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NASA will use Apollo 1 hatch to honor fallen crew

A sobering memorial is going on display at the Kennedy Space Center.
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Handout . / Reuters

Apollo 13 might be the space mission that everyone knows offhand thanks to director Ron Howard's movie, but it wasn't the first to experience critical failures. On January 27th, 1967 the three-man Apollo 1 crew was trapped inside its spacecraft, still on the launchpad, as smoke roiled inside the capsule and suffocated them. Now on the fatal mission's 50th anniversary, NASA is taking the three-part hatch that trapped Roger B. Chaffee, Virgil "Gus" Grissom and Edward White out of storage and putting it on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Reuters reports.

In an interview following the ceremony, Kennedy Space Center director Bob Cabana said that what has helped prevent further loss of life during space travel has been a work culture where people aren't afraid to voice their questions. He said the exhibit should serve as a reminder of that.

"I always have concerns," he said. "We have to continue to speak up and make sure that everyone is heard."

NASA also commemorated the fallen astronauts from the Challenger and Columbia missions this week.

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