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Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Price of Achievement

When you figure the years of parenting involved with raising and teaching a child, the years of helping them with homework, of their studying, reading, not to mention if they go on an attend a college or University for higher education.  Not to mention how a person matters to those around them, as far as family members, friends, wives and their children.  The cost of a trained, intelligence and productive adult human being is enormous on many levels.  So when you lose a person in the name of scientific achievement you have to consider that cost on top of all the other costs involved with research, development, parts, material and paying people to work on the project.
Chief Marshal Mitrofan Nedelin gave orders to use improper shutdown and control procedures on an experimental R-16 rocket.  The on pad repairs being done so quickly and not following protical casued the missile’s second stage engine to fire straight onto the full propellant tanks of the still attached first stage.  Marshall Nedelin was vaporized and was only identified by the remains of his uniform medals.  Somewhere between 92 to 150 top Soviet military and technical personnel were killed in the resulting explosion, toxic spill and fire.  This disaster happened on October 24, 1960 but was kept an official secret until 1989, and survivors of the incident were not allowed to discuss it until 1990.  Officially Nedelin’s death was explained by an air plane crash.  Mikhail Yangel the rockets chief designer had been trying to oust Korolev as the person responsible for the Soviet human spaceflight program.  Mikhail only survived the incident because he left to have a cigarette in a bunker that was removed from the launch pad.  He didn’t try to mess with Korolev throughout the rest of this period.
The Soviets officially covered up the March 23, 1961 death of cosmonaut Valentin Bondarenko from massive third degree burns from a fire in a high oxygen isolation test chamber.  It didn’t come out until 1986 in a series of newspaper articles in the Izvestia.  Bondarenko was 24 the youngest of the early Vostok cosmonauts.  The Soviets erased all traces of Bondarenko after his death.
The United States and the Soviet Union had been rushing at full speed on the Apollo and Soyuz programs without taking heed to due diligence and the results proved fatal to both development crews on both sides.
Command pilot “Gus” Grissom, Senior pilot Ed White and pilot Roger Chaffee, the first Apollo mission crew were killed by suffocation in a cabin fire that swept through Apollo 1 during a ground test on January 27, 1967.
On April 24, 1967, the USSR suffered the death of its first cosmonaut, Colonel Vladimir Komarov, the single pilot of Soyuz 1.  This was planned to be a three-day mission to include the first Soviet docking with an unpiloted Soyuz 2, but his mission was plagued with problems. Early on his craft lacked sufficient electrical power because only one of two solar panels had deployed.  Then the automatic attitude control system began malfunctioning and eventually failed completely, resulting in the craft spinning wildly.  Komarov was able to stop the spin with the manual system, which was only partially effective.  The flight controllers aborted his mission after only one day, and he made an emergency re-entry.  During re-entry a fault in the landing parachute system caused the primary chutes to fail, and the reserve chutes tangled together.  Komarov was killed on impact.
The launch vehicle for the Soviet Lunar missions, the N1 was unsuccessfully tested four times, exploding each time due to problems with the first stage's thirty engines.  This was why they were launching Tortoises into space instead of cosmonauts!
Other astronauts died while training for space flight, including four Americans, Ted Freeman, Elliot See, Charlie Bassett, and Clifton Williams, who all died in crashes of T-38 aircraft.  Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, met a similar fate in 1968, when he crashed in a Mig-15 jet while training for a Soyuz mission.  During the Apollo 15 mission in August 1971, the astronauts left behind a memorial in honor of all the people, both from the Soviet Union and the United States, who had perished during efforts to reach the moon. This included the Apollo 1 and Soyuz 1 crews, as well as astronauts and cosmonauts killed while in training.
In 1971, Soyuz 11 cosmonauts Georgi Dobrovolski, Viktor Patsayev and Vladislav Volkov all asphyxiated during reentry.
Lastly for the United States the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when 73 seconds into its flight it broke apart and disintegrated.  Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, and Judith Resnick all perished in the disaster.
Personal note from the author – When considering the freedom of mankind, defending our rights as defined in the Constitution, not those imagined by ignorant sophomores, you must consider the price paid through soldiers from 1776 to date in the defense and support of our liberties and rights that are granted by God, declared by our founding fathers, and paid for by our military.  The extreme cost that has already been paid to secure our freedom and liberties should never be forgotten.  Whether the tyranny is cast upon us by fellow Americans (be it businesses or politicians), or foreign powers, we must defend our liberties.  The tremendous price is the lives of our family members who have died in the line of duty for freedom, justice, and the American way.

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