January 27 - 1967 - The Apollo 1 Crew Dies in a Fire

Apollo 1 was the first mission in the Apollo Program, which was the first NASA program with the stated aim of reaching the moon. Apollo 1, being the first step, only had the goal of making sure the new spacecraft could make it into space and come back. The moon landing was a later goal. Despite this limited brief, Apollo 1 ran into a large number of problems. Although its crew, veteran astronauts Gus Grissom and Ed White as well as rookie Roger Chafee, were specially selected, the North American Aviation designed spacecraft had numerous issues throughout its entire development. Still, keeping with the space race, Apollo 1 pushed ahead depsite the problems. During a test on January 27, 1967, the three crewmembers were assessing how everything would behave during a "plugs out" simulation. An electrical problem created a fire, which instantly engulfed the spacecraft and killed all three crewmembers within minutes. Despite the tragedy, NASA pushed on with the Apollo missions, reaching the moon in less than three years.

William Floyd