Jan 29, 2017 07:33 PM EST

How Apollo 1 Casualties 50 Years Ago Helped Space Travel

NASA Discusses Research Seeking Habitable Worlds Among The Stars
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 14: (L-R) John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA; John Mather, senior project scientist for the Webb telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center; Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dave Gallagher, director of astronomy and physics at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute discuss 'the scientific and technological roadmap that will lead to the discovery of potentially habitable worlds among the stars' July 14, 2014 at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC. Most prominent among the methods NASA will search the universe for habitable exoplanets will be the deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope, with a mirror of 21 feet, scheduled to be launched in 2018.
(Photo : Getty Images/Win McNamee)

Thousands of people gathered in different parts of the United States to commemorate the Apollo 1 tragedy that happened 50 years ago. What many do not know is the accident played a large part in the country's space program.

As reported by MLive, three astronauts died when they could not escape Apollo 1 after its launch pad caught fire during testing. If the accident did not happen, Apollo 1 would have been the spacecraft that would have brought the first man on the moon.

The astronauts died largely because they were asphyxiated by the toxic fumes caused by the fire. They tried to get out of the doomed spacecraft but they were unable to do so because no one could open the latch.

The accident brought tragedies to the loved ones of the astronauts who died gasping for air in Apollo 1: Lt. Roger B. Chaffee, Lt. Col. Virgil Grissom and Lt. Col. Edward H. White. They are all promising young men, in love with space travel and are preparing to orbit the earth for up to 14 days to test the capsule.

Grissom and White already had their special experience with space travel before their untimely death. Meanwhile, Chaffee was supposed to be the youngest astronaut to orbit the earth.

The Palm Beach Post reported that without the sacrifice of these three young men, America would have lost a lot of lives trying to launch unsafe capsules into space. The accident has spurred the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to re-evaluate the design of its capsules and make sure that they are safe for astronauts who will consider them home once they are in space.

Prominent astronauts were among those who commemorated the events: surviving crew members of Apollo 11, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, and Apollo 16 moonwalker Charlie Duke and Apollo 10's Thomas Stafford.

Jobs & Hire previously reported that the launching of SpaceX Falcon 9 has been pushed back and NASA wants Tesla CEO Elon Musk to hire more people.

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