Source: This document taken from the Report of Apollo 204 Review Board
NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Office, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.

NASA Office of the Administrator


To: Mr. James E. Webb
From: Dr. Robert C. Seamans, Jr.
Deputy Administrator
Subject: Further report on Apollo 204 Review Board Activities

On February 10 I met with the Apollo 204 Review Board at KSC to discuss their progress in the investigation of the Apollo accident.

The Board now has 21 panels established and operating, each with a specific assigned task, each chaired by a Government employee, and each reporting to a specific Board member. A detailed Review Board activity schedule has been established and is reviewed daily to ensure that milestones are being met or that scheduled adjustments are made as early as necessary. This permits close coordination and integration of all the necessary activities, analyses, and studies.

In order to speed up the investigation effort, the Apollo 012 spacecraft is being mapped in detail, using a 3-dimensional coordinate system to which all physical spacecraft elements can be referred. Complete photographic coverage is being maintained, color film being preferred since it permits more ready identification of components and their condition. Each photograph is cross-referenced to the master grid.

The Board has implemented a data control system that permits a visual display, against a time-line background, of each step of the investigation. As spacecraft systems are examined and their utilization in the 204 test is established, these are noted and color coded: at a glance, one can determine whether a system might have caused the accident or has proven to be non-contributory, and also whether a particular analysis is still underway or completed. This method of data control focuses on the critical areas requiring the greatest attention.

I reviewed at some length the work and procedures of the panel that is investigating the origin and propagation of the fire. While their work is far from complete, I am satisfied that the procedures they are following are well worked out. When this work is completed, it will give us as clear a view as can be obtained from the evidence. The panel has begun by examining each possible combustible within the spacecraft, its distribution and characteristics, and its proximity to each possible ignition source. Such combustibles include both solids and liquids. At each step of spacecraft disassembly, panel members are carefully removing both damaged and undamaged materials for microanalysis which, in turn, permits the identification of the material that was burned. This allows a reconstruction of the final location of all combustibles in the spacecraft and will point up irregularities in this distribution if any exist. The physical evidence thus far examined points to the following:

At this time, there has been no determination as to the source of the ignition itself.

Robert C. Seamans, Jr.


Updated February 3, 2003
Steve Garber, NASA History Web Curator
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