NASA's first disaster was a matter of poor design. After a 20-month engineering overhaul and three unmanned missions, Apollo 7 finally took the program to space. And the astronauts gave Earthlings a real-time look of life in orbit.
How the Apollo 1 Fire Changed Spaceship Design Forever
“NASA's first major disaster, the Apollo 1 fire that killed three astronauts... marked a dark day for the space agency. But it also marked the beginning of NASA's continual process of learning from its own mistakes.”
What Happened to Apollos 2 and 3?
“On April 24, 1967, NASA’s Office of Manned Spaceflight announced that AS-204 would officially be recorded as Apollo 1. AS-201, AS-202, and AS-203 wouldn’t be renumbered in the Apollo series, but subsequent missions would be named beginning with Apollo 4.”
Apollo 7 Launched as Race to Moon Reached Final Stretch
“The 11-day flight took place as the race to the Moon was heating up between the United States and the Soviet Union. A month earlier, the Soviets launched the unpiloted Zond 5, a simplified version of their Soyuz spacecraft designed for cosmonauts. The capsule became the first to circle around the Moon and return safely to Earth.”