NASA Day of Remembrance
Each January, we honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, as well as other members of the NASA family who lost their lives supporting NASA’s mission of exploration. We thank them and their families for their extraordinary sacrifices in the service of our nation.
On this Day of Remembrance, as we remember our fallen heroes with tributes and public ceremonies, I will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Across the country, all flags at NASA Headquarters and the NASA centers will be flown at half-mast in their memory.
Space exploration is a difficult and dangerous endeavor. We recognize these pioneers’ sacrifices each day with our ongoing commitment to safety. As an agency, we know the risks inherent in each mission. Ensuring the safety of our employees is our highest priority.
The legacy of those we have lost is our ongoing work and the inspiration of generations of new space explorers. Every day, with each new challenge we overcome and every discovery we make, we honor these remarkable men and women. Please join me in working to fulfill their dreams for the future.
Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
January 27, 1967.
That date doesn't mean anything significant to most Americans. On that day, three men died in the service of our nation as they conducted a routine test on their command capsule. Much has been written about that day and these men. I cannot add anything substantial to what has gone before, so I will just point to what I think were the best attempts to explain what happened, and to remember these men who died on our journey to the Moon.
A video tribute to the crew of Apollo 1.
On January 27, 1967, tragedy struck the Apollo program when a flash fire occurred in command module 012 during a launch pad test of the Apollo/Saturn space vehicle being prepared for the first piloted flight, the AS-204 mission. Three astronauts, Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom, a veteran of Mercury and Gemini missions; Lt. Col. Edward H. White, the astronaut who had performed the first United States extravehicular activity during the Gemini program; and Roger B. Chaffee, an astronaut preparing for his first space flight, died in this tragic accident.
A seven-member board, under the direction of the NASA Langley Research Center Director, Dr. Floyd L. Thompson, conducted a comprehensive investigation to pinpoint the cause of the fire. The final report, completed in April 1967 was subsequently submitted to the NASA Administrator. The report presented the results of the investigation and made specific recommendations that led to major design and engineering modifications, and revisions to test planning, test discipline, manufacturing processes and procedures, and quality control. With these changes, the overall safety of the command and service module and the lunar module was increased substantially. The AS-204 mission was redesignated Apollo I in honor of the crew.
This is an audio recording of the actual last moments of the crew of Apollo 1, with commentary and a play by play of the initial accident investigation.
This is a dramatization of the tragic event, as presented during the "From the Earth to the Moon" miniseries on HBO.
For more information on this accident, please visit the following webpages:
Apollo 1 Memorial Foundation
National Space Data Center Apollo 1 page