June 06 – Launch of Soyuz 11 (1971)

In the history of spaceflight, June 6th 1971 is significant for all the wrong reasons, being the launch date of Soyuz 11, the crew of which are, to date, the only astronauts or cosmonauts to die beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. Commander Georgy Dobrovolsky, and engineers Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev, docked with the Salyut 1 space station just under a day after lift-off, and spent 23 days in space, after which they made what looked like a successful re-entry. Unfortunately, on recovery of the capsule, all three were found to have asphyxiated due to a ventilation valve opening at an altitude of 168km, resulting in instant depressurization, and death within a matter of seconds.

Fourteen years later, on June 6th 1985, a more successful voyage in the series, Soyuz T-13, became the first mission to bring a previously “dead” space station, Salyut 7, back to life. Power had been lost on the station in February, and it was basically just drifting through space. The story of the mission was made into a film in Russia in 2017, but I’m not sure it’s been released over here yet.


2017: The 2-3kg Mukundpura meteorite lands in a farmer’s field near Jaipur in India (the weight can only be estimated because not all of it was necessarily found) . It was less spectacular than the 2002 explosion mentioned below, leaving a crater just 15cm deep and about 40cm wide. This was the second large Indian meteorite in under a day: the previous evening another weighing around 3kg had fallen in the Assam region.

2002: The “Eastern Mediterranean Event“. A meteorite explodes over the Mediterranean Sea with a force equivalent to 26 kilotons of TNT. I don’t blame you if you never heard of this one, because it was over water. Had it landed 200 miles away on Cyprus, I’m sure it would be a lot more famous. Don’t forget, #AsteroidDay is coming soon.

1924: Discovery of asteroid 1031 Arctica.

1931: Discovery of 1210 Morosovia.

1978: Discovery of asteroid 3369 Treshnikov.

1979: Launch of Soyuz 34.

2018: Launch of Soyuz MS-09.