The Apollo 1 tragedy shook America’s confidence just as Vietnam was being revealed as the unwinnable quagmire it was and stopped manned US missions into space for well over a year.
Gus Grissom was chosen as the commander of the flight – one of the original “Mercury 7” astronauts, Grissom was one of the leading figures in the space program at the time of Apollo 1. Also killed in the tragedy were senior pilot Ed White and pilot Roger Chafee, the later of which was making his first spaceflight.
Here is a good feature from NPR today on the tragedy
Also the Washington Post