Disasters and Accidents in Manned Space Fight

David Shayler

Disasters and Accidents in Manned Space Fight
"If we die, we want people to accept it. We're in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life."

Gus Grissom, Commander of Apollo 1

"Here is the first detailed examination of major space accidents and disasters in 40 years of flight history. The book is based on information obtained from personal interviews with astronauts and cosmonauts, research from NASA archives, and recently uncovered Russian data.

"Since Glasnost and the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991, access to archives from Soviet space history has revealed new details of accidents and disasters from the early years of the Soviet Space Programme. The text provides a comparison of stages of a spaceflight that can result in accident or disaster, from training and launch through to landing. It also includes a review on near-miss accidents in each area and a listing of accident fatalities throughout the history of spaceflight exploration, from the 1930s through to the 1990s. David Shayler concludes this authoritative work with a look at safety elements for the International Space Station and crewed missions to the moon and Mars."

Born in Birmingham, England in May 1955, David Shayler was already drawing rockets by the age of five, and throughout the 1960s, he followed TV science fiction programmes such as Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds and the original Star Trek.

Dave's earliest memories of the real space programme were of a memorial service at school for the Apollo 1 astronauts, who were killed in January 1967, and of the TV transmissions from Apollo 7 in October 1968. It was at about this time that he revealed to his parents that he wanted to write a space book, visit America to meet the astronauts, and walk on the moon. Thirty years later, the first two of these goals have been achieved many times over, and the third could be a lot closer.

It was the televised launch of Apollo 8 at Christmas 1968 that finally saw the excitement of space exploration take a firm hold and, having watched the mission unfold over the holiday season, Dave began to seriously study the programme to land men on the moon and the early Soyuz flights of the Soviet Union. During a holiday in Devon, England, Dave stayed up all night with his grandfather to watch the Apollo 11 moonwalk in July 1969. After this historic event, the study of human exploration of space became more than just a hobby, and Dave's first letters to the astronauts were written that summer. Recording the lives and careers of the NASA astronauts (and, later, the Soviet cosmonauts) - the human element of the programmes - was, and still is, Dave's main interest, along with collecting documentation on the missions, hardware and programmes that took the first humans beyond the atmosphere.

Dave's career as a space historian ran alongside a normal working life, but its growth began in earnest with the publication of his first newspiece in the British Interplanetary Society magazine SPACEFLIGHT, in 1976, This was followed by a full article in the same magazine in 1977, and a series of papers in 1978. Over the next two decades, Dave became a regular contributor to BIS publications and meetings and rose from a Member to a Fellow of the BIS.

On his first visit to the Johnson Space Center in 1988, all this background work and contacts paid off, with a three-week research trip to the astronaut training complex and the NASA archives at Rice University. Dave interviewed several astronauts, plus NASA trainers and managers, and toured the Shuttle and Space Station training facilities, including a tour inside the Shuttle 1G simulator.

In December 1998, Dave celebrated 30 years of study of the human space exploration programme with his tenth trip to the US in as many years to witness the homecoming of the first International Space Station Crew. At the start of the new millenium, Dave's enthusiasm for recording the development of human ventures into space is as fresh as it was three decades ago.

Mike and Dave Shayler's website.

Table of Contents

Extent: xxvii + 500 pages
Binding: paperback
Publication Date: May 2000
ISBN: 978-1-85233-225-9

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