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Apollo 11 editorial cartoon by Wayne Stayskal, Chicago American Today, July 21, 1969

The nation remembered astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Roger Chafee, and Edward White when Apollo 11 made the first manned moon landing on July 20, 1969. Knowledge gained from the congressional investigations of their deaths contributed to the ultimate success of the Apollo program.

Serial and Government Publications Division, Library of Congress

Apollo 11 editorial cartoon by Wayne Stayskal, Chicago American Today, July 21, 1969

The 1967 Apollo Disaster

America’s manned lunar spaceflight program suffered a tragedy on January 27, 1967, when the Apollo-Saturn 204 (later named Apollo 1) command module burst into flames during a pre-launch test, killing all three crewmembers. While the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) internally reviewed the fatal accident, both houses of Congress launched independent investigations to ensure comprehensive and impartial findings. In 1968 Congress passed legislation creating an Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel. A redesigned vehicle, Apollo 11, carried American astronauts safely to the moon and back in July 1969.

Three courageous men lost their lives in this tragic accident. . . . Because of their deaths, manned space flight will be safer for those who follow them. 

Apollo 204 Accident: Report of the Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, United States Senate, with Additional Views, 1968