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Historic Unedited Photos They Don’t Want You To See
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Entertainment
Historic Unedited Photos They Don’t Want You To See
Publication: Historical History.
Posted by
760a631d0dea2ae92cb6e9f7b157b927
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Apollo 1 Crew Final Moments

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Where:
Cape Canaveral, Florida
When:
1967-01-27
Summary:
All three members of the Apollo 1's crew were killed during the spacecraft's failed launch in 1967

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Apollo 1 Crew Final Moments



  Where:
Cape Canaveral, Florida

  When:
1967-01-27

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Next Photo
or read more about below

Man has been wanting to go to space for more than a half century, and the first came in April 1961 as Yuri Gagarin helped lift the USSR into orbit on the Vostok 1. Hoping not to be outdone, the United States set out with a manned space mission of their own, setting a date for launch of February 21, 1967. The three men that were scheduled to be on the ship, the Apollo 1, were Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, the three men shown in the photo.

Unfortunately, things would turn tragic weeks before the mission’s scheduled launch. On January 27, 1961, the three crew members were going through a rehearsal test at Cape Kennedy Air Force Station. The crew had actually been critical of how many engineering changes were made in the months leading up to the scheduled launch, and even joked about it by taking a photo of themselves praying.

Among the concerns that the crew had was with the high amount of flammable products that were within the cabin, including nylon. On that fateful day in January 1961, the crew was running through a test to see if the ship would be able to operate without having any cables being attached. This was supposed to be a simple test without danger, as there wasn’t any fuel on the ship, and potential explosive elements were removed from the cabin.

Unfortunately, while the crew was strapped into their seats, the hatch was installed and the cabin filled with oxygen. Then, during a downtime between simulations, crew members started to make mention of a fire that could vaguely be heard through their microphones. It isn’t known exactly what the crew said when the fire started, but one thing was clear, and that was that the word fire had been said.

The transmission ended in what was believed to be panicked screams or possible pain from the fire, and there was a strong worry that the fire would escape the cabin and ignite the nearby fuel tank that could have caused more casualties on the ground and done damage to the Kennedy Space Center. The air pressure of the cabin sealed the fate of the three crew members, but the fire didn’t spread outside of the ship itself.

It was a gruesome scene inside of the cabin once the fire had come to an end, and those that were tasked with removing the crew members from the Apollo 1 were exposed to a terrorizing scene that took 90 minutes to clear out. Because of the incident, there were a lot of questions and fear that the Apollo program wouldn’t be a success.

An investigation was launched by NASA, and it was determined that the three men on board had all passed away from cardiac arrest due to the high levels of carbon monoxide that the fire brought with it. Major changes were made to the program, and it wasn’t until the next year that the United States would send a manned Apollo craft into space.

That came on October 11, 1968 with the launch of the Apollo 7 with Wally Schirra, Donn F. Eisele and Walter Cunningham, which made its way around Earth’s orbit in a mission that lasted for nearly 11 full days. Then, of course, there was the Apollo 11 mission with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. That would be the first flight where mankind landed and walked on the moon, accomplishing the ultimate mission of the Apollo program.

As for the men that lost their lives aboard the Apollo 1, they are still fondly remembered for their service both before and during their time in the space program. Grissom was a decorated aviator during World War II and the Korean War that reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force. An Air Reserve Base in central Indiana bears the name of the man from the Hoosier State.

Ed White was actually the first American to walk in space, so he had been a very notable name in the history of space exploration. Like Grissom, he was lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force that has several schools named in his honor, including Ed White Middle School in Huntsville, Alabama, the city that’s home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

Roger Chaffee was a member of the United States Navy, achieving the rank of lieutenant commander that had received awards for his service during the Cuban Missile Crisis, being given two Air Medals. Chaffee was the youngest member of the crew at just 31 years old, 19 days of his 32nd birthday. All three men were posthumously awarded with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

The Apollo program would continue with their manned missions until 1972, when the last one took to the skies on December 7 of that year with Apollo 17. The United States is still developing programs for space exploration, with many of them being unmanned. It was a hard sacrifice for Grissom, White and Chaffee to make back in 1967, but they’d be pleased to know just how much has been discovered about space in the more than 50 years since their deaths.

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