After the recent tragic death of test pilot Mike Alsbury in a terrible accident whilst he was testing a Virgin Galactic spacecraft, there was a debate in the media about the dangers and the numbers of deaths in space travel. This annoyed me, as I felt that the numbers of people dying from space travel are actually tiny compared to the tragedies of far more down to Earth activities. I then began to wonder, what exactly are the chances of dying in a space travel related incident, compared to the chances of dying in various other ways. A bit morbid maybe, but I think it is important to get a scale of these things before they are blown out of proportion. So, here it is, a list of your chances of dying in different ways:
Meteor Landing on your house: 1 in 182,139,000,000
Shark Attack: 1 in 578,000,000
Falling Coconut: 1 in 250,000,000
Blogging: 1 in 35,000,000
Plane Crash: 1 in 11,000,000
Lightning: 1 in 2,320,000
Falling out of bed: 1 in 72,000,000
Falling off a boat: 1 in 400,900
Dog Attack: 1 in 147,717
Walking Down the Street: 1 in 52,000
Freak Lawnmower Accident: 1 in 5,300
Bus or Train Accident: 1 in 77
Heart Disease: 1 in 3
Death from any cause: 1 in 1
And of course, your chance of dying in a space travel related accident: 1 in 228,000,000.
So, we should be about as wary of space travel as falling coconuts, if that gives you any sense of scale. Of course, there are significant dangers involved, but world class people are involved at every step of the way. After all, it is rocket science.
Data is sourced from Guardian.co.uk, Time, Google and an absolutely brilliant book by David McCandless; Information is Beautiful, which I recommend very highly to anyone at all.