Amazing behind-the-scenes stories of NASA catastrophes and near misses, many unknown to the public. The science of exploration is imperfect - sometimes NASA must learn the hard way: Incorrect metric conversions, reverse installations, deadly chemical spills, and a near miss that could have resulted in a massive rocket fuel explosion that could have wiped out a small town - and almost did!
Disasters in Space
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01: Return to Disaster
Relive the harrowing moments in Launch Control during NASA's second "Return to Flight" test flight after the tragic loss of Space Shuttle Columbia. Go behind the scenes as NASA engineers discover the frightening truth about the incident and the cascade of space mistakes that caused it.
02: Mars or Bust
Serious injury or loss of life threaten technicians working on the Mars Exploration Rover when a test procedure goes horribly wrong. As the clock ticks toward the critical Mars launch window, NASA scrambles to understand and fix this critical space mistake.
03: Space Shuttle Shuffle
Catastrophe beckons when gears controlling a Single Point of Failure Space Shuttle landing system are installed backwards. And dispite multiple pressures, a shocking discovery causes NASA to cancel a historic launch.
04: The End of Genesis
A spacecraft freefalls from orbit smashing into the ground when its parachute fails to deploy. Can the multi-million dollar science mission be salvaged? And, a wrong turn ruptures a costly Space Shuttle "cold plate!"
05: Trains, Rockets, and Pains
A harrowing space mistake leaves the solid rocket boosters hanging by a thread and places the unsuspecting public in the cross hairs of more than a ton of the most explosive rocket fuel on the planet. And, a training exercise goes horribly wrong when an astronaut attempts to complete a routine requirement to be cleared for flight.
The loss of Space Shuttle Columbia stands as one of the worst disasters in spaceflight history. Go behind the scenes of the External Tank foam application process and discover why that seemingly insignificant bit of foam came off during launch, puncturing a hole in the leading edge of the wing - leading to catastrophic failure, loss of vehicle and loss of life.