Apollo 1 Astronauts (left to right) Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, pose in front of Launch Complex 34 which is housing their Saturn 1 launch vehicle. The astronauts died ten days later in a fire on the launch pad. Image: wikipedia
Roger B. Chaffee (b. February 15, 1935), Virgil I. Grissom (b. April 3, 1926) and Edward H. White II (b. November 14, 1930) died on January 27, 1967, when a flash fire swept through the Apollo 1 command module during a launch rehearsal test. The three men inside perished despite the best efforts of the ground crew. It would take more than 18 months, and extensive redesigns, before NASA sent more men into space. The Apollo program changed forever after the incident. The improvements in astronaut safety allowed the agency to complete the rest of the program with no further fatalities. The agency also met the United States president John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the moon in 1969, during Apollo 11.