Soyuz T-10-A: launch pad disaster

SoyuzFor the first time in history, a launch abort escape system saves its crew from a doomed launch. When a fuel spill is ignited at the base of the launch vehicle for Soyuz T-10-A – an otherwise routine mission to Soviet space station Salyut 7 – the entire rocket catches fire, and ground controllers quickly discover that cables running from their bunker to the vehicle have been severed, preventing them from remotely activating the launch escape tower. A radio frequency backup system finally sends the signal, and the tower blasts the Soyuz capsule free of its doomed rocket just two seconds prior to a massive explosion on the pad. The capsule brings the crew to a safe, but rough, landing a few miles away, while the launch pad fire burns out of control for nearly a day.