Two United States airmen are dead as the result of a second disastrous fire in a pure oxygen atmosphere which occurred Tuesday (31 January) at Brooks Air Forces Base in San Antonio Texas.
LS and zoom in to CU sign "Aero Space Medical Div."
Pan shot of interior showing simulator
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CU of shattered glass and copper tubes
MS Scorched tubings
2 shots scorched debris on floor
MS Crew members
MS Exterior of simulator
CU Sign "Remove all Matches & Cigarette Lighters before Entering"
MS Exterior of simulator-guard on duty
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Background: Two United States airmen are dead as the result of a second disastrous fire in a pure oxygen atmosphere which occurred Tuesday (31 January) at Brooks Air Forces Base in San Antonio Texas. The accident resembled the one that claimed the lives of three Apollo astronauts at Cape Kennedy last week.
The accident occurred in a space cabin simulator, a cylindrical pressure chamber used to conduct experiments with various forms of atmospheres. It is capable of containing a pure oxygen, an oxygen-helium or an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere.
A spokesman for the Air Base said that two airmen were in the chamber which contained a 100 per cent oxygen atmosphere. They were monitoring and tending 12 rabbits which were being studied in the chamber to test the effect on their blood of prolonged exposure to pure oxygen. A flash fire swept the chamber. both men were removed and taken to hospital. One died upon reaching the hospital, the second--with burns covering 95 per cent of his body--died later in the same hospital.
The chamber is about 20 feet long and some six feet in interior diameter. The oxygen within it was pressurized to about five pounds per square inch. A similar accident in the same chamber in 1962 hospitalized two men.
The oxygen itself is not explosive, but should a fire start, it feeds the flames and produces a blaze of extreme intensity. Ten of the twelve rabbits in the chamber were charred, as was much of the equipment.