Re: The wonder of it all
"To date the yanks have lost 24 astronauts in the space programs compared to 8 Russians, the russians still have a more or less working launch vehicle the Yanks own launches are mostly carried out with Russian motors. I dare say there is as much graft in the American system as in the Russian system. It just goes to show how good NASA is that it can carry on and deliver as well as it does."
That's a very ignorant post.
To start with, 14 of those US fatalities were on the two Space Shuttle disasters. The Russians have never had an operational equivalent to the Space Shuttle and the 135 missions which they flew. This alone makes comparisons between total Soviet fatalities and US casualties specious at best.
Recall that the Challenger was lost due to middle managers ignoring the warnings of engineers advising against the launch that proved fatal. This was not the result of an engineering failure, and not the result of graft, but the result of an "administrator failure". (You might want to play the first Half-Life game for an easy-to-understand example of this.)
Here's another example of "administrator failure":
On February 1, 2003, Columbia disintegrated during re-entry, killing its crew of seven, because of damage to the carbon-carbon leading edge of the wing caused during launch. Ground control engineers had made three separate requests for high-resolution images taken by the Department of Defense that would have provided an understanding of the extent of the damage, while NASA's chief thermal protection system (TPS) engineer requested that astronauts on board Columbia be allowed to leave the vehicle to inspect the damage. NASA managers intervened to stop the Department of Defense's assistance and refused the request for the spacewalk,and thus the feasibility of scenarios for astronaut repair or rescue by Atlantis were not considered by NASA management at the time. No graft here either, it appears. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle#Shuttle_disasters
Two of those US fatalities you include in your total were incurred in the loss of the Scaled Composites / Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise. What this has to do with NASA (or graft) as mentioned in your second paragraph, is not altogether clear.
We further have US astronaut fatalities while flying jets dues to bird strikes (Theodore Freeman), crashes in bad weather (See and Bassett), a T-38 jet crash due to an aileron control mechanical failure (Williams), a death in an F-104 while practicing a series of high speed, quick descent landings (Lawrence). There have been Russian losses for similar reasons. Please note that losses from bird strikes and bad weather, or while practicing dangerous maneuvers, can NOT be attributed to graft.
Note that the Russians have had TWO fatal incidents during space flight proper (the Soyuz 1 parachute failure with 1 death, and Soyuz 11 decompression with 3 deaths) while the Americans have had NO fatal incidents in the US equivalent vehicle, Apollo. (I am not counting the Apollo fire with 3 fatalities as that was a test and neither a launch or a space flight. But if we count that, then we need to also count the death of Valentin Bondarenko, who died due the same mistake that cost Grissom, White and Chaffee their lives: having an atmosphere that was dangerously and unnecessarily oxygen-rich. Both the US and the Russians corrected this situation after their respective fatal accidents. However, as the Russians kept the Bondarenko accident a secret, NASA was not able to learn from their experience, as they at least arguably might have done.)
So: for actual space flight, for space vehicles for which the Russian and the US each had equivalents (Soyuz and Apollo) the American record is no fatal incidents, while the Russians had two fatal incidents. The two space flights proper in which the US incurred fatalities were in vehicles for which the Russians never had an operational equivalent. (The Buran, the Soviet space shuttle equivalent, only flew once and was unmanned, I believe.) So you can decide which record is better, using something more significant and meaningful than the very misleading statistic "total deaths".
(Note that it is possible that the numbers might change if we had "fatal incidents per launch for equivalent classes of vehicles" but I kinda doubt it.)
(Most of the above information taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_spaceflight-related_accidents_and_incidents, q.v. for additional information on non-fatal accidents and incidents.)