By Kevin Matienzo – Collegiate Staff
The Grand Rapids Public Museum will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy on Feb.10-11.
“On January 27, 1967, tragedy struck NASA’s Apollo program when a flash fire occurred in command module 012 during a launch pad test of the Apollo/Saturn space vehicle being prepared for the first piloted flight, the AS-204 mission. Three astronauts, Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom, a veteran of Mercury and Gemini missions; Lt. Col. Edward H. White, the astronaut who had performed the first United States extravehicular activity during the Gemini program; and Grand Rapids Native Roger B. Chaffee, an astronaut preparing for his first spaceflight, died in this tragic accident.”
A photo exhibit called “Roger That!” will be displayed through March 31 at the West Wall Gallery in Grand Valley State University’s Eberhard Center. The exhibit is produced by the GVSU Art Gallery in conjunction with the Chaffee family and the Grand Rapids Public Museum. There will be displayed images depicting the life of Roger B. Chaffee. Also, samples of actual lunar material which was returned by the Apollo astronauts who walked on the surface of the moon will also be displayed along with various types of meteorites. This material is on loan from NASA and will be available to view during the Roger That! Event.
“We feel this event is important for students as it highlights a local hero – Roger Chaffee and his contributions to the space program and our nation,” said Kate Moore, vice president of marketing and public relations for the Grand Rapids Public Museum.“Roger is a Grand Rapids native and passed away in the Apollo 1 fire 50 years ago. This event honors him, along with Gus Grissom and Edward White who also perished in the tragedy.”
There will be a free conference, “Roger That,” in honor of Roger B. Chaffee that will take place on Feb. 10 in the GVSU Eberhard Center at the Grand Rapids Campus.
“Roger That,” will continue and take place at the Grand Rapids Public Museum on February 11 from 10 a.m. through 3 p.m. They will have a celebration of space exploration and the life of Roger B. Chaffee through exhibits and activities taking place throughout the day. All special activities will be included free with general admission. For students admission for the museum is free.
Along with “Roger That,” there will be a presentation at the museum titled “Discarded Worlds, Astronomical Ideas that were Almost Correct,” at 11 a.m. by Brother Guy Consolmagno, Director of the Vatican Observatory. The presentation will be an extra cost of $10. The museum will also have shows in their planetarium which tickets usually cost $4 but they will offer a discount of $2 off.