Sigmund Jähn, the first German in orbit, was injured during a hard landing of the Soyuz 29 capsule on September 3rd, 1978. He got permanent damages of his vertebral column.

Are there other astronauts who were injured by a hard landing or a hard reentry?

  • $\begingroup$ +1. Just added a tag to make this easier to find. $\endgroup$
    – Puffin
    Oct 5, 2020 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ We may never know. $\endgroup$
    – Strawberry
    Oct 6, 2020 at 10:04
  • $\begingroup$ Certainly the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster would count as a "hard landing". I don't know whether you'd count the Columbia disaster as a "hard landing" or not, since the craft broke apart on reentry. $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Oct 7, 2020 at 0:42

5 Answers 5


Apollo 12, Alan Bean. The capsule hit a rising wave, and the impact force knocked a camera out of a bracket, which hit Bean in the head and briefly knocked him out. He suffered a mild concussion and needed six stitches, but had no permanent injury.

  • $\begingroup$ Alan Bean's injury was also mentioned in this answer to a different question. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Oct 4, 2020 at 13:54
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @DrSheldon An exceptionally well-written answer! $\endgroup$ Oct 4, 2020 at 14:15

Boris Volynov broken several teeth during hard landing of the Soyuz-5 mission.


American cosmonaut Donald Pettit injured his shoulder when the Soyuz TMA-1 had to fall back to a ballistic reentry following a capsule malfunction. The hard landing was further complicated by the parachute dragging the capsule along the ground after landing. Pettit was immediately moved from the landing site by a rescue helicopter.


The female South Korean astronaut Yi So-yeon may have been injured in Soyuz TMA-11 on April 19, 2008.

Yi So-yeon was hospitalized after her return to South Korea due to injuries caused by the rough return voyage in the Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft. The South Korean Science Ministry stated that the astronaut had a minor injury to her neck muscles and had bruised her spinal column.

Due to a malfunction with the Soyuz vehicle, the craft followed a ballistic re-entry which subjects the crew to severe gravitational forces up to 10 times the amount experienced on Earth.

Yi was hospitalized after her return to Korea due to severe back pains. Though many believed these pains were the result of the rough landing, they were in fact normal and expected. They were the result of spinal re-compression.

Quotes from Wikipedia articles about Soyuz TMA-11 and Yi So-yeon.

So the back pain may have been caused by either the reentry or by the prior stay in weightlessness.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't believe their gender is all that related to the question, their injury was due to spinal damage. $\endgroup$ Oct 6, 2020 at 1:15

During the abort of Soyuz 7K-T No.39 launch, Vasily Lazarev was injured by very high g-loads ( up to 21.3 g, 15 g were expected) and was never able to fly to space again. It was April 5, 1975.

  • $\begingroup$ That wasn't the landing. $\endgroup$ Oct 4, 2020 at 18:14
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @RussellBorogove When I wrote the question, I did not know a reentry could be that hard causing injuries, so I did not ask for. But I think answers about hard reentries are interesting here too. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Oct 4, 2020 at 19:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.