This is a reprint of a post from 2013, updated for the date and now including a map of the lunar farside.
Apollo 1 astronauts Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White II and Roger B. Chaffee in front of Launch Complex 34 at Kennedy Space Center on January 17, 1967 (NASA/KSC)
Today marks the 48th anniversary of one of the worst tragedies to befall NASA and human spaceflight: the fire that broke out in the Apollo 204 (later renamed Apollo 1) command module during a test exercise at Kennedy Space Center in 1967, claiming the lives of primary crew astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.
While it’s certainly not a pleasant thing to think upon, the Apollo 1 catastrophe still had an undeniable impact on NASA’s Moon mission. Although it resulted in the death of three talented young men in the prime of their careers it did demand engineers to redesign the Apollo spacecraft with more safety in mind which, ultimately, contributed to the success of the entire program. Without these redesigns, the Moon landings may not have succeeded just a couple of years later. Despite the horror of the event, Grissom, White and Chaffee’s deaths ...