Apollo 1


October 19, 2021

Apollo 1, initially designated AS-204, was the first manned mission of the United States Apollo Program, which had as its ultimate goal a manned lunar landing. A cabin fire during a launch rehearsal on January 27, 1967 at the Cape Kennedy Air Force Station Launch Complex killed all three crew members. Immediately after the fire, NASA convened the Apollo 204 Accident Review Board to determine the cause of the fire, and both houses of the United States Congress conducted their own commission investigations to oversee NASA's investigation. The fire's ignition source was determined to be electrical, and the fire spread rapidly due to the high pressure in the cockpit. The rescue of the astronauts was impeded by the hatch in the door, which could not be opened against the higher internal pressure of the cabin. Failure to identify the test as dangerous (because the rocket was not fueled) led to the rescue being hampered by a lack of emergency preparedness. During the Congressional investigation, then-Senator Walter Mondale publicly revealed an internal NASA document citing problems with Apollo's main contractor North American Aviation, which became known as the "Phillips Report." This revelation shamed James Webb, the NASA Administrator, who was unaware of the document's existence, and attracted controversy to the Apollo program. Despite Congressional displeasure with NASA's lack of openness, both Congressional committees determined that the issues raised in the report were unrelated to the accident. Apollo manned flights were suspended for 20 months, while Command Module Security was questioned. However, development and unmanned testing of the Lunar Module and Saturn V rocket continued.





The Apollo 1 mission (which was proposed to overtake the USSR in the Space Race), was based on launching the first Apollo command module into Earth orbit, via the Saturn IB rocket. The astronauts, who would participate in the mission, were secretly chosen, and were only announced on March 21, 1966. It followed the same patterns as the Mercury and Gemini projects, which consisted of orbit missions from space modules.


On January 27, 1967, Apollo astronauts 'Gus' Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee of Project Apollo died on the ground in a fire inside the cockpit. What actually occurred was a short circuit inside the cabin, Grissom, via radio, communicated that there was fire in the "cockpit". Seconds later, Chaffee could be heard saying that he and his companions would exit the command module. But they couldn't, as the exit hatch had only mechanical locks, and the astronauts' efforts to open it proved futile. The team working outside the spacecraft tried in vain to open the hatch in the unbearable heat. When, finally, the command module was opened, the three astronauts were already dead, even though the space suit protected them from the fire, the excessive inhalation of smoke was fatal. As a result of this accident, the entire Apollo project schedule was delayed by twenty-one months. During this period, NASA engineers completely modified the command module cabin. About 1300 changes were made. The first successful manned mission of the Apollo project was the flight of the Apollo 7 mission.

External links

Crew Memorial in Spacelog


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