On Jan. 27, 1967, NASA experienced its first space disaster - the deaths of three astronauts during a training excercise for the Apollo 1 mission. Pictured are the three Apollo 1 prime crewmembers intended for the first manned Apollo space flight: (L to R) Edward H. White II, Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, and Roger B. Chaffee. A fire inside the Apollo Command Module during a test took the lives of all three astronauts. NASA had not experienced a disaster of this magnitude previously.
This design was intended for the ill-fated mission. Apollo 1 was originally designated AS-204 but following the fire, the astronauts' widows requested that the mission be remembered as Apollo 1 and following missions would be numbered subsequent to the flight that never made it into space.
This high angle view shows the Apollo spacecraft Command Module for the AS-204 mission (later renamed Apollo 1), looking toward -Z axis, during preparation for installation of the crew compartment heat shield, showing mechanics working on aft bay.
This photograph shows Apollo 1's Command Module a day after the fire that took the lives of astronauts Lt. Col. Virgil "Gus" Ivan Grissom, Lt. Col. Edward Higgins White II, and Lt. Cdr. Roger Bruce Chaffee. The Command Module was taken to the White Room at Launch Complex 34. The intense heat of the flash fire has clearly affected the exterior.
This NASA schematic details the size of the Apollo space capsules, service modules and lunar landers that would ultimately take astronauts to the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
On Jan. 27, 1967, Apollo 1's crew—Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Edward H. White II and Roger B. Chaffee—was killed when a fire erupted in their capsule during testing. Here, the trio post at their Florida launch pad during training.
Spacecraft 12 (for AS-204 mission, later renamed Apollo 1) looking toward Y-axis during installation of heat shield. Note uprighting system compressor in aft bay, at right, and Reaction Control System (RCS) valve module panel, center of photo.
The three crew members for the Apollo-Saturn 204 (AS-204, later renamed Apollo 1) mission check out the couch installation on the Apollo Command Module (CM) at North American's Downey facility. Left to right in their pressurized space suits are astronauts Virgil I. Grissom, Roger B. Chaffee and Edward H. White II.
A stage of the uprated Saturn 1 launch vehicle mission unloaded from NASA barge Promise after arrival at Cape Kennedy. This launch vehicle was intended for Apollo/Saturn 204 mission (later renamed Apollo 1).
Prime crew members for the first manned Apollo 1 space flight practice water egress procedures in a swimming pool at Ellington Air Force Base (EAFB), Houston, Texas. Astronaut Edward H. White II rides life raft in the foreground. Astronaut Roger B. Chaffee sits in hatch of the boilerplate model of the spacecraft. Astronaut Virgil I. Grissom, third member of the crew, waits inside the spacecraft.
Astronauts Lt. Col. Virgil "Gus" Ivan Grissom, Lt.Col. Edward Higgins White II, and Lt. Cdr. Roger Bruce Chaffee enter the Apollo Command Module during training for mission Apollo/Saturn 204 (later known as Apollo 1), inside the altitude chamber at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
Apollo Spacecraft 12 Command/Service Module is moved from H-134 to east stokes for mating to the Saturn Lunar Module Adapter No. 05 in the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building. Spacecraft 12 was to have flown on the Apollo/Saturn 204 mission (later known as Apollo 1).
High angle view of Apollo Spacecraft 012 Command Module looking toward +Z axis during pre-shipping operations in south air lock of Systems Integration and Checkout Facility.
Astronauts for the first Apollo Mission (L-R) Roger B. Chaffee, Edward H. White and Virgil I. Grissom practice for the mission in the Apollo Mission Simulator.
The Apollo 1 space vehicle (initally referred to as Spacecraft 12) is hoisted to the top of the gantry at Pad 34 during the Apollo/Saturn Mission 204 (later known as the Apollo 1 flight) erection
The interior of the Command Module shows the effects of the intense heat of the flash fire which killed the prime crew during a routine training exercise. A faulty electrical switch ignited the pure oxygen environment. The speed and intensity of the fire rapidly used up the oxygen supply inside the crew cabin. Prevented by exiting by the awkward design of the hatch, the lack of breathable oxygen caused the crew to lose consciousness and perish.
Exterior of Apollo/Saturn 204 spacecraft at White Room of Complex 34, Cape Kennedy, Fla.
The flag draped coffin of Astronaut Virgil I. Grissom is escorted at Arlington Cemetery, Va., by his fellow astronauts, following the Apollo 1 fire that claimed his life.
NASA administrators sit at the witness table before the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Services, chaired by Senator Clinton P. Anderson, on the Apollo 1 (Apollo 204) accident. The individuals are (L to R) Dr. Robert C. Seamans, NASA Deputy Administrator; James E. Webb, NASA Administrator; Dr. George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, and Maj. Gen. Samuel C. Phillips, Apollo Program Director.
The prime crew members of NASA's first manned Apollo Space Flight are pictured during training in Florida on March 21, 1966. From left to right are astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee.