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Chaffee, Roger B., 1935-1967

 Person

Dates

  • Existence: February 15, 1935 - January 27, 1967

Biographical Information

Roger B. Chaffee was born February 15, 1935 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Chaffee graduated from Central High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering, Purdue University in 1957. While at Purdue University, he was a member of Tau Beta Pi, National Engineering Society, Sigma Gamma Tau, and Phi Kappa Sigma.

Chaffee entered the Navy in 1957 as a United States Navy Lieutenant Commander. He served as safety officer and quality control officer for Heavy Photographic Squadron 62 at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida. In January 1963, he entered the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to work on a Master of Science Degree in Reliability Engineering. He logged more than 2,300 hours flying time, which included more than 2,000 hours in jet aircraft. Chaffee was awarded the United States Navy Air Medal.

Chaffee was one of the third groups of astronauts selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in October 1963. In addition to participating in the overall training program, he was also tasked with working on flight control communications systems, instrumentation systems, and attitude and translation control systems in the Apollo Branch of the Astronaut office. On March 21, 1966, he was selected as one of the pilots for the AS-204 mission, the first three-man Apollo flight.

Lieutenant Commander Chaffee died on January 27, 1967, in the Apollo spacecraft flash fire during a launch pad test at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

He was quoted in the New York Times, "You'll be flying along some nights with a full moon. You're up at 45,000 feet. Up there you can see like you can't see it down here. It's just the big, bright, clear moon. You look up there and just say to yourself: I've got to get up there. I've got to get up there. I've just got to get one of those flights."

Citation

Roger Chaffee Biographical Data. NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Accessed March 6, 2019. https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/chaffee_roger_0.pdf

Citation

White, Mary C. Detailed Biographies of Apollo I Crew - Roger Chaffee. NASA. Accessed March 26, 2014. http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/Apollo204/zorn/chaffee.htm

Citation

Crew of Apollo Accepted Risks; 3 Men Believed Space Flight Was Worth Facing Perils. The New York Times, January 29, 1967, p. 48.

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

Purdue University Astronauts collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 168
Scope and Contents The Purdue University Astronauts collection consists of items relating to Purdue's alumni astronauts that had been collected by various donors before the advent of the Barron Hilton Flight and Space Exploration Archives. Included are newspaper clippings, Purdue University News Service press releases that had been written in regards to Neil A. Armstrong and Apollo 11, and various newspapers with Apollo 11 headlines and related clippings. Also included are Purdue University related publications...
Dates: 1965 - 2003

Barbara Marie Stephens Sullivan Cape Canaveral and Eau Gallie, Florida photographs and memorabilia

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 202
Scope and Contents The Barbara Marie Stephens Sullivan Cape Canaveral and Eau Gallie, Florida photographs and memorabilia document activities at Cape Canaveral in the late 1950s through early 1960s. Included are selected community and aerospace materials related to the United States Space Program activities at the Cape during the mid-1960s through the 1980s and photographs of Eau Gallie, Florida from this time period.Of note are brochures and commemorative publications of the John F. Kennedy Space...
Dates: 1950 - 1986; Other: Majority of material found within 1965 - 1969

Roger B. Chaffee letter and postcard

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSA 282
Scope and Contents The letter dated July 24, 1965 is from Roger Chaffee to his parents. On the reverse is a July 25, 1965 note from Martha Chaffee to her in-laws in which she signs, "Roger, Martha, Sheryl and Steve." In the letter, Roger discussed an upcoming flight and the astronaut's rotation as capsule communicator (CAPCOM). He mentions Gus Grissom, Gene Cernan, Jim McDivitt, Buzz Aldrin and Dave Scott. Both Roger and Martha discuss recent family activities at home. The postcard, dated July 1965, was sent by...
Dates: 1967

George M. Palmer papers

 Collection — Box: Box 1
Identifier: MSF 482
Overview Student course assignment results for AE 420, titled "Extrapolation 59," completed by K.E. Beyer, R. B. Chaffee, W. B. Fouts, and W. D. Harvey, May 23, 1957.
Dates: 1957