How Many Fatalities Have Occurred During Space-Related Missions?

fact-finder | Student

The 14 astronauts and cosmonauts listed below died in space-related accidents.

Date Astronaut/Cosmonaut Mission
January 27, 1967 Roger Chaffee (U.S.) Apollo I1
January 27, 1967 Edward White II (U.S.) Apollo 1
January 27, 1967 Virgil "Gus" Grissom (U.S.) Apollo 1
April 24, 1967 Vladimir Komarov (U.S.S.R.) Soyuz 1
June 29,1971 Viktor Patsayev (U.S.S.R.) Soyuz 11
June 29,1971 Vladislav Volkov (U.S.S.R.) Soyuz 11
June 29, 1971 Georgi Dobrovolsky (U.S.S.R.) Soyuz 11
January 28, 1986 Gregory Jarvis (U.S.) STS 51L
January 28, 1986 Christa McAuliffe (U.S.) STS 51L
January 28, 1986 Ronald McNair (U.S.) STS 51L
January 28, 1986 Ellison Onizuka (U.S.) STS 51L
January 28, 1986 Judith Resnik (U.S.) STS 51L
January 28, 1986 Francis Scobee (U.S.) STS 51L
January 28, 1986 Michael Smith (U.S.) STS 51L


Chaffee, Grissom, and White died in a cabin fire during a ground test of Apollo 1. Komarov was killed in Soyuz 1 when the capsule's parachute failed. Dobrovolsky, Patsayev, and Volkov were killed during the Soyuz 2's reentry into the Earth's atmosphere, when a valve accidentally opened and the air in the capsule escaped. Jarvis, McAuliffe, McNair, Onizuka, Resnik, Scobee, and Smith died when the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift-off.

In addition, 19 astronauts and cosmonauts have died of nonspace-related causes. Fourteen of these died in air crashes, four died of natural causes, and one died in an auto crash.

Sources: Astronauts and Cosmonauts Biographical and Statistical Data: Report to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives 1989, p. 447; Bali, Mrinal. Space Exploration, p. 143.

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question