The Top 5 Deadliest Space Program Accidents

  Accident Date Deaths Cause
1 Tyuratam rocket: USSR.
(The Nedelin disaster)
24 Oct 1960 92 First stage upper tank explosion.
2 Plesetsk Space Center rocket: USSR. 18 Mar 1980 50 Rocket exploded on launch pad.
3 VLS-3 rocket: Alcantara base, Brazil. 22 Aug 2003 21 Fire triggers massive explosion.
4 Challenger/Columbia Space Shuttles:USA. 1 Feb 2003
28 Jan 1986
7 (each) Exploded/ broke up on re-entry.
5 Long March Rocket:
Xichang launch centre, China.
14 Feb 1996 6 Malfunction of the vehicle's inertial guidance system.
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  1. The Nedelin disaster: It took almost three decades before the Russian public found out what really happened in October of 1960. Marshall Mitrofan Nedelin (who many blame for the disaster) was reportedly sitting 15 to 20 meters away from the rocket at the time of the massive explosion.
  2. Since April 12, 1981 two NASA Space Shuttles have been destroyed in 114 missions, both with the loss of the entire crew. This adds up to a 2% death rate per astronaut per flight.
  3. The Vostok rocket is the same type of two-stage booster that was used to send the Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin into orbit in 1961.
  4. According to official Chinese sources the Chinese Long March 3B rocket carrying an Intelsat 708 satellite crashed 1850 meters away from the launch pad into a nearby mountain village destroying 80 houses and killing 6. Unofficial accounts list the death toll at more than 500.
  5. According to Brazilian sources, one of the VLC-3's four motors caught fire, triggering an explosion which caused the launchpad to collapse as technicians were carrying out final tests.
Tags: Space & The Universe, Science & Technology, Deadliest

Sources:  Top 5 of Anything research 2014.

List Notes: This list includes rocket launches, missile test launches and space shuttle missions. List last updated March 2014.
Deadliest Space Program Accidents

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