Ed White, Virgil Grissom, Roger Chaffee

Ed White, Virgil Grissom Roger Chaffee

San Francisco, CA- When I was growing up it was the space program, NASA, National Aeronautics & Space Administration that provided the most compelling “Must See TV.” From Alan Sheppard’s first foray into space in 1961 aboard a Mercury capsule, to Edward White’s first space walk from a Gemini capsule, space was truly the “New Frontier.”


On this day in 1967, the aforementioned Edward White, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, and Roger Chaffee, the crew of Apollo I died when a fire engulfed their spacecraft as they practiced on the ground in Florida. Having radio problems on the ground between the cockpit and the NASA control center, Grissom is heard saying shortly before the fire. “How can you get us to the moon when we can’t talk to one another on the ground.”

Grissom was the second American in space, White made the first space walk and Chaffee, a rookie astronaut, was the U2 pilot that spotted the Russian misssiles and brought us to the brink of destruction as the Military Joint Chiefs of Staff head Curtis Lemay proposed a plan to President Kennedy for a “Surprise nuclear attack on Russia.” The flip side was Lemay knew we might lose 40 million Americans.


To me, these three men are truly American heroes.


  • avatar

    “This mishap set the United States manned Moon program back a year and a half but we still beat the Soviets there (but ironically they’re currently beating us in the Heavyweight Boxing scene).”

    Forgot to mention on my previous post that the biggest loss of all was the three lives:: Grissom, White and Chaffee.

    Speaking of White, I’ve always had this obscure memory from the end of 2nd grade of my teacher Mrs. Phelps at Los Altos Elementary School in Hacienda Heights, CA saying, “Just think, June the 3rd is history and you’re a part of it.” 25 years later, I looked that date up to see what it was all about and discovered that on June 03, 1965, White became the first American to walk in space, from his Gemini space capsule.

    Since this is after all a boxing website, let me add: How ’bout that Floyd manning up and taking on Mosley! Since Mosley has admitted to taking PED (2nd ODLH fight), it will be interesting to see how the ‘Olympic Style” drug testing plays out.

  • avatar

    Good on you for remembering Pedro. I’ve stood at the launch pad where the accident happened at the Kennedy Space Center.

    One of the problems that lead to the accident with Apollo One was they used pure O2 (oxygen) in space capsules up to that point and could therefore pressurize the cabins to ~1/5 normal atmospheric pressure since earth’s atmosphere is 19% oxygen and 79 % Nitrogen. But as we all know, the slightest spark in a pure O2 atmosphere can set off an explosive fire. All future space capsules were pressurized to near-sea level atmospheric pressure and a 5/1 mix of Nitrogen to Oxygen. This mishap set the United States manned Moon program back a year and a half but we still beat the Soviets there (but ironically they’re currently beating us in the Heavyweight Boxing scene).

    But I too grew up in the space age, growing up with the sense of optimism it fostered, thinking by the time I was my present age, we’d have Lunar and Martian colonies and have manned missions to the outer solar system; original plan in the late 1960’s that I read in a technical document when I worked for an aerospace company was for mankind to first step foot on Mars by 1986, 24 years ago!

    In 2001 A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick predicted in 1968 that we’d have our first manned trip to Jupiter and regular Pan Am commercial space service to the Moon. They got it wrong on two fronts; During 2001, we hadn’t been back to the Moon since December 1972 and Pan Am was out of business.

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