Fatal Events Involving NASA Astronauts
The following events list fatal events involving NASA astronauts and astronaut trainees. Each event is a flight-related accident that occurred either during a mission, during training, or during other activities while in the U.S. astronaut program. Where appropriate, previous space mission experience is included.
- 31 October 1964 - Theodore Freeman was killed in the crash of a T-38 at Ellington AFB near Houston. The aircraft crashed after it was struck by a snow goose. The impact caused pieces of the canopy to enter both engines. He ejected, but was too low for his parachute to deploy completely.
- 28 February 1966 - Charles Basset and Elliot See, who were the prime crew for Gemini 9, were killed in the crash of a T-38 in St. Louis, MO.
- 27 January 1967 - Roger Chaffee, Virgil Grissom (Mercury 4 and Gemini 3), and Edward White (Gemini 4) were killed at Cape Kennedy during a training exercise for the Apollo 1 mission. The crew died as a result of a fire within the spacecraft cabin.
- 6 June 1967 - Edward Givens was killed in an automobile accident near Houston, TX.
- 5 October 1967 - Clifton Williams was killed in the crash of a T-38 near Tallahassee, FL.
- 28 January 1986; Space Shuttle Challenger (STS-51L): Cold launch temperatures contributed to a failure of O-rings on one of the solid rocket motors.
As a result of this failure, hot exhaust gases escaped out of the side of the solid rocket motor that in turn led to a major structural failure of the launch vehicle about 73 seconds after liftoff.
All seven crew members were killed.
The crew members were:
Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe ,
Ronald McNair (STS 41-B),
Ellison Onizuka (STS 51-C),
Judith Resnik (STS 41-D),
Francis Scobee (STS 41-C), and Michael Smith.
NASA Information on the Challenger Accident
Report on cause of death of crew
- 24 May 1986 - Stephen Thorne was killed when the Pitts Special aircraft in which he was riding crashed in Santa Fe, TX.
- 17 June 1989 - S. David Griggs (STS 51-D) was killed in a vintage WWII aircraft while practicing for an air show in Earle, AR.
- 5 April 1991 - Sonny Carter (STS 33)was killed in an airliner crash involving an Atlantic Southeast Airlines Brasilia aircraft. The crash occurred while Carter was traveling on NASA business.
- 22 May 2001 - Patricia Robertson and her flight instructor killed as a result of injuries sustained in a plane crash. She was on a training flight that was not connected with her astronaut training program.
- 1 February 2003; Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107), over northeast Texas:
Columbia was in the re-entry phase of flight after a 16-day mission and its intended destination was the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Communications with the shuttle were lost at about 9 a.m. local time.
At the time of the most catastrophic phase of the breakup, the spacecraft was at an altitude of about 203,000 feet (approx. 39 mi. or 63 km) and was traveling at about mach 18 (roughly 12,500 mph or 20,000 kph).
While most of the debris landed in northeast Texas and western Louisiana, especially the area around the town of Nacagdoches (Knack-a-doe-chess), the breakup very likely began further west, possibly before the spacecraft passed over California.
All seven astronauts on board the spacecraft were killed.
The crew members were:
Michael Anderson (STS-89), David Brown,
Kalpana Chawla (STS-87), Laurel Clark,
Rick Husband (STS-96), William McCool, and Ilan Ramon.
http://www.airsafe.com/events/space/astrofat.htm -- Revised: 2 December 2007