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  Should the Apollo 1 spacecraft be displayed?

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Author Topic:   Should the Apollo 1 spacecraft be displayed?
astronut
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posted 10-14-2000 04:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astronut   Click Here to Email astronut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The question has been raised about how to display the Apollo 1 spacecraft if it was ever was shown to the public. Here's my thoughts:
  1. It should be reassembled and displayed as closely as possible to how it looked immediately after the fire. That's to say scorch marks and all but hatch closed.

  2. Then it should be in its own room with appropriate quotes from both the deceased astronauts and others who had relevant thoughts concerning this fatal mission and exploration in general on the walls surrounding it. No photos on the walls just words.

  3. The capsule and the walls should be lit as softly as possible, using just enough lighting to see the spacecraft and the quotes on the walls. This way the visitors would be in shadow so they wouldn't intrude on this memorial, leaving each to his/her own thoughts.

  4. No photography allowed.

  5. Absolutely no talking allowed in the memorial... much like a chapel. Possibly an honor guard like at the tombs of the Unknown Soldiers. A thick carpet to muffle every footstep of the guests. It should be so quiet that it almost "hurts" the ear.

  6. The display/memorial would be a place to silently contemplate the risks of exploration in general and spaceflight in particular.

  7. A possible name would be "The Sanctuary for Fallen Astronauts".
I think this would be a powerful and moving way to honor all the astronauts (both East and West) who paid the ultimate price in advancing the last frontier. It's final resting place should be at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum for maximum exposure.

Remember "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it."

Ben
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posted 10-14-2000 04:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I totally agree. As well as the Challenger, if you ask me.

And, if it were up to me, photography would not be allowed on any memorial; when I visited KSC the first time, I did not take photos of the sun-mirror memorial. Tragic or not, it is still space history.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-15-2000 12:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wayne, I respectfully disagree.

The point of displaying the Apollo 1 CM, at least in my opinion, would not be to offer a shrine for the crew (they already have one, at their respective graves) but to emphasize the danger of spaceflight AND the steps taken to prevent that danger from becoming prohibitive to exploration.

I think a shrine would focus the public's attention on damning NASA for sacrificing the lives of Grissom, White and Chaffee. I don't think the crew would have wanted that.

No, a display of the Apollo 1 CM should emphasize and teach how we learn from our mistakes and continue to strive for the seemingly unreachable despite the dangers.

If I were in charge of the display, I would place the capsule side-by-side with one that had flown to the Moon. I would use the surrounding walls to illustrate what was changed, what we learned, and why the three astronauts' lives were not completely lost in vain.

I would be sure to encourage discussion, self-exploration, and if it helps people better take the message to others photography and filming.

And I would frame the entire display with a quote from Grissom:

"If we die, we want people to accept it. We're in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life."

astronut
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posted 10-15-2000 01:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for astronut   Click Here to Email astronut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good points all and well spoken, but I would still prefer the shrine approach. But that's me.

I think a significant portion of those against displaying it might agree to a respectful memorial incorporating the capsule, but NOT in any other venue.

I am with you in using the Apollo 1 spacecraft in some meaningful way to educate the public not only to the hazards of spaceflight, but how far we've come since the tragedy.

Dan Lorraine
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posted 10-15-2000 08:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dan Lorraine   Click Here to Email Dan Lorraine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My vote would be no -- there are plenty of other Apollo spacecraft on display.

I think your good intentions would be lost with the general public, and maybe even more importantly with some politicians. In my mind, it's more important to celebrate the wins while fully understand the risks involved with any pursuit of this magnitude - and I believe that this can be done without actually displaying the capsule where they met their end.

And the suggestion of displaying the remnants of the shuttle... what's next, Elliot See and Charlie Bassett's wreck?

I also agree with Robert that if it were done, a "shrine" would not be the right approach.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-15-2000 09:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.

This is why visitors (tourists) are allowed into Auschwitz and why we have Holocaust museums worldwide.

While I do not mean to directly compare the Holocaust to the Apollo 1 fire, I think the two share a common lesson.

If we forget sacrifices have been made, we are more quick to make the same mistakes.

Taking another lesson from the Holocaust, it is not enough to simply write about what happened. For a large segment of the population, the message must be conveyed visually.

I think a public display of the Apollo 1 CM and/or Challenger would not only educate the public but act as a constant reminder to the men and women working on today's space program that the dangers are real and that human life is at stake.

Russ Still
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posted 10-15-2000 12:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Russ Still   Click Here to Email Russ Still     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My opinion is that the spacecraft should be openly displayed without any special restrictions applied. Nothing more than any other history artifact would get to protect it.

Some people will sense an emotional link to the spacecraft when they see it. Others may want to view it strictly as an objective study of a historic event. Others may be simply curious. My question is, who has the right to dictate what your motives are in order to view an artifact like this?

I strongly oppose the idea of making it a shrine. It is an important relic which documents our steps to the moon. It should be available for viewing by anyone who wants to see it. It is none of our business what their reasons are. Who are we to say that people can only view it if they come to pay homage?

Odyessy85
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posted 10-15-2000 12:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Odyessy85   Click Here to Email Odyessy85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with all three ideas.

It should be treated with respect, much like the Apollo 1 pad is, but it should have an emphasis on the future and what we learned from the accident.

Pictures could go either way. You do have to take into consideration that three great men were killed in that capsule for their Country. Maybe behind the capsule have a small flag at half mast to emphasize the danger of space flight.

Or here's another thought: do a display similar to The Liberty Bell 7 tour. Have a path leading up to the capsule showing what the early space program was like, with different sections on Grissom's, White's and Chaffee's careers and lives. Then have the capsule in a separate room, where as Wayne said no pics allowed, its quiet and treated as a shrine. Then the next room(s) would be spaceflight after Apollo 1 and leading to ISS.

Ed Krutulis
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posted 10-15-2000 02:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ed Krutulis   Click Here to Email Ed Krutulis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
For a large segment of the population, the message must be conveyed visually.
You raised a very insightfull observation of Apollo 1 CM being "visually" seen by the public.

As a sales rep by day, the MORE human senses (sight, touch, smell, sound, etc.) I can influence the greater my message sinking into my customer. Think about it?

apollo11lem5
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posted 10-15-2000 09:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for apollo11lem5   Click Here to Email apollo11lem5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I have my own opinion on the Apollo 1 matter, it will not be expressed here. However, having been a very close friend of the parents of Roger B. Chaffee, I do feel an obligation to relay their opinion on this matter.

As most of you know, Blanche and Donald Chaffee are no longer with us but I think of them daily. They were fine people and good friends and I miss them very much. Therefore, in view of their friendship I am relaying their thoughts as expressed directly to me before their passing. I owe their memory that much.

Roger's Mother and Dad were both very much opposed to the Apollo 1 spacecraft ever being put on public display. The loss of their son Roger tore at their hearts for the rest of their lives.

While I say again that these opinions are not necessarily my own, I do feel it my obligation as their friend to let their now silent voices be heard. They were wonderful people, God rest their soles. My life is diminished by their passing...

astronut
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posted 10-15-2000 10:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astronut   Click Here to Email astronut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don, thanks for sharing the Chaffee family's feelings on the matter. As I've said all along if the families were opposed I would support their decision 100%.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-15-2000 11:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Donald, thank you for sharing your first-hand knowledge of the Chaffee's wishes. Missing from this debate in all forums were the direct wishes of the families. I think everyone involved would agree the families desires should be a strong consideration in any decision.

However, and with absolutely no disrespect intended, this entire discussion has been based on whether the capsule is considered a shrine or simply another significant piece of space equipment necessary to telling the entire story of America's conquest of the Moon.

If the former is true -- that the CM would act as a shrine to the crew -- than I feel the families desires should be paramount.

If however, the latter is true and the spacecraft's display is weighed by the same consideration given to other space artifacts, then I do not know how much the families' wishes should be used in making such a decision.

Again, I mean no disrespect and I feel fortunate that I am not (nor do I imagine I will ever be) in the position to make such a decision. However, I still personally believe the Apollo 1 CM could benefit the American public and space program by being placed on display.

Joe Davies
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posted 10-16-2000 08:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Davies   Click Here to Email Joe Davies     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What an excellent posting from Don. Everyone speculates what the families would wish to great depth but here is the reality, almost from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

collshubby
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posted 10-17-2000 05:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for collshubby   Click Here to Email collshubby     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The idea of a national memorial sounds good to me. I think with the increased awareness of the space program now that the ISS is being built, it would get a fair amount of support. Where would it be best to place the memorial? Washington, DC, Florida, or Houston?

Odyessy85
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posted 10-17-2000 05:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Odyessy85   Click Here to Email Odyessy85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thats a tough descison. Washington, D.C would be a great idea. A memorial could be built near the National Air and Space Museum or in the Smithsonian itself.

Florida might also be a place to build one. But due to the wishes of the families of Grissom, White and Chaffe it would be in best interest not to put a memorial in the vicinity or on the grounds of Pad 34 itself.

Texas and Alabama, which both have NASA complexes, could be future sites.

Going back though history, one also should consider Kittyhawk, North Carolina as a possible site as well, considering the Space Program might never have been if not for Orville and Wilbur Wright.

The decision would have to be carefully made as to where a memorial would go. The best place to start is somewhere that is meaningful to the space program.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-17-2000 07:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unless I am misreading, the idea being discussed now is the establishment of a national memorial to the fallen astronauts. If so, one already exists.

The Space Mirror located at the Kennedy Space Center's Visitor Complex was designated a national memorial by Congress and then-President George Bush.

Odyessy85
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posted 10-17-2000 08:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Odyessy85   Click Here to Email Odyessy85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Never knew the Space Mirror was declared a National Memorial. From what I'm reading the memorial we are taking about may be one that is more well known.

I think if you asked someone off the street what the Space Mirror is they would probably have no idea or knowledge that such a memorial exists. On the other hand, ask that same person what the Vietnam memorial is and they will have at least a general idea.

As always if a project like this would be undertaken, we would at the very least consult the families of their views.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-17-2000 10:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is only natural that the Vietnam Memorial is better known than the Space Mirror -- the Vietnam War affected more people.

I personally do not think a memorial's popularity should be a measure of its importance. As an example, the nation felt it important to create a memorial to the astronauts (the Space Mirror) before creating one to honor the fallen from WWII. Certainly WWII affected more people and any such memorial would be exponentially more "popular" than the Space Mirror. Yet, it does not yet exist.

Addressing your other point, the families wishes -- as I raised in an earlier post, the question remains: should the Apollo 1 CM be considered a shrine for the crew (in which case the families wishes are paramount) or simply another piece of space hardware (in which case, I do not believe the families should be given the decision)?

Mike Clennon
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posted 10-28-2000 06:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Clennon   Click Here to Email Mike Clennon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Where is the Apollo 1 spacecraft stored?

cfreeze79
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posted 12-15-2000 12:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cfreeze79   Click Here to Email cfreeze79     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's at the NASA Langley Research Center, in Virginia... They actually have a few pictures of it in it's current state. Go to their website and search "AS-204".

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