Worker's Death At Shuttle Launch Pad Ruled Suicide

While the space shuttle Endeavour was being prepped for her final flight, one worker took his life at LC39A. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – It was an unspoken fact that the United Space Alliance (USA) worker that fell to his death on March 14 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida – had in fact committed suicide. This was known since the day of the incident, but was not revealed until almost two months after his death.

 The incident took place with the space shuttle Endeavour on the pad; the orbiter was being prepared for her final mission – STS-134.

James Vanover took his own life when he jumped from Launch Complex 39 – the USA contractor fell some 130 feet. Paramedics tried to revive him, but were unsuccessful. These details among others were included in a report just released by the Brevard County Medical Examiner.

Although numerous reasons have been given as to why Vanover committed suicide the report states that it was due to the fact that he was upset about going blind. Vanover had worked at KSC for almost 30 years; he spent the last half of that with USA where he worked as an engineer on the structure’s swing arm.

After his death, all activity ceased at LC39A for a day and counseling was offered to KSC workers. According to NASA this is the first fatality at the pad since 1981 when two workers died preparing the space shuttle Columbia for her maiden voyage.

According to Central Florida News 13 despite the revelation of the cause of Vanover’s death, USA has not offered any comments on the incident other than to say that it was cooperating in the ongoing investigation and working to assist coworkers impacted by the death.

With the end of the shuttle era and the cancellation of what was to be the successor program, Constellation, USA has been forced to lay off many of the skilled technicians that have kept the American human spaceflight going for 30 years.

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4 comments to Worker’s Death At Shuttle Launch Pad Ruled Suicide

  • Gary Wendt

    Why do you tag this story with “Garver”? Did she have anything to do with this? You guys need to get over this Garver-hating obsession.

    • Gary,

      You’ll also note that Bolden’s name is up there. Charlie and his Número Dós lead NASA, the Agency for which this individual worked. We don’t hate Charlie. And we don’t hate Lori. To use a Bushism, we’re likers, not haters.

      But we are glad to know you are scouring the net looking for anything that might be construed, however remotely, as anti-NASA’s number two. Keep up the good work, one it’s clear you are passionate about to the point of obsession.

  • Jason Rhian

    Gary,

    While it was cited that his going blind was one of the reasons he committed suicide, one has to ask – “then why did he choose LC39A?” The fact is he, like so many in the area, have been tragically impacted by the new path that NASA has been placed on – and supported by Garver and Bolden. Sorry, but this relates to a decision they supported – and therefore is tied to them, – however inconvenient that may be.

  • Jason Rhian

    Garyo,

    Not sure if you’re aware but two of the key architects of the new space policy are John Holdren – and Lori Garver. They’re responsible for the cancellation of the POR – Constellation. Therein they’re responsible for Mr. Hanover’s loss of his job. How much more correlation to the article do you need? Perhaps more research and less emotion would assist you in determining how and why tags are selected.

    With regards, Jason Rhian