Source: This document taken from the Report of Apollo 204 Review Board
NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Office, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.
NASA is releasing today a third interim report on the work of the Apollo 204 Review Board resulting from two days of meetings with the Board by Deputy Administrator Robert Seamans at Cape Kennedy. These meetings took place on February 23 and 24.
This statement and Dr. Seamans' third interim report have been reviewed with Chairman Clinton Anderson and Senior Minority Committee Member Senator Margaret Chase Smith and with Congressman George Miller. In continuation of the Senate Committee's review of the Apollo 204 accident, Senator Anderson has announced that the Senate Committee will hold an open hearing on the preliminary findings of the Board and actions to be taken by NASA at 3 p.m., Monday, February 27.
In addition to the information set forth by Dr. Seamans in his three interim reports, I have had the benefit of a review by three members of the Board -- the Chairman, Dr. Floyd Thompson, Astronaut Frank Borman, and Department of Interior combustion expert Dr. Robert Van Dolah. This included the preliminary views of the Board as to the most likely causes of ignition, the contributing factors in the rapid spread of the fire, the inadequacy of the means of emergency egress for the astronauts, and the need to recognize that all future such tests be classified as involving a higher level of hazard.
The following emerges from the preliminary views of the Board and the Board's preliminary recommendations:
Astronaut Borman, in commenting on his reactions to the conditions surrounding the Apollo 204 test and subsequent knowledge he has gained as a result of serving on the Review Board, stated to Dr. Seamans, Dr. Thompson, and to me that he would not have been concerned to enter the capsule at the time Grissom, White and Chaffee did so for the test, and would not at the time have regarded the operation as involving substantial hazard. However, he stated that his work on the Board has convinced him that there were hazards present beyond the understanding of either NASA's engineers or astronauts. He believes the work of the Review Board will provide the knowledge and recommendations necessary to substantially minimize or eliminate them.
Dr. Thompson, Astronaut Borman, and Dr. Van Dolah have returned to Cape Kennedy and are proceeding with the work of the Board. This will require several weeks to complete.
Chairman George Miller, of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics, has announced that as soon as the Board's work is complete, the Committee's Oversight Subcommittee, chaired by Congressman Olin Teague, will conduct a complete investigation of all factors related to the accident and NASA's actions to meet the conditions disclosed. Chairman Teague spent Friday and Saturday at Cape Kennedy with members of the Manned Space Flight Subcommittee, of which he is also Chairman, reviewing progress in the Apollo program. Dr. Seamans, Dr. George Mueller, and I will report further to him at 10 a.m., Monday February 27.
Updated February 3, 2003
Steve Garber, NASA History Web Curator
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