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The terra incognita of the twentieth century was a quar ter of a million miles away, and Kennedy was saying men would go there. If there was flying involved, so much the better, but Anders would have signed up to make the trip by barge. What he wanted most of all was the chance to walk on another world. But the astronaut program, he knew, was beyond his reach as long as he lacked test pilot credentials, and after graduation in 1962, he was ready to try again at Edwards. By now, the air force had developed an interest in space, and the test pilot school had been replaced by the Aerospace Research Pilots School, otherwise known as ARPS, to help air force pilots gain the qualifications to be as tronauts.
And perhaps more than any astronaut except John Glenn, White subscribed to their all-American image. In 1965, after he became the first American to walk in space, White easily wore the mantle of a national hero. There appeared to be no limit to how far he might go. Ed and Pat seemed perfectly matched. Few women were so devoted to their husbands. Now, Bill Anders would have to tell Pat White that her husband was dead. Bill Anders had lived with death for most of his adult life, first as an air force fighter pilot, then as an astronaut.
Their test, too, was in trouble: Leaking coolant lines. Short-circuits. At one point the hatch fell on Cernan’s foot. ” Finally Stafford stopped the test. When he climbed out of the spacecraft, an emergency call from the Cape was waiting for him. When Deke Slayton heard the report of fire from Apollo 1, his gaze shot to a nearby closed-circuit television monitor. It showed the picture from a camera pointed at the command module’s hatch window. The window was filled with bright flame. ” Slayton recognized the voice as Roger Chaffee’s.