Rocket Engineer Remembrance Day Date in the current year: October 24, 2024

Rocket Engineer Remembrance Day Rocket Engineer Remembrance Day is an unofficial memorial day observed in Baikonur, a Kazakhstan city rented and administered by Russia, serving the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It honors the victims of the Nedelin catastrophe that occurred on October 24, 1960.

In May 1959, Yuzhnoye Design Office (also known as OKB-586) began the development of the intercontinental ballistic missile R-16. Due to the tight deadlines set for design and testing, the rocket still had many flaws at the time of the first test flight. Nevertheless, Chief Marshal of the Artillery Mitrofan Nedelin who oversaw the R-16 development program insisted on the test being performed before November 7, 1960 (anniversary of the October Revolution in Russia).

The test launch was planned for October 24, 1960. 15 minutes before the scheduled launch time, a short circuit in the main sequencer caused the second stage engines to fire. As a result, the missile exploded right at the launch site, killing 74 people, including Nedelin. Four more people died in the hospital from sustained injuries and burns. According to other sources, the actual death toll was between 92 and 126.

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev immediately imposed complete secrecy on the incident. Nevertheless, a memorial to the victims was erected in the city of Baikonur. The Soviet Union acknowledged the events in 1989, in the wake of Perestroika. On October 24 every year, Roscosmos officials stationed at Baikonur lay wreaths at the monument to honor all victims of rocket explosions and other missile incidents.

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Rocket Engineer Remembrance Day, observances in Russia, observances in Kazakhstan, Nedelin catastrophe