January 27, 2017

"Fire in the Cockpit!"

And in seconds they were gone.

The crew of Apollo 1 had great misgivings about their spacecraft. They were prescient.

A review board ultimately identified a number of conditions that led the fire. The sealed cabin had been pressurized with pure oxygen, which fuels fire. There were combustible materials all around the capsule, as well as "vulnerable” wiring and plumbing...  

In the lead up to the fire there were ominous signs such as
...an environmental control system that had burst into flames during a test to indications that when the service module’s propellant tanks were pressurized, they might suddenly explode. 

 This was an actual scandal rather than the hazards one expects when pushing technologies to their limit. Nevertheless, while there were the major shake-ups at NASA and a complete redesign of the spacecraft, in less than 30 months later the Eagle landed in the Sea of Tranquility. 


Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 11:26 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 I recall one documentary pointing out that some of the velcro that was used extensively in the cockpit was considered fire retardant in normal atmosphere, but turned out to be extremely flammable in pure oxygen, but it wasn't tested in that environment.

Posted by: Mauser at Sat Jan 28 21:52:47 2017 (5Ktpu)

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