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Paul L. Gleiser | all galleries >> Working the Apollo 40th Anniversary Story > 20060913160547.jpg
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Lauch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral, Florida

America's first space tragedy took place right here on Earth. On January 27, 1967, astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee were sealed inside their Apollo 1 command module atop a Saturn 1B on Launch Complex 34. They were conducting a countdown demonstration test. The spacecraft was pressurized at 15 p.s.i. with pure oxygen. Though never conclusively proved, it is strongly believed that a spark was generated from a wiring bundle beneath the center couch of the spacecraft. In the pure oxygen environment, a fire quickly enveloped the interior of the spacecraft. The hatch, redesigned following the fire, could not be quickly removed. All three astronauts died. (photo courtesy of NASA.)

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