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Today In Space History: Apollo 1 Fire

Flowers and plaque at the KSC Astronaut Memorial. NASA PHOTO NO: KSC-07PD-0174January 27th marks the 42nd anniversary of a tragic day in the race for the moon: the Apollo 1 fire. On 27 Jan 1967, three astronauts lost their lives on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral during a test procedure in preparation for what would have been the first mission in the lunar program. Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee perished when a spark ignited the pure-oxygen atmosphere of the Apollo Command Module at Pad 34. Crew info here; Image collections here and here. The loss of AS-204 caused a delay of nearly two years in the Apollo program, resulting in many changes to the spacecraft design.

Life Magazine photo from the Grissom burialIn December 1997, nearly 31 years after the accident, President Clinton posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor to Chaffee and White. Grissom's was among the first medals awarded in October 1978 by President Carter.

This week will see remembrances of the three tragedies whose anniversaries fall so closely on the calendar: Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia. Never forget the heroes of space exploration!

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