8. Apollo 12 Twice Struck by Lightning
They say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but the crew of the Apollo 12 might disagree.
Thirty-six seconds after takeoff, three of the five cells providing fuel to the spcecraft were knocked offline when a bolt of lightning struck the ship. This caused the reserve battery power to take over.
Then at 52 seconds after launch, lightning struck again! This strike caused the onboard guidance to fail.
There was some permanent damage, such as temperature sensors on the Lunar Module being rendered useless, but luckily the fuel cells regained power after just a few minutes.
After this rocky and terrifying start, the crew was able to make sure it was all a go and headed for the moon.
9. Soyuz 18A Emergency Launch
Oleg Makarov and Vasili Lazarev were manning the Soyuz 18A all set to rendezvous with Salyut 4. However, in the process of second-third stage separation, the third stage did not succeed in separating from the second stage. However, it still ignited. The crew insisted abort procedures be implemented.
The rocket had veered off course and was accelerating towards earth.
Soyuz finally was separated with the help of ground control command, but the spacecraft was traveling at 192 Km by then. The men endured a reentry of 20.6+ G. Their capsule landed in the Altai mountains, then careened down a mountainside, and luckily was caught in bushes that were located at the edge of a cliff.
Within an hour they were discovered by Russian locals. This flight was quite the eventful 21 minutes and 27 seconds. Lazarev had internal injuries as a result of the higher than normal Gs upon reentry and subsequent somersaulting down the mountain. He never flew another mission.
Any venture into space comes with a fair amount of risk. The brave souls who do the job know this and do it anyway. That is the essence of why they are heroes to us all.
The next disaster on our list is The Apollo Soyuz Test Project. This project was the first joint venture between the United Stars and the Soviet Union. It was an experiment meant to dock an Apollo module with the Soyuz 19.
It was all going swimmingly until Apollo’s descent. Toxic nitrogen tetroxide gas began to enter the cabin for the outside of the craft, because of a switch being in the wrong position.
The crew was sent to Hawaii for two weeks of recovery after suffering from chemical induced pneumonia as the result of exposure to this harsh gas during the descent back to earth.