January 27, 1967: Apollo 1 Practice Launch Ends in Tragedy
On this day in 1967, tragedy struck the space program. Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee had been selected as the crew for Apollo 1, the first flight of the next generation of spacecraft succeeding the Gemini program.
During a practice launch countdown, a flash fire erupted inside the sealed cockpit. Within seconds the men were unconscious; minutes later they were dead. Because of the pressure of the fire, and the fact that the spacecraft’s hatch opened inward, there was no hope of escape.
Learn more about the Apollo missions with American Experience’s “Race to the Moon.”
Photo: Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, Apollo 1 crew (NASA).