Mind-Blowing Apollo 1 Facts That You Probably Didn't Know | Kidadl


Mind-Blowing Apollo 1 Facts That You Probably Didn't Know

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The Apollo 1 mission was the first of the Apollo space program, which aimed to send humans to the moon.

It was launched during the era of the infamous 'space race' between the United States and the Soviet Union, which saw the two nations competing to see who would achieve higher spaceflight ability. Unfortunately, this mission never got to take flight, with a cabin fire claiming the lives of the onboard crew at the launch complex during a test run.

Though it was a tragedy, the Apollo accident set the benchmark for improving all future Apollo modules, with leaps and bounds being taken in developing safer and easy-to-navigate modules for future Apollo missions. Though the Apollo 1 launch never got to see the light of day, it did prompt technicians to put emphasis on the safety of the crew, leading to monumental changes being made in how the spacecraft was prepared. To read more about this infamous incident, read on!

If you enjoy this article, you may also enjoy our pages on Apollo 12 facts and Apollo 18 facts.

Apollo 1 Mission

The Apollo 1 mission, initially termed the AS-204 mission, was the first manned flight planned in the Apollo program, which was designed to send humans to the moon and bring them back. It was the first planned flight of the Apollo CSM (Command and service module), which was designed to enter lunar orbit and release a lunar module, which would have taken astronauts to the moon.

The command module would have contained a television camera, to broadcast live from the mission. The Apollo 1 mission was planned just to test out the new command module, and to conduct a low Earth orbit.

Though the mission didn't go as planned, it did help in leaps and bounds to further improve the command module, which would successfully help to develop the Apollo 11 mission, which saw Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, piloted by Michael Collins, set foot on the moon, as well as other notable missions like Apollo 15, in which astronauts drove a lunar rover on the lunar surface!

After the Apollo 1 disaster, all Saturn IB missions (the launch vehicle used for the Apollo program) were suspended until further changes were made, in order to prevent more casualties in the future like the Apollo 1 deaths.

Apollo 1 Crew

The Apollo 1 crew consisted of three astronauts, all of whom were highly trained and had some amount of prior experience of working with spacecraft. They were Virgil Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White.

The commander of the project was Virgil 'Gus' Grissom, for whom it would have been his third spaceflight. He was a war veteran and highly experienced engineer and test pilot. The command pilot Gus Grissom initially flew into space in the Project Mercury program on the Liberty Bell 7, making him the second American in space, and he returned shortly as part of Project Gemini, in the Gemini 3.

His senior pilot was Edward 'Ed' White, who served in the Air Force. It was to be his second flight in space, the first being on the Gemini 4, which he piloted. He died trying to trigger the controls which would open the hatch.

The last man in the crew was Roger Chaffee, who was the youngest American at the time to be chosen for a space mission. Apollo 1 was going to be his initial flight into space before he died of asphyxiation during the tragedy that was the Apollo 1 fire. He was chosen to pilot the Lunar module, which would have been detached from the main command module as in all other Apollo missions.

All three astronauts on the prime crew, unfortunately, passed away in the tragedy that occurred while testing the spacecraft on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The tragedy took place at the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center, during a test run. Unfortunately, all three crew members lost their lives in the incident.

What started the Apollo 1 fire?

As with any other equipment being prepared to be launched into space, a test run was done of the Apollo 1 spacecraft on January 27, 1967, on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During the test run, all three crew members were shut inside the spacecraft, and the hatch shut tight before pressurizing the cabin. During pressurization, more air was pumped inside than usual, which increased the content of pure oxygen inside the cabin. This also put more pressure on everything which was inside the cabin, but it was an essential step to make sure that everything would work well in the expanse of space.

After pressurizing the cabin, unfortunately, a faulty wire sparked, which caused a fire. As fire needs oxygen to burn, the presence of pure oxygen caused it to spread rapidly, meaning that it went out of control in a matter of seconds. The high pressure inside the cabin also prevented the backup crew from opening the hatch and retrieving Grissom, White, and Chaffee, who were trapped inside. This led to their unfortunate deaths in the fire.

The accurate cause of the fire was not able to be pinpointed. Inspections done on the spacecraft afterward revealed that there could have been many possibilities for the cause of the fire, as there were many flammable materials left near the wires which would have helped in the rapid spread of the fire. The presence of pure oxygen was just an unfortunate circumstance.

What did Apollo 1 accomplish?

Apollo 1 was the first in a series of missions in the Apollo program which was designed to send humans to space and bring them back safely. The first Apollo mission was created in mind to bring back information that would be used in designing a spacecraft that would successfully take humans to the moon and bring them back. Though it was not advanced enough to actually initiate a lunar landing, it was designed to send the command module into low earth orbit and test out its full capabilities.

As unfortunate as the tragedy was, it helped give aerospace engineers and technicians ideas on how to further improve the design of the Apollo spacecraft used for subsequent missions, to ensure optimum crew safety. The most notable differences made after investigating the tragedy were improvements to the hatch door, making it easier to open in times of emergency, replacing the pure oxygen atmosphere with a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen, and storing flammable materials out of reach so that they would not be the cause of any more fires. Extensive reworking of all wiring and hardware was done, and all manned flights were postponed until they were cleared by NASA officials, as a precaution against further tragedies.

The spacesuits of the future astronauts were remade as well, with the flammable material Nylon being replaced with beta cloth woven from fiberglass, and coated with the non-stick Teflon. All Velcro was also removed from the insides of the spacecraft and replaced with self-extinguishing upgrades, being a highly flammable material, and all wires were covered with protective insulation to prevent sparking and breakouts of more fires. All the aluminum tubing was also replaced with stainless steel, which was much more heat resistant and not prone to melting easily.

In memory of the three Apollo astronauts who lost their lives for the advancement of space exploration, the mission, originally named Apollo 204, was labeled Apollo 1, and a patch from their mission was left on the moon as a tribute by the astronauts of Apollo 11, the mission which finally saw the first moon landing, but not without the sacrifices of the Apollo 1 crew. The tragedy that occurred during the testing for what would have been the maiden voyage of the Apollo program did not see the light of day, but it did pave the way for future missions which would ultimately help man first set foot on the moon safely.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Apollo 1 facts then why not take a look at Apollo 15 facts, or Apollo 10 facts.

Written By
Tanya Parkhi

<p>Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.</p>

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