Parallels Between Grissom and Mallory

Grissom, White, and Chaffee

I’ve been watching this excellent show on Discovery chronicling the NASA space flight missions. It sparked my interest in the Mercury 7 and subsequent Apollo missions and compelled me to do a bit of reading. I quickly began to see parallels between the ill-fated Everest climb of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine and the fatal Apollo 1 tragedy that took the lives of astronauts Roger Chaffee, Ed White, and Gus Grissom.

I further drew more distinct parallels between Gus Grissom and George Mallory. I’ve written about the Mallory and Irvine tragedy in detail but I’ll summarize again here. George Mallory died in 1924, along with his young climbing partner Andrew Irvine, attempting to be the first to reach the peak of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. There is much speculation they made it to the top but died on the descent; however, the generally acknowledged opinion is that they died on the ascent, having never reached the top. Part of why their story is famous is because of the possibility they might have actually reached the top first (a missing camera might hold photographic proof). The pair, particularly George Mallory, achieved iconic status after the valiant-but failed-pioneering attempt to reach the peak.

Gus Grissom was the second American in space, member of the famous Mercury 7 astronauts, and was killed in a fire during a training exercise for the Apollo 1 mission. He died along with fellow astronaut Ed White (who was the first American to perform a space walk) and rookie astronaut Roger Chaffee. Continue reading

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