January 27, 1967 – Gus Grissom dies in test launch of Apollo 1
According to Wikipedia:
“Virgil Ivan “Gus” Grissom (April 3, 1926 – January 27, 1967) was a United States Air Force pilot and a NASA astronaut. A native of Mitchell, Indiana, he was the second American to fly in space. He was killed during a training exercise and test for the Apollo One mission on January 27, 1967 at Launch Complex 34, Cape Kennedy, along with fellow astronauts Ed White and Roger Chaffee. Grissom was a posthumous recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
Although the ignition source of the fire was never determined their deaths were attributed to a wide range of lethal design hazards in the early Apollo command module such as its highly pressurized 100% oxygen atmosphere during the test, many wiring and plumbing flaws, flammable materials in the cockpit, a hatch which might not open at all in an emergency and even the flightsuits worn by the astronauts. Despite repeated requests from his widow Betty Moore Grissom and other members of his family, no independent inquiry has ever been carried out into the Apollo 1 incident.”
Quote by Grissom just weeks before the fatal fire:
“We’re in a risky business and we hope if anything happens to us, it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life. Our God-given curiosity will force us to go there ourselves because in the final analysis only man can fully evaluate the moon in terms understandable to other men. ”
– Time, 3 Feb. 1967: Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Gemini: A Personal Account of Man’s Venture into Space, ed. Jacob Hay (New York: Macmillan, 1968), p. 175.