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April 23rd in Astronomy and Space Science
Unmanned Spaceflight1962On the fourth attempt to land a probe on the Moon, the US Ranger 4 spacecraft crash-lands on the far side, but it sends no data back.
Manned Spaceflight1967USSR launches the Soyuz 1 spacecraft carrying cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. The mission - in preparation for a moon landing attempt - was to rendezvous with Soyuz 2, launched the following day with a 3 man crew, and have 2 cosmonauts spacewalk to Soyuz 1. However, one of the solar panels failed to deploy and wrapped around the service module soon after orbital insertion. Operating on half-power, an attempt to maneuver the spacecraft failed because reaction control system exhaust interfered with the Soyuz' orientation sensors. On re-entry, a pressure sensor failed preventing deployment of the main parachute. Komarov released the reserve chute, but it tangled with the drogue chute. The descent module crashed into a field near Orenburg, southern Russia, on April 24th, killing Komarov. This is considered the first in-flight fatality in the history of space exploration.
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