It was 44 years ago today that a fire in the cabin during a launch pad test at Launch Pad 34 at Cape Canaveral killed all three crew members – Command Pilot Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward H. White and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee – and destroyed the Command Module.
Appollo 1 was scheduled to be the first manned mission of the Apollo manned lunar landing program, with a target launch date of February 21, 1967. The mission name Apollo 1, chosen by the crew, was officially retired by NASA in commemoration of them on April 24, 1967.
Immediately after the fire, NASA convened the Apollo 204 Accident Review Board to determine the cause of the fire. Although the ignition source was never conclusively identified, the astronauts’ deaths were attributed to a wide range of lethal design and construction flaws in the early Apollo Command Module. The manned phase of the project was delayed for 20 months while these problems were corrected.
My family visited KSC in late spring/early summer that year and the Saturn 1b booster was still on Launch Pad 34. Do you remember where you were?