A Study of Orbital Carrier Rocket and Spacecraft Failures: 2000-2009

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Information & Security: An International Journal, Volume 28, Issue 2, Number 15, p.179-198 (2012)


computer systems reliability, Reliability and safety of rocket-space systems, risks of orbital carrier rockets and spacecraft failures, software faults.


Aerospace industry has become one of the most important and dynamically developed sectors of the world economy in the last decades. It brings in billions of US dollars due to commercialization of space projects, especially by provisioning telecommunications services, Earth observation and navigation, weather monitoring, etc. Space projects belong to so-called mission critical applications, i.e. applications, whose failures cause both material and pecuniary losses (and sometimes, unfortunately, loss of human lives) and also can ruin long-term scientific, military and other important government or commercial programs. Besides, high reliability and safety of rocket-space systems are of an increasing economic importance, since the disasters and space accidents lead not only to missing profits, but also to millions of dollars loss. The purpose of the paper was to analyze the risks of the launch vehicle crashes and spacecraft failures, which occurred during the first decade of the 21st century. In the paper we present orbital carrier rockets and spacecrafts launch statistics from 2000 to 2009. We investigate the causes of launch vehicle crashes and spacecraft failures and also analyze faults in different subsystems resulted in such accidents, focusing mainly on the influence of computer-based control systems, their hardware and software components on reliability and safety of rocket-space systems