January 28, 1986
On this cold January morning, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts on board. Contrary to popular belief, while the external fuel tank did combust, the Challenger didn’t truly explode as much as it was torn apart by aerodynamic forces.
January 27, 1967
Astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee are killed in a fire during a test of their spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center. After the fire, the spacecraft and planned launch which never took place was posthumously named Apollo 1, in the astronauts honor.
January 26, 1962
Ranger 3 is launched to study the Moon. The space probe was designed to transmit pictures of the lunar surface to Earth stations during a period of 10 minutes of flight prior to impacting on the Moon. Due to a series of malfunctions, the spacecraft missed the Moon by 22,000 miles.
January 25, 2004
Opportunity rover (MER-B) lands on surface of Mars, three weeks after its twin, Spirit (MER-A), touched down on the other side of the planet.
January 24, 1986
The interplanetary probe Voyager 2 makes the first fly-by of the planet Uranus. During its study of Uranus, it finds 10 previously undiscovered moons.
January 23, 2003
The last successful contact was made with the spacecraft Pioneer 10, one of the most distant man-made objects in the universe. Pioneer 10 is heading in the direction of the star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus at roughly 2.6 AU per year. If Aldebaran had zero relative velocity, it would take Pioneer 10 about 2 million years to reach it.
January 22, 1968
Apollo 5 lifts off carrying the first unmanned Lunar module into space.
January 17, 1996
Paul Butler and Geoffrey Marcy announced to the American Astronomical Society that they had discovered two new planets using an unconventional computer technique to analyze the movement of stars. Since that time, thanks in part to their use of computer technology, Butler and Marcy have become known as “the world’s most successful planet hunters”.
January 16, 2003
Famous for being the first Space Shuttle ever to be launched (mission STS-1), the Space Shuttle Columbia takes off for mission STS-107. This mission would prove to be its final one as Columbia disintegrated 16 days later on re-entry.
January 16, 1969
Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 perform the first-ever docking of manned spacecraft in orbit, the first-ever transfer of crew from one space vehicle to another, and the only time such a transfer was accomplished with a space walk.