The Soviet Fire That Might Have Saved Apollo 1

On Jan. 27, 1967, the crew of Apollo 1 was killed when a fire broke out in their pure oxygen-soaked capsule during a routine pre-launch test. The dangers of an oxygen fire should have been obvious to NASA. It was obvious to the Apollo spacecraft’s builder, North American Aviation, who recommended the space agency not run tests with a highly pressurized spacecraft.

It was also a danger the Soviet space agency knew well. In the early days of their training, cosmonaut hopeful Valentin Bondarenko was killed in an eerily similar accident to the Apollo 1 crew….

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