Saturday, January 27, 2007

"NASA marks anniversary of Apollo deaths"

The nation is recalling the deaths of astronauts Grissom, White, and Chaffee as they sat in the Apollo 1 module 40 years ago today. A fire broke out in the cabin, killing all three astronauts. Their deaths were tragic, but we learned from that horrible day.

The deaths of Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee forced NASA to take pause in its space race with the Soviet Union and make design and safety changes that were critical to the agency's later successes.

"I can assure you if we had not had that fire and rebuilt the command module ... we could not have done the Apollo program successfully," said retired astronaut John Young, who flew in Gemini 3 with Grissom in 1965. "So we owe a lot to Gus, and Rog and Ed. They made it possible for the rest of us to do the almost impossible." [ellipsis in original]

Let's remember them.

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