Apollo 1 Revisited: Russian Sabotage Or Critic Silenced?

Apollo 1 Revisited: Russian Sabotage Or Critic Silenced?On January 27, 1967, the Apollo program suffered a major setback when the command module burst into flames, killing Virgil “Gus” Grissom (pictured left), Ed White and Roger Chaffee aboard the Apollo 1. In 1999, son Scott Grissom publicly stated after being granted access to the space capsule, “…and discovered a “fabricated” metal plate located behind a control panel switch. The switch controlled the capsules’ electrical power source from an outside source to the ship’s batteries. Grissom argues that the placement of the metal plate was an act of sabotage. When one of the astronauts toggled the switch to transfer power to the ship’s batteries, a spark was created that ignited a fireball.” Scott, a pilot and engineer, is asked by Steven C. Barber, the host of a local TV program on Apollo One, if Russians were present on the launch pad and were responsible for sabotage and Grissom doesn’t confirm it on the air.

Grissom, whose criticisms of the program may have led to his death, are touched upon in a brief four minute outtake of a documentary. Inspector Thomas Baron (pictured right) died just one week after testifying before Congress on the safety concerns about the Apollo program. Baron and his family were killed instantly when their car was struck by a train near their Florida home. A 500 page report written by Baron on the program’s irregularities disappeared after his death and were never found. The 500 page report was a more thorough treatment of initial 55 page report that resulted in Baron’s firing.

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