The Apollo 1 Mission/Tragedy

apollo 1 patch

Date of Incident: January 27, 1967
Intended Launch Date: February 21, 1967
Return Date: N/A


Commander: Virgil Grissom
Command Pilot: Edward White
Pilot: Roger Chaffee

Mission Details

One of the worst tragedies in space exploration occurred on January 27, 1967. The Apollo 1 crew was performing a plugs-out test before the actual launch date when a fire broke out and engulfed the cockpit, burning all three astronauts alive. The launch pad personnel struggled to open the hatch, but a poor hatch design combined with pressure suction problems required 5 minutes to get it open.

The cause of the fire was determined only after an extensive investigation. The fire resulted from a spark from a short circuit underneath a seat in the command module. This resulted in the seat catching fire and, with the high amounts of oxygen, the fire spread quickly. As a result of the tragedy, changes were implemented in the command module design, including a new hatch design and removal of highly flammable materials.

apollo 1 crew

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