HOW TO USE THIS TOOL
The Significant Incidents & Close Calls in Human Spaceflight interactive tool is optimized for use with Firefox. To download Firefox, please visit:
GENERAL USAGE - Click or tap on any event for a pop-up with additional information. Click or tap the pop-up again to hide it.
DESKTOP TIPS - For best results, please use your browser's full screen mode:
Windows: Press F11.
Mac: Click the green Full Screen button in the upper-left corner of the browser window.
To zoom in/out:
Windows: Control-plus/minus to zoom in/out*
Mac: Command-plus/minus to zoom in/out*
TABLET/MOBILE TIPS - This site is optimized for desktops, but also functions on a tablet or phone. For best results on mobile devices, close pop-ups before repositioning the page or zooming in/out.
Source documents require Adobe Acrobat to view. Get Adobe Acrobat here:
Most of the source files contain bookmarks to help locate the relevant information.
Source documents labeled with a padlock are controlled and require NASA authentication to view.
*May cause formatting inconsistencies.
Abort Guidance System
Auxiliary Power Unit
Abort to Orbit
Russian Micropurification Unit (Russian)
Carbon Dioxide Removal System
Colony Forming Unit
Control Moment Gyroscope
Cell Performance Monitor
Compound Specific Analyzer-Combustible Products
Extravehicular Mobility Unit
Electrical Power System
Fuel Cell Monitoring System
Functional Cargo Block (Russian)
Flight Safety Office
Galley Iodine Removal Assembly
Guidance, Navigation, and Control
General Purpose Computer
Global Positioning System
Inertial Measurement Unit
International Space Station
Internal Thermal Control System
Launch Control Officer
Low Iodine Residual System
Loss of Crew
Loss of Vehicle
Minimum Duration Flight
Master Events Controller
Main Landing Gear
Micro-Meteoroid Orbital Debris
Marshall Space Flight Center
NASA Standard Initiator
Office of Safety & Mission Assurance (NASA HQ)
Protuberance Air Load
Precision Approach Path Indicator
Primary Avionics Software System
Pyrotechnic Initiator Controller
Partial Pressure of CO2
Reaction Control System/Subsystem
Remote Manipulator System
Russia or Russian
Return to Launch Site
Safety & Mission Assurance
Solid Fuel Oxygen Generator
Solid Rocket Booster
Condensate Water Processor Unit (Russian)
Space Shuttle Main Engine
Space Shuttle Program
Thermal Protection System
Loss of Crew
Crew Injury/Illness and/or Loss of Vehicle or Mission
Related or Recurring event
X-15 3-65-97 | 11/15/1967 | Crew: 1 | Loss of Crew
Electrical short and crew error led to loss of control at 230,000 feet. First U.S. spaceflight fatality.
On November 15, 1967 an electrical short and crew error led to loss of control of the X-15 at 230,000 feet. During re-entry of the vehicle, the aircraft deviated off course due to a combination of the pilot's distraction, misinterpretation of instrumentation display, and possible vertigo. An electrical disturbance that occurred early in the flight had degraded the overall effectiveness of the aircraft's control system and further added to pilot workload. The aircraft entered into a high Mach spin.
The pilot was able to break free from the spin, but the aircraft was in a high-speed inverted dive. While the aircraft was still at sufficient altitude to recover from the dive, the hand controller began forcing the horizontal stabilizers to oscillate. Because of the buffeting in the spin and dive, the pilot likely lost consciousness and the aircraft broke apart.
This was the first United States spaceflight fatality.
SpaceShipOne 14P | 5/13/2004 | Crew: 1
Flight computer unresponsive. Recovered by rebooting.
On May 13, 2004 the flight computer on SpaceShipOne became unresponsive. During the boost following the vertical part of the trajectory, the avionics display flickered and went blank. The ground displays did not show an error. The avionics display on SpaceShipOne came back on as soon as the motor shut down.
Due to the loss of avionics during the boost, the trajectory was not precise. The avionics malfunction was traced to a dimmer, a small electrical component.
SpaceShipOne 16P | 9/29/2004 | Crew: 1
Uncommanded vehicle roll. Control regained prior to apogee.
On September 29, 2004 SpaceShipOne performed a series of 60 rolls during last stage of engine burn. SpaceShipOne coasted to 103 km of altitude and successfully completed the first of two X-Prize flights. The motor was shut down when the pilot noted that his altitude predictor exceeded the required 100 km mark. During the motor burn the spacecraft began to roll uncontrollably, but the pilot continued despite advice from the ground to shut the motor down and abort the attempt.
The thin air at that altitude meant that the control surfaces didn't have enough air flowing over them, so they lost effectiveness to compensate for the roll as the spacecraft pointed nearly straight up. The pilot needed to correct the rolling that occurred because of asymmetric thrust coming from the engine.
To correct the issue for the 17P flight, the amount of allowable “down pitch trim” was limited, to avoid the negative-lift condition. The solution was to more gently turn the corner, such that a forward correction later would not be needed. Pointing straight up at burnout was determined to be acceptable, as long as negative lift was not created. This problem was corrected on SpaceShipTwo.
LANDING & POSTLANDING