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Science for Kids/how many spacecraft ended like apollo 15 or was it 13?


the thing is one of my classmates have a book about space,i read it and found that some spaceships exploded going to space,how many exploded?.

In the early days of rockets and space ships, they ALL exploded.  That's how scientists learned to build them - by trying and failing, re-designing, and trying again.  But space travel has never been safe.  There are too many ways for things to go wrong.  If your car or bicycle breaks, you can almost always pull off to the side of the road and walk home.  You can't do that in space.

Famous space disasters include

Apollo 1 fire (3 astronauts burned up on the launch pad during a test.  The spacecraft caught on fire and they couldn't open the door fast enough)

Apollo 13 explosion (they made it home safely, but had to skip the planned moon landing).  An excellent movie "Apollo 13" was made about this about 10 years ago.  I recommend that you rent the movie and watch it.

Challenger (space shuttle blew up on launch.  It was a very cold day, and it was so cold that the rubber O-rings weren't flexible enough to provide a seal like they were supposed to.) Entire crew of 7 died, including a school teacher.

Columbia (space shuttle burned up on re-entry.  During launch, a piece of ice hit the wing and made a hole in the protective cover.  During re-entry, the hot atmosphere entered through the hole in the cover and burned through the wing, causing it to fall off).  Entire crew of 7 died.  

What the books and newspapers don't mention is that many more astronauts die in car crashes, motorcycle wrecks, and plane crashes than have died in space.  People who become astronauts tend to be risk-takers.  They drive too fast, take corners too quickly, and do loop-the-loops in their acrobatic airplanes.  And they crash them since they are doing risky stuff.

In addition to the US space accidents listed above, there are many more Russian (Soviet) fatal space accidents.  For many years, they were classified, so nobody outside the Soviet space program knew about them.  Now we are starting to hear about them.

Hope this answers your question.

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Sue Kayton


I can answer almost any student science question! I especially like ones involving silkworms, spacecraft and computers.


MIT graduate. Have worked as an engineer and taught science for 28 years.

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