Apollo 1 tragedy, reporter live from Cape Kennedy and Jules Bergman , ABC News, January 28, 1967





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Published on Jan 26, 2013

WIKIPEDIA INFO CUTS: Jules Bergman (March 21, 1929 -- February 11, 1987), a broadcast writer and journalist, served as Science Editor for ABC News from 1961 until his death in 1987. He is most remembered for his coverage of the American space program. "Phillips report": After the Apollo 1 fire took the lives of astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward H. White and Roger Chaffee on January 27, 1967, Bergman discovered and revealed the existence of a NASA document which became known as the "Phillips Report", which led to a minor scandal complicating NASA's recovery from the fire, and causing Administrator James E. Webb much embarrassment. In November 1965, Apollo program director Samuel C. Phillips had led a team which investigated and documented the causes of delivery, quality, and cost problems with Apollo prime contractor North American Aviation.[7] Phillips and his boss George Mueller had both chastised North American's management severely for the problems, and demanded corrective action.
Immediately after the fire in 1967, NASA followed its established procedure of investigating and identifying corrections for the cause, with Presidential and Congressinal oversight. No one in NASA's upper management expected that the Phillips findings would be printed as a document, but this had been done and on February 13, Bergman was shown a copy at the Office of Manned Space Flight headquarters.[8] He then told a junior Senator on the Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee, Walter Mondale, about the document, and later reported its existence on ABC. Mondale proceeded to grill the top managers, including Webb who was completely blind-sided, about the "report's" existence. Other Senators, such as Margaret Chase, then questioned Webb about NASA's choice of North American as the Apollo contractor. In its final report, the committee agreed with NASA that the Phillips review had absolutely no bearing on the fire, though the chairman expressed his disappointment that Webb had not kept them informed of Apollo program problems at the time. But Mondale issued a minority opinion accusing NASA of "evasiveness, ... lack of candor, ... patronizing attitude exhibited toward Congress, ... refusal to respond fully and forthrightly to legitimate congressional inquiries, and ... solicitous concern for corporate sensitivities at a time of national tragedy".[9]

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