Apollo1 emblem investigation tragedy history conclusion crew crew NASA Head Quarters

main page

Apollo-1 (204)

Pad 34-A (7)
Saturn-1B AS-204 (4)
CSM-x ()
Apollo Pad Fire


Virgil "Gus" Ivan Grissom, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF
Edward Higgins White, II, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF
Roger Bruce Chaffee, Lieutenant Commander, USN
Look below for Mary C. Zornio's more detailed biographies.

Backup Crew:

Walter M. "Wally" Schirra, Jr., Captain, USN
Donn F. Eisele, Colonel, USAF
Walter Cunningham, Colonel, USMC (Reserves)

On January 27, 1967, tragedy struck the Apollo program when a flash fire occurred in command module 012 during a launch pad test of the Apollo/Saturn space vehicle being prepared for the first piloted flight, the AS-204 mission. Three astronauts, Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom, a veteran of Mercury and Gemini missions; Lt. Col. Edward H. White, the astronaut who had performed the first United States extravehicular activity during the Gemini program; and Roger B. Chaffee, an astronaut preparing for his first space flight, died in this tragic accident.

A seven-member board, under the direction of the NASA Langley Research Center Director, Dr. Floyd L. Thompson, conducted a comprehensive investigation to pinpoint the cause of the fire. The final report, completed in April 1967 was subsequently submitted to the NASA Administrator. The report presented the results of the investigation and made specific recommendations that led to major design and engineering modifications, and revisions to test planning, test discipline, manufacturing processes and procedures, and quality control. With these changes, the overall safety of the command and service module and the lunar module was increased substantially. The AS-204 mission was redesignated Apollo I in honor of the crew.

Click here to read the Senate report on the accident.

The Crew | History | The Tragedy | Investigation | Conclusions | Gallery of Photos

In addition, Mary C. White (no relation to Ed White) has written detailed biographies of the three crew members. Click here for her introduction, Roger Chaffee biography, Gus Grissom biography, Ed White biography, or Epilogue.

NASA History home page icon
NASA History search icon

Updated September 10, 2015
Steve Garber, NASA History Web Curator
For further information E-mail hq-histinfo@nasa.gov