NASA displays Apollo capsule hatch 50 years after fatal fire

In this image taken from video, a Soyuz-U rocket blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Friday, July 3, 2015. The unmanned cargo ship is heading to the International Space Station, whose crew is anxiously awaiting it after the successive failures of two previous supply missions. (NASA TV via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – A relic from America’s first space tragedy is finally going on display this week, 50 years after a fire on the launch pad killed three astronauts.

The scorched Apollo 1 capsule remains locked away in storage. But NASA is offering visitors at Kennedy Space Center in Florida a look at the most symbolic part. It’s the hatch that trapped Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee in their burning spacecraft on Jan. 27, 1967.

The flash fire swept through the capsule during a countdown rehearsal.

The new exhibit opens Friday on the 50th anniversary. For the astronauts’ families, Apollo 1 is finally getting its due. The tragedy has long been overshadowed by the Challenger and Columbia shuttle accidents.

The families are getting a private look on Wednesday.

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