27 January 1967 - The Investigation
Following the fire, NASA immediately formed a Review Board chaired by Dr. Floyd
L. Thompson and charged with the responsibility to review the evidence and
recommend changes to reduce the hazards inherent in the program. They first met
on January 28, 1967 and twice daily thereafter to review proposed plans and
determine requirements for testing and analysis of the data and to provide
basic direction. Witnesses were interviewed and film and other evidence
Command Module 012
(1), to be forever known as
Apollo 1, was taken apart at the launch complex until it was determined that
tests had progressed to a point where the Command Module could be removed
without disturbing the evidence. On February 17, 1967 CM 012 was removed to the
Pyrotechnic Installation Building. Command Module 014, originally scheduled to
be flown as Apollo 7, had been shipped to KSC on February 1 to establish exact
location and condition of all components prior to the accident. CM 012 was
painstakingly taken apart component by component and studied closely with all
components showing evidence of abnormal fire effects examined both internally
and externally. Disassembly was completed two months after the fire.
Twenty-One Panels were each assigned a specific task:
Panel 1 Spacecraft and Ground Support Configuration
This included physical configuration of the spacecraft and ground support
equipment, immediately prior to, and during, the fire, including equipment
configuration, switch positions, and non-flight items in the cockpit.
Panel 2 Test Environments
Task Panel 2 planned and implemented a review of all tests for histories
pertinent to the investigation. Attention was focused primarily upon oxygen
test histories of the crew compartment systems, and arcing and shorting
problems experienced during those tests. All environments were reviewed for
rationale used in original deviation, substantiation by ground and flight
vehicle tests, and margins imposed when implemented into component level tests.
The other environments were examined as possibly being germane to the cause of
the accident. These reviews included the vibration, heating, and humidity
Panel 3 Sequence of Events
Task Panel 3 analyzed data obtained prior to and during the fire accident
including digital, analog, voice communications, and photography. It was tasked
to display significant events as they occurred with a precise time tag.
Panel 4 Disassembly Activities
Task Panel 4 developed plans and procedures for progressive disassembly of the
Apollo 012 spacecraft for purposes of inspection and failure analysis.
Disassembly was configured to proceed on a step-by-step basis, in a manner to
obtain the maximum amount of information. Contents of testing plans were
considered. Disassembly plans included both the cockpit and the area outside
the pressure hull.
Panel 5 Origination and Propagation of Fire
Task Panel 5 conducted inspections, chemical analysis of the spacecraft parts
and rubble to establish point of fire origin, direction and rate of
propagation, temperature gradients and extremes. It also determined the nature
of the fire, the type of materials consumed, and the degree of
Panel 6 Historical Data
Task Panel 6 assembled and reviewed records on the Spacecraft and associated
systems, in order to determine the applicability of these records to the Apollo
204 accident. In addition, historical narratives were prepared to reflect the
relationship and flow of significant review and acceptance points, highlight
documentation pertinent thereto, and to present a brief history of the
prelaunch operation performed on Spacecraft 012 at Kennedy Space Center.
Panel 7 Test Procedures Review
Task Panel 7 documented test procedures employed during the day of the
incident. Deviations between planned procedures and those actually used were
indicated. It determined potential changes which might alleviate fire hazard
conditions or provide for improved reaction or corrective conditions.
Panel 8 Materials Review
Task Panel 8 assembled and summarized data and analyses related to the
flammability of spacecraft materials. Results of programs other than Apollo
were considered. It recommended requirements for additional testing and
reviewed Apollo test conditions for adequacy. Recommendations were made for
materials or configuration changes to alleviate fire hazard. Analyses were
performed, as appropriate, to determine such information as overall energy
balance and correlations with temperature and pressure building.
Panel 9 Design Reviews
Task Panel 9 conducted critical design reviews of systems or subsystems that
were potential ignition sources within the cockpit or which might have provided
a combustible condition in either normal or failed conditions. This panel
considered glycol plumbing configuration, electrical wiring and its protection,
as well as other potential ignition sources such as motors, relays, and corona
discharges. Other areas of review included egress augmentation and basic cabin
atmosphere concept (one versus two-gas system).
Panel 10 Analysis of Fracture Areas
Task Panel 10 inspected the spacecraft for structural failures resulting from
the fire. It analyzed these failures from various standpoints including local
pressure, temperature levels, and direction of gas flow.
Panel 11 Medical Analysis
Task Panel 11 was assigned the responsibility of providing a summary of medical
facts together with appropriate medical analysis which would be of interest to
the investigation. Examples given included the cause of death, pathological
evidence of overpressure, and any other areas that might be of technical value
in determining the cause of the accident or in establishing corrective
Panel 12 Witness Statements
Task Panel 12 was assigned the responsibility for determining who to interview,
arranging for competent interviewers, and recording the data. The Panel also
analyzed the pertinent sequence of events as reported by the bulk of the
witnesses, together with a summary of that testimony which is contradictory to
the main data.
Panel 13 Ground Emergency Provisions
Panel 13 reviewed and evaluated the emergency provisions in existence at the
time of the accident. This included investigations of emergency procedures in
published documents, internal and external spacecraft emergency equipment, and
emergency training of the flight crew and checkout test team personnel. It also
reviewed existing methods used to identify hazards and insure adequate
Panel 14 Security of Operations
Panel 14 reviewed for adequacy, security procedures in existence at the time of
the accident. This review included access control, personnel sign-in
requirements, buddy systems and background investigation requirements. The
Panel made recommendations to the Apollo 204 Review Board for changes to
Panel 15 Board Administrative Procedures
This series consists of the Board Administrative Procedures and a summary
report of Task Panel 15 of the Apollo 204 Review Board. This Panel established
and documented administrative procedures of the Board. This included activity
such as procedures for control of spacecraft work, logging and filing of
exhibits, maintenance of the Board activities log, scheduling of meetings,
preparation of agendas for Board meetings, arrangements for secretarial
services and reproduction of material.
Panel 16 Special Tests
This Panel coordinated tests desired by other groups into an overall,
integrated test plan. Test results were collected, reviewed and edited so as to
be included in the Final Report of the Apollo 204 Review Board. This Panel was
dissolved February 23, 1967, and merged with Panel 18, Integration
Panel 17 Final Board Reports
This Panel was responsible for organizing the Final Report of the Board,
delegating responsibility to other panels, reviewing and editing submitted
material and the final preparation of the report.
Panel 18 Integration Analysis
This Panel coordinated all phases of hardware inspection, disassembly, test and
analysis requirements, and presented periodic status reports and summaries to
the Board. It also was responsible for the correlation, validation and
determination of each significant finding and presented periodic status reports
and summaries of test results to the Board.
Panel 19 Safety of Investigation Operations
Task Panel 19 was responsible for reviewing all operations performed during the
investigation to assure that all personnel safety requirements were adequately
Panel 20 In-Flight Fire Emergency Provisions Review
This Panel reviewed in-flight fire emergency procedures and other provisions
relative to their adequacy as well as whether emergency procedures existed for
all appropriate activities. This included recommendations for changes in
existing procedures and other provisions and for the creation of new emergency
provisions if deemed necessary.
Panel 21 Service Module Disposition
This Panel was responsible for the planning and execution of necessary Service
Module activity beginning at the time of Board approval for Command Module
The results of
the Apollo 204 Review Board can be found in '27 January 1967/The Findings'.