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  Apollo-Soyuz: Nitrogen tetroxide incident

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Author Topic:   Apollo-Soyuz: Nitrogen tetroxide incident
Shuttle Endeavour

Posts: 174
Registered: Aug 2013

posted 02-08-2014 09:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Shuttle Endeavour   Click Here to Email Shuttle Endeavour     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was looking on Wikipedia about space related accidents and I noticed that on Apollo-Soyuz Test Project it said Vance Brand's heart stopped during the splashdown time. Is this really true, or did they just have burning sensations? From Wikipedia:
1975 July 24: gas poisoning on board: During final descent and parachute deployment for the Apollo Soyuz Test Project Command Module, the U.S. crew were exposed to 300 µL/L of toxic nitrogen tetroxide gas (Reaction Control System oxidizer) venting from the spacecraft and reentering a cabin air intake. A switch was left in the wrong position. 400µL/L is fatal. Vance Brand's heart stopped and he was narrowly resuscitated. The crew members suffered from burning sensations of their eyes, faces, noses, throats and lungs. Thomas Stafford quickly broke out emergency oxygen masks and put one on Brand and gave one to Deke Slayton. The crew were exposed to the toxic gas from 24,000 ft (7.3 km) down to landing. About an hour after landing the crew developed chemical-induced pneumonia and their lungs had edema. They experienced shortness of breath and were hospitalized in Hawaii. The crew spent two weeks in the hospital. By July 30, their chest X-rays appeared to return to normal except for Slayton; he was diagnosed with a benign lesion unrelated to the gas exposure which was later removed.


Posts: 241
From: Bratislava, Slovakia
Registered: Apr 2009

posted 02-09-2014 01:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I looked into two books on ASTP I have - "Apollo Soyuz NASA EP 109" and "The Partnership: A NASA History of the ASTP" and they both describe the event as unconsciousness, not a word of any heart stop. After Tom Stafford applied the oxygen mask to Vance Brand's face he regained the consciousness in about a minute again by himself.

In the former publication p.99 there is also the following information:

Physicians later theorized that Brand´s fainting may not have been related to the gas.Instead it may have been caused by temporary low blood pressure — called orthostatic hypotension — which many astronauts have experienced, though less seriously. It comes from the sudden change from weightlessness in space to exposure to the normal pull of the gravity of the Earth, or the force equal to several times that normal pull which is generated by deceleration during reentry.


Posts: 1677
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 02-09-2014 03:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's worth pointing out that Brand was closest to the gases as they entered the capsule. It was only after splash-down that he passed out briefly and once he came too he continued with the post-landing checks as normal.

Fra Mauro

Posts: 1079
From: Maspeth, NY
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 02-11-2014 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In "We Have Capture," Stafford says that he was supposed to have thrown the switch.

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