NASA established the Mercury and Gemini missions in the 50s and early 60s. These missions were designed to launch men into space in preparation for an actual trip to another celestial body, which would be accomplished with the Apollo missions. Apollo 1 serves as a great example of the courage of scientists that risk their lives daily to further our understanding of the universe.
On Jan 27, 1964, Astronauts Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee were set to fly on Apollo 1 in the mission then known as Apollo 204.. Unfortunately, the Command Module caught fire during launch pad testing with the astronauts inside. The subsequent report included recommendations that helped establish the safety procedures and redundant design that saved the lives of countless men and women over the past 49 years.
Most people are familiar with Apollo 11, where Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins successfully made it to the moon and back. Tom Hanks and the movie Apollo 13 helped bring that mission involving the salvaging of a botched mission to the mainstream. Apollo 1 should be held in the same regard, especially since the sacrifice of the three astronauts led to the massive improvements needed for NASA to achieve its job.