Apollo 1 Fire Timeline

 

 

Event

GMT

Date

GMT

Time

Plugs Out Integrated Test initiated when power applied to spacecraft.

27 Jan 1967

12:55

 

 

 

Following completion of initial verification tests of system operation, command pilot

entered spacecraft, followed by pilot and senior pilot.

 

 

18:00

 

 

 

Count held when command pilot noted odor in spacecraft environmental control system suit oxygen. Sample taken.

 

 

18:20

 

 

 

Count resumed after hatch installed.

 

19:42

 

 

 

Cabin purged with oxygen.

 

19:45

 

 

 

Open microphone first noted by test crew.

 

22:25

 

 

 

Count held while communication difficulties checked. Various final countdown

functions performed during hold as communications permitted.

 

 

22:40

 

 

 

From this time until about 23:53 GMT, flight crew interchanged equipment related to

communications systems in effort to isolate communications problem. During

troubleshooting period, problems developed with ability of various ground stations to

communicate with one another and with crew.

 

 

 

 

22:45

 

 

 

Final countdown functions up to transfer to simulated fuel cell power completed and

count held at T-10 minutes pending resolution of communications problems. For next

10 minutes, no events related to fire. Major activity was routine troubleshooting of

communications problem. All other systems operated normally during this period.

 

 

 

 

23:20

 

 

 

First indication by either cabin pressure or battery compartment sensors of a pressure

increase.

 

 

23:21:11

 

 

 

Command pilot live microphone transmitted brushing and tapping noises, indicative of

movement. Noises similar to those transmitted earlier in test by live microphone when

command pilot was known to be moving.

 

 

 

23:30

 

 

 

No voice transmissions from spacecraft from this time until transmission reporting fire.

 

23:30:14

 

 

 

Slight increase in pulse and respiratory rate noted from senior pilot.

 

23:30:21

 

 

 

Data from guidance and navigation system indicated undetermined type of crew

movement. Gradual rise in oxygen flow rate to crew suits began, indicating

movement. Earlier in Plugs Out Integrated Test, crew reported that an unspecified

movement caused increased flow rate.

 

 

 

 

23:30:24

 

 

 

Senior pilot’s electrocardiogram indicated muscular activity for several seconds.

 

23:30:30

 

 

 

Additional electrocardiogram indications from senior pilot. Data show increased activity but were not indicative of alarm type of response. More intense crew activity sensed by guidance and navigation system.

 

 

 

23:30:39

 

 

 

Crew movement ended.

 

23:30:44

 

 

 

All of senior pilot’s biomedical parameters reverted to “rest” level.

 

23:30:45

 

 

 

Variation in signal output from gas chromatograph.

 

23:30:50

 

 

 

Significant voltage transient recorded.

 

23:30:54.8

 

 

 

Command pilot microphone noises ended.

 

23:30:58.6

 

 

 

Oxygen flow rate reached limit of sensor.

 

23:30:59

 

 

 

Additional spacecraft movement noted

 

23:31:00

 

 

 

First voice transmission ended.

 

23:31:10

 

 

 

Fire broke from its point of origin. Evidence suggests a wall of flames extended along

left wall of module, preventing command pilot, occupying left couch, from reaching

valve which would vent command module to outside atmosphere. Original flames

rose vertically and spread out across cabin ceiling. Scattering of firebrands of molten

burning nylon contributed to spread of flames. It was estimated that opening valve

would have delayed command module rupture by less than one second.

 

 

 

 

 

 

23:31:12

 

 

 

First verbal indication of fire reported by crew

 

23:31:04.7

 

 

 

Cabin pressure exceeded range of transducers, 17 pounds per square inch absolute (psia) for cabin and 21 psia for battery compartment transducers. Rupture and resulting jet of hot gases caused extensive damage to exterior.

 

 

 

23:31:16

 

 

 

Beginning of final voice transmission from crew. Entire transmission garbled. Sounded

like, “They’re fighting a bad fire—let’s get out. Open ‘er up.” Or, “We’ve got a bad

fire—let’s get out. We’re burning up.” Or, “I’m reporting a bad fire. I’m getting out.” Transmission ended with cry of pain, perhaps from pilot.

 

 

 

 

23:31:16.8

 

 

 

Command module ruptured, start of second stage of fire. First stage marked by rapid

temperature rise and increase in cabin pressure. Flames had moved rapidly from point of ignition, traveling along net debris traps installed to prevent items from dropping into equipment areas. At same time, Velcro strips positioned near ignition point also burned.

 

 

 

 

 

23:31:19.4

 

 

 

End of final voice transmission.

 

23:31:21.8

 

 

 

All spacecraft transmissions ended. Television monitors showed flames spreading from left to right side of command module and shortly covered entire visible area.

Telemetry loss made determination of precise times of subsequent occurrences

impossible.

 

 

 

23:31:22.4

 

 

 

Third stage of fire characterized by greatest conflagration due to forced convection from outrush of gases through rupture in pressure vessel. Swirling flow scattered firebrands, spreading fire. Pressure in command module dropped to atmospheric pressure five or six seconds after rupture.

 

 

 

 

23:31:25

 

 

 

Command module atmosphere reached lethal stage, characterized by rapid production of high concentrations of carbon monoxide. Following loss of pressure, and with fire throughout crew compartment, remaining atmosphere quickly became deficient in oxygen and could not support continued combustion. Heavy smoke formed and large amounts of soot deposited on most spacecraft interior surfaces. Although oxygen leak extinguished most of fire, failed oxygen and water/glycol lines supplied oxygen and fuel to support localized fire that melted aft bulkhead and burned adjacent portions of inner surface of command module heat shield.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23:31:30

 

 

 

Fire apparatus and firefighting personnel dispatched.

 

23:32

 

 

 

Attempts to remove hatches.

 

23:32:04

 

 

 

Pad leader reported that attempts had started to remove hatches.

 

23:32:34

 

 

 

Hatches opened, outer hatches removed. Resuscitation of crew impossible.

 

23:36

 

 

 

Pad leader ascertained all hatches open, left White Room, proceeded a few feet along swing arm, donned headset and reported this fact.

 

 

23:36:31

 

 

 

Firefighters arrived at Level A-8. Positions of crew couches and crew could be

perceived through smoke but only with great difficulty. Unsuccessful attempt to

remove senior pilot from command module.

 

 

 

23:40

 

 

 

Doctors arrived.

 

23:43

 

 

 

Photographs taken, and removal efforts started.

28 Jan 1967

00:30

 

 

 

Removal of crew completed, about seven and one-half hours after accident.

 

07:00

 

 

 

Command module 014 shipped to KSC to develop disassembly techniques for selected components prior to their removal from command module 012.

 

01 Feb 1967

 

 

 

 

Disassembly plan fully operational.

07 Feb 1967

 

 

 

 

Command module moved to pyrotechnics installation building at KSC, where better

working conditions were available.

 

17 Feb 1967

 

 

 

 

Disassembly of command module completed.

27 Mar 1967

 

 

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