tv CBS News Special Report on Apollo 1 Disaster CSPAN February 20, 2017 12:56pm-1:32pm EST
ár later on february 21st. up next on american history tv's news special report,fá original time, just a few hours after the 6:30 p.m. w3disaster. an investigation later determined the astronauts died in seconds from asphyxiation and the firjd was electrical and combustible material and the pure oxygen environment inside the cabin. very difficult and that crew escape had not been adequately considered.fá >> this is a cbs news special report. >> thi! is mike wallace at the cbs newsroom in new york.xd america's first three apollo astronauts were trapped and killed by a flash fire that swepté@ their mooné@ during a li
gus grissom, one of the original mercury astronauts, first american astronaut to go twice into space, edward white, 36 years old, the first american to walk into space, and rookie astronaut rogerok chaffee, trainingñi for his first space spa space flightu ñ31st. the fire hit at about 66:30 xd tonight. they were5a inside the spaceshi pressurized, buttoned up inside u%qmwhen the fireñ hit. a closed-circuit television camera was relaying pictures of the astronauts lying on their ra-m the two state:saturn one. it according to a nasa spokesman watching the televisionñi scree in the block house a few hundred yards away from launchpad 34. the screen went blank and he saidxd there was noxd cgm$unica
from the astronauts. silently and apparently swiftly. their bodies have beenxdñi lp'á the spacecraft, according to the latest information from theq cape, pending an investigation president johnson tonight mourned the death of the three astronauts, he said they gave service, our brave men in uniform, whether in vietnam grz seeking the frontiers of the of us thelplp tragic loss of th gallant and dedicated airmen. this film was shot about ten days ago down at cape kennedy. at the time of another test for the apollo spacecraft and the saturn one rocket. rogerfá chaffee, there are the the left, ed white in the middle.ce1 gusfá grissom, onefá of the oril mercury astronauts, this is ed á
=0$!%qeu$is roger chaffee, he was the rookie in the crew, chaffee born in grand rapids, michigan, like gusfá grissom,xd graduate, fah:i two of small children. ed white, 36 years old, father )uz children, born of a military family int( san antoni texas, graduate oflp west point t of e1e1purdue univers. with me here infá the cbs newsóo room is robert wussler, executive editor of the cbs news space unit. bob, i wonder if you would tell us a little bit about thet( roct a#!the spacecraft. >> certainly, mike. this is a saturn 1-blp rocket, also referred to as ani] uprate this lower portion, i'll separate them herexdav6 for yous is the launch vehicle.
first stage, second stage. this is not the vehicle that eventually wil-] takee1 u.s. astronauts to the moon, this is an interim rocket that will be using for the next couple of flights. now, what i have in my hand now is the -- where the accident occurred this afternoon. this is0l the launch escape tow on a launch day, prior to flight, agñ abort such as that occurred today, the thought here would have been that the launch escapeñr tower would have taken spacecraft, this isx÷ the comma module with the three astronauts actually fly, would have taken them safely away from any blowups. however, the type of accident that occurred today, this was a+ internal fire in here caused by oxygen which we'll talk about in a second. >> may we look at theó[çó large model over here. >> this is the same thing that we have been talking ñiabout, again, theñ2h&aunchçó escape to and this is a larger --ñiok thr
times -- the mock-up we have3w her. this is the commandñr module. this is where the astronauts were today. this is the service module. this is where the fuels and the electrical systems are housed, engineered in here.w3 the spacecraft today was in a fully pressurizedwmñoksystem. the speculation tonight, and again, i must say speculation electrical problem,lxrossibly with some plastic wires orrñ$ @% something of that nature, but this isok speculation purely th an electrical short circuit occurred and, of coursd. i think everyone knowsçóx.lq would happn in the event of an electrical short circuit and 100% i]óomoxy state. that's our speculation as of the moment, mike. >> thexd three men were to have gone up on february 21e1st for 14-day -- >> that's right. upwards of two weeks. our g5dns was it we a ten or 11-day flight, but were two-week flight.light, but were >> the latest news from cape spacecraft center is t
flight ofñi apollo 1 has been postponed indefinitely. the hallmark of america's space program since the first mercury launch as all of us americans know has been its openness, a of nasa to letçó the american people share in this incredibler adventure. preparations forcg$qp(r new spa flight beginning with mercury through all of thei] gemini ser% and now with this lpone, apollo apollo 1, there were a series of advance interviews with the astronauts involved. a few weeks ago, down at the manned spacecraft center in houston, gusi] grissom, ed whit nelson benton and talked about the mission which ended in flamesxd on pad 34 tonight. description of the apollo spacecraft. >> again with our action control nozzles here, with a steam vent
the outside, as i flip this part of the structure here, we can see the interior, you can see the three of$x us in our positions, on the left side, ed white in the center andçó 4/i chaffee on the right, and down below each of these two outerq stations are sleep stations,lpéd then the seat will move forward andq gives us a lotlp of standi room down in this area 0lhere. area you're looking atok here i the navigation station, the sextant and telescop%rññ are do there and the computer and the basic navigation is down in that area. if you can looku instrument panel and most of the systems and their marking instruments are from this point over. roger has those twoñi during
orbit. a primary flight station for the -- for our attitude --ok our eight bal andñi all3wof the instruments a switchesñr to make our sps burn. >>ñi spacecraft can be flown, actually flown from all three pilot positions. >> yes. as far as the flight controls stick thatok flies it, it is moveable. we can move it from the left station to center station to the right station or evs.ñ down lowó equipment bay if we need to. >> about as good as this model allows, i guess. >>jf you flew on mercury, flew gemini, now flying on apollo. is there a law ofok q/q)ages so far as the possibility of a
ñ bother youi] at all? hmind. there isok axd possibility thats going to have a catastrophic failure, of course. can happen on any flight. can happen on the last one and thex just plan as best you can to take care of all of these eventualities. and you get a well trained crew and you go w3t(fly. >> this spacecraft you're going toe1 ride on is a -- toçó a cer extent, untried. you approach it with any apprehension as compared to the gemini, which had beeni] flown >> no, i don't think so. i think you havexd to understan the feeling that a pilot(hrs and thatt( a test pilot has that i look forward to a great deal to pride involved and making afá first flight. i thinki] i'mfá looking forward
the flightx÷.%q! a great deal o anticipation. >> is there anything scary about a first space flight, even ,ee hours and conventional aircraft, jet aircraft?i] >> i don't likelp to say anythi scary about it. there is a lot of unknowns, of course, and a lot of problems that could develop or might develop and they'll have to be solved. &háhp &hc% i+hing will work for us. i don't thinkñi it will be probably a whole lot worsen this a guy makingi] a fist test flig on au apprehensive when they count down. i don't see how you couldn't help but be a little bit excited. but i don'tt( think anybody is, you know, i don't like to use the word scared. i think you're apprehensive and consideril]ñi] what is involved thinking about it. you know how to handle it and take care of iti]c and do the j.
to take is another step toward the moon.g could youxd philosophize on why you think we should go to the çó moon? >> i think thezare so many reasons why we ñishould. i guesgi some of my special reasons i'll give to u nes that a#= give to u the influence of the lunar program on raising of our young people in the country. i think our most prime responsibility is to provide an environment so that our children will be able to grow up and do creative, useful and good citizens and i think that the 3 program more so t anything we have done in the past has given a stimulusq to te young peopleçó and the very youq children even, in a goal for them and a purpose for them to educate themselves as well as
capability,c and to have even though they're not goinbi to be obviously all become astronauts, -- what they start outfá with a certain goal, when they're young, and the goal isw properly directed, these young people i think have a much more of a chance offá becomingxd use and welle1 educatede1 citizens we get older and we don't have the capability to direct the cd% world, the young people will run our world for us when we get older. i guess this is a -- one of the things i feel the most stronglyd about, but ixd also feel that - this is from a standpoint of civilization and i think of ourú making the countryt( easy for u to live in and making outf surroundingst( sojf comfortable
that we're in really an ever descendingçó spiraling spiral right withinxd ourselves. if we don't look out andxd don' try to expandw3 ourselves and expand our horizons, which i thinke1 the space program is th biggest example of expanding undertaken, we're not going to progress as a nation. 'd problem lit more practical viewpoint, i think, thatfá just plaint(lp stimulating ourxk industry, which feeds right back into making the comforte1 items t< standpoints, it is a good program. why we want to go to the smoon specifically, it is the closest thing that we haven't explored to our earth and it is thefá fit to our earth and it is thefá fit rm> astronaut ed white,t( the fit
american to walk in space aboard flight during the gemini series. command pilot jim mcdivit. at 10:30, rescue teams began to remove thexdfá bodies of the th spacecraft, perched 200 feet above launchpad 34.clpp, as i said, two of the three astronauts have died tonight on june 3rd, 1965, the man that climbed out of thekoi] through the frozen vacuum of space, clad only in a spacesuit. here is that historic flight, described by ed white+oke1e1 hi. >> this is actually -- looks
like the egress. this is when i'm coming out. what i tried to do iskxfly with the gun, maneuver with the gun out of the spacecraft.xd spacecraft this time, there was no push offñi whatsoever fromxd spacecraft. the gun actuallye1 provided the impulse for me to leave the spacecraft. the first time i tried to come the first time i tried to come mulx influence of the gun, i'm trying to maneuver over to my@óvçleft, i would be in front of the window, i maneuver the front and down the center line of the spacecraft, perhaps favoring añ little on the right. but the gun is actually providing the impulse for myñi maneuvers. right now i'm !dp&ly working with the tether only. it ran out after my first -- my second translation out to the front of thet( spacek$9ft and back. and thisxd was the time i had me the statement, i sure wishjf i d more fuel fort(ok my gun.t(ok
it was pretty interesting, though.t(çói] i didn'tfá mind getting back on the attacker system. the plume of the thrusters looked just the way mr. chamberlain told me they would look. they came out about a foot and a half or two feet from the ok spacecraft, and didn't look very ominous at all. to two feet, was an area in which the heat, they feltcxd th heat would damage my suit. i was right above them, five or six feet above them, watching them fire atjgát time.fá >> that was ed white, one of the j who died aboard the apollo spacecraft onçó launch6! uáu)onauts apparently d instantly. space officials set a gantry
wrapped around the booster rocket prevented the use of theá apollo's emergency escape system, which would haveñilp be this up here at the top, the rocket that would have taken the spacecraft away from the rocketá so the only way the astronauts could havefá escaped would have been to opt hatches here in their spacecraft and scramble out and thatlpc was impossible space officials say thexd three astronauts possibly had no knowledge that there was a serious problem, the spacecraft and rocket werefáfáñi not fuele. explosive devices had been inactivated, and they could not have caused the disaster. minor difficulties had cropped up during the countdown thisrw@% afternoon withlp two systems communications system and the." environmental control system. and the spacecraft officials+ sy they don't know whether thet( fe stemmed from the two troublesome systems. . the fire that engulfed the spacecraft and caused the death of the three astronauts.
the man who was to command the doomedu as the hard luck astronaut because of what was the closest brus with deathok of5a ameris: space program.ó[ gus grissom, flew the second mercury flight, five years ago.; just an up andfá down ride aboa a red stone rocket, you see him here going aboard. it seems perfe3 down. walter cronkite describes what happened. >> water poured in and the capsule began to sink.ñiñi g ye7 helicopter looks on but ws nearly dragged down as the capsule was fille@k with sea water. finally another helicopter plucked it from the water, soaking wet, unhurt and very surprised.xdñi >> just minding my own business when pow, i saw blue+sky and+ water start to come in. i tookfá my helmet off and i
remember taking my helmet off and grabbing the panel and pulling myself out.ñii] i only remember grabbing the panel, nothqing out thexú÷door. pad and up to thet( tower 10 to5 minutes after the first indication of trouble late this afternoon. the flash fire occurred at 6:31 easteee standard time. smoke at that point was soq intense that the rescue crewñi wearing masks suffered smoke inhalation in spite of the maskd 27 men at the pad, 25 ofóom then suffered bad smoke inhalation. but they're all rightjd two still under observation. as conditions allowed. but by then it was too late to save the crew. for latelpt( information, fromc washington, washington reaction% to what happened at cape kennedy, we go now to our cbs
news studios in washington andt correspondent dave schoumacher and dan rather. >> mike, four astronautsok are seclusion in a hotel room ae1 f blocks from where i'mjf sitting. before our gordon cooper, dick gordon, neil armstrong and jim lovell. gordo says we just don't feel up to talking for television. but he did consent to a very short interview fromti his room. cooper and the others are very shocked as gordon put it, three of these men were our very closest friends. the astronauts, of course, are a roup and they feel course, are a this quite deeply.i]xde1 but while the astronauts arexd upset, it would not be fir(f sa as that -- they're broken hearted over this,w3 that's not test pilots, as astronauts, they were well aware of thei] danger involved in this and they seem most concerned with thexd findi out of just what wentñi wrong. as cooper said, we're extremely
anxious, we wantx#uz find out whq. caused fáit. the astronauts have be"@ going over it. over and over it,xd one of the astronauts jfxdsaid, ever sincey phone in the room has been ringing constantly as information comes to them from cape kennedy and the mannedjf spacecraft center in houston. gordo says they still don't know enough about it to knowçó reall what qú they do know that it happened during that@countdown a few seconds prior to the simulated liftoff. cooper tended to doubt it was ib the environmental control system, though he said there had been trouble withok the earliern this count and earlier with it in thet(i] apollo program. however, he seemed toc feel tha been licked. also a history of electrical problems in the apollo spacecraft, i asked cooper if that had been cleared up and he gavee1 a rather"n short bitter h before he said, i thought so.c cooper admittedko it could be t electr-;cl system, but said that
would be añilp conjecture tonig. astronauts. grissom, white and chaffee, the other day at cape kennedy. he said gus was quite pleased with the spacecraft, all of the astronauts were, excited about it, thought they had everything under control. and then finally, last wordsçó t others said, want to make it clear5a we want to forge had ahead. we have to be sure now we don't stall about justi] becauseq ofk this. also in town today were a number of important officials of the tracked down several of them. >> theçó apollo at the international club in washington was held shortly after3w the signing of the outer space treaty at the white house this afternoon. all of the top space officials were pressed for this apollo dinner this evening at thelp international ñiclub. project. you might say it was a bluexd
ribbon group of spacexd officia, business and industry people gathere club for what was to have been . somet( congressmenw3 and senato present, vice president hubert humphrey was there when i arrived, which was about an hour aftefi the tragic message came from cape kennedy. not clear whether vice president humphrey had beenxd at the apol dinner before or if he had come over after word was received. the impression i gathered is the vice president came to the dinner after receiving word of the accident at cape kennedy. president johnson telephoned the group at the apollo dinner and talked withñi mr. james webb, t director. the old dinner was sealed off tq reporters and people from the outside for better than an hour. one thing decided in there was that there wouldn't be any statement made tonight by him, no further statement fromjf president johnson, no statement from vice president okhumphrey. as he put it, we're all members
we want to make sure the american people have the correct facts and allxd of the facts bu vice president humphrey as he came out of the building, was sad faced, he toldfá me personay i think president johnson's statement speaks for the entire country. as mike put itxd earlier, president johnson's official statement fromq-the white house was, and i quote, three valiant young men had given lives and national service and we mourn the great loss, and ourxd heart go out to their families, çó unquote, the president. and vice president humphrey eke yode those xdw3sentiments. as the apolloçó meeting broke u ef everyone in the room seemedçó anxious to leave thejfroom. some of those there didn't seem quite know how to act. a few simply shruggedi@íheir shoulders and said, what can yo] say? others soughtxd reporters out t say the one thing we want you to make clear, no one in this programfá wants to g or take a backward step.
warner von bon, a better known name in the american space program, was there. at first he wouldngá( say anything at all. kept saying, i'm a member of the team, i can't say anything, we're notfá supposed toc say r anything. finally couldn't contain himself and started to talk to us a bit, wouldn't come over to the studio and give everything approaching a full cinterview. he said, one thing that sticks out in my mind, he said, all of the astronauts are on a first name basis with death. these men know the risks. from warner van byron, allt( we know is there was a testé@lp go on with the threeñi astronauts the spacecraft under pure oxyge1 conditions. men probably died from asphyxiation because and thisu continues to be a direct quote, after the fire broke out in the spacet( capsule, they couldn't evacuated in time, all of the
american space program, now out of it as a working astronaut. astronaut john glenn was asked whether space is xdsafe. >> quite the opposiá? i think we all expect to loseñi equipment like this is high sá/er(t as --q new equipment like this, we're not fighting our heads in the sand, we're knocked off one of these days on some mission or another. but we all had many friends killed in aviation. this doesn't mean aviation -and sa anymore. if this program is worth running there are times when people will get hurt. the program will go on. we're not going to stop our efforts. we want to make it as safe as we ca make it. >> john glenn, flanked by the late gus grissom, and by diek
states space program is cbs news correspondent walter cronkite who just arrived in our newsroom heree1 in new york. i'm sure this hits youñr particularly hard because these zuhp &hc%friendst( ofs your.ñk=z you knew gus grissom from the beginning at cape kennedy. >> yes indeed. that's true and it hits mexd ha. hits everyi] american hard, no matter how well youfá knew the n personally or not.xd i noticed through the evening we referred toc gus grissom as the hard luck guy because of what happened to himfá and that seco suborbital mercuryc , his capsule wentñr down. but, you know, gus said to me, took somei]e1 umbrage at this b called the hard luck t(guy, no wants to havexd that laid again his name. he said tocpme, he said, i'm no
the hard luck guy. i'm the goodt(qi] luck guy.i] i'm the guy that came out of the capsule that sank in the ocean. this was his attitude to thexdq whole matter of the space program. i would like to commentt(xd if y very quickly, taking tooe1 much time on a ttsq of things that have beenok mentioned in the the matter of the escape tower, t been talking to the cape and these last several minutes to several of my friends down there, and from what i gather this wouldn't have helped a bit. if thee1xd escape tower hadfá b rigged, and there is no evidence it was and probably was not, the escape towerxdt((ç>k workst( onr pyrotechnics. there this early in the lp countdown. i don't believe.fá i'm not sure aboute1 the saturn program but i don't think so.
even if the --?; even if the gantry, the had not been around the spacecraft to prevent it, apparentlyok if all of the evidence from the crewsñr that have been up there and looked7n into that tragedy laden spacecraft, these men could not have escaped anyway. they died absolutely instantly, which points to this most frequentlyq mentioned speculatic fire. and we all can understand, ef think, oxygen -- the danger of oxygen, if we don't how fast it áaums, because probably few of of going to a hospital and seeing a friend on an oxygen tent with all of the red signs warning against smoking. any sort of( yospark, it is oxygen and from the early evidence fromóom the capsule, i went and itok went fast, these n in a sense were partçñi of this
kdisaster, mill second disaster. and if there is anything that can beoke1 rationalized about t deaths, it undoubtedly was instantw3 takenious. these were smart testxd pilots, reaction time was amazingly fast and they would have been on that horn calling back to the w3towe even twnm report if they hadok n theyok wqe about to go, they would have reported what it was so that the rest of the program would know. would know. that'soh,! were.ó[ ò=@q!%9- the -- i think one thig should be said.w3 this is a time for great sadness, national sadness and certainly personal sadness of the people in the space program. but also a time for courage and if that sounds trite, i'll change the words to guts. the thing that these fellows said on the film, you showed earlier. the thing thatw3 everybody in t space program has been saying tonight has beenlp quoted.e1 web on down.
that this is a test program. we knew it was a test program. these guys who went into it knew it wasxd a test program a test program with equipment of this nature, with airplanes or boats or submarines, anything you're operating in aw&ostile environment, which space is. and this wasfá a hostile thew3 ground because this pure ñ rest of theser things, this program wasi] bounw to claim its jfvictims. these fellows, everye1 one of them, test pilots. they havee1 been at the navy te statqo71ñt( edwards air base,qt air force test fástation, they aircraft and have seen aq lotlp their buddies go down. i couldn't begin to telltyyou, because i don't know, the slightest ideas, the figures,xd the number ofxd tub pilots that have died int( thist([vl countr the beginning of our space program. these are the firstfá astronaut to die in the accident directly related to the space program. turning backfá or having any
question of falteringi] inñr ou progress forward toward the landinglp on h: moon. delayed. it may bepp%mm%1 we may be able to consolidate we consolidated some in the program, but maybe a couple of months delay. could pushçó us from late 68 to 69. it may push us from 69 to e170 something else happens. but there is going to be a '7ó delay. but certainly it shouldn't in any way damage our national re solve to press one1 with the program for which thesexd men gñ thank you,t( walter. >> so to sum up, america'sfá fit threeñi apollo astronautst(fá w trapped and killed by a flash fire that swept their apollo spacecraft early tonight in a
launchpad test até@ cape kenned. gus grissom, ed white, and rookie astronautjf roger chaffe training for his first space flight, a kuu scheduled for february 21st, now postponed indefinitely. the three men"n1 aboard their spacecraft, ten minutes from a simulated liftoff, when a." fla fire hit at 6:31ñr tonightt( ean standard time, they weresca in inside the spacecraft, when the fire qhit. there was a flash, and that was it ac(7pding to a nasa spokesman watching the television screen in theko black>(&usock house a d yards fromx$dthe launchpad. jájuxd mourned the death of the three aid they gave their lives in the nation's service. f1 os in the nation's service. >> this has been a cbs newsi] special report. ó[ next, on c-span3's americ
journali[(gwen ifill who worked for the new york times, washington post, and nbc %muj hour on pbs. )páhe died in ñi2016. the interview is from explorations in black w3 leadership, a project co-directed by university of virginia professorst( phyllis livellive l lea leffler and julian bond. upbringing as the daughter of ad outspoken ame minister, her worp as both a print reporter and on camera news personality. and her experience with racism in the oknewsroom. this program was recorded in xdp >> thank youok for being on explorations of black we very much appreciate you being with us. >> thrilled to be here. >> let