|By Carmelo Turdo|
|Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee (NASA photo)|
Edward White had been pilot for the Gemini 4 mission, during which he became the first American to walk in space. He was born 14 November 1930 in San Antonio, Texas, and was 36 years old on the day of the Apollo 1 fire. He received a B.S. from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1952, an M.S. in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1959, and was selected as an astronaut in 1962. His backup was Major Donn Fulton Eisele [EYES-lee] (USAF).
Chaffee was training for his first spaceflight. He was born 15 February 1935 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was 31 years old on the day of the Apollo 1 fire. He received a B.S. in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1957, and was selected as an astronaut in 1963. His backup was Ronnie Walter “Walt” Cunningham.
It was concluded that the most likely cause was a spark from a short circuit in a bundle of wires that ran to the left and just in front of Grissom's seat. The large amount of flammable material in the cabin in the oxygen environment allowed the fire to start and spread quickly. A number of changes were instigated in the program over the next year and a half, including designing a new hatch which opened outward and could be operated quickly, removing much of the flammable material and replacing it with self-extinguishing components, using a nitrogen-oxygen mixture at launch, and recording all changes and overseeing all modifications to the spacecraft design more rigorously. Ironically, the command and service modules (capsule and propellant/rocket/utility sections) were constructed by North American Aviation, not McDonnell Aircraft who designed the earlier successful Mercury and Gemini manned spacecraft. Both North American (Rockwell) and McDonnell (Douglas) were absorbed into the Boeing Company decades later.
The Mission Designation and Patch Design
The mission now known as Apollo 1 was originally designated AS-204, and the launch vehicle that finally bore the designation AS-204 carried a lunar module, or LM, as the payload, instead of a command module. The missions of AS-201 and AS-202 with Apollo spacecraft aboard had been unofficially known as Apollo 1 and Apollo 2 missions. AS-203 carried only the aerodynamic nose cone. On April 24,1967, NASA's Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, Dr. George E. Mueller, announced that the mission originally scheduled for Grissom, White and Chaffee would be known as Apollo 1, and said that the first Saturn V launch, scheduled for November 1967, would be known as Apollo 4. The eventual launch of AS-204 became known as the Apollo 5 mission. No missions or flights were ever designated Apollo 2 or 3.
|Apollo I Patch (NASA graphic)|
At 6:31:04 pm please pause to remember the crew of Apollo 1 - one of three crews who lost their lives in the pursuit of American manned space flight.
(Portions of this posting provided by NASA)