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Fraser
2003-Aug-23, 02:53 AM
SUMMARY: At least 16 people were killed and 20 injured when a rocket exploded at the Brazilian Alcantara Launch Center. One of the VLS-3 rocket's engines is believed to have caught on fire, triggering an explosion that caused the launch pad to collapse. The two research satellites atop the rocket were also destroyed. This disaster is just the latest in a series of setbacks which have plagued the Brazilian rocket launch program - two rockets in 1997 and 1999 had to be destroyed shortly after take off.


Comments or questions about this story? Feel free to share your thoughts.

KB3HTS
2003-Aug-23, 03:20 AM
That's so horrible! :(
Doesn't this also mean the Brazilians have had more loss of life in their space program that has yet to lift off then the US has had since its program's conception?
Yvette

Fraser
2003-Aug-23, 04:15 AM
Not quite. Challenger + Columbia + Apollo 1 makes 17. I'm pretty sure there were some other accidents on the ground. Still, it's a brutal setback; my heart goes out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.

Fraser
2003-Aug-23, 04:17 AM
Well, the death count is confirmed at 21 now - Brazilian officials believe they've found most of the bodies. :-(

bfoz
2003-Aug-23, 04:23 AM
Originally posted by fraser@Aug 22 2003, 09:15 PM
Not quite. Challenger + Columbia + Apollo 1 makes 17. I'm pretty sure there were some other accidents on the ground. Still, it's a brutal setback; my heart goes out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.
There have been several astronauts killed during training accidents as well, but I forget how many, maybe half a dozen or so. And of course Pete Conrad was killed riding a motorcycle a few years back, but I'm not sure if that counts.

Arramon
2003-Aug-23, 08:02 AM
And still we keep going...

Question is... how many humans does that make for the exploration of space, and all the trial and error contained therein?

My condolences to the families... and the coworkers...

. ..-={A}=-.. .

Locke
2003-Aug-23, 05:10 PM
My sympathies to the family and friends of the victims. I think that we need to invest in a safer, and more effeicient system then the rocket. If it works we'll be a whole lot better of now than before, won't we?

Locke

imported_Voyager
2003-Aug-23, 05:46 PM
I agree. The space program should invest in safer more effecient ways like 'Ion Drive'. My heart also goes to the families of the victims.

rocketa
2003-Aug-23, 06:04 PM
Terrible tragedy.

The amount of energy it takes to loft objects into orbit is immense. The thrust is very high and has to exceed the total weight of the vehicle by a good margin. Ion propulsion just can't hack it for a launch vehicle. It is a good propulsion sytem for objects in space as it produces tiny amounts of thrust but for hours or years even.

There just is currently no substitute for rocket propulsion. If it were discovered today, it would take years to make it work on the scale necessary to put thousands of pound into space (presumably, based on some physical means).

So we are stuck with the handling of humongous amounts of reactive propellants which creates a vast risk of extreme danger if something goes wrong.

There is a learning curve in rocket propulsion. That curve has a large inflection in it right now because of the very long duration between the last active period and now. During that long period most of the original rocketeers have retired or are now deceased. Their experience did not get transferred because there was little or no new work in propulsion during that period.

Thor, Titan, Atlas all had drastic failures early on. The problems were discovered and fixed so now they are relatively safe vehicles. That is why new projects are probably more dangerous now.


I just heard about a static test run this year that was attended by a seasoned rocketeer. He watched several new rocketeers perform dangerous tasks over and over without the appropriate safety precautions. In trying to set them straight, he was ignored. It is sad but not to wonder why tragedies are happening now. A compromise will end in amazing destruction when such power is misused.

imported_Tintin
2003-Aug-24, 04:16 AM
A terrible thing to ask at this moment ...

Has anyone seen the pictures of the Nedelin disaster of 1960 ? Are the films of it available anywhere ?

philip slater
2003-Aug-24, 04:28 AM
Yes, once again, another terrible tragedy to confront and overcome.

Terrible for all those friends and relatives and also for their colleagues who shared their commitment to Brazil's admirable ambitions in space.

Terribly sad for all of us who would have liked to see a safe and successful launch

As with Columbia and all the other losses mentioned, and the Russian losses including the person killed in the recent accident at one of the launch pads that constitute our only current link with the ISS, the words of a poet from much more dangerous times than these comes to mind:

No man is an Island, entire of itself
Every man is a part of the Continent, a part of the main .........
Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind
And therefore never send to ask for whom the bell tolls
It tolls for thee.

John Donne (1571? - 1631)



When the names and more of what happened is known, perhaps Fraser could be asked to send condolences on behalf of all involved in UT forums to the relatives via the head of the Brazilian space programme.

What can be done to improve safety?
I just heard about a static test run this year that was attended by a seasoned rocketeer. He watched several new rocketeers perform dangerous tasks over and over without the appropriate safety precautions. In trying to set them straight, he was ignored.
(Rocketa, above)

One thought is that yet more thought and effort be devoted by people in the independent space sector to attempting to find ways of communicating with the folk incarcerated or entrenched within government space programmes around the world.

Lots of points already made in this thread call for serious thought and discussion, which can get under way as soon as Admiral Gehman's Columbia Enquiry Committee finishes it's work and presents it's report.

Meanwhile, courage, mes enfants.

Philip

imported_Voyager
2003-Aug-25, 12:18 AM
Originally posted by Tintin@Aug 24 2003, 04:16 AM
A terrible thing to ask at this moment ...

Has anyone seen the pictures of the Nedelin disaster of 1960 ? Are the films of it available anywhere ?
Yes, i've seen films and pictures on the history channel I think. But i'm not sure where to get them.

philip slater
2003-Aug-25, 01:46 AM
Voyager says:

Yes, i've seen films and pictures on the history channel I think. But i'm not sure where to get them.

The Sorok Pervaya Ploshadka (Site 41) disaster at Tyuratam in the old USSR back in October 1960 was surely the worst ever launch attempt tragedy. Communist Party Boss Nikita Kruschev was pushing to get the R-16 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile into service and test fire it by the anniversary of the red revolution.

Every corner was cut in design and testing and normal launch safety procedures were ignored partly because of the presence and attitude of top brass, and around a hundred people, including Soviet Marshall of Artillery Mitrofan Nedelin, were killed.

It was filmed. Stills from the film and what seems a very straight and full account are at Russian Space Web (http://www.russianspaceweb.com/r16_disaster.html)

Anatoly Zak, holder of the copyright on the stills, probably knows most about availability of the film.

Duane
2003-Aug-25, 04:37 PM
:( My sympathies to the collegues and families of those hurt or killed in this horrible tragedy.

Worst of all, it appears this was a case of human error. Seems one of the 3 boosters was accidentally ignited.

I am sorry to say that this is probably the end of the Brazillion space effort.

Guest_goddardrocketry
2003-Aug-27, 03:59 AM
My condolences also. Wow, what a terrible tragedy.

One other thought, there are many who have died from exposure to the rocket program. Robert Goddard had chronic lung problems that could have easily stemmed from inhaling products and biproducts of rocket propellants. How many others have possibly died from the work of advancing space exploration from our country and from others? It's not just the big accidents that take their tolls. But I agree, there is no other technology available that can put so much weight in orbit. This is rocket science! May the new generation take heed from the old to minimize future mistakes and accidents.