Archive for July 15, 2019

07/15/2019 – Ephemeris – The Apollo 1 tragedy

July 15, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, July 15th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 14 minutes, setting at 9:25, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:12. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 5:48 tomorrow morning.

On January 27th, 1967 the crew of Apollo 1 were running a dress rehearsal of their upcoming launch. On board were Gus Grissom, veteran of the Mercury and Gemini programs, Ed White the first American to walk in space on Gemini 4, and rookie astronaut Roger Chaffee from my home town of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Five and a half hours after the test started one of the crew called out “Fire in the cockpit”. In a very few minutes the astronauts were dead. They were running in a pure oxygen atmosphere at a bit above atmospheric pressure and a spark may have ignited the flammable materials in the spacecraft. The accident delayed the program nearly 2 years as the capsule was redesigned.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.


Apollo 1 crew

Left to right: Virgil I. (Gus) Grissom, veteran of the second Mercury flight and Gemini 3, the first manned Gemini flight; Edward H. White first American space walker on Gemini 4, and rookie Roger B. Chaffee. Credit: NASA.

Apollo 1 spacecraft after the fire

The outside of the Apollo 1 capsule after thr fire that took the three astronaut’s lives. Credit: NASA.