January 27 is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy. To commemorate the tragic historic event, the Cosmosphere will open a new exhibit titled “Apollo 1: Valiant Pioneers”. The exhibit tells of events from the entire day of the tragedy, where nothing seemed to be going correctly and highlights changes made to ensure future missions did not end similarly.
The exhibit, to be held on the main floor in the museum rotunda, will consist of Cosmosphere items and several borrowed artifacts of a private collector, Ray Katz. Artifacts on display from the mission include: emergency egress plans, thank-you cards sent out by the families following the death of the astronauts and a hard hat worn by a pad worker from Cape Kennedy.
Shannon Whetzel, the Cosmosphere’s Collection Manager, noted that following the tragedy, NASA made several modifications in design to the capsule and emergency plans.
“This was an unfortunate tragedy during a time when many thought the American space program was invincible,” Whetzel said. “But, failure often leads to innovation, which was the case here. Capsule design and emergency protocol changed dramatically following Apollo 1, eventually allowing us to land on the Moon.”
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