Apollo Missions NASA / History
Disaster strikes during a safety check
A fire in the cockpit takes the lives of three astronauts
On January 27, 1967, three NASA astronauts tragically died during a preflight test, for a mission that later became known as Apollo 1
Being an astronaut comes with its share of dangers, one of which is going into the relatively unknown and treacherous frontier of space
But in this case, tragedy struck before the astronauts ever launched
At one in the afternoon, they entered the command module at Cape Kennedy’s Launch Complex 34 in Florida for a launch rehearsal
Grissom had to lower White’s headrest so White could reach above and behind his left shoulder to use a ratchet device to release the latches on the inner hatch, before doing the same on the outer hatch. He never finished the process.
Fire filled the room and made it impossible to reach the astronauts trapped inside. Technicians attempted to access the sealed space capsule, but the command module exploded before they could reach it.
NASA immediately undertook detailed investigations into the disaster, and all crewed Apollo flights were suspended for 20 months while the command module’s hazards were addressed