The bankruptcy of Mars One, the company that wanted to create the first human colony on Mars, did not surprise anyone. But the disasters of India and Iran and NASA have not been left behind either
With regard to space, in 2019 there have been many successes. China landed a spaceship on the other side of the Moon for the first time in the history of mankind. NASA’s New Horizons probe flew over the furthest celestial object that a human-made spacecraft has explored. Another Japanese spacecraft collected samples of the surface of an asteroid, twice. He even fired a bullet in the asteroid to create an artificial crater. SpaceX launched its new crew vehicle to the International Space Station. It is true that it was not manned, but still, it was a great step. The company also presented the first prototype of its Starship spacecraft.
However, for each important achievement, there was also a huge failure. Here are the five biggest space failures in 2019.
The bankruptcy of Mars One
The most positive thing about Mars One’s failure is that, from the beginning, the project was nothing more than a naive dream. A more realistic evaluation could conclude that it was a scam. A Dutch group managed to convince several investors to invest tens of millions of euros in a plan to send the first humans to Mars and create a human colony on the red planet. It was going to be a one-way trip. The truth is that its plans seemed crazy and poorly funded. The momentum of their public relations was impressive, but the organization was not developing its own space flight architecture and had simply assumed that it would be able to get everything it needed from the commercial market. They ran out of time. To anyone’s surprise, on January 15, Mars One declared bankruptcy.
SpaceIL Beresheet crashes on the Moon
The Israeli company SpaceIL was founded in 2011 to participate in the Google Lunar X Prize of 27 million euros, a contest in which private companies would compete to launch a robotic mission to the surface of the Moon. Although the contest ended without a winner, SpaceIL decided to move on anyway, with the support of the Israeli Space Agency itself. Its Beresheet landing module almost succeeds until, unfortunately, it crashed while trying to land on April 11. It was a shame, but SpaceIL was praised for their efforts (and for their plans to try another moon landing). Then the situation became somewhat strange. In August, it was reported that, secretly, the payload of the landing module had included a capsule of tardigrades that they could have survived the accident and right now they could be populating the lunar surface.
SpaceX Crew Dragon explodes on the launchpad
After successfully launching its Crew Dragon vehicle to the International Space Station in March, SpaceX felt quite sure of itself. On April 20, the company was preparing for a standard static test of the vehicle’s Super Draco engines. But something went very wrong, the capsule caught fire and was completely destroyed. Later, the company discovered that the fault was a leaking propellant valve. The explosion delayed the planned plans of the SpaceX Crew Dragon, and as a result, 2019 has been settled without any NASA astronaut getting into space from the US ground.
Iran’s third consecutive failed launch
Iran’s space program is still in diapers, and the failure of three launches in a single year confirm it. The last one, last August, was perhaps the most devastating. In the failed missions carried out in January and February, the country’s rockets failed to reach orbit. However, in the last one that took place on August 29, the rocket did not even take off. An explosion on the launch pad destroyed the small Safir rocket and its payload, probably due to an accident during the preparation of the launch. President Trump tweeted about this explosion, something that many interpreted as a mockery directed at the Government of Iran.
The Vikram moon landing module of India crashes against the Moon
India hoped to become the fourth nation in history to land a spaceship on the Moon. Its Chandrayaan-2 mission had reached lunar orbit a month earlier, and the Indian space agency was ready to send its Vikram landing module to the surface of the south pole and tell us more about the famous water ice reserves on the Moon. But Vikram did not succeed; On September 6, as with Beresheet, the probe crashed and was lost forever.
Reaching space is difficult, and things get even more complicated when the goal is to return to the Moon.