4.X-15 Flight 191
Experimental aircraft have been developed and tested since the inception of the space program. They are always striving to develop aircraft that can handle high altitudes. The X-15 was a hypersonic, rocket powered craft that was known for its record for altitude and speed.
Michael J. Adams was tasked with a test flight of this amazing machine.
He launched the X-15 from the underside of a mothership, NB-52B from 45,000 feet up.
All seemed to be going perfectly, then there was an electrical disturbance. This caused the aircraft’s controls to mess up and Adams couldn’t gain control of the X-15 again. 10 minutes and 35 seconds after launch, it was obliterated, taking Adams’ life in the process.
5. Gemini 9
The Gemini program was one of NASA’s big programs in the 1960s, and Gemini 9 was to be the 7th manned mission of the chain. Elliot See and Charles Bassett were to complete the mission.
Before they could ever man the shuttle, however, they were both killed while on the way to St. Louis in their T-38 trainer jet. Bad weather and poor visibility were the cause of the crash.
The mission was carried out by backups, Thomas P. Stanford and Eugene Cernan, but all tasks could not be done due to some difficulties with the technology.
6. Apollo 13
Apollo 13 is one of the more well known space disasters thanks to the movie starring Tom Hanks that depicts it. It was to be the third shuttle to make a moon landing.
The story of how these astronauts survived this ordeal is amazing. It seemed doomed from the start.
A center engine cut off two minutes too early at the start of the flight and that was just the beginning. Fifty-six hours later, the crew heard a huge noise in the command module. The oxygen tanks dropped to zero and the fuel cells had shut down.
Miraculously, the crew were able to make it back to earth unscathed, a few days later, 6 days after they left for their mission. They used the Lunar Module as a lifeboat, effectively aborting the lunar landing mission.
7. Soyuz 5 Failed Separation
The mission of Soyuz 5 was a complicated undertaking to say the least. They were to attempt the docking of two manned spacecraft, the first attempt of its kind, and transfer crews between the two ships.
Commander Boris Volynov was tasked to dock Soyuz 5 with Soyuz 4 and, with a spacewalk, flight engineers Yevgeny Kharkov and Aleksei Yeliseyev were to transfer from one spacecraft to the other.
They completed this objective and Volynov stayed on the Soyuz 5 preparing for reentry. This part didn’t go so well. The service module didn’t separate, which made the shuttle go into a nosedive as it hurtled through the high temperatures of the airstream.
He was saved from his imminent demise when the service module finally came off and he was able to arrive safely in the corrected descent module.