Kuiper lies on the ground in front of the backup suits for the Apollo 1 astronauts.

Apollo 1

Kuiper honors the Apollo 1 astronauts at US Space and Rocket Center. Thank you @rocketcenterusa for allowing Kuiper to visit.

Content warning: fire, astronaut death ?

“If we die we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that 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.” Gus Grissom (Gemini: A Personal Account of Man’s Venture Into Space)

These are the actual backup suits for Ed White, Roger Chaffee and Gus Grissom. On January 27, 1967, a fire erupted in their spacecraft during a ground test. The astronauts perished within seconds (but likely did not suffer; they passed out due to CO.)

It took 5 minutes and 27 seconds to get the 3 layers of hatches open from the outside. Fire extinguishers were few and far between (there were only 2 on the whole level), thick smoke made it difficult to locate the special wrench needed to remove the outer hatch, and flames shooting out of the ruptured capsule threatened to ignite the escape rocket (which in turn threatened to burn down the entire building.) Six people who risked their lives attempting to rescue the crew would later receive the NASA Exceptional Bravery medal.

NASA shut down manned missions for the next 20 months while they worked to figure out what happened. The final report wasn’t able to exactly pinpoint the fire’s cause (probably a short circuit.) However, it determined that a pure O2 atmosphere and highly flammable materials (e.g. Velcro everywhere) had contributed to its rapid spread. In addition, since the hatches were designed to open inward, the high pressurization of the capsule during the test made them impossible to open quickly. A lack of emergency fire and medical personnel on site didn’t help, either.

As a result, NASA completely redesigned the hatch into a single, outward-opening “unified hatch,” switched to using a mix of oxygen and nitrogen before launch, and made hundreds of other changes to make Apollo spacecraft safer.

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzcKwVulmo7/

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