Segments in this Video

The Rockets (02:36)


In the early days of the space program failures were a regular part of the process.Early rocket pioneers had no textbooks to refer to. Explosions were common because the fuels they were experimenting with were highly unstable.

Wernher von Braun (03:21)

Von Braun and his team gained wide experience in Germany during WWII. He developed the V-2 Rocket. After the war he and his team came to America. Twelve years after Sputnik Americans were walking on the moon.

Failed Launch Attempts (01:59)

Just when space launches seemed routine, America developed trouble with it's workhorse Titan IV rocket, its main vehicle for launching satellites into space. Europe's rockets had a high rate of success.

The Chauchat 1917 (04:30)

A French made machine gun from WWI became infamous as one of the most disastrous weapons ever invented.

U.S.S Thresher (07:32)

In 1963 a brand new nuclear submarine was the best attack sub in the world. The main defense against "boomers" is the attack sub. Welding of these vessels was vitally important. An engineering disaster rocked the Navy to its core.

Liberty Ships 1943-1945 (04:34)

Liberty ships were America's answer to fighting two wars across separate oceans at the same time. The ships had a tendency to break in half without any warning and sink within seconds. In the end the repaired Liberty ships overwhelmed the enemy.

Andrea Doria 1956 (03:44)

In 1956 one of the world's great luxury liners, carrying 2,000 people from Genoa, Italy, was rammed by the Stockholm. The Andrea Doria sunk and killed 51 people. A tiny engineering flaw was almost certainly at the heart of the disaster.

Hartford Civic Center 1978 (04:02)

In Hartford, Connecticut a light snow storm fell and created a colossal engineering disaster. The city's arena was a massive structure with a fatal flaw. An error in the plans resulted in pieces that did not fit together properly.

St. Francis Dam 1928 (03:20)

The Los Angeles Aqueduct brought water from the High Sierra aquifer through artificial reservoirs connected by giant pipes and canals. The massive project was built ahead of schedule and under budget. It collapsed and killed 450 people.

Northeast Blackout 1965 (06:52)

For half a day the entire northeast region of North America went dark, the result of an overloaded circuit breaker. It took years for engineers to figure out exactly what happened.

Credits: Modern Marvels: More Engineering Disasters (00:60)

Credits: Modern Marvels: More Engineering Disasters

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Modern Marvels: More Engineering Disasters

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Often a huge disaster is traced back to a tiny cause, insignificant in itself but capable of triggering a domino effect. In some cases negligence is responsible for major catastrophes. Distributed by A&E Television Networks. (45 minutes)

Length: 45 minutes

Item#: BVL42867

Copyright date: ©1999

Closed Captioned

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