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Roger Chaffee statue.

Astronaut Roger Chaffee Statue

Field review by the editors.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Roger B. Chaffee is the most famous astronaut who never made it to outer space -- and not for reasons anyone would have liked. Chaffee, an astronaut rookie, along with space veterans Ed White and hard-luck Gus Grissom, were killed on January 27, 1967, when an electrical fire asphyxiated all three locked inside their Apollo I capsule. It was undergoing some routine pre-flight tests -- not considered dangerous. They were firmly on the ground, but by the time help arrived they were dead. As a result, NASA designed a new command module with improved safety and procedures, and the failed ground test module was named Apollo I.

Chaffee would have been the world's youngest astronaut, and almost certainly would have been part of a later flight to the moon. He was from Grand Rapids and, although it took over 50 years, the city unveiled a bronze statue of him, by sculptor Brett Grill, on May 19, 2018.

Chaffee stands outside the Grand Rapids Children's Museum. A hometown astronaut is always inspiring; an astronaut-martyr is even more special and worthy of a statue. Kids, before you pick "astronaut" as the job you want when you grow up, remember the sacrifice of Roger B. Chaffee.

Astronaut Roger Chaffee Statue

1 Monroe Center St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI
At the northwest corner of E. Fulton St. and Sheldon Ave. NE, outside the entrance to the Grand Rapids Children's Museum.
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