Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Apollo 1 (Apollo 204) - January 27, 1967

I happened to tour Launch Complex 34 a few days ago, today being the 48th anniversary of the catastrophe. 

While only 8 years old when the fire happened, it was devastating to me and remains a sorrow-full moment. 

Remember them not for how they died but for those ideals for which they lived

 NASA web site for Apollo 204

Early photo of LC34

LC34 launch control bunker 

Only one bunker ever took a direct shot, it held up!
The sloped roof was a design improvement over the original block houses.
They have escape tunnels in case the doors collapse.

The pedestal on LC34

The flame diverters are on the left, currently housing some aggressive owls.
The Delta rocket launch complex is in the distance.

Looking up at what would be the throat of the rocket engines.  The concrete is crumbling a bit, and we were advised to watch out for falling pieces

Memorial plaque on the rocket pedestal

Memorial Benches

One of the surviving astronauts commissioned these benches
as a memorial on the periphery of LC34

Apollo/Saturn on LC34

Apollo Investigation

The capsule was carefully taken apart, but no source of the fire was found,
albeit the arc was on a particular DC bus,
and it originated near the environmental control system.
The fire caused a build up of pressure which caused the capsule to burst,
here you can see the crack in the bulkhead.
The heat shield burned up from the inside

The fire traveled along Velcro. 

There was little attention placed on the accumulation of combustibles 
or break in flame propagation. 

No one thought the oxygen atmosphere was a hazard. 

The astronauts had no chance to survive, succumbed to fatal gases with no way out. 

The use of nylon led to a staggering amount of flaming and melting, including the suits themselves.