Space News
space history and artifacts articles

Messages
space history discussion forums

Sightings
worldwide astronaut appearances

Resources
selected space history documents

Websites
related space history websites


Thread Closed  Topic Closed
  collectSPACE: Messages
  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Apollo 1: Would the fire have happened in space? (Page 2)

Post New Topic  
profile | register | preferences | faq | search


This topic is 3 pages long:   1  2  3 
next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Apollo 1: Would the fire have happened in space?
MiliputMan
Member

Posts: 48
From: St-Jean Chrysostome, Quebec, Canada
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 08-30-2004 08:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MiliputMan   Click Here to Email MiliputMan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Clemmons:
This is an excerpt from my book, "Men of Apollo" which I hope to release later this year.
Well... you just sold one book.

rjurek349
Member

Posts: 914
From:
Registered: Jan 2002

posted 08-30-2004 10:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for rjurek349   Click Here to Email rjurek349     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Make that two!

Stephen Clemmons
Member

Posts: 108
From: Wilmington, NC, New Hanover
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 08-30-2004 10:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Stephen Clemmons   Click Here to Email Stephen Clemmons     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Explanation of "Men of Apollo" by Stephen Clemmons

I wrote this book, not about the astronauts or all the big wigs of NASA but about the real men of Apollo. The men down in the trenches who made it happen.

You never hear of these forgotten heroes because they didn't matter and didn't sell copy until there was a big accident or something.

Over one half million workers were involved in designing, testing and building the mighty Saturn V Rockets, spacecraft and lunar excursion modules that went to the moon and back.

Yet when push came to shove, it all boiled down to a small elite crew of dedicated men that made all this happen.They were hand selected for their knowledge, fortitude and sheer guts to make it happen.

Each one had a goal, to be the best and the subsequent flights proved that they were the best.

My story is about those men, where they came from, how they got in the program and some human interest stories of their early days in the Space race.

Many of these same individuals went on to build and test the shuttles, man the consoles and direct and train the younger generation of Spacemen.

I will be publishing excerpts during the coming months for you space enthusiasts. Hope you enjoy.

space1
Member

Posts: 569
From: Danville, Ohio, USA
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 08-30-2004 12:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You and your colleagues have our sincere gratitude for your work. And we greatly appreciate your account of your experiences.

Mark Zimmer
Member

Posts: 281
From:
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 08-30-2004 04:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Zimmer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Many thanks for this post! I will certainly be looking for your book.

Moonwalker1954
Member

Posts: 236
From: Montreal, Canada
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 08-30-2004 06:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Moonwalker1954   Click Here to Email Moonwalker1954     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mr. Clemmons, this is a great story you're telling us about unfortunate events that happened in the space history. Thanks for sharing those moments with us.

Captain Apollo
Member

Posts: 186
From: UK
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 08-30-2004 07:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Captain Apollo   Click Here to Email Captain Apollo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stephen, do you have a publisher/date of publication lined up? Would very much like to buy a copy of your book when it comes out.

dss65
Member

Posts: 873
From: Sandpoint, ID, USA
Registered: Mar 2003

posted 08-30-2004 11:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dss65   Click Here to Email dss65     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Add me to the list. This is a story that has waited too long to be told. I'm sure that throughout history most heroes have gone notably unsung. Thanks for sharing this.

Stephen Clemmons
Member

Posts: 108
From: Wilmington, NC, New Hanover
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 08-31-2004 07:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Stephen Clemmons   Click Here to Email Stephen Clemmons     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To my new friends on this forum. There is a group in Titusville, Fla. that formed a non profit organization named Space Walk of Fame many years ago. They have designed and are building monuments to all the programs, Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and eventually one for the Shuttle Program.

The purpose is to keep the space history alive for the generations to come. These have been built with funds provided by space workers and their friends. We have a museum in one of the shopping centers that has space memorabilia that has been collected by many of the old timers, a well as giving a good show about the early Cape to the visitors.It is manned by volunteers from the old timers of the Cape Era that will answer a lot of questions about the early days.

We would appreciate any assistance and you don't have to be a worker at the Cape to join.

I appreciate the many comments and emails that I have received. I'll try and answer more of your questions later.

spaceman48263
Member

Posts: 75
From: Michigan
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 08-31-2004 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman48263     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The story brought back all the memories of me as a nine year old watching TV and seeing a "special report" come on the screen. Even at a young age I could not get over the fact that we had lost three brave men. Anyone else remember what they were doing when the word came out?

dtemple
Member

Posts: 609
From: Longview, Texas, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 08-31-2004 09:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stephen, have you read "Angle of Attack: Harrison Storms and the Race to the Moon" by Mike Gray? If so, what is your opinion of the book?

Fra Mauro
Member

Posts: 1110
From: Bethpage, N.Y.
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 09-01-2004 02:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I teach a course on Space History and when your book comes out it will be a part of my class.

Fra Mauro
Member

Posts: 1110
From: Bethpage, N.Y.
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 09-02-2004 10:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wasn't even six but I remember all the news reports. I also do remember the funerals and I was impressed by them.

Joe Wiggins
New Member

Posts: 2
From: San Antonio, TX
Registered: Oct 2004

posted 10-04-2004 03:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Wiggins   Click Here to Email Joe Wiggins     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, I can remember that night in January, 1967. This is because I viewed the space program and astronauts as more than just heroes; they were people I wanted to be like in more ways than I can list.

That was a Friday night. In January, in Bossier City, LA where I grew up (near Barksdale AFB) it was a little after 7 p.m. CST when I heard the first news break. I was watching "Wild Wild West" on CBS. When the news first broke, I was far more interested in the events in Florida than anything that was on TV. I was 11 years old at the time.

As many of you can also probably remember, I can vividly recall where I was when Apollo 11 landed, when Neil Armstrong stepped off the LM ladder and made his famous statement, and where I was during most of the events of the Apollo 13 accident.

Stephen; thanks for filling in so many unwritten details. As an Air Force officer working in Combat Camera and Public Affairs, I know all too well how many of the techs and wrench turners make things work so well. I fully believe that if more of the lessons learned from your experiences and the information waiting to be used after Apollo 13, we would not have lost two shuttle crews.

After attending more accident investigation boards than I care to recall, your story fits perfectly what I have come to know in many military and civilian flying mishaps. It is almost never one BIG thing that causes a mishap, but rather a collection of numerous little things that, on their own, would have never brought down an aircraft. However, in the right combination, they become lethal with tragic results.

You and your fellow workers are as noble and brave as the men who died on 9/11.

#204
Member

Posts: 41
From:
Registered: Nov 2003

posted 10-04-2004 06:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for #204     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember the news flash as well, just after the dinner hour. It was a terrible tragedy and I would compare the general mood as similar to when JFK was assassinated.

NASA should put #012 (what's left of it) on display at the Smithsonian. It's of great importance historically and a very significant relict from the Apollo Era. To dump it in a missile silo is highly disrespectful to the families of the crew and to the public in general.

dtemple
Member

Posts: 609
From: Longview, Texas, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 10-04-2004 08:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by #204:
To dump it in a missile silo is highly disrespectful to the families of the crew and to the public in general.
I read several years ago that the Smithsonian was offered the remains of Apollo 1, but they refused the offer. The reason given as I recall was lack of funds to create an appropriate display. The spacecraft is still at Langley. There was a plan to place it in the "Challenger" silo about 12-14 years ago. The forward and aft heatshields were cut in half before the project was terminated due to protests from some of the family members of the Apollo 1 crew. Betty Grissom wanted the spacecraft displayed at the Astronaut Hall of Fame, but the Apollo 14 CM went there instead.

R.Glueck
Member

Posts: 115
From: Winterport, Maine, USA
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 10-05-2004 05:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for R.Glueck   Click Here to Email R.Glueck     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The plan to place the Apollo 1 capsule at the Astronaut Hall of Fame was voted down by the other astronauts, I believe (but I may not be correct) at the insistence of Alan Shepard. I maintain that if the capsule, reassembled but sealed, can not be displayed, then the hatch itself should be. It is the single most important artifact from the tragedy. In viewing it, the public would be able to reach out to the crew quite tangibly.

dtemple
Member

Posts: 609
From: Longview, Texas, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 10-05-2004 07:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I suspect if the Apollo 1 spacecraft was ever put on public display it would be sealed if for no other reason than the fact it would likely only consist of the reassembled outer shell. I really don't believe the spacecraft will ever be fully reassembled. If it is ever to be displayed and sealed then why bother with having the crew cabin in place? In my opinion, it should be fully reassembled and displayed with the hatch present but not installed. I realize my opinion may not be shared by many others, but I just see the whole spacecraft as a historic artifact. If the outer shell is placed on public view, then what is to be done with the rest of the craft? Most likely it will be buried with the Challenger remains or otherwised "trashed." Also, if the SM from Apollo 1 still exists, it too should be part of the display. Unfortunately, no one seems to know where the records are that tell what was the final disposition of the SM. The NASM does not even have the answer to that one.

Stephen Clemmons
Member

Posts: 108
From: Wilmington, NC, New Hanover
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 10-06-2004 09:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Stephen Clemmons   Click Here to Email Stephen Clemmons     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Several years ago, I visited Pad 34 for the first time since the tragic fire and was impressed with what the USAF has done regarding the memorial and the USAF Space Museum on Pad 14 and 17.

Only the launcher ring remains on Pad 34 with a simple plaque on the base.

The problem is, there's not much money available for a decent memorial... Sonny Whitt, Vice Commander of Patrick AFB has done a fabulous job of keeping the USAF Museum going and I would like to see him put in charge of the Apollo 1 Project on Pad 34.

As its now envisioned by many of us, the memorial would incorporate the Launch Ring with the remains of the spacecraft nestled inside the four tall supports, all encased in glass with pictures, artifacts to tell the story, possibly even a video room in the blockhouse to watch the story of Apollo on televison.

The building are there, we just need some direction.

Now to pay for this, NASA would fund it out of their tourist money, but thats the rub, the other astronauts are against it as it would take some of the attention from the AHOF.

As far as the remains of SC 012, I have mixed emotions. It now rests at the bottom of the old minuteman silo not too far from Pad 17 and is in a weatherproof enclosure, along with parts of the shuttle.

Now this is where I have problems. Because of 9-11, security is tight and most of us that want to travel to Pad 34 or the USAF Museum cannot go on our own. It takes special clearance just to get in, unless you go on a tour from KSC, and thats expensive.

I guess a little is better than none at all.

There is an Alternate Solution. At the Space Walk of Fame (SWOF) in Memorial Park in Titusville, there are memorials to every program in progress, where anyone can visit at their own convenience, all funded by private money.

Perhaps one to Apollo 1 can be designed using parts of the Apollo 1 spacecraft as it's centerpiece. At least it would be available 24 hrs a day, seven days a week and would tell the story of Apollo 1.

It is a story that we should never forget.

Stephen Clemmons
Member

Posts: 108
From: Wilmington, NC, New Hanover
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 10-06-2004 09:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Stephen Clemmons   Click Here to Email Stephen Clemmons     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Added comments:

One way to fund this memorial would be to set up special bus tours to Pad 34 and earmark the money for building and maintaining the memorial. At the present time, this money goes into the general fund to support the overall operations at KSC and the AHOF.

We owe it to the memory of our Apollo 1 astronauts so that we never forget.

dtemple
Member

Posts: 609
From: Longview, Texas, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 10-06-2004 04:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stephen, when was the Apollo 1 CM buried in the silo? I heard that "rumor" four years ago and it was confirmed to me then that the spacecraft was still at Langley where it has been stored since 1967.

#204
Member

Posts: 41
From:
Registered: Nov 2003

posted 10-06-2004 04:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for #204     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Clemmons:
Now to pay for this, NASA would fund it out of their tourist money, but thats the rub, the other astronauts are against it as it would take some of the attention from the AHOF.
Does this refer to attention in dollars and cents, or just attention (publicity) in general? Wouldn't these astronauts want to honour their fallen colleagues in some significant way. The suggestion of putting #012 on display at pad 34 I feel is a good one and for the AHOF to get its nose out of joint over something like this makes me wonder if it isn't anything more than a high priced Country Club.

dtemple
Member

Posts: 609
From: Longview, Texas, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 10-06-2004 04:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think what Stephen Clemmons posted regarding the display of Apollo 1 at Pad 34 is an outstanding idea! I heard one proposal to place the s/c in the equipment room beneath the pedestal and place a glass window in the firebrick for viewing. That does not seem like the best way to display it at the launch pad. Having a video about Project Apollo to see inside the blockhouse is another excellent idea.

Stephen Clemmons
Member

Posts: 108
From: Wilmington, NC, New Hanover
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 10-06-2004 07:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Stephen Clemmons   Click Here to Email Stephen Clemmons     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I talked to Dr. Sonny Whitt, Vice Commander of Patrick AFB (Cape Canaveral Air Force Station) several years ago and he told me that they had moved the spacecraft and all its parts from Langley to the Cape. It now rests at the bottom of the Minuteman Silo along with recovered parts from Challenger.

I also talked to him about a fitting memorial and he agreed that this was an excellent Idea, but he had one problem. Lack of funds.

He had approached NASA about a memorial but they didn't think it was such a good idea, and didn't want to take anything away from the AHOF.

So a simple plaque was placed at the Base of the Launcher Ring.

I was fortunate enough to meet Mrs. Betty Grissom and her sons at the Memorial services in 2002 and believe me, she is a true Lady and someone that fought for her man. I'd damn sure that I would want her on my side in a good fight.

She had to fight NASA all the way to get the Apollo 1 astronauts honored. The Club didn't want the Apollo 1 astronauts honored at their AHOF because they had not flown on Apollo,nor did they want the ground test flight to carry the Apollo 1 designation.

She fought them all the way and they grudgingly gave in but gave her static at every turn.

Now this was a bunch of individuals that owed their life to the like of Gus,Ed and Roger.

Some time ago, she removed all of Gus's memorabilia from the museum.It got a lot of press

Perhaps Scott Grissom can give us the details as I believe that he follows these posts.

Anyway, one of the posts is correct. It is a club of sorts and any attempt to detract from their accomplishments is met with a stone wall.

There is a petition on another web under Apollo 1 that wants NASA to reopen the investigation. I don't think it will ever happen, but I feel if we get one going on establishing a memorial, it might get some play and NASA might reconsider.

Anyway, I'd like to see it come to fruition in my lifetime.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 29708
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-06-2004 08:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As of January of this year, Apollo 1 was still in Virginia, at least according to those who led the archiving efforts of the Columbia debris on the 16th floor of the VAB. When I toured the facility, I questioned whether Challenger and/or Apollo material was to be made available to researchers like the Columbia wreckage, and while answering that no such plans existed as of yet (in part because it would need the approval of the families), the location of both vehicles were mentioned.

As for the AHOF, Mrs. Grissom served on the board of the organization that founded the Hall. She removed her items because the facility, previously supported by Space Camp (which went bankrupt) was sold to Delaware North, the company that operates the KSC Visitor Center for NASA. As was demonstrated by Mrs. Grissom, the artifacts on display at the AHOF are on loan by the astronauts and their families, the Smithsonian and NASA. Reportedly, she removed Grissom's items because she didn't want them on display at a NASA-controlled museum.

Any Apollo 1 display at the Pad or at KSC would also be government-controlled by definition.

As for reopening the investigation, Scott Grissom has posted to sci.space.history over the years that the reason he started the petition was because he believes the fire wasn't an accident. Do others believe the same?

KC Stoever
Member

Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 10-06-2004 09:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On the matter of Apollo 1, I do not believe Scott Grissom.

I admire his father's service to country.

The turmoil and grief associated with the Grissoms' loss are unimaginable.

Sympathy takes care of the rest--unless one has been attacked, personally, as responsible for sabotage and murder.

Stephen Clemmons
Member

Posts: 108
From: Wilmington, NC, New Hanover
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 10-07-2004 06:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Stephen Clemmons   Click Here to Email Stephen Clemmons     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I cannot say that Apollo 1 is in Florida, only what I was told by Dr. Sonny Whitt. I do know that some years ago, Scott was allowed access to the spacecraft where he claims that he found the cause of the fire. Whether it was at Langley or the Cape, I don't know and he won't say.

I have debated with him over the internet about his theory, seen all his so called evidence (pictures) of a plate that was supposed to have been installed under a switch that caused a short, which was the basis for his charge of sabatoge and murder.

I have also talked with other fellow crew members, now scattered all over the country, no one seems to know what he is talking about. Since we only have a picture to go by, it's hard to even imagine where it was origionally located

I feel the hurt he must have, because shortly after the fire, A writer, hoping to cash in on the fire, wrote a book called "Murder on Pad 34" that many journalists used as basis for some of their articles. (The Author remains one of Scotts closest friends.)

Knowing that his father had been killed and no one would tell him why, since NASA wasn't talking, he assumed the book was correct.

After the book was published, all of the serious things written in the book was debunked as sheer fabrication, but to Scott, it was all true. He has spent his lifetime trying to prove something.

I cannot fault him, even though he has said that someone on the crew or within NASA was after his dad to keep him from being the first to land on the moon. He is really only trying to clear his dad's name.

As I said in one of my earlier posts, the real story of Apollo 1 is yet to be told.

NASA didn't want the mission patches of Apollo 1 used because the spacecraft had never flown as a mission. They wanted it to be known simply as AS204, or spacecraft 012.

Through the efforts of Betty Grissom, who seemed to be the spokesperson for the other widows, she persuaded Congress and NASA, and from what I'm told, over the objections of the other astronauts, to release the Patches and rename AS204 as Apollo 1.

Her relationship with the other astronauts has been rather stormy over the years. That is why she removed the artifacts after the Spacecamp folded. She probably felt that Gus had not gotten a fair shake from his teammates or NASA.

Some of this animosity has surfaced over the years because in many of the astronauts books, Gus was put down, mainly because most of the astronauts thought that "he screwed the pooch" on the Mercury flight many years before and they wouldn't let him forget it.

An undercurrent at the Cape following the fire indicated that since his left foot/boot was badly damaged, and it was in the vicinity of where the fire was the worst, he must have done something to cause the fire and NASA did nothing or said nothing to dispel the notion.

This left a bad taste in everyones mouth, particularly in a young boy that adored his father. He probably saw the pure hell his mother was going through, knowing that her world had collasped and the small pittance NAA gave her as a settlement could not possibly take the place of what She and Gus had worked for.

We could question Scott for his motives in what he is trying to do, but at the same time we must understand why he makes the claims.

Now as to the Memorial. Pad 34 falls under Cape Canaveral Air Force Station jurisdiction and anything that is done would have to go through the USAF(Patrick AFB)(Dr. Sonny Whitt, Vice Commander.

That is one reason NASA doesn't want to get involved. Apollo 1 is something that NASA would rather forget. Up until then, NASA had a good record, lot's was getting done and they had a good name, why, they were going to the MOON, now they have a fire and all hell breaks loose. The American public starts to ask questions, Congress is very upset and on ther butt and there are calls to disband NASA.

It was a major catastrophy and the upper echelon of NASA was in deep sh**. Since there seemed to be no one to blame, why, there was no reason for a fire, it had to be charged to Command pilot error,IE Gus, or to the ground crew. and there it sat until the investigation ended many months later.

NASA doesn't want anything to remind them of Apollo 1 and they certainly don't want a memorial that will take away from the AHOF, their cash cow, so to speak.

So as it now stands, NASA refuses to help, just hoping that Apollo 1 will go away. Even the disasters of Challenger and Colombia shuttle flights never affected NASA like Apollo 1 did and they won't forget it.

The USAF doesn't have the funds but are willing.

If anything is ever done, it'll have to be done by the space fans that never forget.

Something rather funny was no astronaut came to the memorial services at Pad 34 the day I was there. We had several attendees from the Astronaut Office, but no astronauts.

Sorry for the long post, more about this later.

#204
Member

Posts: 41
From:
Registered: Nov 2003

posted 10-07-2004 09:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for #204     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a very interesting discussion. You can't fault the Grissom family for reacting as they have. NASA's behaviour in general, has been quite deplorable and as the years distance us from the Apollo 1 fire, I suppose that it is convenient for the current NASA BRASS to turn a blind eye to the matter. When questions aren't answered, when families are overlooked and given very little consideration, it creates a general feeling of suspicion and mistrust. I can't believe that none of the astronauts attended the Apollo 1 Memorial The official cause of the fire was believed to be as a result of an electrical arc. Was it chafed insulation or was that just an educated guess? This matter stinks of politics & money.

I personally would support a petition to have #012 displayed at Pad 34, as well as an annual Memorial that the public in general would be allowed to attend.

WAWalsh
Member

Posts: 803
From: Cortlandt Manor, NY
Registered: May 2000

posted 10-07-2004 09:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for WAWalsh   Click Here to Email WAWalsh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stephen, I have appreciated your posts. The latest, however, continues an undercurrent of anti-NASA statements and I do not believe that the statements are valid.
quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Clemmons:
That is one reason NASA doesn't want to get involved. Apollo 1 is something that NASA would rather forget.
There is no question that the Fire had a negative impact on NASA and public impression in 1967. To suggest, however, that NASA still wishes the Fire unmentioned almost 40 years later does not wash. Most recognize (indeed, Chris Kraft and Roscoe Petrone have directly spoken on this) that the Fire allowed NASA and North American to reorganize, learn and, ultimately, achieve the lunar goal. Chris Kraft has expressly stated that but for the Fire he does not believe that we would have landed on the Moon in 1969. Moreover, the early NASA management, with its testing background, understood that one learns from accidents, errors and problems. I strongly doubt you could find anyone in NASA management or in the astronaut corp. in 1967 who wishes to "simply forget" the Fire, or the three men who perished in it.
quote:
It was a major catastrophy and the upper echelon of NASA was in deep sh**. Since there seemed to be no one to blame, why, there was no reason for a fire, it had to be charged to Command pilot error,IE Gus, or to the ground crew. and there it sat until the investigation ended many months later.
While human nature is such that one wants to point the finger elsewhere, I believe everyone recognized immediately that errors exists at almost every level. Gene Krnatz writes that he immediately brought the mission control teams together in Houston, acknowledged errors and stated that they must never happen again. I am not sure what your basis is for suggesting that people blamed the crew, other than recalled gossip at the time. "Pilot error" -- other than suffering from "go fever" and not simply demanding a halt to the mission until everything worked, I have never seen anything in print that has remotely suggested Gus Grissom had anything to do with the Fire. If anything, every published account that I have read has lauded the crew for sticking to their assigned tasks despite the existence of the fire within the craft.
quote:
NASA doesn't want anything to remind them of Apollo 1 and they certainly don't want a memorial that will take away from the AHOF, their cash cow, so to speak.
Beyond the obvious problem with turning Pad 34 into a public memorial (location, USAF control, etc.) and, I believe, the point that NASA does not own, operate, or profit from the Hall of Fame, I simply reject the proposition.

FFrench
Member

Posts: 3101
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 10-07-2004 12:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Clemmons:
in many of the astronauts books, Gus was put down, mainly because most of the astronauts thought that "he screwed the pooch" on the Mercury flight many years before and they wouldn't let him forget it.

An interesting post in an interesting thread - but I was surprised to read the assertion above. Going from memory alone and without hitting the bookshelves, my recollection is that almost all, if not all, of the books by Gus's fellow astronauts do the exact opposite - they go out of their way to state that he was not at fault for the blown hatch. Am I misremembering? Certainly, in person, they have nothing but praise for him and his actions on that flight.

Stephen Clemmons
Member

Posts: 108
From: Wilmington, NC, New Hanover
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 10-07-2004 07:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Stephen Clemmons   Click Here to Email Stephen Clemmons     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think that Gus was the most admired astronaut, not because of his personality, but he was smart and knew the spacecraft. He also carried a no nonsense air that didn't invite criticism or argument.

This came only after years of being tagged as losing his spacecraft by the press and public.

Look on pages 12-13 "A Man on the Moon" by Andrew Chaikin. Pages 141-142 "Moonshot" by Alan Sheppard and Deke Slayton. Pages 32-33 "Leap of Faith" by Gordon Cooper.

In the movie, "The Right Stuff" there was mention of the term "Screwing the Pooch". I believe that Wally said it in a joking manner, but don't quote me.

There was another item that most people didn't see. Sam Bettington investigated and found two different scenerios that would have caused it and later, I talked to an engineer from McDonald Douglas who also comfirmed that they had found a problem with the design of the switches.

But this information never made it too far.

As to the other books, I don't think anyone would come right out and say that he was at fault.

My apologies for saying they did. I was going on information in the three items mentioned.

Stephen Clemmons
Member

Posts: 108
From: Wilmington, NC, New Hanover
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 10-08-2004 10:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Stephen Clemmons   Click Here to Email Stephen Clemmons     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good post, Mr. Walsh. I can assure you that I am not anti NASA, (maybe just a little) but I do have problems with the past and current administrators of the program. They did not learn from Apollo 1, or at least on the Shuttle Program because according to the two Shuttle Accident Investigations, they had the same mindset that they had prior to the "Fire".

They took big chances, knowing that the Shuttles needed lots of work and bowed to political forces coming out of the White House and Congress in order to just fly.

So now the total count is 17 dead astronauts and more to come.

There was no need for any astronaut to die, because with training, digilence, hard work, work ethics, and sufficient funding, our space program would be a viable entity.

NASA caved into Congressional Demands, saying we could fly when they knew damn good and well the Shuttles were dangerously in need of repairs and the Equipment was wearing out, needed critical modifications, and updated systems.

(Read the accident reports) They were scared to ask for more money.

I'm sure that if they had grounded the shuttle fleet because of safety problems, the American public would have demanded that their congressman provide sufficient funding to take care of the problem.

Yet they continued putting up a good front to the world that everything was alright. They knew we had problems but they didn't want to let on that they had miscalculated everything and they knew the American Public wouldn't put up with it.

Those in charge of the program were only concerned with their high paying jobs and positions, since they didn't have to fly in those deathtraps.

They are now playing catchup doing everything to bring the remaining Shuttles up to snuff, if that's possible, which they should have done long ago.

But what did it cost us? 14 dead astronauts.

Yes, that is why I am little biased toward NASA.

Because I know it can be done, we did it in Apollo and if we had leaders in NASA that had brass Ba**, it could be done again.

Now back to why NASA wants to forget Apollo 1.

Human nature being what it is, we hate to be reminded of bad things in our life. Apollo 1 was the worst blackeye we could have gotten in our Space program. NASA is tired of being reminded and a memorial to Apollo 1 would do just that.

They feel that the money or efforts toward a decent Memorial could be spent towards something else that would be more in tune with their present programs and put a positive spin on NASA.

I know I'm going to get flak on this, but I feel that Apollo 1, even tho only three Souls was lost, was the worst catastrophy in our Space Program, even greater than Colombia and Challenger.

It almost destroyed NASA, showed us where we were wrong and put going to Space in it's proper perspective, very dangerous.

It pointed out that Space Travel was something that took a lot of preparation with lots of unknowns. It also occurred when we needed it the most, the great space race with Russia.

If you go to the visitors center at Kennedy, you find very little on Apollo 1, but you find lots of stuff on Challenger and Colombia. I was not able to find a single article on Apollo 1 the last time I was there.

I had to go to the Space Walk of Fame Museum in Titusville to get what I wanted.

Now to the Astronauts Hall Of Fame. You're right, it is a privately funded entity, sponsored by NASA. The money going into the fund is generated by the generous efforts of the astronauts and is really a great thing. providing scholorships to countless deserving youngsters.

My problem is with NASA and the direction they seem to take from AHOF. If the astronauts want their memorials, fine but NASA should fund the Apollo 1 memorial because it is more about the Apollo 1 Program and the men that died for it. It should be a reminder that it must never happen again.

I have been told by several individuals that the AHOF was approached about a memorial on Pad 34 but got a cold shoulder. They felt that the Astronauts Memorial at the visitor center was enough. It was not in tune with their objectives.

So I'll leave it at that.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 29708
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-08-2004 10:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Clemmons:
I know I'm going to get flak on this, but I feel that Apollo 1, even tho only three Souls was lost, was the worst catastrophy in our Space Program, even greater than Colombia and Challenger.
I think it may be wrong to try to place one loss of life over another. They were equally meaningful, causing their own ripples in history.

Apollo 1, as mentioned above, is now understood as being crucial to our success of landing on the Moon. Had the accident not occurred, the chances of a much more crippling space-based accident are thought to have been greatly increased.

Challenger's loss may eventually be seen as laying the foundation for private space flights as we have seen earlier this week. Had it launched successfully with Christa McAuliffe, follow-on passenger programs (journalist, artist, etc.) may have at least postponed the driving forces for alternate manned access to space.

Columbia's loss, though too recent to really judge, may ultimately be the turning point from LEO to exploration of the solar system.

quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Clemmons:
If you go to the visitors center at Kennedy, you find very little on Apollo 1, but you find lots of stuff on Challenger and Colombia. I was not able to find a single article on Apollo 1 the last time I was there.
If you go the Apollo Saturn V Center, the film presentation that greets visitors devotes a good part of its time to Apollo 1 (before you are allowed into the firing room). I also believe that there is an Apollo 1 display in the Early Space Exploration exhibit at the main Visitor Center. The AHOF has exhibits honoring its inductees Grissom (to a lesser degree now, by no fault of their own), Chaffee and White, as well.

quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Clemmons:
I have been told by several individuals that the AHOF was approached about a memorial on Pad 34 but got a cold shoulder. They felt that the Astronauts Memorial at the visitor center was enough. It was not in tune with their objectives.

The AHOF is overseen by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (formerly the Mercury 7 Foundation). The Astronaut Memorial (Space Mirror) at KSC is the responsibility of the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, a separate entity.

Remember that the AHOF's charter isn't to recognize missions or crews, but individual astronauts. Continually blaming AHOF as the reason for a lack of an Apollo 1 memorial may be pointing the finger in the wrong direction. What about the AMF mentioned above? Or for that matter, the Smithsonian?

Sy Liebergot
Member

Posts: 482
From: Pearland, Texas USA
Registered: May 2003

posted 10-08-2004 11:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sy Liebergot   Click Here to Email Sy Liebergot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Y'all may unaware of this: Apollo 1 Memorial Foundation.

dtemple
Member

Posts: 609
From: Longview, Texas, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 10-08-2004 04:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The backup crew performed a test the day before the fire with the hatch off. If the short circuit (assuming that was the cause of the fire) had happened on that day, what would have been the result? Would anyone have realized the magnitude of the event from the perspective of "what if this had happened during the plugs-out test?"

I am not familiar with the pivoting door that that is believed to have chaffed the wiring. What was its purpose? How often was it opened and closed?

I assume that this door was operated on the day of the plugs-in test as well as the plugs-out test. If the test had been considered hazardous what changes would have been made in the procedures the day of the fire? (In the miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon" the actor portraying Borman says during the congressional hearings that "No one thought the test was hazardous. I didn't think it was hazardous. I wish to God we had.") Even if labeling the test as hazardous meant leaving the hatch off for the plugs-out test, the spacecraft would still have been sealed and pressurized to 16.7 psi with an atmosphere of 100% oxygen on launch day, so what could have been done differently given the hatch design and flammable materials that exited on the block one spacecraft? Perhaps a fire extinguisher would have been on board the spacecraft. Was there a fire extinguisher at that time that could extinguish a fire in 100% oxygen under high pressure?

I understand why NASA made the decision to use a single gas system (a less complex system, less weight), but how could all the managers and astronauts have failed to see 100% oxygen at 16.7psi for what it was? Couldn't the beta cloth spacesuits have been available for the manned block one test? Would it have been possible to have designed the oxygen supply system to withstand such a fire? If the latter two were possible, the crew could have survived inside that inferno for the time it took to get the hatch open. Of course I am assuming beta cloth doesn't burn in pure oxygen at 16.7psi. For block two missions the material was subjected to a 60/40 oxygen/nitrogen mix at standard pressure (on the ground).

Since everyone within NASA at the time was focused on an accident in space what were the assumptions about a fire during a mission? Was a fire extinguisher to be on board then?

Stephen Clemmons
Member

Posts: 108
From: Wilmington, NC, New Hanover
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 10-09-2004 08:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Stephen Clemmons   Click Here to Email Stephen Clemmons     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mr. Pearlman, it is difficult to equate the three tragedies and one near miss as to which was the most damaging to the Space Program.

17 brave men and women died in a horrific way in the service of their country and the Space Program.(all needlessly, I might add)

This is something we should never forget.

But there are things we can look at, things that did change the way we looked at the overall purpose of our space program and the attitude of millions of space fans.

After two successful programs had ended, we were ready for further explorations in keeping with President Kennedy's promise and we felt that Apollo was the right vehicle to do it. We were ready, for the first time in the history of man, to land on another celestial body away from the bounds of earth.

Apollo 1 dashed the hope of millions of people and reminded us that yes, people would die and space travel was dangerous.

Out of the ashes of Apollo 1, we had a new beginning, this time we would not make the same mistakes. Like the fabled Phoenix, Apollo would rise again, to go on to a much greater things.

Apollo 1 was the beginning of a new era in Space. Sure we were successful, we landed on the moon and returned safely to earth.

Apollo 13 taught us that we were still vunerable and after a hectic week, three brave souls landed safely.

But the damage had been done. NASA was now driving a crippled program that was losing the faith of the people.

After a rather mediocre finish of the program, most not making the evening news, they said the new Orbitor Program would be bigger and better, but no moon travel or travel to other planets as was the dream of space fans driven by images of Star Trek.

The Shuttle program started with problems, first the tile, severe engineering problems,lack of faith by congress, shortage of funds, and then we had another Catastrophy, we lost seven more fine astronauts on Challenger.

NASA had forgotten the lessons learned from Apollo 1 but continued to plow ahead until one bright day in January, we lost another shuttle over Texas, another seven souls never returned home.

Faith in NASA has now eroded to a point that even with all the modification(many should have been made long ago)the entire program is in jepardy and NASA is not trusted by the American public.

Root problems existed earlier at the beginning of the Apollo Program,and discovered during the Apollo 1 investigation. These problems were allowed to creap back into the program, as evidenced by final analysis of both Orbitor Accident Investigations.

So you can see why I say that Apollo 1 was the most catastrophic event in the history of NASA.

Now as to the memorial at Pad 34. I really don't care who has the responsibility to create memorials but there is a problem. What ever group is responsible is sorely out of step with those of us that desire an Apollo 1 Memorial.

In regards to the NASA Visitors Center, I can look at over fifty hours of space film in my own library, certainly not wanting to drive six hundred miles to see just a video and I'm sure that most of the other fans can do the same.

What we can't do is go and physically visit the site without taking a high priced tour, to stand there and let our minds drift, go back in time to that night when a Space ship was almost ready to start it's long voyage; getting a mental picture of the great tragedy and the journey that it would go on.

Many of us are old, and remember that night very clearly, but through hardheads at NASA, we have been deprived of a chance to relive history. It has also deprived our children and grandchildren of the chance to really see space as it was then, maybe to look forward when they might want to go to Mars or beyond, knowing the sacrifices of those that went before in the name of Celestial Science.

This is the real tragedy.

As in the mission of Star Trek, we have "to go where no one has gone before."

FFrench
Member

Posts: 3101
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 10-09-2004 09:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Clemmons:
...in many of the astronauts books, Gus was put down, mainly because most of the astronauts thought that "he screwed the pooch" on the Mercury flight many years before and they wouldn't let him forget it...

...Look on Pages 141-142 "Moonshot" by Alan Sheppard and Deke Slayton. Pages 32-33 "Leap of Faith" by Gordon Cooper.


Stephen, I don't want to be overpicky again in what are some very interesting postings from you. But I have looked at the two astronaut-authored books and page numbers you cited to back up the claim that Gus was "put down" in "many" of the books by astronauts re. the LB7 hatch.

On the pages you cite, I in fact see the exact opposite. While Shepard, Slayton and Cooper do mention others questioning whether Grissom activated the hatch, their own opinions seem clear. On the pages you cite, Shepard and Slayton state "His fellow astronauts backed him all the way, and an accident review board cleared Gus of any wrongdoing in connection with the incident." Cooper states Grissom "insisted that he hadn't blown the hatch early ... I believed him. I knew that if he had screwed up, Gus would be the first to admit it... Two weeks after Gus's mission, NASA learned conclusively that Gus had not screwed up when they discovered the real culprit: a design problem with the ignition switch for the hatch..."

Again, sorry to be pedantic, but I believe it is important that if you are going to state that other astronauts went on record in print saying Gus screwed up, that this can be backed up. My opinion, including the examples you cite, is that the exact opposite is true.

#204
Member

Posts: 41
From:
Registered: Nov 2003

posted 10-10-2004 10:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for #204     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Clemmons:
Now as to the memorial at Pad 34. I really don't care who has the responsibility to create memorials but there is a problem. What ever group is responsible is sorely out of step with those of us that desire an Apollo 1 Memorial.
Very well stated!

Stephen Clemmons
Member

Posts: 108
From: Wilmington, NC, New Hanover
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 10-10-2004 10:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Stephen Clemmons   Click Here to Email Stephen Clemmons     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
FFrench, good post but these stories do indicate the feeling of the astronauts at that time. I think they would be stupid to come right out and say that Grissom "Screwed the pooch". I'm sure that Mr. Wolf would not have included it in his book if there was no basis for it.

I don't believe that the person that played Wally would have said this in the film "The Right stuff" if there had been no evidence to back it up. (IE Quotes from Wally)

If you research the newpaper articles of the time, Washington Post, NY Times and other papers, you will find a trend to blame Grissom.

This is an excerpt from an official NASA document on the incident:

Obviously one of the major problems to be explained and resolved following the flight of Liberty Bell 7 was the malfunction of the explosive egress hatch. Before the mission, Minneapolis-Honeywell had conducted environmental tests to qualify the hatch and igniter assembly. Although the tests had been run with the pin installed, conditions had been severe. The component had been subjected to low and high temperature ranges, a 100-g shock force, and salt-spray and water-immersion tests. After MR-4, the Space Task Group established a committee that included astronaut Schirra to study the hatch problem. Tests were conducted in an environment even more severe than that used by the manufacturer, but no premature explosions occurred.

Studies were made of individuals operating the panel switches on the side nearest the actuator; the clearance margin appeared to be adequate.

According to Schirra, "There was only a very remote possibility that the plunger could have been actuated inadvertently by the pilot."

My comments: This would indicate that he believed that the switch activation was intentional.
The mystery of Grissom's hatch was never solved to everyone's satisfaction. Among the favorite hypotheses were that the exterior lanyard might have become entangled with the landing bag straps; that the ring seal might have been omitted on the detonation plunger, reducing the pressure necessary to actuate it; or that static electricity generated by the helicopter had fired the hatch cover. But with the spacecraft and its onboard evidence lying 15,000 feet down on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, it was impossible to determine the true cause. The only solution was to draft a procedure that would preclude a recurrence: henceforth the astronaut would not touch the plunger pin until the helicopter hooked on and the line was taut.
The plunger safety pin had been pulled shortly after landing so it was live, just waiting for him to hit it.
As it turned out, Liberty Bell 7 was the last manned flight in Project Mercury in which helicopter retrieval of the spacecraft was planned.

In addition, Grissom would be the only astronaut who used the hatch without receiving a slight hand injury. As he later reminded Glenn, Schirra, and Cooper, this helped prove he had not touched his hatch plunger.

This would indicate that the other astronauts didn't believe him. Believe me, teammates are usually the worst critics and will remind someone of bad mistakes.

As to those books that do mention these incidents, it is plainly inferred that this attitude did exist among the astronauts and the general public at the time.

I cannot say, because I was not on that spacecraft with Grissom, but reading all the data and from articles from that time, I don't believe that he was scared, as some news reports tried to say, because the flight was over for almost five minutes, he was sitting calmly making last minute recording, he didn't seem anxious to leave his ship, doing what he had been trained to do, when the hatch blew. The rest is history.

One thing that is certain, when they retrieved the spacecraft and I assume, the hatch, there has been no reports of what they found.

Betty Grissom asked that a team of experts be present when the ship was raised to prevent wild stories from getting out, and to try and find the cause of the incident in order for his name to be cleared.

I don't know if NASA got involved. Perhaps someone out there could tell us.

Knowing what I do about Grissom, I believe him. Hope this clears it up.

FFrench
Member

Posts: 3101
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 10-10-2004 11:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for your response: I think in some ways that we are talking about two different things. There are many books, as you correctly state, which say that there was a general feeling that Gus may have screwed up, and many of those books also state that some of the astronauts felt the same way. There is also some very interesting information, as you correctly point out, that goes a long way into studying whether that was true or not.

That was not what I was querying; I was querying your statement that, at some point, "many" of the astronauts of that era went as far as to put such doubts in print in their memoirs. For historical accuracy, I think it is important not to make such statements if they cannot be substantiated.


This topic is 3 pages long:   1  2  3 

All times are CT (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Open Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  
Hop to:

Contact Us | The Source for Space History & Artifacts

Copyright 1999-2014 collectSPACE.com All rights reserved.


Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47a





advertisement