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Published July 1, 2018

The Apollo 1 crew:
(L-R) Edward White, Command Pilot
Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Commander
Roger Chaffee, Pilot


Apologies for the delay on this episode; I got struck down by a summer cold and couldn’t record until it cleared up a bit.

The three men who climbed inside the Apollo 1 module on that fateful January day knew that they were in a risky business; Command Pilot Grissom said as much to reporters just a few weeks before. Those who go into space, especially in those early days, have always known that there was a possibility they might not return.

What this crew didn’t know was that they wouldn’t get to leave.

Because NASA is a US governmental agency, there are many images connected with the tragedy that are in the public domain. In the picture below, you can see the aftermath of the fire. Inside this cramped module, the three crewmen would have been side by side, their heads nearest the door. Grissom was seated on the left, White in the centre, and Chaffee on the right, furthest from the point of origin.

I am honestly not sure what would be worse; to die in space, or to die dreaming of space, still on the Earth.

The interior of the scorched Command Module



Thanks this episode go to:

I’d like to say a special thank you to Patreon supporters¬†Skeleheron,¬†LouLi and Mish Liddle, and to all of you for listening and reading.

Supporting the Great Disasters podcast on Patreon can give you access to exclusive content, and helps the show keep going.


Sources and Further Reading:

I took much of the information in this episode from official NASA sources:

Apollo 1 Summary

Apollo 1 Timeline

Moonport: A History of Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations – By Charles D. Benson and William Barnaby Faherty.

Chariots for Apollo: A History of Manned Lunar Spacecraft – By Courtney G Brooks, James M. Grimwood, Loyd S. Swenson

Apollo 1 overview

Apollo 204 Review Board Final Report

In addition:

“Fire in the Cockpit!” – Archived article from American Heritage

Space: Blind Spot – TIME article (subscriber content)

Wikipedia article on Apollo 1

The audio from the test – including the fire – is available on line. I choose not to link it because it is disturbing.

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