On this day……44 years ago, Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov died in the world’s first fatal space accident. A new kind of spacecraft was being used and it ran into a number of problems, culminating in the parachute failing to open properly on re-entry so that the capsule crashed into the ground.
The world’s deadliest space accidents both involved the American Space Shuttle. Challenger was destroyed 73 seconds after lift-off at Cape Canaveral on January 28, 1986. A faulty seal allowed hot gasses to escape causing the craft to break up in mid air, killing all seven people on board. Fragments are still occasionally washed ashore in Florida.
Seventeen years later, on February 1, 2003, Columbia was lost on re-entry at the end of a two-week mission. A piece of insulation foam had broken away during launch and damaged the shuttle’s left wing. It broke up over Texas, and all seven crew members were killed, including the first Israeli in space.