KSC Launch Pad Worker Falls, Dies


A worker at the space shuttle launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, pad 39A, fell to his death early Monday morning, according to reports. An employee of United Launch Alliance fell from the launch pad tower near space shuttle Endeavour. NASA released the following statement:

“At about 7:40 a.m. EDT this morning, a United Space Alliance worker fell at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A. NASA emergency medical personnel responded, but they were unable to revive the man. Because of medical privacy, currently we’re not able to release any additional details about this fatality. Family members are being notified. All work at Launch Pad 39A has been suspended for the rest of the day, and counseling and other employee assistance are being provided to workers. Right now our focus is on our workers and for the family of the USA employee. The incident is under investigation.”

Our condolences to the man’s family and his United Launch Alliance co-workers.


USA has now released the name of the person involved in the accident at the launch pad as engineer James D. Vanover.

“Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family of Mr. Vanover,” United Space Alliance Chief Executive Officer Virginia Barnes said in a statement. “Our focus right now is on providing support for the family, and for his coworkers. We are also providing our full support to investigating officials in order to determine the cause of the incident as quickly as possible. Until that investigation is complete, it would be inappropriate to provide further comment on the details.”

4 Replies to “KSC Launch Pad Worker Falls, Dies”

  1. How has this been allowed to happen? My thoughts go out to the family of the man, but there is clearly a gap in safety that needs to be identified immediately.

  2. That’s a little bit extreme isn’t it? I have worked in may occupations where people can and do die in accidents. Safety is important but nothing is ever going to be 100% safe. I feel for the gentleman and his family but lets not go overboard. I am however curious to know how many fatal accidents have occurred on the ground at all NASA facilities excluding Apollo 1.

  3. Terrible news obviously, and I’m sure the family has the condolences of anyone with an interest in spaceflight.

    Nothing is ever 100% safe, yet any time you’re working at height or in a location with a risk of fall you should be wearing a harness. Whether this is a result of lax safety culture or a terrible slip up remains to be worked out… I’ve worked in the mining industry for a significant period in a former life, and unfortunately, most of these sorts of accidents result from workers not following correct safety protocols in a given situation. It’s terrible that we have to learn the same brutal lessons on safety over and over and over again.

  4. Sad news for his family and friends. While not wishing to diminish his death in any way I’m wondering why is counselling being offered? It seems that whenever a person dies his/her co-workers are suddenly rushed away for grief counselling. Psychologists seem to have forgotten just how resilient people are in times of crisis and grief.

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