Symposium will honor 50th anniversary of Apollo 1 tragedy

Roger B. Chaffee (Photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Museum)
Roger B. Chaffee (Photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Museum)
Brother Guy Consolmagno will be the keynote speaker. The Detroit native is director of the Vatican Observatory in Italy, one of the oldest astronomical institutions in the world.
Brother Guy Consolmagno will be the keynote speaker. The Detroit native is director of the Vatican Observatory in Italy, one of the oldest astronomical institutions in the world.
On January 27, 1967, Chaffee was among three astronauts who died in an electrical fire that broke out during pre-flight tests on Apollo 1. (Photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Museum)
On January 27, 1967, Chaffee was among three astronauts who died in an electrical fire that broke out during pre-flight tests on Apollo 1. (Photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Museum)

Roger B. Chaffee, an astronaut and Grand Rapids native who died during testing on Apollo I in 1967, will be honored during a two-day symposium hosted by Grand Valley State University and Grand Rapids Public Museum.

A free conference, "Roger That! A Celebration of Space Exploration in Honor of Roger B. Chaffee," will take place February 10 at the Eberhard Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. It is open to the public and Grand Valley faculty and students are encouraged to attend. The deadline to register is February 3 at gvsu.edu/rogerthat.

Brother Guy Consolmagno will be the keynote speaker. The Detroit native is director of the Vatican Observatory in Italy, one of the oldest astronomical institutions in the world. His presentation, "Why Do We Look Up at the Heavens," will take place February 10 at 12:30 p.m. The conference will include breakout sessions featuring a variety of science, art and society topics related to space exploration.

On January 27, 1967, Chaffee was among three astronauts who died in an electrical fire that broke out during pre-flight tests on Apollo 1. Grand Rapids Public Museum renamed its planetarium to the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium the same year.

Additional events:

  • Chaffee's wife, Martha Horn Chaffee, and his daughter, Sheryl Lynn Chaffee, will give a presentation February 10 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35; dinner is included and a portion of sales will be donated to the Roger B. Chaffee Scholarship Fund.
  • GVSU Art Gallery will host a photo exhibit, "The Life of Astronaut Roger B. Chaffee," on the West Wall Gallery in the Eberhard Center from January 9-March 31.
  • A student design competition will also take place for sixth- to 12th- grade students. A panel of judges and public voting will determine the winners, which will be announced February 11. Click here for more information.
  • Students from Grand Rapids area schools will take field trips to Grand Valley and GRPM February 10. Contact Tracy Bacigal at tbacigal@grpm.org to arrange field trips. 

GRPM will host several events February 11, including another presentation by Consolmagno and an opportunity to see real lunar material on display from the NASA travel collections. Space-themed activities will be available for kids and adults.

For more information about the conference, visit www.gvsu.edu/rogerthat or email rogerthat@gvsu.edu. For more information about GRPM events, visit www.grpm.org