Chaffee, Roger Bruce (1935–1967)
Roger Chaffee was an American astronaut selected by NASA to fly on the first Apollo manned mission but who died on January 27, 1967, along with crewmates Gus Grissom and Edward White during a launch pad test at the Kennedy Space Center. Chaffee received a BS in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1957 and immediately joined the Navy. Photographs taken while he piloted a U-2 spy plane in 1963 proved conclusively that the Soviet Union had installed offensive missiles in Cuba and were displayed by President Kennedy during a televised address. That same month, Chaffee was selected by NASA as a member of its third group of astronauts. He was assigned with Grissom and White to fly the first Apollo capsule on an 11-day mission in Earth orbit. However, a month before their scheduled launch, all three were killed aboard their capsule, during a countdown rehearsal, when a flash fire raced through their cabin.