IN MEMORIAM: Apollo 1 Crew Pays Ultimate Price

By  //  January 27, 2013

in memoriam

(VIDEO: Jarrah White)

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA –  Forty six years ago today, on January 27th 1967, the Apollo 1 crew of Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee were burned to death when the pure oxygen inside their capsule caught fire.

LEFT TO RIGHT: Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee in front of Launch Complex 34. Immediately after the fatal fire, NASA convened the Apollo 204 Accident Review Board to determine the cause of the fire. Although the ignition source was never conclusively identified, the astronauts’ deaths were attributed to a wide range of lethal design and construction flaws in the early Apollo Command Module. The manned phase of the project was delayed for 20 months while these problems were corrected. (NASA image)

A cabin fire during a launch pad test of Apollo 1 (initially designated Apollo Saturn-204 and AS-204) at Launch Pad 34 at Cape Canaveral killed all three crew members—Command Pilot Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward H. White and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee—and destroyed the Command Module. Apollo was scheduled to be the first manned mission of the U.S. Apollo manned lunar landing program, with a target launch date of February 21, 1967.

The name Apollo 1, chosen by the crew, was officially retired by NASA in commemoration of them on April 24, 1967.

Virgil Ivan “Gus” Grissom
Edward Higgens White Jr.
Roger Bruce Chaffee