New video remembers crew of Apollo 1 50 years later
Retro Space Images (RSI) has produced a new video marking 50 years since the loss of the three crew members who were selected for the Apollo 1 mission. The video premiered on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2017, during the 50th-anniversary ceremony at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and is titled: “Remembering Our Heroes|50 Years”.
Many of the still images on the video have rarely been seen before as they come from one of the contractors who worked on Project Apollo during the ’60s and ’70s.
With a half century passing since the accident, the release of these images comes at an appropriate time – and source.
Thursday’s memorial service was sponsored by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF) in a partnership with NASA.
The occasion honored Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White Jr., and Roger B. Chaffee who lost their lives in a fire aboard the Block I Apollo spacecraft during a “Plugs Out” test on Jan. 27, 1967, at Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 34. The trio were unable to escape the flames as they were unable to open the spacecraft’s hatch.
“The Astronauts Memorial Foundation appreciates the work that went into this presentation,” said Thad Altman, AMF president and CEO. “We look forward to sharing it with those attending the ceremony as well as online.”
John Bisney, RSI vice president and the video’s producer, said his goal was to recall these heroes in an inspiring, upbeat tribute in the months before their deaths, rather than focus on the tragedy.
“We hope this will remind viewers of the dedication of three brave men who gave their lives for a greater cause,” Bisney said.
J.L. Pickering, the president of RSI said the company was honored to create the video, which is composed of less well-known and more unusual photos from NASA and RSI’s archives. Some of the rarely seen images are from North American Rockwell, a prime Apollo contractor.
“The idea for the video was hatched back in July when John and I had lunch with Jay Barbree, Ed Harrison and Hugh Harris,” Pickering told SpaceFlight Insider. “It was a gathering of Apollo and early Shuttle press and NASA public affairs people. We had brought copies of our books with us to the luncheon, and they were of particular interest to Hugh Harris.”
Pickering said Harris let him know that he was working with the AMF and asked if RSI might have some photos that could be used at the 50th-anniversary ceremony.
“Shortly after that John hit upon the idea of a video tribute that taps into my archive of Apollo 1 images,” Pickering said. “We decided early on to only use images that portrayed the crew ‘looking forward to the mission’. No hardware, and no accident images.”
Pickering said he ended up sending Bisney around 100 images to work with. Once Bisney picked out the final group, he started on production.
“I believe the whole thing came together over a two-week period,” Pickering said. “John then submitted the finished product to Hugh, and he then shared with the folks at Astronauts Memorial Foundation. The response has been very positive from all who have seen it.”
The video is comprised of still images relating to the Apollo 1 mission and runs for about two-and-a-half minutes. It premiered during NASA’s Day of Remembrance memorial ceremony at the AMF’s Center for Space Education. The ceremony is an annual tribute to NASA astronauts who have lost their lives as part of the U.S. space program.
Retro Space Images has made a name for itself as one of the premier archives of historical images from the U.S. crewed space program – stretching from Project Mercury through the Space Shuttle. Representatives with the company have stated that some 200,000 high-resolution color and black & white images reside in their archives. This wealth of imagery has made RSI the site that many historians, authors, journalists, and space enthusiasts go to when they’re seeking imagery from a specific event or mission.
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Video courtesy of Retro Space Images
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.