Roger B. Chaffee: Wikis


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Roger Bruce Chaffee
NASA Astronaut
Status Died during a plugs-out test of the Apollo 1 Command Module
Born February 15, 1935(1935-02-15)
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Died January 27, 1967 (aged 31)
Cape Canaveral, Florida
Other occupation Test pilot
Rank Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy
Selection 1963 NASA Group
Missions Apollo 1
Mission insignia Apollo 1 patch.png

Roger Bruce Chaffee (February 15, 1935 – January 27, 1967) was an engineer, Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy and a NASA astronaut in the Apollo program. Chaffee was killed along with fellow astronauts Gus Grissom and Ed White during a training exercise and pre-launch test for the Apollo 1 mission at the Kennedy Space Center. Chaffee was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart and the United States Navy Air Medal.


Early years

Roger Bruce Chaffee was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, attended Illinois Institute of Technology and earned a B.S. in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1957. He married Martha Horn in Oklahoma City on August 24, 1957. They had two children, Sheryl Lyn and Stephen. Chaffee was an Eagle Scout and a member of Phi Kappa Sigma. In 1962 he received a master of science degree at Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio.

Military and NASA career

Chaffee was a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy. One of his duties in the early 1960s was to photograph Cape Canaveral. In the book Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon, it is claimed that he flew the U-2 spyplane which took the pictures of Soviet missiles in Cuba which President Kennedy used on television on October 22, 1962. However, during this time Chaffee actually flew Navy RA3Ds (a reconnaissance version of the carrier-based Douglas Skywarrior nuclear bomber). He was officially recognized for his service during the Cuban Missile Crisis but his exact role is unclear and it is unknown if he actually flew over Cuba.

Chaffee was an avid hunter. After completing the astronaut application process, he went hunting to calm his nerves. It was while he was on that hunting trip that NASA called him to offer him a job.[1] On October 18, 1963 he was officially announced as one of 14 chosen in the third group of astronauts. He and served as one of the capsule communicators, along with Gus Grissom and Gene Cernan, for the Gemini 4 mission, piloted by Ed White. He was also paired with Grissom to fly chase planes in order to take pictures of the launch of an unmanned Saturn 1B rocket. Chaffee served as one of the pallbearers for fellow astronaut Elliot See. Apollo 1 was to be his first spaceflight. He served as the lunar module pilot for the mission even though the mission carried no lunar lander.


Crew photo, Apollo 1.
Apollo I mission insignia

Chaffee died along with fellow astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom and Edward White in the Apollo 1 fire at Cape Kennedy. It was Roger who first reported the fire to the staff at the block house during a standard pre-launch test. During the 8 seconds that the fire raged, Chaffee stayed strapped to his seat and continued to relay emergency messages and vital information to the blockhouse while his two crewmates tried in vain to open the hatch. Chaffee and Grissom are both buried in Section 3 of Arlington National Cemetery, while White is buried at West Point Cemetery.




Film and television

In the 1995 film Apollo 13 Chaffee was played by Reed Rudy. In the 1998 miniseries From the Earth to the Moon he was played by Ben Marley.


External links



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