Did NASA Sabotage Its Own Space Capsule?
From NASA Mooned America!

by Rene

The Seven Samurai is a 1954 Japanese cult movie about a poverty stricken village that hired seven magnificent warriors to help them fight the bandits.


In 1960 Hollywood filmed The Magnificent Seven which was effectively the same story set in Mexico as a western. Someone in the hierarchy of NASA had undoubtedly seen one or both movies and decided that seven space samurai was a psychologically appropriate number to start with. We were told that these men represented the nation's finest and that they possessed what was later called that elusive quality: the "Right Stuff."

Virgil Grissom certainly had the "Right Stuff." He was one of the original seven, culled from the first batch of military test pilots almost a decade before. Grissom was not the type of man who "went along to get along." Men who spend their lives seeking the wild hairs on a new air-plane's ass seldom are. He was a professional test pilot, a mechanical engineer and had flown 100 combat missions in Korea.


But he was dead before his flight to the Moon could fulfill his dream.

Compared to civilian test pilots the astronauts were underpaid. However, their perks were impressive. Their celebrity status instantly conferred upon them all the bonuses usually associated with show business stardom. Each night on the town provided them with all the young women they could handle, plus free drinks in every bar in the country. They were also given a government jet trainer as a personal toy.

Test pilots have a hazardous occupation which probably sees as many fatalities per unit of time as do men in combat. However, before the first Apollo manned flight ever cleared the launching pad eleven astronauts died in accidents. Grissom, Chaffee, and White were cremated in an Apollo capsule test on the launching pad during a completely and suspiciously unnecessary test.


Seven died in six air crashes: Freemen, Basset and See, Rogers, Williams, Adams and Lawrence. Givens was killed in a car crash.

When you reflect on their deaths in the light of the three-man-instant crematorium one wonders. Add the fact that there were eight deaths in 1967 alone. One wonders if these "accidents" weren't NASA's way of correcting mistakes and saying that some of these men really didn't have the "Right Stuff."

After 1967, only Taylor died in another plane crash in 1970. An actuarial statistician would probably go berserk over these numbers considering how small the group was. Another weighty factor, even though they were "hot" pilots, the astronauts flew their trainer jets only part time. And add to that the fact that trainers are usually inherently safer than other planes in the same class. It would raise his eyebrows to find how few of these men would ever enter space.

I can't help but wonder what technicians serviced their ships—because what we have here is an appalling "accident" rate. They were the finest professional pilots in the world, operating government planes where costs have little meaning. Yet they died. Even if we call the cremation an accident we still have five more "accident" deaths in one year. Very interesting!


I also wonder what the death rate was among the other NASA employees who were in position to know too much?

The first American in space was Alan Shepard, followed by Grissom and then Glenn. I'm convinced that every Mercury flight was real and that the phony missions only started after Grissom's Gemini 3. And even some of the later Gemini flights were real which leaves most of the original astronauts smelling like a rose. Unfortunately, Wally Schirra and NASA General Tom Stafford's Gemini 6A flight, with its miracle of an undamaged antenna, turned the rosy aroma into real toilet water. So did Alan Shepard's little golf game on the Moon during the Apollo 14 mission.

All of these men barely entered near space (near-Earth-orbit) which I define as any altitude less than 500 miles. Far space I reserve for those interstellar journeys that may come during the next millennium. That is, if we can solve our planetary problems before we dissolve in the stew created by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Famine, Plague, Pestilence.


And add a fifth "horseman," Religious Fanaticism, which frequently causes the other four.

Every other "race" involving aircraft, from hot air balloons through rocket planes, entailed serious efforts to go higher and faster than the other guy. For good technical reasons neither we or the Russians played that game. To this day our Shuttle flights are limited to very near space usually well under 200 miles in altitude.

Most writers on the Apollo Program either totally ignored, or played down, the fact that by early January 67, Grissom, was no longer a happy camper. He was very disenchanted with both NASA and the prime capsule contractor, North American Aviation. This company had a phoenix-like ability to weather every storm, including the fire on Pad 34.


It ultimately combined with Rockwell Engineering to become North American Rockwell.

North American Rockwell's first Apollo capsule had been delivered and accepted by NASA in August 66, with a flight date set for November. But time after time the date had to be reset because of problems with the craft.

"Grissom, a veteran of two test flights in Mercury and Gemini, normally quiet and easy-going, a flight pro, could not hide his irritation. 'Pretty slim' was the way he put his Apollo's chances of meeting its mission requirements."1

According to Mike Gray,

"Grissom had a sense of unease about this flight. He told his wife, Betty, 'If there ever is a serious accident in the space program, it's likely to be me.'"2

We will never know if this statement was the result of a psychic premonition or a burgeoning fear of our government.

Early in January 67, Grissom, probably unaware that NASA had other internal critics, hung a lemon on the Apollo capsule. He was threatening to go public with his complaints.3 He was already a popular celebrity, especially with the press. He would have had no problem in getting his story out. In a case like this even NASA's censors would have had little control over the news.


Headlines like "Popular Astronaut Rips Into NASA!!" couldn't be easily squelched.

NASA also had another serious problem, besides being in a space race with the Russian Bear. This problem derived from our first answer to the Sputniks. On January 31, 1958, Explorer 1 lifted into orbit. It weighed a mere 18.3 pounds and carried a Geiger counter which dutifully reported that a belt of intense radiation surrounded the Earth.

The belt was subsequently named after the Explorer Project Head, James A. Van Allen. However, the radiation was first predicted by Nikola Tesla around the beginning of this century as the result of experimental and theoretical work he had done on electricity in space in general and the electrical charge of the Sun in particular. He tried then to tell our academic natural philosophers (scientists) that the Sun had a fantastic electrical charge and that it must generate a solar wind. But to no avail. The experts knew he was crazy.


It would take almost sixty years to prove him right.

However, predicting something is not the same as discovery so the discovery of our magnetic girdle of radiation rightfully belongs to the man who was suspicious enough to put a Geiger counter on board the satellite, whichever technician actually thought of it.

Subsequent study showed that this belt, or belts, began in near space about 500 miles out and extends out to over 15,000 miles. Since the radiation there is more or less steady it obviously must receive as much radiation from space as it loses. If not it would either increase until it fried the Earth or decay away to nothing. Van Allen belt radiation is dependent upon the solar wind and is said to focus or concentrate that radiation. However, since it can only trap what has traveled to it in a straight line from the Sun there remains a dangerous question: how much more radiation can there be in the rest of solar space?

The Moon does not have a Van Allen belt. Neither does it have a protective atmosphere. It lies nakedly exposed to the full blast of the solar wind. Were there a large solar flare during any one of the Moon missions massive amounts of radiation would scour both the capsules and the Moon's surface where our astronauts gamboled away the day. The question is worse than dangerous—it's lethal!

In 1963 the Russian space scientists told the famous British astronomer, Bernard Lovell that they,

"could see no immediate way of protecting cosmonauts from the lethal effects of solar radiation."4

This had to mean that not even the much thicker metal walls used on the Russian capsules could stop this radiation. How could the very thin metal—almost foil—we used on our capsules stop the radiation? NASA knew that. Space monkeys died in less than ten days but NASA never revealed their cause of death.

Most people, even those interested in space, are still unaware that killer radiation pulses through space. I believe our ignorance was caused by the people who sell us space sagas. Sitting in front of me is a 9-x-12-inch coffee table book titled The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Space Technology, printed in 1981. The words "Space Radiation" just do not exist on any of its almost 300 pages. In fact with the dual exceptions of Bill Mauldin's Prospects for Interstellar Travel published in 1992 and Astronautical Engineering and Science written by early NASA experts, no other book I have read even begins to discuss this extremely serious impediment to space flights.


Do I detect the fine hand of my democratic government at work?

The Russians were in a position to know because as early as the spring of 61 their probes had been sent to the backside of the Moon. Upon his return to England Lovell sent this information to NASA's deputy administrator, Hugh Dryden. Dryden, representing NASA obviously ignored it!

Collins spoke of space radiation in only two places in his book. He said,

"At least the moon was well past the earth's Van Allen belts, which promised a healthy dose of radiation to those who passed and a lethal dose to those who stayed."5

In speaking of ways to dodge problems he wrote,

"In similar fashion, the Van Allen Radiation belts around the earth and the possibility of solar flares require understanding and planning to avoid exposing the crew to an excessive dose of radioactivity."6

  • So what does "understanding and planning" mean?

  • Does it mean that after the Van Allen Belts are passed that the rest of space is free of radiation?

  • Or did NASA have a strategy for dodging solar flares once they were committed to the trip?

It seems to imply that back in 1969 it was possible to predict solar flares. My astronomy text has this to say on that subject,

"It is accordingly possible to predict only approximately the date of the future maximum and how plentiful the groups will then become."7

This text was ten years old by 1969. Later in this book I will show that nothing had changed during the years of Apollo Moon missions.

To continue with the Apollo Program after receiving this information implies that NASA knew something the Russians didn't. Either we had developed an effective extremely light weight radiation shield or NASA already knew that no one was going any where near the Moon.

Could the cloth in our space suits stop the radiation?


I doubt that because more than fifteen years have passed since the partial core melt-down at TMI (Three Mile Island) and workers still can't enter the containment dome. We don't yet have the technology to create light weight flexible radiation shielding. High velocity could get the capsule through the Van Allen belt but what could they do about solar flares during the rest of the trip to the Moon? And if we didn't go, why didn't the Soviets, our arch enemies, rat us out?

While I was thinking about this something rang a bell. Around the time we were fighting communism in Vietnam (and other countries in south-east Asia) we began to sell Russia, later to be called the Evil Empire, wheat by the mega-ton at an ultra-cheap price.

On July 8, 1972 our government shocked the entire world by announcing that we would sell about one-fourth of our entire crop of wheat to Russia at a fixed price of $1.63 per bushel. According to these sources we were about to produce another bumper crop while the Russian crop would be 10-20 percent less. The market price at the time of the announcement was $1.50 but immediately soared to a new high of $2.44 a bushel.8

Guess who paid the 91 cents difference in price for the Russians?


Our bread prices and meat prices were immediately inflated reflecting the suddenly diminished supply. It was the beginning of the high inflation of the 70s. Now how much did the Moon cost us? Would our government be a party to blackmail? Nah!

However, if NASA knew that Kennedy's dream was impossible in the time frame given, they should have reported this to the President. We are civilized now and no longer cut off the right arm of the messenger who brings bad news. Now we cut off budgets! That's safer for the messenger but fatal to the bureaucracy in question.

NASA must have decided if they couldn't make it they would fake it. Big bucks were at stake here, to say nothing of American prestige. Those bucks, properly funneled, would buy a lot of southeast Asia, at least for awhile. And with proper prestidigitation some of the same could wind up in numbered accounts handled either by the "gnomes of Zurich" or off-shore Caribbean banks.

NASA's second problem was magnified as a result of the first. If they were really going to land on the Moon they would be able to take great quantities of real photos and pick up genuine Moon rocks. Such pictures should include the Earth rising or setting against a background of a bona fide starry sky.

However, if they weren't actually going to the Moon, the evidence would have to be synthesized. Credible proof was vital to the continued high rate of funding and to NASA's very survival. NASA's labs could create "Moon rocks" to the specifications of an educated, or rather an expected, guess that would pass any inspection, because there wasn't anything else to compare them to.

Or they could have used rock samples picked up in Antarctica during the intensive exploration of that continent during the International Geophysical Year in 1957. They would do as well provided there were no fossils in them. These rocks could be slowly doled out, but only to those geologists who could be counted on to agree with anything the government said. And most of academia can be relied on to do just that!

Strangely enough rocks were later found in Antarctica that closely resemble "Moon rocks." In point of fact, some geologists are now positive that these rocks were blasted from the Moon to Earth during immense meteoric impacts.

However, true-to-the-Moon photos posed a bit more of a problem.

Because the twentieth century is the age of increasingly sophisticated photography, huge amounts of tape and film had to be expended. NASA seemed to do precisely that.


As Harry Hurt put it,

"... Project Apollo was one of the most extensively documented undertakings in human history..." 9

Despite this alleged fact and the fact that the NASA Apollo mission photo numbers seem to indicate that thousands of pictures were taken, we keep seeing the same few dozen pictures in all the books on space.

Using the well developed art of Hollywood style special effects (FX) the astronauts could be photographed "on the Moon" in the top secret studio set up near Mercury, Nevada. Of course, there is a bit more to great FX than having the best equipment. As in any art form, the artists are always more important than their tools. The backbone of superb FX is lodged in the Hollywood professionals who devote their lives to it. Lacking access to these relatively liberal experts NASA was forced to use CIA hacks... relative amateurs.

Nevertheless, they did their job well enough to pass casual inspection for many years. It worked only because we wanted to believe! As long as we had something to hang our hats on we could continue to have faith and ignore the anomalies in the evidence the photos provided.


It worked ... for a while!

At the time of his death Grissom was one of NASA's old-timers. He was the man who, a few short years before, certified that the astronauts had been involved in every step of the program and had been free to criticize at will, and even suggest ideas for improvements.


He was the man whose fatal error was no more than in being who he was; an independent thinker ... a free spirit who seemed to be completely unaware that NASA had wholeheartedly opted to enact the second part of the old saying,

"If you can't make it, fake it!"

He had been selected as Commander of Apollo I, the first manned flight of the Apollo series.


Grissom's crew included Edward H. White and Roger B. Chaffee. White flew on Gemini 4 but Chaffee was a newcomer who had not as yet been in space, or verified the NASA rite of passage by condemning the visibility of stars and planets.

Right from the beginning, NASA was operating under a tremendous handicap. They were in a space race with a nation who, they knew, had operational rockets that made ours seem like tinker toys by comparison. The Soviets started their space program in capsules that were 50 times heavier than those we were launching six months later.

Russian capsules were closer to being compressed air tanks than flimsy space capsules. Their ships had sufficient wall strength to maintain normal atmospheric pressure inside the craft against the zero pressure outside in space. However, since we didn't have rockets to lift that sort of weight, we couldn't afford this luxury. We had to make light, [almost] tin foil, capsules just to get into the ball game.

The differential in pressure between the 14.7 psi (our normal atmospheric pressure) and the zero pressure of space amounts to 2116 pounds per square foot of outward loading on the enclosing wall of a capsule. Compare this figure with the floor of a house—which is designed to be safely loaded to only 30 pounds per square foot—and you will realize that relatively heavy metal is vital for skin and skeleton if you want to enjoy normal pressure. It is wall strength that prevents catastrophic and explosive depressurization of small capsules.


The LEM's walls will be discussed in more detail later in the book.

The greater lifting capacity of their rockets allowed the Russians the luxury of using a mixture of 20 percent oxygen and 80 percent nitrogen—the equivalent to regular air. Naturally it wasn't stored on board as bulky "compressed air." It was stored separately as liquids in cryogenic tanks.


However, the nitrogen supply was smaller since the gas is inert to the human body and additional nitrogen is required only to help reestablish pressure when the cabin is vented to space. Oxygen tanks were larger because the only oxygen used is that small portion converted into CO2, by the necessity of breathing and this is immediately removed from the cabin by chemicals.


A great deal is also lost when the cabin is vented to space during depressurization.

Lacking strong walled capsules, NASA decided right from the beginning to use 50 percent oxygen and 50 percent nitrogen at 7 psi. This specification was changed in August 1962, into the use of pure oxygen at 5 psi.10 A policy shift of this nature indicates that approved design of the capsules being manufactured was weaker than expected.


The amazing thing is that NASA made this deadly decision despite testing that usually ended in disaster. One would think that after testing showed disaster that one would never implement a dangerous policy. But NASA was in a race with destiny.


They had no time for common sense.

Here is a list of all government sponsored testing that resulted in oxygen fires. This information was extracted from Appendix in Mission To The Moon written by Kennan & Harvey:

  • September 9, 1962—The first known fire occurred in the Space Cabin Simulator at Brooks Air Force Base in a chamber using 100 percent oxygen at 5 psi. It was explosive and involved the CO2 scrubber. Both occupants collapsed from smoke inhalation before being rescued.

  • November 17, 1962—Another incident using 100 percent oxygen at 5 psi in a chamber at the Navy Laboratory (ACEL). There were four occupants in the chamber, but the simple replacing of a burned-out light bulb caused their clothes to catch on fire. They escaped in 40 seconds but all suffered burns. Two were seriously injured. In addition an asbestos "safety" blanket caught fire and burned causing one man's hand to catch fire.

  • July 1, 1964—This explosion was at an AIResearch facility when they were testing an Apollo cabin air temperature sensor. No one was injured. The composition of the atmosphere and pressure isn't listed, but we have to assume 100 percent oxygen (and possible pressure equal to atmospheric).

  • February 16, 1965—This fire killed two occupants at the Navy's Experimental Diving Unit in Washington, D.C. The oxygen was at 28 percent and the pressure at 55.6 psi. The material in the chamber apparently supported extremely rapid combustion, driving the pressure up to 130 psi.

  • April 13, 1965—Another explosion as AIResearch was testing more Apollo equipment. Again, neither pressure or atmospheric composition is given but a polyurethane foam cushion exploded.

  • April 28, 1966—More Apollo equipment was destroyed as it was being tested under 100 percent oxygen and 5 psi at the Apollo Environmental Control System in Torrance, CA.

  • January 1, 1967—The last known test was over three weeks before Grissom, Chaffee and White suffered immolation. Two men were handling 16 rabbits in a chamber of 100 percent oxygen at 7.2 psi at Brooks Air Force Base and all living things died in the inferno. The cause may have been as simple as a static discharge from the rabbits' fur... but we'll never know.

Of course, NASA's moronic decision to use pure oxygen would play a crucial part in the deadly fire on Pad 34 a few years later.


Never mind that the test was classified as "non hazardous" by NASA. Only after Grissom, White and Chaffee died in that fire, would NASA again change the specs to either 60-40 or 50-50 oxygen/nitrogen mixes at 5 psi, depending on what source I've read.11

In pure oxygen at normal pressure even a piece of steel wool will burn rapidly. In fact, Michael Collins claims that even stainless steel will burn.12 As mentioned already an asbestos blanket, normally classed as fireproof, was consumed when used to smother flames during an oxygen fire.13 Pure oxygen is extremely hazardous!

To successfully switch to reduced pressure breathing of pure oxygen one must first purge the body of nitrogen. This prevents residual nitrogen left in the body from forming small bubbles which expand from the decreasing pressure. To deep sea divers this is known as "the bends." To avoid this lethal hazard astronauts must spend some period of time breathing 100 percent oxygen—which is medically dangerous— at full atmospheric pressure just before the mission.

The pressure problem in a space capsule is [analogous] to those encountered in a submarine. Submarine hulls are deliberately strong, to resist the increasing pressure at depth. If a submarine hull was as thin as our space crafts—at 200 feet deep it would require an internal pressure of 100 psi—at 300 feet a pressure is 150 psi.

The Apollo Program command capsules must be regarded as flimsy, even though they were built of titanium which has the strength of steel and weighs half as much. I reason that if our capsules were too weak to with-stand normal pressure they must also have been too weak to keep the atmosphere from crushing the capsule on the launching pad. If this was true they had to be using 100 percent oxygen at normal pressure during the launch.

It was found out that this is precisely what NASA did on all their launches. It is obvious that the present Shuttles, with 50 tons of cargo capacity, could use normal pressure and regular air. However, the designers may still begrudge the few pounds of extra material in the cabin that it takes to do this. By the same token our large diameter commercial air-liners are able to maintain almost regular atmospheric pressure, and don't have to resort to pure oxygen, even when flying over 40,000 feet. Neither does the SST which hits altitudes of 60,000 feet.

To insure the integrity of the capsule NASA subjected it to their pres-sure test. One would assume that they would use compressed air for this test because the electric panels had power and live men were inside the unit. However, when it came time to test the 012 capsule on Pad 34 it was decided to use pure oxygen at a pressure somewhat above our atmospheric pressure of 14.7 psi. What the actual pressure was is confusing. It was either 16.7 psi according to Michael Collins, or 20.2 psi as reported by Frank Borman.14

One would think that intelligent men with the "Right Stuff' would precisely know the pressures used. But either way, there were astronauts locked inside—practicing for their first Apollo mission. After the accident NASA claimed the test was SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). In either case an idiot was in charge.

If it was SOP, then the idiot was the official who instituted and approved this test program. If not, then it was the low level idiot in direct charge of the test who gave the order to proceed. I have no fear of a libel suit because of this accusation. The only legal defense in a libel suit is whether what you said was the truth, as determined by a jury. If you were on a jury and watched steel wool explode in a 16.7 psi 100 percent oxy-gen atmosphere what would you decide?

I find it hard to believe that this test was SOP. In fact, I suspect that it wasn't, simply because two men with the "Right Stuff' can't agree. NASA telling us after the fire that it was always done that way, doesn't prove a thing. NASA, like all political organizations, can always be counted on to say anything to better their position. Using pure oxygen at this pressure, once the panels were live, means that every launch was always one small spark away from disaster. Combustion in 100 percent oxygen even at low pressures, is extremely rapid.


At higher pressures it becomes explosive!

Consider this standard procedure: Burning a substance using high pres-sure oxygen is precisely the method used to determine the number of calories in that substance. The test procedure requires placing the sample in a strong steel pressure vessel called a "Calorimeter Bomb." The "Bomb" is placed in an insulated container of water holding a known quantity of water at a known temperature. There is an electrical sparking device in-side the bomb and sufficient high pressure oxygen is added to insure complete combustion of the material.

Even relatively wet foodstuffs are quickly reduced to ashes once the electric spark initiates combustion. This process produces high pressures in the steel chamber. That's why it's called a Calorimeter Bomb. The heat transfers to the surrounding water and the rise in temperature using known parameters results in the quantity of calories (energy) in the substance tested.

To get back to the discussion, every time an electric switch is thrown the induction of the electric current causes a tiny spark to jump between the two switch contacts. If the unit is explosion proof (like the switches motors, and lighting fixtures used in hazardous or explosive locations), that spark is safely enclosed in a hermetically scaled container. If not any-thing near it that is combustible can burn.

In standard electrical switches the electrical insulation is some form of plastic (hydrocarbon). All hydrocarbons can be oxidized if there is sufficient oxygen and heat to raise the temperature of some small portion of that substance beyond the flash point.


Bear in mind that an electric spark is a plasma. Indeed the temperature at the core of a large spark can be so high it is indeterminable.

The phenomena we call spontaneous combustion is also oxidation. Under normal conditions oxygen in the air begins to oxidize almost any material. In fact what we call rust on metal is supposed to be very slow oxidation. If the material is insulated to any degree, the heat created by the process cannot escape as fast as it is generated.


So the entrapped heat creates a small temperature rise which increases the rate of oxidation. If some or all of that increased heat cannot escape there is a self-escalating "loop." The temperature continues to rise until the flash point is reached. At that point the material concerned bursts into flame. That's "spontaneous" combustion.

In an atmosphere containing a higher percentage of oxygen or a higher pressure the oxidation rate is greatly increased. It is well known that a pile of oily rags in an oxygen environment will burst into flame.


In 100 per-cent oxygen any hydrocarbon or carbohydrate becomes potential fuel needing only a small spark or increase in heat to set it off.

On January 27, 1967 astronauts Grissom, White and Chaffee approached Pad 34 where an obsolete model of the command capsule had been installed on top of an unfueled Saturn 1B rocket.15 This was the same type of rocket that had carried the smaller and lighter Gemini capsules. The capsule itself was already outmoded and would be replaced before any Apollo missions were launched.

However this was a full "dress" rehearsal. But somebody neglected to tell the maintenance people to clean out all the extremely combustible extraneous construction materials. The urgency of this test was simply that they were scheduled for a manned mission that had been repeatedly postponed. As we will see later, NASA had every intention of sending Apollo I, Grissom's mission, into space even though neither that Saturn V (actual moon rocket), nor the Apollo capsule, had ever actually been tested in space.

Would you not have smelled a rat?


Perhaps Grissom was a bit worried because he got Wally Schirra to ask Joe Shea. NASA's chief administrator, to go through that with him.

"Grissom still wanted Shea to be with him in the spacecraft. "16

Shea refused because NASA couldn't patch in a fourth headset in time for the test. Is that likely?

It is difficult to believe that this couldn't have been done in the 24 hour time frame available. If I had a crew of technicians who couldn't install another headset-jack in that amount of time I'd fire the whole damn crew.

The original Apollo capsule had different hatches, but by 1300 hours all three astronauts were strapped in their acceleration couches with the new hatches sealed behind them. It was later revealed that these hatches were so poorly designed that even with outside help and in a non-emergency situation, it took seven or eight minutes to open them. They were originally supposed to spend a few hours practicing throwing the proper switches at the right time in sequential response to computer simulations. However, with delay piled upon delay and everyone in a hurry, each time a switch was thrown, unnoticed by any, tiny sparks jumped.

During the test of the Apollo capsule on Pad 34 Grissom and his crew were in 100 percent oxygen simulating the real thing. In fact they reported a burning smell a few times earlier that day. When that happened technicians would come with "sniffers," open the hatches, but find nothing. One wonders if the review board considered that these hatch openings flushed out the smell with the fresh air admitted by opening the hatch. These incidents delayed the test and time was running out.17


The extraneous combustible materials may have been combining with the pressurized oxygen each time pure oxygen refilled the cabin. Oxidation makes heat, and if you stop the process that heat remains in the material. Each time you re-pressurize the craft the combustible material will be at a slightly higher temperature. I sense that the board of review missed this angle.

I also feel that spontaneous combustion would have been much too subtle for the CIA. If it was a CIA hit they would have done it with an electric squib or incendiary device wired to a switch programmed to be thrown toward the end of the test.

While the testing was going on, some mastermind in mission control decided to save some time. In his wisdom that unknown leader made the decision to speed up the testing. As the board of inquiry later noted, "To save time, the space agency took a short cut." What he did was simply order the capsule to be pressurized with 100 percent oxygen at either 16.7 or 20.2 psi. Notice, that no name was used. The entire agency takes the blame.

I have great difficulty in believing that apparently not one of these rocket scientists in Control, nor the astronauts themselves, knew that, a Calorimeter Bomb consists of a combustible material, pressurized oxygen and a spark. These were highly educated men, men with technical degrees, men who had taken chemistry courses, and men who must have spent some time around welding and cutting torches that used oxygen.

Also I cannot understand why Grissom et al entered that capsule in the first place if they knew it was to be pressurized with oxygen over 14.7 psi. For example in a hospital no one is allowed to smoke in a room where oxygen is in use. In this situation we have only a small section of a room with tiny amounts of low pressure oxygen being used. Yet everyone seems to know of the danger.


Grissom was a test pilot and engineer while both White and Chaffee had degrees in aeronautical engineering. Apparently not one of them complained. Didn't anyone know about Calorimeter Bombs? Didn't NASA send them copies of the fire reports? Or maybe no one told them they were jacking up the pressure!

At 17:45 hours (5:45 P.M.) Grissom was getting angry with the communication people for a static filled on again-off again communication system. At one point he ragged them,

"How do you expect to get us to the moon if you people can't even hook us up with a ground station? Get with it out there."18

In the meantime around 6 P.M. Collins had to attend a general meeting of the astronauts. Let Collins tell you about it in an incredible single paragraph: 19

On Friday, January 27,1967, the astronaut office was very quiet and practically deserted, in fact. Al Shepard, who ran the place, was off some-where, and so were all the old heads. But someone had to go to the Friday staff meeting, Al's secretary pointed out, and I was the senior astronaut present, so off I headed to Slayton's office, note pad in hand, to jot down another week's worth of trivia.


Deke wasn't there either, and in his absence, Don Gregory, his assistant presided. We had just barely gotten started when the red crash phone on Deke's desk rang. Don snatched it up and listened impassively. The rest of us said nothing. Red phones were a part of my life, and when they rang it was usually a communications test or a warning of an aircraft accident or a plane aloft in trouble. After what seemed like a very long time, Don finally hung up and said very quietly, "Fire in the spacecraft."


That's all he had to say.


There was no doubt about which spacecraft (012) or who was in it (Grissom, White, Chaffee) or where (Pad 34 Cape Kennedy) or why (a final systems test) or what (death, the quicker the better). All I could think of was My God, such an obvious thing and yet we hadn't considered it. We worried about engines that wouldn't start or wouldn't stop; we worried about leaks; we even worried about how a flame front might propagate in weightlessness and how cabin pressure might be reduced to stop a fire in space.


But right here on the ground, when we should have been most alert, we put three guys inside an untried spacecraft, strapped them into couches, locked two cumbersome hatches behind them, and left them no way of escaping a fire. Oh yes, if a booster caught fire, down below, there were elaborate if impractical, plans for escaping the holocaust by sliding down a wire, but fire inside a spacecraft itself simply couldn't happen. Yet it had happened, and why not?


After all, the 100 percent oxygen environment we used in space was at least at a reduced pressure of five pounds per square inch, but on the launch pad the pressure was slightly above atmospheric, or nearly 16 psi. Light a cigarette in pure oxygen at 16 psi and you will get the surprise of your life as you watch it turn to ash in about two seconds. With all those oxygen molecules packed in there at that pressure, any material generally considered "combustible" would instead be almost explosive.

Here Collins reported that the pressure was 16 psi. Other authors went higher. A staff meeting at 6 P.M. on Friday night? Do you have a feeling that this Friday night staff meeting was the first and last in the long history of our government bureaucracies?

At 6:31:03 P.M., one of the astronauts smelled smoke and yelled fire. The capsule had suddenly turned into a Calorimeter Bomb. They tried their best to open the hatch. Without panic the triple hatch that sealed them in usually took about nine minutes to open. They didn't have nine minutes. In fact, they barely had ninety seconds before their suits burned through and the deadly poisonous gasses released from the plastics silenced them forever.

The capsule's internal pressure soared from the great quantity of hot gasses created by the quasi-explosive burning of all the combustible material. This short term fire was so intense that it melted a silver soldered joint on the oxygen feed pipe pouring even more oxygen into the conflagration.

At 6:31:17, fourteen seconds from the first smell of smoke, the pressure reached 29 pounds and the capsule ruptured, effectively releasing the heat and damping the fire. But it was too late. They were already dead.

Let me put in some additional questions here. If this was not murder and just an example of extreme stupidity in governmental slow motion why did government agents in rapid action, raid Grissom's home before anyone knew about the fire? Why did they remove all his personal papers and his diary? Why didn't they bring his diary, or any other paper with the word "Apollo" on it back, when they returned some of his personal papers to his widow? And if it really took 29 psi to blow the cabin why didn't they use regular air at higher pressure?

Also was it really the vicissitudes of life that the outward opening hatch was coincidentally changed that very morning to one that opened inward? An inward opening hatch meant that any inside pressure, acting outward, would prevent it from being opened—even if someone was standing by, which they weren't.


It was also boiled up from the outside and lacked explosive bolts.20

NASA should have known better. And they did! You have read earlier of the men injured in flash explosive fires in their own tests. NASA had even commissioned a report by Dr. Emanuel M. Roth which was published in 1964. Dr. Roth cited difficulties with 100 percent oxygen atmospheres even under low pressures. Any competent engineer should have known the dangers of oxygen at 16.7 or 20.2 psi.


This is why I cannot believe that this was "standard operating procedure," or that Grissom and his crew knew that about it. NASA not only ignored their own tests on pure low pressure oxygen but upped the ante by increasing the pressure above atmospheric.

Kennan and Harvey had this to say,

"Most U.S. scientists could not believe their ears when they learned that fact. Oxygen at such pressure comes in the category of an 'oxygen bomb.'"21

A Board of Inquiry termed "The Apollo 204 Review Board" was quickly convened to investigate the fatal fire by appointing astronaut Frank Borman as the chairman. In effect, NASA sent the fox into the chicken house to investigate mysterious disappearances of the occupants.


The board's final report was about what you might expect when an in-house investigation investigates itself:

"One key to the caution which reveals itself on every page of the Board's report is that it was written by government employees. Thompson himself was director of the space agency's Langley Research center, and no fewer than six of the eight Board members were NASA officials."22

The pressure of 16.7 psi is quoted from Journey to Tranquility where the authors wrote that they learned the pressure of the pure oxygen in the capsule was 2 psi over atmospheric. Collins reported it as nearly 16 psi. It seems strange that NASA told two insiders, Borman and Collins, plus the authors of Tranquility three different capsule pressures? Apparently NASA, like the rest of us find it almost impossible to keep all the little white lies straight. And if it's a group lie we get the results shown in this book.

Borman writes that,

"We brought in every learned mind we could enlist—including a chemistry expert from Cornell..."23

Didn't this expert know that oxygen has a deep and forceful desire to breed little oxides by passionately mating with hydrocarbons and carbohydrates? Didn't this "so-called" expert tell them that?

Borman, played dumb when he was called before Congress. In testifying under oath he said,

"None of us were fully aware of the hazard that existed when you combine a pure-oxygen atmosphere with the extensive distribution of combustible materials and a likely source of ignition... and so this test... was not classified as hazardous."24

And if Borman was as unaware of all the dangerous fires that erupted during NASA's own safety tests over the years why did he later write about 20.2 psi oxygen in this manner,

"That is an extremely dangerous environment, the equivalent of sitting on a live bomb, waiting for someone to light the fuse. "25

Aldrin in his 1989 book, Men From Earth written twenty-two years after the cremation has this to say,

"As every high school chemistry student learns, when a smoldering match is put into a beaker of oxygen, it blazes into a spectacular flame."26

He (Aldrin) continues by telling us how there was a multitude of switches and miles of electrical wiring all of which were easy to short and could act as a match.

"But the risk was considered acceptable because, in space, the astronauts could instantly depressurize their cabin..."27

Hey Buzz, didn't you claim that the reason your EVA [extravehicular activity] on the Moon was late in starting because it took so long to vent the last of the oxygen from the LEM?

Say what?


Borman, who held a Masters in engineering and taught thermodynamics at West Point claims nobody was aware of the danger! After all these years Aldrin now claims he knew. Obviously, either Borman is lying or Aldrin didn't have the guts to open his mouth.

When Deke Slayton was asked about the pressure test he reportedly blurted out,

"Man, we've just been lucky. We've used the same test on everything we've done with the Mercury and the Gemini up to this point, and we've just been lucky as hell."28

Why do I doubt that? I suspect that everything about the pressurization test is a lie. I think that it was a one time only occurrence specially configured to suit the job at hand.

Borman contended that Ed White and his wife Pat were friends of his and that he listened to the audio tapes of the fire over and over again.


Then he states,

"The only comfort derived from listening to the tapes was the knowledge that the agony hadn't lasted long; that death had come from noxious fumes before the flames reached them."29

Borman's acumen might be judged by the fact that Eastern Airlines played submarine when he was at the helm as CEO. Nobody dies in 14 seconds from noxious fumes. Ed White died inhaling super heated oxygen which set fire to his lungs, throat and skin the same way that technician's hand burned in the test years before. The chances are that they survived for minutes and were conscious for a good part of that time. However, death was definite after the first breath.

Borman then writes about "nuts" and disgruntled employees who tried to give his committee information:

As the investigation progressed, all sorts of nuts came out of the wood-work with their own theories. There also were some serious allegations directed against North American Aviation, most of them coming from former employees with large axes to grind. They charged the the company with criminal neglect and mismanagement, and we investigated each accusation thoroughly. We found that in every case we were getting input from people who simply had personal grievances against the company, with no evidence to back them up.30

That's odd!


One of Borman's superiors, General Phillips, had also made a report in November, 1966 that shredded North American Aviation. He could hardly be classified as a disgruntled employee. Speaking of classified, Michael Gray in his book disclosed the fact that Phillip's report was classified.31 Borman apparently ignored that report.

Time and time again, NASA has bragged about how open NASA was. One wonders, then, who classified this report? What could it possibly have had to do with national security? No wonder that Bill Kaysing was never able to obtain a copy. To paraphrase an old saying, the "TOP SECRET" stamp, because it reflects patriotism, has always been the last refuge of scoundrels.

On April 27, 1967 the 204 Board was still in the process of almost learning new things. A low level employee named Thomas Baron had already testified in Washington and now was a target for NASA's ire. His voluminous reports were day by day accounts of North American's screw-ups and were written years earlier. It seems very strange that both Baron's and Phillips' reports disappeared. After accepting his reports, the 204 Board wrote off his testimony.

By the very next evening Baron, his wife and stepdaughter would all be dead. The two women were totally innocent but, maybe, that's what they get for associating with a NASA whistle-blower.

One of the common accidents to governmentally sensitive folks in Florida is the old railroad crossing gambit. There are lots of semi-desert-ed country roads and active railroad tracks in Florida. Usually after the grisly event, the bodies are found by someone so powerful that he can have them immediately cremated, frequently before an autopsy can be performed—which is contrary to Florida state law. And they used to tell us horror stories about the KGB! I no longer live in Florida so if they come after me for writing these words they will have to think up a new method.

And please note: I am not suicidal. I say that because suicide is a common cause of death in this context. For instance there is a suspicion that another casualty of NASA is Mrs. Pat White, who committed suicide a few years alter her husband's cremation. From post-mortem reports—she wasn't suicidal cither.


Low level whistle blowers die like flies and yet, General Phillips, goes on to head NASA after he told basically the same story.

Borman also complained about the windows that kept fogging up on his Gemini 7 mission and again on Apollo 8. North American, for four straight years failed to find a solution for such a simple problem as window fogging yet he couldn't find anything seriously wrong with them. That's about par, isn't it?

Borman was stationed at Clark Air Force base in Manila during 1952 and part of his duty was to inspect a huge warehouse that stored heavy equipment, supposedly ready to roll on an instant's notice.


His inspection revealed that,

"there wasn't a vehicle or a piece of equipment that wasn't in deplorable shape—most of it unusable without major overhauls. The stuff had been there since the end of the war and obviously hadn't been touched since."32

The Captain in charge asked Borman to certify that it was in good condition and he refused. The code of West Point of "Duty and Honor" took precedence. However, when a Colonel insisted that he sign-off as in good condition he caved in. "Honor" be dammed. The new moral code is apparently totally dependent upon the rank of the officer who gives the order? Go along to get along.

Next Borman, still the politician that Collins first pegged him for, tells perhaps the greatest lie of his life. He concludes,

"We didn't sweep a single mistake under the rug, and to this day I'm proud of the committee's honesty and integrity." 33

Presumably Mr. Borman, had his fingers crossed when he wrote that!

The committee was still in the middle of its stately review process when on April 7, 1967, a House subcommittee was also convened to investigate the fire. The next day a dismayed New York Times fired off a lead editorial. They used the words, "Even a high school chemistry student" (knows better than to play with 100 percent oxygen). The editorial went on to accuse those in charge of the Apollo project of "incompetence and negligence." 34

The 204 Board concluded with a real wrist spanker of a statement against NASA:

A sealed cabin, pressurized with a pure oxygen atmosphere without thought of fire hazard; an overly extensive distribution of combustible materials in the cabin; vulnerable wiring carrying spacecraft power; leaky plumbing carrying a combustible and corrosive coolant; inadequate escape provisions for the crew, and inadequate provisions for rescue or medical assistance.

Both committees would prove about as useful as a screen door in space (and about as effective as the politicians who manned the Warren Commission's investigation of the Kennedy assassination a few years before). Like all government inquisitions they use a method best described as "let's all gang-bang the whistle-blower."

At the beginning of the Mercury Program, NASA tests on pure oxygen proved that the safe pressure limit for breathing was between 2.9 and 6.67 psi. But they also concluded that pressures,

"outside these limits would cause severe, if not permanent damage." 35

In plain English, murder begins at 6.7 psi!

Kennan & Harvey have this to say about the fatal test on the capsule,

"The day of the plugs-out test, the TV camera inside the space-craft, which was an important piece of flight and test equipment, was absent; its retaining brackets had some how been bent during installation." 36

These authors never called it murder but they continued with this statement,

"It is of the greatest significance that the fire extinguishers were located in that (008) spacecraft during its testing. Not only were fire extinguishers included but fire resistant teflon sheets were draped over wire bundles and the astronaut's couches. These particular items, non flight items, were conspicuously absent in command module 012 during the fatal plugs-out test on January 27, 1967." 37

They also summed up the test with these statements:

  • It was the first and only use of the new three piece hatch.

  • It was the first plugs-out test in which as many as three hatches were closed on a crew in an oxygen atmosphere at a pressure of sixteen pounds per square inch...

  • It was the first occasion of the Apollo emergency escape drill under all-out pre-launch conditions.

  • It was the first occasion when certain non flight flammable materials, such as two foam rubber cushions—were placed in the cockpit.38

Later NASA would rule out the use of any material which could be ignited by spark at 400°F in pure oxygen at 16.7 psi.39

"They included the couch padding, to which astronaut White's body was welded by the heat: this, it emerged, could be ignited by a spark at 250°F."40

Notice they still had every intention of using 16.7 psi oxygen. Or was it 20.2 psi?

If a civilian corporation killed three men by extreme stupidity there would be criminal proceedings, trials and fines. But because the government is the suspected culpable party nothing happens. To repeat: I cannot believe that in such a highly technical field as space that even the lowest paid technician would not have questioned the moronic decision to use 100 percent oxygen to try a pressure test on a capsule with live electric panels, and which contained locked in and strapped down astronauts.

Especially, on a capsule that would never fly.

At the time, there was talk the Apollo Program would be scratched. But even if 50 people had been killed the operation would have continued, with no more than a brief pause, because the bucks were too big.


As Collins points out,

"I don't think the fire delayed the first lunar landing one day, because it took until mid-1969 to get all the problems solved in areas completely unrelated to the fire."41

According to the newspapers, NASA committed another unequivocal example of utter stupidity on March 19, 1981. They had a chamber on the Space Shuttle Columbia filled with nitrogen and seven people entered it. Two died and five were injured.

I believe that the cremation was mass murder. If not that it was unconscionable stupidity. We may never know for sure. What I am sure of is that the entire Apollo Program was a show, a simulation produced by the CIA, directed by NASA, invested in by Congress, and paid for by Mr. and Mrs. American Taxpayer!


As shown, I also believe that, to protect their multi billion dollar income, the CIA murdered three astronauts on Pad 34, plus four more on plane rides, and one in a car.


  1. Barbour, Footprints on the Moon (The Associated Press, 1969), p. 117.

  2. Gray, Angle of Attack (Norton, 1992), p. 218.

  3. Barbour, Footprints on the Moon (The Associated Press, 1969), p. 117.

  4. Young, Silcock and Dunn, Journey to Tranquility (Doubleday, 1969), p. 173.

  5. Collins, Carrying the Fire (Ballentine Books, 1974), p. 62.

  6. Ibid, p. 101.

  7. Baker, Astronomy (Van Nostrand, 1959), p. 291.

  8. "Economics Of Wheat Deal," National Review (1972), p. 1168.

  9. Hurt, For All Mankind (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1988), p. 323.

  10. Young, Silcock and Dunn, Journey to Tranquility (Doubleday, 1969), p. 193.

  11. Lewis, Voyages of Apollo (Quadrangle, 1974), p. 163.

  12. Collins, Carrying the Fire (Ballentine Books, 1974), p. 275.

  13. Young, Silcock and Dunn, Journey to Tranquility (Doubleday, 1969), p. 194.

  14. Borman and Serling, Countdown (Morrow, 1988), p. 175.

  15. Wilford, We Reach the Moon (Bantam, 1969), p. 101.

  16. Murray and Cox, Apollo: The Race to the Moon (Simon & Schuster, 1989), p. 187.

  17. Young, Silcock and Dunn, Journey to Tranquility (Doubleday, 1969), p. 186.

  18. Wilford, We Reach the Moon (Bantam, 1969), p. 96.

  19. Collins, Carrying the Fire (Ballentine Books, 1974), p. 270.

  20. Kennan and Harvey, Mission to The Moon (Morrow, 1969), p. 32.

  21. Ibid. p. xi

  22. Young, Silcock and Dunn, Journey to Tranquility (Doubleday, 1969), p. 192.

  23. Borman and Serling, Countdown (Morrow, 1988), p. 174.

  24. Kennan and Harvey, Mission to the Moon (Morrow, 1969), p. 146.

  25. Borman and Serling, Countdown (Morrow, 1988), p. 175.

  26. Aldrin and McConnell, Men From Earth (Bantam, 1989), p. 162.

  27. Ibid. p. 163.

  28. Gray, Angle of Attack (Norton, 1992), p. 233.

  29. Borman and Serling, Countdown (Morrow, 1988), p. 174.

  30. Ibid. p. 178.

  31. Gray, Angle of Attack (Norton, 1992), p. 241.

  32. Borman and Serling, Countdown (Morrow, 1988), p. 51.

  33. Ibid. p. 178.

  34. Murray and Cox, Apollo: The Race to the Moon (Simon and Schuster, 1989), p. 220.

  35. Baker, The History of Manned Space Flight (Crown, 1982), p. 39.

  36. Kennan and Harvey, Mission to the Moon (Morrow, 1969), p. 21.

  37. Ibid. p. 57.

  38. Ibid. p. 20.

  39. Young, Silcock and Dunn, Journey to Tranquility (Doubleday, 1969), p. 195.

  40. Ibid. p. 198.

  41. Collins, Carrying the Fire (Ballentine Books, 1974), p. 276.

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