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1967: Apollo 1 (NASA)

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Published on Apr 18, 2008

Apollo 1 is the official name given to the never-flown Apollo/Saturn 204 (AS-204) mission. Its command module (CM-012) was destroyed by fire during a test and training exercise on 27 January 1967 at Pad 34 (Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral, then known as Cape Kennedy) atop a Saturn IB rocket. The crew onboard were the astronauts selected for the first manned Apollo program mission: Command Pilot Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Senior Pilot Ed White and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee. All three died in the fire.

Although the ignition source of the fire was never determined, the astronauts' deaths were attributed to a wide range of lethal design hazards in the early Apollo command module. Among these were its use of a highly-pressurized 100%-oxygen atmosphere, many wiring and plumbing flaws, flammable materials in the cockpit, a hatch which might not open at all in an emergency, and the flight suits worn by the astronauts.

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