003

The Columbia space shuttle finished its mission and was making its way back to Earth. However, before landing on Cape Canaveral, the space shuttle suffered a severe malfunction – the shuttle’s orbiter shattered into pieces. The hot gases of the atmosphere gushed into the broken orbiter and caused one of the shuttle’s wings to break off. The space shuttle the crash landed, and all the seven astronauts were killed. After this incident, serious discussions on retiring the space shuttle program began.

5. Intelsat, 1996

This venture that led to an incident was the last time the Americans and Chinese collaborated together. In the 1990s, China entered the space race and started to test rockets. The Americans were helping them with some of their own technologies, in an effort to find lower cost solution for their products. However, in 1996, a test rocket launch called Intelsat 708 misfired and crashed into a village in the vicinity. The incident killed six people and this marked the end between American and Chinese join venture in space technologies.

Dying in space can be a terrifying and lonely experience. You barely have anybody around and you breath your last in an environment which is hostile. Astronauts might look cool from our phone screens, but it is overloaded with some deadly risks for sure.


History, “The 5 Deadliest Disasters of the Space Race”

Real Clear History, “10 Worst Space Disasters in History”

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