Heroes of the Dream

Nova remnant M 27

The Stars, Our Origin, Our Destiny

M 27, NGC 6853, The Dumbell Nebula: A Nova Remnant of a Dead Star
Courtesy of the European Southern Observatory

All life and the Earth itself is formed of atomic elements forged in the hearts of dying stars. In their cataclysmic death throes their very substance is sprayed out into the heavens to create new worlds, new life...us.

Now, after four and a half billion years this reformed stardust is reaching back out to the stars. The modern form of the ancient science of Astronomy shows us today how the cosmic processes that gave us and our world birth also reflect our own mortality. It is said that the essence of exploration is finding new and more horrible ways to die. This seems to be a bitter truth but, nothing truly worth while is easy or cheap. Dr. Martin Luther King, that redoubtable explorer of liberty, himself said there are indeed things worth dying for. He paid this ultimate price for a Dream as precious as the one we celebrate here. In fact, the latest group of our honored heroes died expressing Dr. King's Dream as well as reaching for the stars and their own dreams in their daunting yet gloriously spectacular deaths. Indeed, the multi-ethnic crew of the Challenger is Dr. King's Dream given one of its most perfect of forms to date.

So, with the knowledge that stardust must return to stardust, and that all men and women of all races are vivified stardust, we give our highest salute to the Heroes of the Dream who have flown beyond the Veil from whence no bold explorer returns, the Undiscovered Country of Shakespeare. Like the ancient sailing ballads of old these brave men and women inspire the Muse in others who must stay behind. All Honor to the Sailors of the Black Fleet and their Noble Ships!

Soyuz 1, 1st Flight of the Soyuz Class Ship, The Ruby

Soyuz 1 Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov

April 23, 1967
Vladimir Komarov

Soyuz 11, 1st Salyut Space Station Mission, The Amber

Soyuz 11 Crew photo

June 30, 1971
Georgi Dobrovolsky
Viktor Patsayev
Vladislav Volkov

STS-25, 1st Civilian in Space Mission, The Challenger

the last Challenger crew photo

January 28, 1986
Gregory Jarvis
Mike Smith
Ellison Onizuka
Ronald McNair
Francis Scobee
Judy Resnik
Christa McAulliffe

They were the first to Join the Black Fleet, they will not be the last.

February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry at the end of mission STS-107 due to damage during ascent. The crew was Rick D. Husband, William C. McCool, David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Michael P. Anderson, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon. Husband, Chawla and Anderson were veterans. Ilan Ramon was a pilot in the Israeli Air Force.

STS-107 crew
The STS-107 crew, clockwise from top: Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla, Commander Rick Husband, Mission Specialists Laurel Clark and David Brown, Pilot Willie McCool, Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon and Payload Commander Michael Anderson.

We also cannot forget the brave souls who have died testing these dangerous Ships of the Outer Dark. Things of steel and fire, they are also forged with blood.

The Cosmonaut Training Test Fire

March 23, 1961

Valentine Bondarenko

Bonderenko dies in an Apollo 1 style flash fire in a ground based testing station facility in a 100% O2 atmosphere.

The Nedelin Disaster

October 26, 1960

Marshall Mitrofan Nedelin and 90 others die when their R16 Booster being readied for the first Soviet Mars Probe Launch explodes. Nedelin pushing his new booster fueled with deadly Nitric Acid and Hydrazine in competition with Korolev's Kerosene/LOX burning R7 booster recklessly goes out to the pad to watch operations and stays on the pad when the launch fails. He refuses to allow workers to drain the dangerous hypergolic fuel and oxidizers while the vehicle is inspected. Not wishing to appear cowardly many engineers join Nedelin and the workers on the pad. The second stage engine suddenly fires and cuts into the top of the first stage's fuel tanks causing the explosion.

The Apollo Test Fire

January 27, 1967

apollo1 crew
Left to right: Ed White
Gus Grissom
Roger Chaffee

In a full dress rehearsal of the Apollo 1 launch, due in less than two weeks, all three astronauts die in a flash fire on board their new spacecraft which is using a 100% O2 atmosphere.

The Plesetsk Disaster

March 18, 1980

50 people died when a standard R-7 (Semyorka) carrying an unmanned, military reconnaissance Vostok 8A92M satellite exploded on the pad several minutes after it had failed to ignite when the launch signal had been given. A small inspection team had been ordered out onto the pad. After the Soviet collapse in 1990, the R-7, Semyorka continues to launch many C.I.S. (Commonwealth of Independent States) space missions. The C.I.S. was formed in December of 1991.

Honoring those who gave their all to make spaceflight possible

Twenty-two+ have died while in a spacecraft:

launchpad accidents have killed at least 71 ground personnel.

?? / ?? 150X? Wan Hu's pioneering spacecraft was built around a sturdy chair, two kites and 47 gunpowder-filled rockets Wan was killed during test flight.

May 17, 1930 Berlin, Germany Max Valier killed by rocket engine explosion

October 10, 1933 Germany 3 die in Explosion in rocket manufacturing room of Tiling

July 16, 1934 Kummersdorf, Germany 3 die in Ground test engine explosion

1940s Germany Thousands of Slave Laborers die while assembling V2 rockets due to poor work conditons

1944? Tuchola Forest, German-occupied Poland 7 die when an A4-rocket crashes at a test launch in a trench. Several soldiers who were in the trench were killed

Oct 23-24, 1960 90 Russians & Field Marshal Mitrofan Nedelin died at the Soviet rocket-launching site near Tyura Tam accident in 1960

March 23, 1961 Cosmonaut Valentin Bondarenko Died of 3d degree burns in Oxygen Rich Pressure Chamber

April 14, 1964 Cape Canaveral, USA Orbiting Solar ObservatoryDelta rocket ignited in assembly room, killing 3 technicians and injuring 9 others. The ignition was caused by a spark of static electricity

May 7, 1964 Braunlage, West Germany 3 killed Mail rocket built by Gerhard Zucker exploded and debris hit crowd of spectators

July 2, 1964 Cape Canaveral, USA Oscar Simmons falls from the 46th floor of the Vehicle Assembly Building during construction

October 31, 1964 Theodore Freeman, one of the "Astronaut Group 3" recruits from 1963, died in a T-38 training accident (bird strike, flameout)

August 3, 1965 Cape Canaveral, USA Lightning killed Albert J. Treib on launch pad B of Launch Complex 39

February 18, 1966 Grigori Grigoyevich Nelyubov Former Cosmonaut Struck by train.

February 28, 1966 Elliott See and Charles Bassett were killed in a T-38 accident when their aircraft crashed into McDonnell Building 101 on a foggy day. They were originally slated to be the crew of Gemini 9. Bassett was another Group 3 recruit, whereas See was an Astronaut Group 2 recruit from 1962.

* January 27, 1967 Virgil Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee were in the Apollo 1 capsule for a ground test when a short circuit ignited flammable materials in the pressurized pure-oxygen atmosphere. The astronauts died of carbon monoxide poisoning before ground crews could reach them. Grissom, one of the "Mercury Seven" astronauts, had flown twice before. White conducted the first US spacewalk on Gemini 4. Chaffee, a rookie, was a Group 3 recruit.

* April 24, 1967 Vladimir Komarov (Soyuz 1 re-entry parachute failure)

* June 6, 1967 Edward Givens (automobile accident)

* October 5, 1967 Clifton Williams died in a T-38 training crash. Another Group 3 recruit, he was in the Apollo astronaut rotation, and would have been on the crew of Apollo 12. He was also memorialized by a fourth star on the official Apollo 12 mission badge. Alan Bean, who took Williams's seat on Apollo 12, is rumored to have left Williams's astronaut wings on the moon as a token of his sacrifice.

* November 15, 1967 Michael J. Adams died in an X-15 crash. He was not a NASA astronaut recruit, but made the memorial by virtue of having earned the Astronaut Badge in the X-15 program. He was also in the United States Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory program.

* December 8, 1967 Robert H. Lawrence, Jr. died, when the F-104 he was testing crashed and his ejection seat parachute failed to open. He was in the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program at the time, and March 27, 1968 Yuri Gagarin (, his MiG-15 jet trainer crashed while he prepared for the Soyuz 3 mission)

June 30, 1971 Georgi Dobrovolski (Soyuz 11 re-entry pressurization failure)

June 30, 1971 Viktor Patsayev (Soyuz 11 re-entry pressurization failure)

June 30, 1971 Vladislav Volkov (Soyuz 11 re-entry pressurization failure)

June 26, 1973 Plesetsk Cosmodrome, USSR 9 die during Launch explosion of Cosmos-3M rocket

March 18, 1980 Plesetsk Cosmodrome, USSR 48 die during Explosion while fueling up a Vostok rocket booster

March 19, 1981 Cape Canaveral, USA John Gerald Bjornstad, and Forrest Cole die of Anoxia during preparations for STS-1

* January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds after liftoff on mission STS-51-L. All seven crew members - Francis "Dick" Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ronald McNair, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, and Christa McAuliffe - died. Scobee, McNair, Resnik and Onizuka had flown before. McAuliffe was participating via the Teacher in Space Project.

April 5, 1991 M. L. "Sonny" Carter died in the crash of Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 2311. Carter was a passenger traveling on NASA business. He had flown on STS-33 and was in training for STS-42 at the time.

January 26, 1995 Xichang, China 6+ die Long March rocket veered off course after launch [1]

May 5, 1995 Guiana Space Centre, French Guyana 2 die of Anoxia; Luc Celle and Jean-Claude Dhainaut died due to a major nitrogen leak during an inspection in the umbilical mast of the launchpad

February 14, 1996 Xichang, China 56+ Intelsat 708 Satellite. Long March rocket veered off course 2 seconds after launch, crashing in the nearby village and destroying 80 houses, according to the official Chinese count, killing 56 people, but with U.S. defense intelligence officials estimating 200 dead.

October 1, 2001 Cape Canaveral, USA Crane operator Bill Brooks was killed in an industrial accident at Launch Complex 37

October 15, 2002 Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia A Soyuz-U exploded 29 seconds after launch, killing a soldier, Ivan Marchenko, and injuring 8 others. Fragments of the rocket started a forest fire nearby, and a Block D strap-on booster caused damage to the launchpad

August 22, 2003 Alcantara, Brazil 21 killed in Explosion of an unmanned VLS-1 VO3 rocket during launch preparations

February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry at the end of mission STS-107 due to damage during ascent. The crew was Rick D. Husband, William C. McCool, David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Michael P. Anderson, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon. Husband, Chawla and Anderson were veterans. Ilan Ramon was a pilot in the Israeli Air Force.

February 1, 2003: Helicopter crash: A search and rescue helicopter involved in searching for debris following the disintegration of the Space Shuttle Columbia crashed, killing Jules F. Mier Jr. and Charles Krenek, and injuring three others.

July 26, 2007 Eric Dean Blackwell, Charles Glen May and Todd Ivens, died due to an explosion at a Scaled Composites rocket test stand at Mojave Airport

"If you can't take a little bloody nose maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed.
It's not safe out here.
It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross,
but it's not for the timid."

Q to Picard

Star Trek: The Next Generation


Last rev: August 30, 2009 -- counter