Subject: Apollo Astronaut Was Murdered, Son Charges
Apollo Astronaut Was Murdered, Son Charges
February 11, 1999
Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, the astronaut slated to be the first man to walk on the moon, was murdered, his son has charged in the Feb. 16 edition of
In another stunning development, a lead NASA investigator has charged that the agency engaged in a cover-up of the true cause of the catastrophe that
killed Grissom and two other astronauts.
The tabloid exclusive by Steve Herz reports that Scott Grissom, 48, has gone public with the family’s long-held belief that their father was
purposefully killed during Apollo I.
The Jan. 27, 1967, Apollo I mission was a simulated launch in preparation for an actual lunar flight.
NASA concluded that the Apollo I deaths of Grissom, as well as astronauts Edward H. White and Roger Chafee, were the result of an explosive fire that
burst from the pure oxygen atmosphere of the space capsule. NASA investigators could not identify what caused the spark, but wrote the catastrophe off
as an accident.
"My father’s death was no accident. He was murdered," Grissom, a commercial pilot, told Star.
Grissom said he recently was granted access to the charred capsule and discovered a "fabricated" metal plate located behind a control panel switch.
The switch controlled the capsules’ electrical power source from an outside source to the ship’s batteries. Grissom argues that the placement of
the metal plate was an act of sabotage. When one of the astronauts toggled the switch to transfer power to the ship’s batteries, a spark was created
that ignited a fireball.
Clark Mac Donald, a McDonnell-Douglas engineer hired by NASA to investigate the fire, offered corroborating evidence. Breaking more than three decades
of silence, Mac Donald says he determined that an electrical short caused by the changeover to battery power had sparked the fire.
He says that NASA destroyed his report and interview tapes in an effort to stem public criticism of the space program.
"I have agonized for 31 years about revealing the truth, but I didn’t want to hurt NASA’s image or cause trouble," Mac Donald told the paper.
"But I can’t let one more day go by without the truth being known."
Grissom’s widow, Betty, now 71, told Star she agrees with her son’s claim that her husband had been murdered.
"I believe Scott has found the key piece of evidence to prove NASA knew all along what really happened but covered up to protect funding for the race
to the moon."
Scott Grissom told Star that the motive for his father’s killing may have been related to NASA’s desire not have his father be the first man to
walk on the moon because of criticism leveled at Grissom in 1961 after his Mercury capsule, Liberty 7, sunk in the Atlantic.
Critics of Grissom, including novelist Tom Wolfe, have claimed the astronaut panicked when his space capsule landed in the ocean, and he prematurely
pulled an explosive charge to open the ship’s hatch, causing it to sink.
Fellow astronauts, however, gave Grissom the benefit of the doubt for several reasons. Grissom was a decorated Korean War pilot who had flown nearly
100 combat missions. He was a courageous man not known to panic.
There was also evidence that the explosive device on the hatch could accidentally blow without being pulled—a fact that led NASA to remove such
devices from future spacecraft.
Also, had Grissom pulled the explosive release on the hatch, his hand or arm should have had powder and bruise marks. Neither were found.
Grissom, one of the original Mercury seven, was the senior astronaut when the Apollo missions began.
Among the astronauts, Grissom was the most critical of the problem-plagued Apollo program, and the main Apollo contractor, North American Aviation.
Shortly before his death, Grissom had taken a large lemon and hung it around the space capsule as the press looked on. He had suggested publicly that
the project could never be accomplished on time.
The Associated Press reported, "‘Pretty slim’ was the way [Grissom] put his Apollo’s chances of meeting its mission requirements."
The Grissom family had reason to doubt the official NASA ruling from the beginning. Even before Apollo I, Grissom had received death threats which his
family believed emanated from within the space program.
The threats were serious enough that he was put under Secret Service protection and had been moved from his home to a secure safehouse.
According to his wife, Grissom had warned her that "if there is ever a serious accident in the space program, it’s likely to be me."
The Apollo I disaster led to a series of congressional hearings into the incident and NASA. During the hearings, one launch pad inspector, Thomas
Baron, sharply criticized NASA’s handling of the incident and testified that the astronauts attempted to escape the capsule earlier than officially
Baron was fired soon after giving the testimony, and died, along with his wife, when his car was struck by a train. Authorities ruled the deaths as
During the congressional hearings, Sen. Walter Mondale questioned the efficacy of manned space programs. Manned space flights were opposed by many of
the leading space scientists at the time, including Drs. James Van Allen and Thomas Gold.
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A documentary film director is seeking people who knew astronaut Gus Grissom and participated in America's race to the moon in the 1960s. Scott
Grissom, son of Gus Grissom and co-producer of a film simply entitled Gus, said from his Houston home, "I hope those who lived and worked on the
Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs will contact us and share with the world their stories about my Dad and the space program."
Director Mark Estabrook will be in Florida during January and February of 2005 to collect interviews from retired NASA and contractor personnel: "To
my knowledge, Gus Grissom has never been accurately portrayed in the media. I am especially interested in hearing from people who participated in the
space program who can share direct knowledge of Gus and the space race."
Scott Grissom spent a number of years researching his father's death in the fire of Apollo 1. On January 27, 1967, tragedy struck the Apollo program
when a flash fire occurred in Command Module 012 during a launch pad test of the Apollo/Saturn space vehicle being prepared for the first piloted
Apollo mission. Three astronauts, including Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom, a veteran of Mercury and Gemini missions, died in the tragic incident.
Scott Grissom is hopeful that former NASA and North American Aviation employees working on Pad 34 on January 27, 1967, will contact Estabrook at
901-382-9040 to schedule an interview: "All of the early space pioneers are older and I want to get their oral history recorded before it's too
late." Stories and anecdotes about Gus in the Mercury and Gemini programs are also welcome.
PO Box 1021
Cordova TN 38088
And now a flashback to something I read a long time ago...no doubt before Harris Johns was even born..
TELL US THE TRUTH, UNCLE SAM!
By John Barron, Reader's Digest
"Federal agencies and bureaucrats are increasingly engaged in a self-serving policy of official deceit-a shabby practice that debases the quality and
character of our democratic process....
In recent years the government has tampered with the truth so frequently that the phrase "credibility gap" has gained common acceptance. Like most
slogans, it is not always used fairly. Official pronouncements which turn out to be wrong sometimes are the consequence of bad judgment instead of
dishonesty . . . Yet even after the most charitable allowances are made, the public record remains littered with official lies which no amount of
explanation can erase or mitigate.
This war on truth is waged for fundamental purposes:
To Cover Incompetence.
By deceit, bureaucracies seek to hide bungling that would justify the censure or dismissal of their administrators. Consider what the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) tried to foist off on the public last year (1967).
NASA spends $11,500,000 of the taxpayers' money annually and employs 300 press agents to glorify itself. It initially enjoyed immunity from
independent scrutiny and criticism.
On the night of January 27, 1967, fire erupted in an Apollo space capsule at Cape Kennedy. Three brilliant young astronauts were suffocated, and our
whole program to put a man on the moon was set back a year. NASA attempted to depict the tragedy as simply a bad-luck accident which could not
possibly have been avoided.
Death was "instantaneous," it announced. "There was a flash and that was it." "We always have adhered to the highest standards of safety,"
intoned a space boss. "And yet, in spite of meticulous attention to the smallest detail, this tragedy has occurred."
Soon, these reassurances were shattered. New York Times and Washington Evening Star reporters learned from engineers who had heard tape recordings
that the three deaths had been far from "instantaneous." The astronauts pleaded for help and, as the Times disclosed, up to the very end "they were
scrambling, clawing and pounding to open the sealed hatch."
Rep. William F. Ryan (D., N.Y.) Unearthed proof out of NASA's own files that, as a result of previous blazes, it had been warned repeatedly of the
danger of fire in the capsule. Yet it made no provision for emergency escape.
Next, several Senators asked NASA officials if Maj. Gen. Samuel A. Phillips had not submitted a report devastatingly critical of the Apollo program.
"I know of no unusual General Phillips report," replied George E. Mueller, an associate administrator of NASA. The agency admitted that General
Phillips had made some "notes." But it belittled their importance, and NASA boss James E. Webb refused to let investigating committees see
For background on the curious cirumstances of the Apollo 1 fire go read this;www.advweb.com...
Here is just a brief portion of what's on there:
"Gus Grissom died in the Apollo 1 fire with two other
astronauts in one of the most outrageously stupid events
ever in an alleged scientific endeavour.
Grissom was getting shaky about the command module (not
even just the LM, which was another problem). Grissom
hung a lemon on the module they were playing with. He was
going to take it to the press. All this hardware was being
constructed and put on line and built by the low bidder.
Grissom, White, and Chaffee were ordered to take a test,
a plugs-in test, which means all the circuits are live.
When you throw a switch, when you look at a switchplate,
in a darkened room, totally dark, you throw it and you see
a spark jump. Everytime you throw a switch, whether it is
high-voltage or low-voltage, a spark flies, unless it has
capacitors, and unless you make it explosion-proof.
Electrical induction causes the spark....
"... NASA did all kinds of
tests in pure oxygen environments. NASA found out there
was a safe oxygen partial pressure limit for breathing
between 2.9 and 6.7 psi. Breathing outside these limits
would cause severe if not permanent damage.
They put these men in a pressure chamber, the command
capsule, and they began testing switches and all kinds of
nonsense. Somebody decided to also pressure test that
vehicle. They ran it up to 16.7 psi, according to Collins,
or to 20.2 psi, according to Borman who chaired the committee.
Grissom, Chaffee, and White were strapped into a capsule
for a hot test on top of a rocket at the Cape. The hatch was
shut, with a hatch that took about three minutes to open...
"...The man in charge gave the order to pump pressure into
that capsule when they knew that anything past 6.7 psi was
deadly and they kept right on going to 16.7 psi (according
to Collins) or 20.2 psi (according to Borman).
With 100 percent pure oxygen at 14.7 psi, steel wool will
burn from the heat of the match, it explodes. People who
should know better were cranking in more and more pure
The next strange thing, coincidence let's call it, is
that there were fire extinguishers always before in that
test vehicle. In this time they were all absent. They
also used the fire-resistant teflon sheets over the cushions,
over the wiring harnesses, because wire has insulation
which is a burnable. They were all absent. Here they are
doing a plugs-down test, that means everything's live. They
are throwing these switches, and again, after (knowing that)
every one of their tests, with (high or pure percentage)
oxygen in living quarters, etc., turned fatal or nasty....
"...In one of the pretests, at 7 psi oxygen, they tried to
change a lightbulb. There is a little spark that happens
when you screw bulbs in and out. The whole thing started
burning, the guy's arm, not his clothes now, his flesh was
burning. They grabbed an asbestos cloth. They threw it,
wrapped the arm in it. The asbestos started burning.
These are NASA's own tests.
They take three guys, and put them in this capsule, crank
in oxygen to 16-plus psi, and wait for a spark to go off.
Grissom wanted to have the leader in the capsule with them.
With 24 hours of time available, NASA did not put an extra
cable into the capsule to allow the leader to have a headset
"....Government agents, in rapid action, raided Gus Grissom's
and White's homes before anyone knew about the fire. They
removed Grissom's personal papers and his diary. They did
not bring his diary or any other paper with the word 'Apollo'
on it back when they returned some of his papers to his home.
Murder begins at 6.7 psi pure oxygen.
In 1967 Thomas Ronald Baron was allegedly run over by a
train, after he went to Washington (to testify before the
Apollo 1 Congressional investigating committee). He kept
records of Apollo. (Baron was an inspector on Pad 34.)
The day after he testified, his car in Florida with his wife
and stepdaughter was run over by a train. They took the
body away really quickly, and contrary to Florida law, there
was no autopsy. The bodies were instantly cremated.
Astronaut White's widow allegedly committed suicide a few
(three) years later. She was not known to be suicidal and
people were surprised"...
From the Gus Grissom biography:
"Although they did not have a hand in the basic design process, Grissom and his crew were able to exert some influence on Spacecraft 012 which was
scheduled for an October 1966 launch. "He and Ed White and Roger Chaffee, along with their supporting staff of engineers and technicians,
participated directly in the progressive design and manufacturing reviews and inspections as Spacecraft 012 neared completion. Some of the things Gus
saw he did not like."
As the pressure mounted and dissatisfaction grew, Grissom, for the first time, began to bring his work problems home. "When he was home he normally
did not want to be with the space program. He would rather be just messing around with the kids. But now he was uptight about it."
The arrival of Spacecraft 012 to the Cape only brought more problems. It soon became obvious that many designated engineering changes were incomplete.
The environmental control unit leaked like a sieve and needed to be removed from the module. As a result, the launch schedule was delayed by several
weeks. The Apollo simulator which was used for training purposes had its own set of problems and was not in any better shape than the actual
spacecraft itself. According to Astronaut Walter Cunningham, "We knew that the spacecraft was, you know, in poor shape relative to what it ought to
be. We felt like we could fly it, but let's face it, it just wasn't as good as it should have been for the job of flying the first manned Apollo
Now add to this the fact that Ken Johnston at NASA, the chief of the photographic dep't at NASA and under contract by the agency to be the curator
of the archives was ordered to destroy all 2nd copy [back-up] negatives and vast amounts of other relevant material; that the FBI ordered all plans of
the Apollo 11's Saturn rocket, the LM, even the rover destroyed...that since then Apollo astronauts have given varying accounts of their lunar
experience,... that hundreds of pounds of lunar evidence and artifact has been reported stolen [and curioulsy only after the hoax accusations prompted
internal reviews] ...that Richard Hoagland and KEN JOHNSTON, both of whom served NASA and neither of whom has had their integrity impeached by any
source..two men who have had unprecedented access to the materials, including 1, 000 pics that Johnston DID NOT destroy..given that they are crying
foul and fraud and believe NASA is not telling us all they know...I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THE OFFICIAL "MOON" STORY.
When I return I hope to move on to other subjects than Apollo...something more germane to the origianl theme and post of this thread..that the gov't
knows more than they are saying about UFO's and all kinds of things zipping in and out of our own space. Do they come from the moon? Another
In the meantime harris, I do hope you grow up enough to let us know your age, occupation...perhaps you'd like to list your degrees in applied or
It would make your posts so much easier to bear if you had anything to back up your sarcastic tone beyond the usual [and usually repetitve] 'This has
all been covered before...."speech..as if that makes all the above disappear.
-Sincerely [& hasta la vista]