In the space thriller “Gravitation”, viewers are faced with a terrifying prospect of space shuttle disasters and flying an astronaut in an airless space. The film began in October with a record: 55.6 million dollars in fees for the weekend. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in the role of astronauts are suspended in nowhere after the space debris (which is in orbit a dime a dozen) breaks down their apparatus. But this is a film.
A spectacular image of a space disaster in “Gravitation” may be fictional, but the potential for death and destruction in space is far from being fully disclosed, says Allan J. MacDonald, a NASA engineer.
“This is an extremely dangerous occupation,” says McDonald.
Including similar to the one that was in “Gravitation”. Everything, as you like: with victims, with a tiny metal and tears of loved ones and relatives. Not in a Hollywood performance.
The first fatal crash in space fell to the share of Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov: the Soyuz-1 capsule fell on the Russian land in 1967. Sources in the KGB (Starman, 2011, Walker & Co.) say that Komarov and others knew that the capsule would crash, but the Soviet leadership ignored their warnings.
Different points of view agree that the cause of the accident was a defective parachute. The audio recordings of the last talks of the cosmonaut with the ground control indicate that the cosmonaut “yelled violently” at the engineers, who were accused of malfunctioning the spacecraft.
Cosmonauts of Soyuz-11 Viktor Patsayev, Georgy Dobrovolsky and Vladislav Volkov are being tested on a flight simulator NASA.
The Soviet space program first (and so far only) collided with death in space in 1971, when cosmonauts George Dobrovolsky, Viktor Patsayev and Vladislav Volkov died during the return to Earth from the space station Salyut-1. Their device “Soyuz-11” made an ideal landing, as in the textbook, in 1971. Therefore, the rescue team was surprised to find three people dead, sitting on couches, with dark blue spots on their faces, and blood dripped from the nose and ears.
The investigation showed that the vent valve had burst, and the cosmonauts had suffocated. The collapse of the pressure condemned the team to death from the cosmic vacuum – and they became the only human beings ever faced with such a fate. People died within a few seconds after the rupture of the valve, which occurred at an altitude of 168 kilometers, and became the first and as long as the last astronauts who died in space. As the capsule moved along an automatic landing program, the ship was able to sit without live pilots.
6. The Catastrophe of the Challenger
Members of the Challenger team: astronauts Michael J. Smith, Francis R. Skobie and Ronald E. McNair, Allison S. Onizuka, loading specialists Sharon Crystal McAuliffe and Gregory Jarvis, and Judith A. Reznik.
NASA completed the era of “Apollo” without fatal incidents during space missions. The series of successes abruptly ended on January 28, 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger exploded right in front of numerous viewers at the TV screens, shortly after the launch. The launch attracted a lot of attention because for the first time a teacher entered the orbit. Promising to teach from space, Krista McAuliffe attracted a million audience of schoolchildren.
The catastrophe hurt the nation, says James Hansen, a space historian at the University of Obera.
“That’s what makes Challenger unique”, he said, – “We saw it. We have seen that it will continue to happen”.
A noisy investigation showed that the O-ring was spoiled because of the low temperature on the launch day. NASA knew this could happen. The accident led to technical and cultural changes in the agency and suspended the development of the shuttle program until 1988.
5. Tragedy of space shuttle Columbia
The Columbia shuttle re-entered the atmosphere and collapsed.
Seventeen years after the Challenger tragedy, the shuttle program collided with yet another loss when the space shuttle Columbia collapsed when it entered the atmosphere on February 1, 2003, at the end of the STS-107 mission.
Investigation showed that the cause of the destruction of the shuttle was a piece of heat insulation of the oxygen tank, damaged the thermal insulation of the wing during the start. Seven crew members may have survived the first shuttle damage, but quickly lost consciousness and died while the shuttle continued to crash around them. Catastrophe shuttle “Columbia”, according to McDonald, unfortunately, repeats the mistakes of the era of “Challenger”, and some detail is left without attention.
Next year, President George W. Bush announced the closure of the shuttle program.
4. The fire of Apollo 11
Astronauts (from left to right) Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chuffey are posing in front of the 34th starting complex.
Although no astronauts in space were lost during the Apollo mission, two fatal incidents occurred during the preparation for the flights. The Astronauts of Apollo 1 Gus Grissom, Edward White II and Roger Chuffey died as a result of the “non-dangerous” ground tests of the command module on January 27, A fire broke out in the cockpit and three astronauts gasped before their bodies swept through the flames.
The investigation revealed several errors, including the use of pure oxygen in the cockpit, the flammable Velcro Velcro and the opening hatch that left the crew trapped. Before the test, the astronauts expressed concern about the cabin and posed in front of the apparatus.
As a result of the accident, Congress conducted investigations that could cancel the Apollo program, but ultimately led to the design and procedural changes that favorably affected future missions, Hansen said.
“If the fire did not happen, many people say that we would not have reached the Moon,” he says.
3. “Apollo 13”: “Houston, we have a problem”
Astronaut John L. Svigert Jr., the pilot of the Apollo 13 command module, is holding a tool in a hurry, which the astronauts of Apollo 13 have built to use the canisters with lithium hydroxide in the command module to purge the lunar module from carbon dioxide of gas.
The program “Apollo” owes its success, in particular, thanks to the ingenious actions that prevented the catastrophe. In 1966, the agency successfully docked the Gemini-8 spacecraft to the target transport, but Gemini entered the uncontrolled rotation. The rotation speed of one revolution per second could lead to the fact that astronauts Neil Armstrong and David Scott lose consciousness. Fortunately, Armstrong corrected the situation by disabling the faulty main engine and taking control of the engines to enter a dense atmosphere.
In 1995, a film called “Apollo 13” was released, based on a real case on the spacecraft of the same name, which could leave astronauts in an airless space. The oxygen tank exploded, damaged the service module and made it impossible to land on the moon. To get to the house, the astronauts used the principle of the slingshot, dispersing the ship with the help of the gravity of the Moon and sending it to the Earth. After the explosion, the astronaut Jack Swigert relayed the phrase “Houston, we had a problem” on the radio to the flight control. In the film, the catch phrase goes to Jim Lowell, played by Tom Hanks, and sounds in a slightly modified version: “Houston, we have a problem.”
2. Lightning and wolves Apollo 12
The bright sun shines above the base of “Apollo-12” on the surface of the Moon. One of the astronauts goes away from the lunar module Intrepid.
Both NASA and the USSR / Russia have encountered several interesting, though not catastrophic, events. In 1969, lightning struck in one spacecraft twice, at 36 and 52 seconds after the launch of “Apollo-12”. The mission went smoothly.
In connection with the 46-second delay caused by the cramped cabin, cosmonauts Alexei Leonov and Pavel Belyaev on the Voskhod-2 spacecraft slightly missed the point of re-entering the dense atmosphere. The device crashed into the forests of the Upper Kama region, replete with wolves and bears. Leonov and Belyaev spent the night, almost freezing, squeezing the pistol in case of an attack (which did not happen).
1. “What if?” Nixon’s speech on “Apollo 11”
Snapshot-collage of caller President Richard M. Nixon and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin after their legendary landing on the moon on July 20, 1969.
Perhaps the most stunning cosmic catastrophes have never happened – except in the minds of carefully planned people. History remembers a potential catastrophe thanks to a speech written for President Richard Nixon, in case the astronauts of Apollo 11 Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong are stuck on the Moon during the first manned landing on the Earth satellite.
The text reads: “It is destined that men who have gone peacefully to explore the Moon will rest in peace on the Moon.”
“If it happened, the future of space flights and the perception of the public could be very different from the current one”, says Hansen.
“If we, on Earth, thought of dead bodies on the surface of the moon… the specter of it would haunt us. Who knows, maybe it led to the closure of the space program. ”
Well, it’s hard to say at what price NASA would have given missions to Venus and Mars if they could be realized.