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CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami/AP) — A tragic accident that claimed the life of three astronauts in the early days of NASA’s space program is the focus of a new exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center.

On January 27th, 1967, Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee died after a fire erupted in their command module during a pre-flight test on Launch Complex 34.

The tragedy occurred as the trio was preparing for the first manned Apollo flight.

In the aftermath, NASA did make space flight safer, and in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon with Apollo 11.

The new exhibit honors the astronauts who died, the hatch from the burning spacecraft is the main draw. It had been concealed, along with the capsule, for a half-century. The exhibit also includes the redesigned hatch on the spacecraft that sent men to the moon.

Families of the Apollo 1 crew got a private tour Wednesday and attended a memorial Thursday. Friday evening, they’ll gather at the abandoned pad where the accident occurred.

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