Re: Rockets failures

Philip Chien (
Thu, 10 Sep 1998 23:39:33 -0400

"Jens Lerch" <> said:

>The three (or four) launch failures in the last four weeks are one of
>the worst series of launch failures in the last decades, but there is
>no relation between them.

Actually there was a period in 1986 when it seemed like nothing could go right.

January 28th - Challenger accident, most costly rocket launch accident in

April 18 - Titan 34D accident just off the pad.  The closest the U.S. came
to killing a member of the launch crew due to a rocket failure in 30+ years.

May 3 - Delta lost carrying GOES-G.  What really hurt was the Delta was
then on one of its incredible success streaks, and the Spacecoast really
needed a morale builder after the Challenger accident.

May 30 - Ariane 2 carrying Intelsat VA - another Ariane 3rd stage failure.

Effectively every western launch vehicle was grounded by these four
accidents.  There were plenty of Soviet successes, a Japanese launch, and a
single stage Atlas H.  The only non-grounded U.S. vehicles were the Scout
and Atlas-Centaur.  And the next Atlas Centaur proved why it isn't a good
idea to launch a rocket in to a lightning storm. :-(

Every now and then when you have a large number of "events" statistically
you will have lucky and unlucky streaks.  The superstitious will think
you're on a hot streak or the cards are against you.  But it's doubtful any
of the recent failures are even remotely related.

>North Korean Rocket on August 31:
>The solid propellant third stage probably failed.

More likely than not the third stage and satellite only existed in the
propaganda officer's mind.

Philip Chien, KC4YER
Earth News
world (in)famous writer, science fiction fan, ham radio operator,
all-around nice guy, etc.