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Apollo 1's Fatal Fire Almost Ended the Spaceflight Program | Apollo

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Published on Oct 20, 2018

All three Apollo 1 astronauts were killed during a pre-launch test. In the months leading up to the disaster, there were several red flags that cemented the crew's fate.

While going to space and space exploration have always been a risk, from the very start of the Apollo Program, NASA got a stark realization of just how dangerous its Apollo moon missions would be and the space travel mission almost ended before it even got off the ground.

In the mid 1960s, NASA was working fast, attempting to take another step toward President John F. Kennedy’s goal of a moon landing by the end of the decade.

NASA selected Roger Chaffee, Virgil Grissom, and Ed White II as the crew for the mission that was later dubbed Apollo 1.

Chaffee, Grissom, White, and some experts all expressed concerns about the spacecraft including how much flammable material was present in the cabin. Some experts thought the pressure of Kennedy's deadline forced NASA and North American Aviation led to sacrifices in safety when it came to decision making, like the choice to opt for a single gas environment inside the capsule over a dual gas environment.

At 6:31 on January 27, 1967, a flash fire ripped through the spacecraft seconds after test conductors were ready to start the countdown.

It only took roughly 30 seconds for flames and toxic smoke to engulf the crew cabin, and it took a full five minutes for NASA ground crews and controllers to open the hatch.

The Apollo 1 fire killed Roger Chaffee, Grissom, and White at Cape Kennedy's Launch Complex 34 in Florida on Jan. 27, 1967, when the blaze erupted in their command module during preflight testing

This Is How the Apollo Program Began: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uyTg...

Read More:
Apollo 1: The Fire
https://history.nasa.gov/SP-4029/Apol...
“The first manned Apollo mission was scheduled for launch on 21 February 1967 at Cape Kennedy Launch Complex 34. However, the death of the prime crew in a command module fire during a practice session on 27 January 1967 put America’s lunar landing program on hold.”

The Apollo 1 Launchpad Fire: Remembering Grissom, White and Chaffee
http://time.com/3677252/the-apollo-1-...
“Test pilots can sense straightaway if they're working with a good vehicle or a bad one, and the Apollo 1 crew . . . knew almost immediately that they'd been assigned to a stinker. ”

Heat and Ashes: The Untold Story of the Apollo 1 Fire
https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/ar...
“A great deal of progress had been made since the first manned spaceflight programs, Gemini and Mercury. But the space race with the USSR, combined with Kennedy's public goal of a moon landing, created a growing sense of urgency to advance the Apollo program at a breakneck pace. As a result, everyone on the Apollo team felt a personal responsibility to put in marathon time.”
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