APOLLO 1: Today is the 36th anniversary of the tragic fire that killed three astronauts, including the second American into space, and the first American to walk in space. Orrin Judd has a contemporaneous news article and a quote from Tom Wolfe.
UPDATE: Rand Simberg has more, including this telling line:
A key difference between this accident and the Challenger catastrophe was that in Apollo, we had a goal and a schedule. Accordingly, we dusted ourselves off, analyzed the problem, addressed it, and kept to the schedule.
With the Shuttle, the political reality was that there was no particular reason to fly Shuttles–no national commitment would be violated, no vital experiments wouldn’t be performed, no objects would fall from the sky on our heads, and no elections would be lost, if the Shuttle didn’t fly.
So, two and a half years after the Apollo I fire, we landed men on the Moon. Two and a half years after STS 51-L, the fleet was still grounded. It didn’t fly again until two years, nine months later.
Maybe this (if it’s true) will instill a sense of purpose at NASA for their manned space flights. God knows they need it.