Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Gus Grissom - Astronaut

Maybe you recognize his name. Gus was from Mitchell Indiana near Spring Mill State Park. He died on January 27, 1967. I was in high school when it happened. I probably did not pay close attention to his death at that age but I knew it happened. Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee were in the Apollo-1 command module for a pre-launch test Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The hatch was sealed and the interior contained 100% oxygen. A spark from somewhere ignited the oxygen and all three died instantly. It set the Apollo program back for some time while the cause and changes were made. 

For more details about the Air Force Base., use this link: 

Go to for history of Gus and the space program.

I took these photos last Friday at the 50th anniversary memorial at Launch Pad 34 were they died. The remains of the launch pad can be seen in the photos. Many of the original launch pads have been dismantled as they became obsolete. 

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is actually a separate property from the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island. You can take a tour to see many of the old launch pads at the Cape when you visit Kennedy Space Center. 

Launch Pad 34 where it happened.

About 300 family, friends, military and NASA officials attended the 50th memorial.
The memorial is held every year just prior to the exact time of the fire which was January 27, 1967 at 6:31pm.

These are special made heat resistive bricks that pave the area around the launch pad.
If you watch the launches, you can understand why these are needed. 

These are the two flame deflectors that route the exhaust away from the launch stand. They were moved into place on rails. These are the originals for launch pad 34. You can see the bricks on the ground. 

For more details about Launch Pad 34, use this link:

Looking up through the launch stand.
It was used from October 1961 through October 1968 to launch Saturn 1 and 1B rockets.

Lily Koppel from the New York Times was present and published this story the next day. Lily is the author of the book "Astronaut Wives" and was the basis for the TV series last year.

Several speakers were heard before the 6:31pm moment.

The memorial begins. You can see launch Pad 37 in the background.The International Space Station flew overhead during the memorial.



Mrs Grissom and Gus lived in Mitchell Indiana and moved to Houston, TX when Gus was an astronaut. She still lives in Houston.

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