January 27, 1967 NASA astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White II and Roger Chaffee were seated in their Apollo 1 capsule atop the launch pad in a pre-launch test when a fire broke out. An electrical spark ignited a fire in the 100 pure oxygen atmosphere of the capsule and the astronauts were not able to escape.

Gus Grissom was one of the original seven astronauts and the second American to fly in space. Ed White was the first American to walk in space. Roger Chaffee was a Naval Aviator before being selected as an astronaut.

The Apollo series of missions would take American astronauts to the surface of the moon.

Watch the Original Newsreel Account of the Accident

In 2017, NASA dedicated a new tribute to the Apollo 1 crew at the Kennedy Space Center. The tribute called, “A Rough Road Leads to the Stars” features stories and items of the lives and careers of the three astronauts lost in the fire.

“Although the fire took place across the river on Launch Pad 34, their story didn’t end there and their legacy lives on today,” said Sheryl Chaffee at the time, daughter of Roger Chaffee.

50 Years Ago Today: Apollo 1 Capsule Fire Kills Crew

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“Ultimately, this is a story of hope, because these astronauts were dreaming of the future that is unfolding today,” said former astronaut Bob Cabana, center director at Kennedy. “Generations of people around the world will learn who these brave astronauts were and how their legacies live on through the Apollo successes and beyond.” – NASA

Apollo 1 Exhibit
Apollo 1 exhibit located at the Saturn V Building. Photo by NASA
Virgil I. Gus Grissom by NASA
Photo of Virgil I. Gus Grissom by NASA
Edward H. White
Photo of Edward H. White by NASA
Roger B. Chaffee
Photo of Roger B. Chaffee by NASA

Featured image of Gus Grissom, Ed White II and Roger Chaffee at Cape Kennedy’s Launch Complex 34 by NASA