Synchronicity -- "Tomorrow is Yesterday" and the Apollo 1 fire

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Neopeius, Jan 28, 2022.

  1. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2001
    Location:
    55 years ago
    On January 26, 1967, "Tomorrow is Yesterday" aired. It was kind of a goofy episode, wherein the Enterprise found itself back in the late 1960s, the exact date determined by a news broadcast picked up by Lt. Uhura. For "next Wednesday", three astronauts were scheduled for the first Moon launch.

    We watched the episode last night, as we watch every Trek episode "as it comes out" (with a 55 year time shift). It was a pretty popular episode, though the nonsensical ending took it down a notch with some of us. At least half of the viewers were quite young, 20 and lower. They haven't seen Trek, nor do they have much knowledge of the 1960s. So this Journey through both is something that is quite new and rather exciting for them.

    As we talked about the episode after it was over, Lorelei in particular was excited about Trek predicting the future. She wanted to talk about that aspect in her section of the review (scheduled for Feb. 2). Some of her friends expressed similar sentiments.

    I suggested they wait until the next evening to get their thoughts on paper.

    At 5pm today (Pacific), I broadcast the CBS special report helmed by Mike Wallace on the Apollo 1 tragedy. I also broadcast it over our network so out-of-town people could watch, too (the same system that allows people to watch with us even if they can't physically join us).

    So we sat, and like our counterparts 55 years ago, watched in horror as Wallace, and Dan Rather, and even Walter Cronkite told us about the events that had occurred just a couple of hours before. They ran clips of interviews with the astronauts, discussing their thoughts on the program and the importance of Apollo. The prevailing ideas were:

    1) We don't know much about what happened, but it was probably a very fast oxygen fire; and,

    2) We can't let it slow down the space program. Wally Schirra, Don Eisele, and Walter Cunningham are standing by to fly in just three months in the next Apollo spacecraft.

    Many of us weren't alive when Trek first ran, and if we were, we were quite young. Certainly, when we rewatch the episodes today, we tend to focus on little technical details or bits of canon, or maybe the lines we liked best. Not the overall context in which the episode was first aired.

    For those who were there, is there an indelible connection for you between this first airing and the immediately subsequent tragedy?

    I know, at least for my little group, there now is...
     
  2. NCC-73515

    NCC-73515 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2019
    Location:
    SoCal
    Do you have a link to that CBS report? I've watched all the Challenger reports I could find, but never saw anything about Apollo 1 from when it happened. And it's great that people under 20 are interested in TOS! Are their reactions similar, do they like the same episodes or scenes that older fans like?
     
  3. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2001
    Location:
    55 years ago
    I used this (I had to trim the edges and change the aspect ratio to work with tube TV broadcast :) )

    The reactions run the gamut. If you want to follow along, here are the reviews that have come out so far. Elijah is 20, Lorelei is 17. Abby will be joining us for this next review, and she's 20. Yesterday, she came to the gathering with a home-made marriage certificate cementing her relationship with Mr. Spock.

    So I guess things are pretty much the same. :)
     
  4. vandevere

    vandevere Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2021
    I was at school, in 2nd Grade when the Apollo 1 Mission burned. The Principal announced the accident over the PA, and we all spent a minute, heads bowed, in silent prayer...
     
  5. Commander Troi

    Commander Troi Quoter of Quotes Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2021
    Location:
    Phoenix AZ
    Wow. I'm not sure I even knew about Apollo 1, much less connected it to Star Trek. Thanks for the context! It's really fascinating.
     
    Phaser Two, Neopeius and shapeshifter like this.
  6. Noname Given

    Noname Given Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 22, 2001
    Location:
    Noname Given
    I was four years old when the Apollo 1 tragedy happened, so no I don't remember it firsthand.

    And when I was finally old enough to watch Star Trek reruns and realize the time in which it was made, I mistakenly always thought Tomorrow Is Yesterday was made/aired around the time of the Apollo VIII mission that was the first mission to orbit men around the Moon. However the news blurb in the episode, it was stated that the launch was next Wednesday, but the actual Apollo VIII mission launched on a Saturday (December 21st) in 1968.

    So yeah it wasn't until many years later that I realized the episode aired over a year before the actual Apollo VIII mission, or that it aired right about the same time as the Apollo 1 disaster.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2022
    Neopeius and Commander Troi like this.
  7. shapeshifter

    shapeshifter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2007
    Location:
    Land of Illusion
    Me either. I was young but I remember other things from that year. My parents weren't big space enthusiasts, Hee Haw was probably on that night. :whistle:
     
    Neopeius and Commander Troi like this.
  8. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Location:
    Confederation of Earth
    “If we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us, it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.” - Gus Grissom

    The thing that gets me about Apollo 1 is that the astronauts did not burn to death - they died from smoke inhalation (which kills MUCH faster than fire). So at least they didn't suffer.

    Also I wonder what the mission would have been called if it had been successful. On the books it was AS-204. NASA only named it Apollo 1 after the accident, to honor the memory of Grissom, White and Chaffee. I don't know if it would have still been called that, had it actually gone into space.
     
    Commander Troi, Metryq and Neopeius like this.
  9. BK613

    BK613 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    And yet, Mike Wallace is calling it Apollo 1 on the day of the accident. 0:54 seconds
     
    J.T.B., Neopeius and ATimson like this.
  10. NCC-73515

    NCC-73515 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2019
    Location:
    SoCal
    Apollo 1 was not the official mission name before the fire, but people called it that already.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_1#/media/File:Apollo_One_CM_arrival_KSC.jpg

    It's also pretty creepy that they had a bad feeling before:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_1#/media/File:A1prayer.jpg

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_1#Mission_background
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2022
    Commander Troi and Neopeius like this.
  11. MAGolding

    MAGolding Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2015
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_1

    Apollo 1 was scheduled to launch on February 21m 1967. The Apollo 1 crew were killed weeks earlier during a launch rehearsal in the capsule on top of the Saturn rocket on January 27.

    http://www.chakoteya.net/StarTrek/21.htm

    January 17, 1967 was a Friday, and February 21, 1967 was a Tuesday.

    https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/?year=1967&country=1

    There was no mission scheduled on January 17, just a rehearsal for the launch. There was a mission scheduled for February 21, the first Apollo mission to low Earth orbit to check out the capsule, etc..

    If Apollo I had launched on February 1, it would have been the first manned mission in the Apollo Moon landing program. But it would have merely gone to low Earth orbit.

    Some people might think that "the first manned Moon shot" would be the first manned missin in the Apollo Moon landing project. Other people might think it would be the first manned mission to reach lunar orbit, or the first manned mission to actually land on the moon.

    In our timeline the iirst actual Apollo manned mission was Apollo 7, Friday, 11 October 1968, to low Earth orbit.

    The first manned Apollo milssion to the Moon was Apollo 8, Saturday, 21 December 1968.

    Apollo 9 tested the rendezvous with the LEM in low Earth orbit, launched Monday, 3 March 1969..

    Apollo 10 reached lunar orbit and tested the LEM detaching and rendezvous in Lunar orbit, launched Tursday, 16 May 1969.

    Apollo 11 was the first manned Moon landing, launched Wednesday, 16 July 1969.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Apollo_missions

    https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/?year=1967&country=1

    https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/?year=1968&country=1

    https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/?year=1969&country=1

    Should we consider Apoll 11 in our timeline the same as:

    Six AM Eastern Standard Time is 11 AM UTC.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11

    And 13:32 UTC is 8:32 AM Eastern Standard Time.

    https://www.utctime.net/utc-to-est-converter

    So Apollo 11 launcched 2 hours and 32 minutes later than the fictional first moon launch in Star Trek was scheduled to launch.

    Some people might claim that Apollo 11 was scheduled to launch at 6 AM EST but was delayed for two and a half hours for some reason, which is not uncommon. But people who make that claim should do their research and find statements that Apollo 11 ws originally scheduled to launch at 6 AM EST.

    I also note that by July 16, 1969, the Eastern Time Zone of the USA was on Daylight Savings time, not Eastern Standard Time.

    So I think that it is certain that the first manned moon shot in "Tomorrow is Yesterday" was not Apollo 1, Apollo 8, Apollo 11, or any other Apollo flight in our timeline.

    I note that the date of the first manned moon shot is described only as "the late 1960s",the period from January 1, 1965 to December 21, 1969.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2022
  12. BK613

    BK613 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    According to this site, the patch the astronauts were wearing—which says Apollo 1—was approved in June of 1966 but that approval was rescinded on January 20, 1967. How technically official that makes the designation, IDK without actually seeing some documents, but the outward appearance of official for seven months was there. At least to the point that the astronauts were wearing the patch in publicity photos and that Mike Wallace was using the Apollo 1 designation on that fateful day.
     
    Neopeius likes this.
  13. Spock's Barber

    Spock's Barber Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2014
    Location:
    Standing Next To Kirk
    I listened to the cockpit audio recording of the Apollo astronauts during the flash fire in the capsule. It was absolutely horrific!
     
  14. TBonz

    TBonz Romulan Curmudgeon Administrator

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2000
    Location:
    Across the Neutral Zone
    My mother was, so I was up on all the space stuff.

    But neither of them liked Star Trek, so I didn't watch it other than possibly one episode. Yet they watched all the other schlocky shows like Time Tunnel, Land of the Giants, and Lost in Space. :confused:
     
    Metryq, BK613 and Neopeius like this.
  15. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2001
    Location:
    55 years ago
    It's interesting that prior missions were not given Apollo # designations, unlike Geminis 1 and 2.
     
    BK613 likes this.
  16. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2002
    Location:
    The Old Mixer, Somewhere in Connecticut
    Doubtful, as it started in 1969.
     
    BK613 likes this.
  17. BK613

    BK613 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Yes, this is more akin to the pattern seen in Project Mercury. For example, the official designation for Shepard's sub-orbital flight was Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) but most everyone references it as Freedom 7.

    ------------
    ETA: And I am not disputing any history on the names here, just trying to point out that how convoluted and nuanced that history actually is.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2022
  18. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Location:
    Confederation of Earth
    IIRC, AS-201 and 202 were "unofficially" known as Apollos 2 and 3. They were never specifically named as such, but it seems to be the basic thrust of the gist.

    (AS-203 didn't "count" since it only tested the rocket - it didn't carry command & service modules like 201 and 202 did.)

    The subsequent three unmanned tests (after the accident) were definitely Apollos 4, 5 and 6.
     
    Neopeius and BK613 like this.
  19. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2001
    Location:
    55 years ago
    Yeah, I always wondered why it was called Apollo 1, and its relation to the rest of the program. When I was younger, I hadn't realized it was a test for a real flight that was to happen the next month.

    Mike Wallace even said that Schirra's replacement flight, which ultimately never happened, would also be called Apollo 1.

    I have my doubts that Grissom's flight would have happened on Feb. 21 -- it had already been delayed quite a bit for other issues.

    Here's the article Kaye did on the tragedy.
     
  20. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2013
    Not really. They were test pilots with engineering training. They routinely talked to the engineers building a craft to give their feedback. And it's obvious that the pressure of the "space race" was reaching a critical point. There was little time to be elegant with needed solutions, and changes were made constantly. What is remarkable is how reliable the whole system was after that, even through the Apollo 13 accident.

    I'm reminded of an anecdote (most likely apocryphal) from the time:

    In engineering, a component is tested to failure. If it works 99 times out of 100, it is 99% reliable, or 0.99, or "two nines." Orbital missions like Mercury and Gemini were good with such reliability figures, as astronauts could de-orbit and be down in minutes. But NASA brass were concerned about the long flight to the Moon, and went to Merritt Island to talk to Von Braun about it.

    "We need a reliability of at least 3 nines," they told him.

    Von Braun thought about it for a minute, then turned to 4 of his German engineers and asked them, "Gentlemen, is there any reason the Saturn might fail?"

    Each in turn replied, "Nein!"

    Von Braun turned back to the NASA brass and told them, "Gentlemen, I give you a reliability of 4 neins!"