Starts With A Bang

The Tragedy Of Apollo 1 And The Lessons That Brought Us To The Moon (Synopsis)

Image credit: NASA, of the Apollo 1 crew.

“If we die, we want people to accept it. We’re in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.” -Gus Grissom

On January 27, 1967, the Apollo 1 crew was performing a “plugs-out” test of the Command/Service Module, an essential simulation of how the three-person capsule would perform under in-space conditions under its own power. At 6:30 PM, a voltage spike occurred, leading to a disaster. In 26 seconds, everything changed.

Image credit: NASA, of the aftermath of the Apollo 1 fire.

The Apollo 1 fire and the tragic death of all three astronauts wasn’t due to just a single point-of-failure, but rather due to five independent confounding factors that if any one of them had been different, the astronauts Grissom, White and Chaffee might have survived. As it stands, all the crewed Apollo missions were scrapped for 20 months while NASA changed how they did business. The changes worked remarkably well, and 2.5 years later, humans walked on the Moon.

Image credit: NASA / Apollo 11, via https://www.flickr.com/photos/projectapolloarchive/albums/72157658601662068.

Go read the whole story of Apollo 1 here.