• Apollo Moonship - San Francisco Chronicle


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    JAN. 30 1967

    Scarce early original 24 page edition of the San Francisco Chronicle heading the Apollo Moonship Disaster which killed three astronauts.

    All three astronauts contributed to the success of NASA’s manned space activities throughout the 1960s. It was with great tragedy, therefore, that they became the first casualties of the American space program. On 27 January 1967 Apollo 1 was sitting on the launch pad atop a Saturn 1B rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 34, the precursor to the Saturn V. It was set to perform a “plugs-out” test, during which both the launch vehicle and the spacecraft were not loaded with fuel and all pyrotechnic systems were disabled. The task was merely to prepare Apollo 1 for its launch on 21 February 1967 by running through various system procedures.

    Suddenly, at 18:30:54 local time, an unidentified electrical arc ignited the Command Module’s pure, high-pressure oxygen atmosphere that was being used to replicate conditions in orbit. The fire engulfed the interior capsule and the astronauts’ efforts to open the hatch and escape were in vain. Less than a minute later all three had perished.

    The disaster prompted a comprehensive review from NASA, which resulted in a number of design changes to the Apollo spacecraft to significantly improve its safety. The deaths of these three talented astronauts provided an important reminder of the perils of manned space exploration in an age where the desire to send mankind to the stars was second to none. Amongst a number of memorials, geographical landmarks on the Moon and Mars bear the names of the three Apollo 1 astronauts as part of their lasting legacy.

    San Francisco Chronicle newspaper is in excellent condition with only slight age toning.