Space Travel

Phobos II Orbits Mars

Phobos IIJanuary 29, 1989

The USSR’s Phobos II enters Martian orbit on its way to the moon Phobos. The spacecraft never completed its mission as it lost contact with mission control on March 27. Due to some unusual last photos received from Phobos II, speculation arose that it was destroyed by a UFO. Official reports blame the failure on the onboard computer. I wonder if mission control was trying to secure the Martian licensing rights to Tetris.

Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

Challenger Flight 51-L CrewJanuary 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.

Apollo 1 Tragedy

Apollo 1 PatchJanuary 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.

Ranger 3 Launched

Ranger 3January 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.

Opportunity Lands on Mars

NASA Mars RoverJanuary 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.

Voyager 2 Flies By Uranus

Voyager SpacecraftJanuary 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.

Last Contact with Pioneer 10

Pioneer 10January 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.

First Lunar Module Test Launch

Apollo 5 EmblemJanuary 22, 1968

Apollo 5 lifts off carrying the first unmanned Lunar module into space.

Computer is Used in the Discovery of New Planets

Paul Butler and Geoffrey MarcyJanuary 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”.

Space Shuttle Columbia Launches for Final Time

Space Shuttle ColumbiaJanuary 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.