The Biggest BOOMS in Rocket History

– Hi it’s me Tim Dodd,
the Everyday Astronaut!Space is hard. There’s a reason we use rocket scienceas a benchmark for anything
extremely difficult. I for one champion all things spaceand eagerly await every
single upcoming space event. But, in order to move forward,
we’d better have a look backat some past failures and see
what we’ve learned from them. What better way to do that than
to watch some of the biggestbooms in spaceflight history?But as always on my channel,this isn’t just some random
compilation of crazy explosionsnope sorry, you’re gonna learn something. I’ll be teaching you what went wrongand other random facts about
each mission so we can learnwhile we watch some fireworks. After all, mistakes are only mistakesif you don’t learn anything from them. That being said, it’s time forsome of the biggest
booms in rocket history. Now before I start, I do want
to mention that I omittedany mission that had loss of life. Those are tragedies and they
need to be treated in a waythat honors and respects the lives lostand the families, friendsand the people who deal
with that reality every day. After you watch this video,let me know if you want me
to do any more of these. Maybe biggest face palms or
funniest moments, closest calls?Maybe all of ’em. Let me know. Oh and one last thing,these are in order of what
I think are spectacularand not necessarily in the orderof actual magnitude of explosions. Okay, enough talking, here we go. So let’s start off with
perhaps my favorite boomsto come out of recent space history. Of course, I’m talking about
SpaceX’s landing attemptswith their Falcon 9 rockets. We saw plenty of rapid
unscheduled disassembliesas SpaceX honed in on the
once thought impossible. Propulsively landing and reusingan orbital class liquid fueled booster. Starting with their first
attempt at landing on theirautonomous spaceport drone
ship on January 10th, 2015. After a successful stage separation,the booster homed in on
its landing platform. It fired up it’s center
merlin engine to performthe final landing burn. Woah, okay what went wrong there?The booster ran out of the hydraulic fluidthat powers the grid fins
which steer the boosterthrough the atmosphere just
moments before it touched down. They then remained stuck
in a fixed position,causing the booster to go out of controljust before touching down. The engine gimbal
couldn’t correct for thisand it made the booster
come in all sorts of wonky. And don’t forget while watching thisthe ship its trying to land on is the sizeof what some people call a football field. – ‘Murica. – And the booster is 45
meters or 150 feet tall. In other words, that’s a 15 story buildingcrashing down on the deck, woah. But this was a great
first attempt at landing,I mean after all they hit their targetfrom over 100 kilometers
or 60 miles in altitude,after traveling over 7500 kilometersor about 4500 miles an hour while goingabout 300 kilometers or 185 milesdownrange from the launch site. The next attempt was
also pretty spectacularfor mission CRS-6 on April 14th, 2015. Their second attempt at
landing on the drone shipgot even closer. It even kisses the deck
then touchdown, yeah. Oh wait, no, wait no, no. No, no, no gosh. That one was so close it hurts. Oh and watch this, this
is my favorite part. Check out that tiny
little nitrogen thrustertrying its absolute hardest
to keep the Falcon 9 upright. You almost had it little buddy. Just before touchdown, the
center Merlin 1D enginethat performs the landing
burn experienced stiction,a word I was unfamiliar
with until I heard itin this context. In other words, it had
a sticky throttle valve. This caused a delay in throttle inputs,which made the rocket have
too much horizontal velocityas it touched down, and
subsequently tipped over. There are a few other great boomsas SpaceX figured out
how to land the Falcon 9. I definitely suggest watching
their hilarious video titled,how not to land an orbital class rocket. And don’t forget, these
were experimental attemptsat doing something people
thought was actually impossible. The primary mission on these
flights were still perfectlysuccessful, so these are
probably the biggest boomto success ratio ever,
since it was just a bonusthat they landed, which
they now do all the timewith great reliability. On June 11th 1957, the
United States Air Forcelaunched the first ever Atlas Missile,the Convair SM-65A from Launch Complex 14in Cape Canaveral Air
Force Station in Florida. Like all rockets in this video,
it was of course uncrewed. This first version of the
Atlas only had two enginesinstead of the famous three engine Atlasthat had that sustainer engine
and stage and a half designlike the one that eventually
put John Glenn into orbitless than five years later. Engine start went greatfollowed by a successful let goof the launcher release system. – The missile
was launched successfullyand the flight proceeded according to planfor some distance. During this time the
missile was stable in pitch,yaw and roll. – All was going well
until T plus 26 secondswhen the B-2 engine suddenly lost thrust,followed seconds later by the B-1 engine. The Atlas tumbled end over endwith a maximum altitude of
2900 meters or 9800 feetbefore being remotely terminatedby the range safety officer,who I swear had to be sleeping on the job. I mean, look how long they let it flybefore they finally
hit the bye bye button. Come on, any day now Steve. Uhhh Steve?Steve?Any day, come on!Hey Steve?Steve!Steve!Finally, geez. – Debris from the
missile fell on the test baseand in the sea just
offshore from the base. – So what went wrong?Well, it turns out hot exhaust
gas from the thrust sectionwas destroying propellant lines,and the remedy to this
was just a heat shieldwhich protected the engine area. Although this was a pretty
big scary looking boom,since this was the first
ever flight of the Atlas,it was actually considered
a pretty big success. On December 12th, 1959 the United Statesawaits its sixth attempt
at launching their newestand most advanced rocket
at the time, the Titan 1. The Titan 1 was the US’s firstmultistage intercontinental
ballistic missile. This was also the first time the Air Forcewould be utilizing their
brand new launchpad,Launch Complex 16at Cape Canaveral Air
Force Station in Florida. The rocket was fully fueled
up, and upon engine ignition,the rocket suddenly began
shaking pretty excessively. Uh, what?So excessively in factit actually set the flight
termination system offwhile it was still on the pad. There goes that brand
new Launch Complex 16. Actually believe it or not,the launch pad became operational againless than 2 months later. It must have been thanks to thosewonderful little sprinklers
gently hosing downthe hellish landscape that
once was a launch pad. Convair, the manufacturer
of the original Atlas rocketwas developing an advanced
upper stage for their rockets. This upper stage was the
first production rocket stageto use liquid hydrogen for its fuel. The centaur upper stage would
go on to do incredible thingsand is arguably the best
upper stage in the worldstill to this day. As a matter of fact, as of January 2018,it had been used on 245 missions. But on March 2nd, 1965,
it wouldn’t get a chanceto spread its wings,
or I guess I could saydidn’t get a chance to fire its engine. Engine ignition looked good,
but then right after liftoff. So, what on earth happened here?Well, at T plus . 88 seconds,there was a sudden main fuel valve closurecausing the entire Atlas boosterto come straight back down on the pad. This created quite the boom. As a matter of fact,it was the biggest on pad
explosion at Cape Canaveralfor over 5 decades until
our next boom happened. Rockets blowing up on the launch padwas fairly common in the
early days of spaceflight,but even modern rockets
sometimes experiencefailures on the launch pad. On September 1st, 2016,
SpaceX was preparingto do a hold down static fireof one of their Falcon 9 rockets. This was a pretty routine
mission for SpaceX,preparing to put a 5500 kilogramor 12,000 pound satellite into
geostationary transfer orbitfor Spacecom with the AMOS-6 satellite. SpaceX does a static fire
of all their rockets,multiple times even. If you want to know more about howor why SpaceX static
fires, I have this videothat goes into super
deep detail all about it. The fueling leading up to static firewas going completely as planned
until out of the blue. . . No more rocket. No more 244 million dollar satellite. No more launch pad 40. This instant failure
baffled SpaceX engineerssince everything was
looking completely normalduring the fuel up with no
initial known cause of failure. Despite what the internet thought,surprisingly it wasn’t from
a sniper on a nearby rooftopor a UFO. Or was it?No, no it wasn’t. After months of testing, a new
failure mode was discovered. Something that had never
even been experiencedon any other rocket. This is due to SpaceX
utilizing super chilled fueland oxidizer, they found
that the liquid oxygenwas getting inside the carbon fiber bondsof the internal helium tanks
which maintain tank pressures. Once the liquid oxygen came in contactwith the even colder helium tank,it would turn into a solid,expand and then break apart
the carbon fiber weaveof the COPV or composite
over wrapped pressure vesselthat holds the helium. This caused the helium tank to releaseall of its pressure instantly,which then over
pressurized the oxygen tankthat it lies inside,which then caused the
entire vehicle to explode. SpaceX learned from this lessonand changed their fueling proceduresuntil a newly designed
COPV 2. 0 goes online. NASA made an awesome decision
to hire private companiesto deliver cargo to the
international space stationafter the Space Shuttle
program ended in 2011. This decision made for great competitionand brought the cost of delivery
down to an all time low. These missions known as CRS,or commercial resupply missionswere won by SpaceX and Orbital Sciences,who later was known as Orbital ATKwho just recently got
bought by Northrop Grummanand is now called Northrop
Grumman Innovation Systems. Yeah. The program was looking fantasticwith four successful SpaceX launchesand two successful Orbital ATK launchesalready in the books. On October 28th 2014, Orbital
ATK was poised to launch theirthird Cygnus spacecraft on top
of their third Antares rocketdestined for the
international space station. The Antares rocket took offat 7:22 and 38 seconds
p. m. local eastern timefrom Orbital’s launch pad,the Mid-Atlantic Regional
Spaceport Launch Pad 0,or MARS LP-0A. – Mission to the ISS. That main engine’s at 108%. – 15 seconds after liftoff,the vehicle suddenly falls
apart from the bottom up. The vehicle fell right back
down on the launch pad,resulting in a huge, huge boom. – And launch team, launch teambe advised stay at your consoles. – I personally know
several launch photographersthat were there and felt this onefrom only a few miles away. My favorite quote comes fromphotographer Matt Travis exclaiming. . . – It’s gonna be loud. It’s gonna be loudHoly shh. Geez!- Yeah, geez that looks terrifying. I can’t even imagine. So what happened?The liquid oxygen turbo
pump suddenly explodedon one of the vehicles AJ-26 engines,which are just refurbished
leftover NK-33 enginesfrom the 1970s Soviet Union
planned but never completedsecond generation moon
rocket, or the N-1F. Luckily, of course, no one was hurtand the failure made Orbital
change the Antares engineto the RD-181. Which ironically is the exact same movethe Russians made with their Soyuz 2. On July 16th 1959,NASA prepared to launch
their third Juno II rocket. A rocket initially derived
from the Jupiter missiles,the Juno featured solid
rocket booster upper stagescapable of putting about
41 kilograms or 90 poundsinto low Earth Orbit. This particular mission,
Explorer S-1 was the sixth flightof the explorers program
whose objectives wereto measure the Earth’s radiation balanceand other cosmic and x-rays. At 12:37 p. m. local eastern time,the Juno II took off fromCape Canaveral Air Force
Station’s Launch complex 5. Immediately after leaving the pad,the rocket suddenly veered off course. 5. 5 seconds into the flight,it was terminated by the
Range Safety Officer,but it barely had a chance to detonatebefore erupting in an enormous fireball76 meters or 249 feet
northwest of the pad. A short circuit of the
rocket’s guidance systemmade the Rocketdyne S-3D engine gimbalin the wrong direction,pointing the rocket west in an instant. The following investigationled to adding a conformal
coating to the circuit boardsthat helped protect the
Juno II and similar rocketsfrom a similar fate. The Juno II ended up
flying a total of 10 times,with only four successful flights. I’m pretty glad we’re beyondthose odds of success these days. On June 4th 1996, The
European Space Agencywas ready to launch their
newest rocket, the Ariane 5,which was an indirect follow upto their wildly successful Ariane 4. One of the most exciting features wasthis was designed to be
able to fly humans as well. The Ariane 5 launches from
a beautiful launch padlocated at the Guiana Space
Center in the French Guiana,an overseas region of Francelocated on the north east
tip of South America,and situated very close to the equator. Speaking of launching from
the equator this is somethingwe need to talk about
in an upcoming video. Why it’s advantageous to
launch near the equatorand why it’s not more
common to actually do so. So, on a beautiful
Tuesday the world watchedas an exciting new heavy
launch vehicle sat waitingfor its maiden flightcarrying four Cluster spacecraftfor the European Space Agency. The Ariane 5 first powers upits Vulcain 2 cryogenic main enginesand then it sits on the pad
until it achieves full thrust. Then the two massive solid
rocket boosters igniteand the vehicle leaps off the pad. All was looking really quite
good, but then suddenlyaround 30 seconds into the flight,the vehicle takes a hard 90 degree turnand disintegrates from
the aerodynamic forces. The resulting fireballwas the automatic flight
termination systemwhich broke the vehicle apart. It was found that a malfunction
in the control softwarecaused the vehicle to think
it was 90 degrees off course. The reason’s simple. The internal SRI software exceptionwas caused during execution
of a data conversionfrom 64-bit floating point to
16-bit signed integer value. The floating point number
had a value greaterthan what could be represented
by a 16-bit signed integer. This resulted in an Operand Error. This unexpected high value for
internal alignment functionresult called BH, or Horizontal Bias,related to the horizontal
velocity sensed by the platform. The value of BH was much
higher than expectedbecause the early part
of the flight trajectoryof the Ariane 5 differs
from that of Ariane 4and results in considerably higherhorizontal velocity values. Duh. In other words, this was
one of the most expensivesoftware bugs in history,
costing 370 million dollars. This launch is definitely fodder
for the biggest face palmsof spaceflight history because
they used the same initialreference system as the Ariane 4but they didn’t test it before handwith the Ariane 5’s flight profile. The data overwhelmed the
computer causing it to error out. It would’ve been easily
avoidable and discoveredwith a simple ground simulation. Whoops. But since then the Ariane 5
has gone on to launch 97 times,with one more boomy failureand three more not so boomie failures. Not bad, not bad. I still think it’s a super
cool looking vehicle. On July 2nd 2013, Russia
prepared for a fairly routinelaunch of their Proton-M rocketto put three new GLONASS
navigation satellites into space. As a matter of fact, it was
going to be the 388th launchof the Proton rocket,so this is about as routine as it gets. The launch went off right on
schedule at 8:38 local timefrom the Baikonur Cosmodrome
site 81 pad 24 in Kazakhstan. Almost immediately after leaving the pad,the rocket began to veer
off in one direction,and then some of the six RD-276 engineswould gimbal in the other directionas it began to clearly go off course. Now hold on here. At this point, wouldn’t you
think the Russian Space Agencyor ROSCOSMOS would terminate this rocket?I mean it’s 90 degrees off courseand that’s a giant 19 story
tall, 68 metric ton missile. Well unlike pretty much
the rest of the world,Russia doesn’t believe in
self destruct explosives. Let’s see how this one goes. The payload fairing and
upper stage gets ripped apartby the aerodynamic stressesas the vehicle plummets back to earth,engines still firing full bore. The rocket didn’t release
all of its explosive energyuntil impacting the ground,
resulting in a huge fireball. There are so many videos
of this particular crashfrom varying terrifyingly
close vantage pointsthat shakes spectators
when the boom hits them. – Is it coming this way?- Investigators found out thatthree of the first stage angularvelocity sensors were
installed upside down. And this took some
serious physical effort. In fact there’s arrows that
are pointing up on the sensorsthat were installed pointing down. The sensors are only designed
to fit in one direction,so it sounds like the
technician potentiallyhit them in place with a hammerand this somehow went unnoticedby quality control and supervisors. Okay, so again, this is another
massive massive face palm. But, this one is also such
a big and dramatic boom. Due to the Proton utilizes
super toxic hypergolic fuels,this event is considered by someto be the largest amount
of ground pollutionever caused by a rocket. The United States National
Reconnaissance Officewas set to launch their
seventh secret satelliteto geostationary orbit launching
on top of a Titan IV rocketfrom Cape Canaveral Air
Force Base in Florida. The Titan IV comes from a long family treeof rockets and this is the
most powerful and most capableversion featuring two
massive solid rocket boosterson either side of the rocket. August 12, 1998 was a
picture perfect morning,and the Titan IV had a successful lift offat 7:30 a. m. local time. – Liftoff
of America’s silent herothe Air Force Titan IV. The is the final Titan IV to be flown. The vehicle has rolled to
the proper flight admin. We’re at T plus, 18, 19, 20 seconds. Currently the twin solid rocket motorsare performing nominally. T plus 40 seconds. Oh no. – But sometime just before the vehiclereached maximum aerodynamic
pressure or Max Q,it suddenly burst into a
dramatic fireworks display. The cause was an electrical shortwhich made the guidance
computer momentarily shut downat T plus 39 seconds. A mere second later its power was restoredbut the computer overreacted
and sent commandsto aggressively pitch and yaw the rocketto correct its course. The rocket couldn’t handle
the significant changein course as it approached Max Q,and the forces ripped one
of the solid rocket boostersright off, which triggered
the self destruct sequenceof that booster, and subsequently
the rest of the vehicle. An investigation showed that
this particular booster,the last Titan IV-A to launch,had been sitting around for several years. It had dozens of damaged or chafed wiresthat should never have been
launched in the first place. The Air Force was pushing for
a launch on demand programfor the DOD, and this particular failuremade them reevaluate how to
handle such tight deadlines. Oh, number two huh?This better be good. Well, this one is something
special I can tell you that. On January 17th 1997, the US Air Forcewas set to launch their first
GPS version II satelliteon top of the most Kerbal of all rockets,of course I’m talking about the Delta IIwith nine strap on solid rocket boosters. You can never have too
many boosters, or can you?Dun dun dun. Well at 11:28 the Delta II
had a successful lift offfrom Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’sSpace Launch Complex 17A. – Delta II launch vehiclecarrying the new GPS to our satellite. We have had an anomaly. – Next thing you know the rocketturned into a giant fireworkraining fire all over
Florida’s Space Coastfrom only about 500 meters or
1600 feet above the ground. – We need to secure the area. – 250 tons of debris rained
down within a full kilometerof the launch pad, even
destroying around 20 carsparked outside the blockhousewhere ground crew were safeish. This led to some interesting
insurance claims,like Brian Modsell, having
to tell his insurance companythat his truck got hit by a rocket. The explosion was the result of a failureof one of the solid rocket boosters. The casing was damaged
during the transportationon a newly introduced system. The rocket casing of
the number 2 GEM-40 SRBstarted to grow at T plus six secondsand eventually ruptured,
causing the number eight SRBto fail which then
caused the entire vehicleto automatically self destruct. And even so A few seconds later,the range safety officer sent commandsto destroy the rest of the vehiclein case there were any
large pieces remaining. To me, that has to go down
as one of the most epic boomsin all of spaceflight history. But not quite the most epic. That has to go to. You had to see this one coming right?Well if you didn’t get ready. We definitely saved the best for last. In the late 1960s the United
States and the Soviet Unionwere deep in a space racewith the new end goal of
putting a human on the moon. This led to the most feverish
paced rocket evolutionin spaceflight history
going from just launchingsmall sub orbital missilesto the largest rockets
ever made still to this dayin less than a decade. It’s easy to remember the
wildly successful and iconicSaturn V that the United States developed,but did you know there
was a Soviet counterpartthat was even more
powerful and in my opinionway, way crazier. And maybe the craziest thing
is we didn’t really knowmuch about the Soviet’s lunar programuntil after the collapse of
the Soviet Union in 1991. Welcome the N1. Although slightly
shorter than the Saturn Vthe N1 was insanely massive. The bottom of the vehicle was an insane17 meters or 55 feet wide and
had 30 NK-15 engines on it. Yeah, and you thoughtthe Falcon Heavy’s 27 engines was a lot. Now imagine trying to
control 30 relatively newand not well very tested enginesusing a 1960s Soviet era flight computer. You get where this is going. The first launch went fairly well,I guess considering two
engines were shut downby T plus 6 seconds, propellant
leaked, a fire started,electrical shorts happened. And by T plus 68 seconds the first stagewas automatically shut
down by the computer. Not bad actually. Well on July 3rd, 1969the Soviet Union was set to
launch their second N1 rocket. So this second launch had
some big shoes to fill. The Soviets were hoping to do a moon flybyto take pictures of possible
crewed landing sites. So at 11:18 p. m. local time,site 110 at Baikonur
Cosmodrome roared to lifewith the ignition of all 30 NK-15 engines. For the first few seconds
everything looked great. Until. You just witnessed the
largest known non-nuclear,human made explosion in history. Over 2000 metric tons of
propellant blew up in an instantand some fuel even managed to
rain down on the launch padfor the next hour and a half. So what happened?A lot. As soon as the rocket cleared the towerwe saw a large flashand a bunch of parts of
the rocket falling off. Um we might need those. All but one engine, plucky ole engine 18,shutdown in an instant. But due to number 18 staying on,the entire rocket pitched
over to a 45 degree anglewhen it hit the ground. The problem arose when before liftoffthe number eight engine
had its LOX turbo pumpexplode which then severed
the surrounding prop lines. The KORD computer system
that controlled the enginesautomatically shuts down the
opposite engine if one fails,so right away, number eight’s
opposite engine shut down,number 20, followed by number
seven, number 19, and 21. But perhaps the biggest failureis that the Soviets didn’t
have a way to test the rocketwithout launching it. The first stage was so big,it couldn’t be sent to the
launch pad in one pieceand instead it had to be
assembled with each launch. Worse of all, they only tested about twoout of every six engines and
none of those engines testedwere the actual flight unitsbecause they used pyrotechnic valvesthat could only be used onceinstead of hydraulic or mechanical valves. This in my opinion is where
they truly went wrong. With the pressure to keep
up with the United States,and a lack of funding, they
pushed their luck too far. This launch destroyed
the launch complex so badit took 18 months to rebuild it. By this point there was
little motivation or fundingto continue the N1 programso it only launched two more timesbefore ultimately being canceled. Dang it, I really really
want to see an N1 succeed. There were even three other N1’sthat could’ve flown that
wound up being scrapped. What a shame. Let’s start a Kickstarterto build a full scale N1
replica to put somewhere. Maybe my backyard. So there you have it. We had some pretty
serious booms there, huh?I hope you had some fun watching this,but more importantly I really
hope you learned something. Let me know if you enjoyed
this style of video. I haven’t really done
a countdown like thisso if you do like it perhaps
I could be talked into doingthe biggest face palms,the funniest momentsand closest calls in space flight historyWhat other questions do
you have about spaceflight?Well, let me know your
thoughts or commentsor video suggestions
in the comments below. What’d you think about me
wearing just a spacesuittee shirt instead of my
spacesuit the whole time?It’s so hot and uncomfortable up hereI couldn’t imagine wearing that spacesuitfor the hours, and hours,
and hours that I recordedthis video. Take this poll here, let
me know what you think. As always I owe a huge thank
you to my Patreon supportersfor helping make this and
every other everyday astronautcontent possible. I owe a super special
thanks to those Patreonsin our exclusive discord
and exclusive subredditfor helping me script and research. If you wanna help contribute please visitpatreon. com/everydayastronaut. Thank you. Don’t forget to check out my web storefor shirts, hats, mugs,
prints of rocket launchesor other original artworkat everydayastronaut. com/shop. Thanks everybody, that does it for me. I’m Tim Dodd, the everyday astronautbringing space down to
earth for everyday people.

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