Photos of the Apollo 1 Fire: NASA's First Disaster

Apollo 1 Crew


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.

AS-204 Patch


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.

Angle on Apollo


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.

After the Fire


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.

Apollo Spacecraft Diagram

Diagram showing relative sizes of Apollo astronauts, the Lunar Module, and the Command/Service Module.

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.

Apollo 1 Crew Outdoors


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.

Building the Apollo 1 Craft


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.

Three Crew Members Check Couch Installation


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.

Saturn 1 Launch Vehicle


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).

Water Egress Training


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.

Apollo 1 Astronauts Training


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).

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