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Chaffee, Roger B. (1935-1967) | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

Name: Chaffee, Roger B. (1935-1967)

Historical Note:

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 3-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 is survived by his wife Martha and two children.

“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.”

          -  Roger Chaffee (The New York Times, January 29, 1967, p. 48)

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