Hundreds honor 3 astronauts lost in Apollo fire 50 years ago

This undated photo made available by NASA shows the Apollo 1 crew, from left, Edward H. White II, Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, and Roger B. Chaffee. On Jan. 27, 1967, a flash fire erupted inside their capsule during a countdown rehearsal, with the astronauts atop the rocket at Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 34. All three were killed. (NASA via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Moonwalkers and dozens of others who took part in NASA’s Apollo program are paying tribute to the three astronauts killed in a fire 50 years ago.

On the eve of the Apollo 1 anniversary, hundreds gathered at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday to honor Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. They died at the launch pad, inside their burning spacecraft, on Jan. 27, 1967.

On Friday, NASA is opening an Apollo 1 exhibit featuring the hatch that prevented the three astronauts from escaping. The families of Grissom, White and Chaffee got an early look Wednesday evening.

Among the many astronauts attending Thursday’s ceremony were the two surviving crew members of Apollo 11, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, as well as Apollo 16 moonwalker Charlie Duke.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.