Since the beginning of manned space flight, 18 astronauts have died during actual missions. Given the hundreds of manned flights that have been attempted, it's amazing that so few astronauts and cosmonauts have died in space. Every precaution is taken when launching a mission with a human crew, but mistakes do happen - and can have devastating consequences.
Most space flight deaths take place either during the launch phase or re-entry. This is the most dangerous time, when huge amounts of fuel are burned, or a craft comes back into the atmosphere. The two worst disasters in space flight history, the destruction of the Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia, both took place in these critical times - leading to most of the astronauts who died in space on this list.Here are all 18 of the people who died in space - the deaths that have occurred on manned space missions.
- Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domainDied on April 24, 1967, in the re-entry crash of Soyuz 1.Vladimir Mikhaylovich Komarov (Russian: Влади́мир Миха́йлович Комаро́в, IPA: [vlɐˈdʲimʲɪr mʲɪˈxaɪləvʲɪtɕ kəmɐˈrof]; 16 March 1927 – 24 April 1967) was a Soviet test pilot, aerospace engineer, and cosmonaut. In October 1964, he commanded Voskhod 1, the first spaceflight to carry more than one crew member. He became the first cosmonaut to fly in space twice when he was selected as the solo pilot of Soyuz 1, its first crewed test flight. A parachute failure caused his Soyuz capsule to crash into the ground after re-entry on 24 April 1967, making him the first human to die in a space flight.Komarov was one of the most highly experienced and qualified candidates accepted into the first squad of... more
- Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair useDied on June 30, 1971. Suffocated in space with two other cosmonauts when a vent valve on Soyuz 11 opened as the craft was leaving space station Salyut 1.Georgy Timofeyevich Dobrovolsky (Russian: Гео́ргий Тимофе́евич Доброво́льский; June 1, 1928 – June 30, 1971) was a Soviet cosmonaut who served on the three-man crew of the Soyuz 11 spacecraft. They became the world's first space station crew aboard Salyut 1, but died in space due to asphyxiation due to an accidentally opened valve. They were the first and, as of 2019, the only humans to have died in space.... more
- Photo: Public DomainDied on June 30, 1971. Suffocated in space with two other cosmonauts when a vent valve on Soyuz 11 opened as the craft was leaving space station Salyut 1.Viktor Ivanovich Patsayev (Russian: Ви́ктор Ива́нович Паца́ев; 19 June 1933 – 30 June 1971) was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew on the Soyuz 11 mission and was part of the second crew to die during a space flight. On board the space station Salyut 1 he operated the Orion 1 Space Observatory (see Orion 1 and Orion 2 Space Observatories), he became the first man to operate a telescope outside the Earth's atmosphere. After a normal re-entry, the capsule was opened and the crew was found dead. It was discovered that a valve had opened just prior to leaving orbit that had allowed the capsule's atmosphere to vent away into space, suffocating the crew. One of Patsayev's hands was found to be bruised,... more
- Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair useDied on June 30, 1971. Suffocated in space with two other cosmonauts when a vent valve on Soyuz 11 opened as the craft was leaving space station Salyut 1.Vladislav Nikolayevich Volkov (Russian: Владисла́в Никола́евич Во́лков; November 23, 1935 – June 30, 1971) was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew on the Soyuz 7 and Soyuz 11 missions. The second mission terminated fatally.... more