Two Sad NASA Anniversaries

On January 28 in 1986, the STS-51-L Challenger was lost during launch carrying Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-B (TDRS-B); SPARTAN-203. On January 27 (yesterday) in 1967, Apollo 1 caught fire during pre–flight testing. Astronauts Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Ed White and Roger B. Chaffee were killed.

Those anniversaries always make me melancholy.

What Ed White Saw

Back in 1967 I was in 6th grade and quite the aspiring geek. I was a major space flight and NASA geek. The news of the Apollo 1 fire chilled me to the bone.

This is from the Wikipedia entry where there are some pictures of the plaques:

Launch Complex 34 has been essentially dismantled, the cement and steel-reinforced launch platform remains at the site. The platform bears two plaques for the 3 men who died. One reads:

LAUNCH COMPLEX 34
Friday, 27 January 1967
1831 Hours

Dedicated to the living memory of the crew of the Apollo 1:

USAF. Lt. Colonel Virgil I. Grissom
USAF. Lt. Colonel Edward H. White, II
U.S.N. Lt. Commander Roger B. Chaffee

They gave their lives in service to their country in the ongoing exploration of humankind’s final frontier. Remember them not for how they died but for those ideals for which they lived.

The other reads:

IN MEMORY
OF
THOSE WHO MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE
SO OTHERS COULD REACH FOR THE STARS

AD ASTRA PER ASPERA
(A ROUGH ROAD LEADS TO THE STARS)

GOD SPEED TO THE CREW
OF
APOLLO 1

I remembered Ed White from his space walk during Gemini 4 and seeing a picture of his family and two kids. I remembered Virgil Grissom from his Mercury mission. I really felt like I had been sucker-punched.