On January 27, 1967, the three astronauts of the Apollo 4, were doing atest countdown on the launch pad. Gus Grissom was in charge. His crew wereEdward H. White, the first American to walk in space, and Roger B. Chaffee, anaval officer going up for the first time.
182 feet below, R. C. A technicianGary Propst was seated in front of a bank of television monitors, listening tothe crew radio channel and watching various televisions for important activity. Inside the Apollo 4 there was a metal door with a sharp edge. Each timethe door was open and shut, it scraped against an environmental control unitwire. The repeated abrasion had exposed two tiny sections of wire.
A sparkalone would not cause a fire, but just below the cuts in the cable was a lengthof aluminum tubing, which took a ninety-degree turn. There were hundreds ofthese turns in the whole capsule. The aluminum tubing carried a glycol coolingfluid, which is not flammable, but when exposed to air it turns to flammablefumes. The capsule was filled with pure oxygen in an effort to allow theastronauts to work more efficiently. It also turns normally not so flammableitems to highly flammable items. Raschel netting that was highly flammable inthe pure oxygen environment was near the exposed section of the wires.Order now
At 6:31:04 p. m. the Raschel netting burst into an open flame. A secondafter the netting burst into flames, the first message came over the crew’sradio channel: “Fire,” Grissom said. Two Seconds later, Chaffee said clearly,”We’ve got a fire in the cockpit. ” His tone was businesslike (Murray 191).
There was no camera in the cabin, but a remote control camera, if zoomedin on the porthole could provide a partial, shadowy view of the interior of thespace craft. There was a lot of motion, Propst explained, as White seemed tofumble with something and then quickly pull his arms back, then reach out again. Another pair of arms came into view from the left, Grissom’s, as the flamesspread from the far left-hand corner of the spacecraft toward the porthole(Murray 192). The crew struggled for about 30 seconds after their suits failed,and then died of asphyxiation, not the heat.
To get out of the capsuleastronauts had to remove three separate hatches, atleast 90 seconds was requiredThe IB Saturn rocket contained no fuel, so no chance of fire was reallythought of, so there were no fire crews or doctors standing by. Many peoplewere listening to the crew’s radio channel, and would have responded, but werecaught off guard and the first mention of fire was not clearly heard by anyone. On January 28, 1986 the space shuttle Challenger was ready to launch. The lead up to the launch had not been without its share of problems. The talkof cold weather, icicles, and brittle and faulty o-rings were the main problems.
It was revealed that deep doubts of some engineers had not been passed on bytheir superiors to the shuttle director, Mr. Moore. Something was unusual about that morning in Florida: it was uncommonlycold. The night before, the temperature had dropped to twenty-two degreesfahrenheit. Icicles hung from the launch pad, it was said that the iciclescould have broken off and damaged the space shuttle’s heat tiles.
It had beenthe coldest day on which a shuttle launch had ever been attempted. Cold weather had made the rubber O-ring seals so brittle that they nolonger sealed the joint properly. People feared a reduction in the efficiencyof the O-ring seals on the solid rocket boosters. Level 1 authorities at NASAhad received enough information about faulty O-rings by August 1985 that theyshould have ordered discontinuation of flights.
The shuttle rocketed away from the icicle laden launch pad, carrying aNew Hampshire school teacher, NASA’s first citizen in space. It was the worstaccident in the history of NASA in nearly 25 years. 11:38 a. m.
cape time, themain engine ignition followed by clouds of smoke and flame came from the solidfuel rocket boosters. Unknown to anyone in the cabin or on the ground, there wasa jet of flame around the giant orange fuel tank coming from the right-handbooster rocket. Seventy-three seconds after lift-off the Challenger suddenlydisappeared amid a cataclysmic explosion which ripped the fuel tank from nose totail (Timothy 441). The explosion occurred as Challenger was 10. 35 miles highand 8.
05 miles downrange from the cape, speeding toward space at 1,977 mph. Lost along with the $1. 2 billion spacecraft were a $100 million satellite thatwas to have become an important part of NASA’s communications network(Associated Press 217). Pictures taken revealed that even after the enormousexplosion occurred the cockpit remained somewhat intact. Aerodynamic pressureexerted on the human passengers would have killed anyone who survived theexplosion.
The remains of the shuttle were spread over miles of ocean. OverIn comparison, both disasters were preventable. Both disasters had amain explosion or malfunction, but even if there were survivors they would havedied because there was no escape. The Challenger disaster was mainly a lot ofpeople wanting to get better jobs and more money, or simply to get on the goodside of someone. The Apollo 4 had many problems which should have been caught. Apollo 4 had many deficiencies: loose, shoddy wiring, excessive use ofcombustible materials in spite of a 100 percent oxygen atmosphere, inadequateprovisions for rescue, and a three layer, ninety plus second hatch.
TheChallenger had faulty O-rings, icicles, and bad management which threatened tobring the entire american astronaut program to an end. Over a billion dollarsBoth disasters could have been prevented if the time, effort, andfunding was spent. Many people involved in both disasters were either lazy orBibliography: