Year
1967

Astronauts die in launch pad fire

A launch pad fire during Apollo program tests at Cape Canaveral, Florida, kills astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chafee. An investigation indicated that a faulty electrical wire inside the Apollo 1 command module was the probable cause of the fire. The astronauts, the first Americans to die in a spacecraft, had been participating in a simulation of the Apollo 1 launch scheduled for the next month.

The Apollo program was initiated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) following President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 declaration of the goal of landing men on the moon and bringing them safely back to Earth by the end of the decade. The so-called “moon shot” was the largest scientific and technological undertaking in history. In December 1968, Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to travel to the moon, and on July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. walked on the lunar surface. In all, there were 17 Apollo missions and six lunar landings.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Somali dictator flees

Muhammad Siyad Barre, the dictator of the Somali Democratic Republic since 1969, flees Mogadishu as rebels overrun his palace and capture the Somali capital. In 1969, Somalian President Abd-i-rashid Ali Shermarke was assassinated, and a few days later Major General Barre seized ...read more

Baird demonstrates TV

On January 27, 1926, John Logie Baird, a Scottish inventor, gives the first public demonstration of a true television system in London, launching a revolution in communication and entertainment. Baird’s invention, a pictorial-transmission machine he called a “televisor,” used ...read more

Shelby GT 350 debuts

On this day in 1965, the Shelby GT 350, a version of a Ford Mustang sports car developed by the American auto racer and car designer Carroll Shelby, is launched. The Shelby GT 350, which featured a 306 horsepower V-8 engine, remained in production through the end of the 1960s and ...read more

National Geographic Society founded

On January 27, 1888, the National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C., for “the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.” The 33 men who originally met and formed the National Geographic Society were a diverse group of geographers, explorers, teachers, ...read more

Siege of Leningrad is lifted

On this day, Soviet forces permanently break the Leningrad siege line, ending the almost 900-day German-enforced containment of the city, which cost hundreds of thousands of Russian lives. The siege began officially on September 8, 1941. The people of Leningrad began building ...read more

Paris Peace Accords signed

The United States, South Vietnam, Viet Cong, and North Vietnam formally sign “An Agreement Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam” in Paris. Due to South Vietnam’s unwillingness to recognize the Viet Cong’s Provisional Revolutionary Government, all references to it were ...read more

Donald Evans earns Medal of Honor

Specialist Four Donald W. Evans, a 23-year-old medic from Covina, California, was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for action on this day in the Kontum Province. Evans’ platoon had not yet been committed to the battle near the hamlet of Tri Tam when firing broke out in an ...read more

Reagan serves in film unit

On this day in 1943, future President Ronald Reagan, an Army Air Corps first lieutenant during World War II, is on an active-duty assignment with the Army’s First Motion Picture Unit. Technically, Reagan was a unit public relations officer, however Warner Brothers Studios and the ...read more

Dante is exiled from Florence

On this day, poet and politician Dante Alighieri is exiled from Florence, where he served as one of six priors governing the city. Dante’s political activities, including the banishing of several rivals, led to his own banishment, and he wrote his masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, ...read more

Explosions trigger deadly panic in Nigeria

On this day in 2002, explosions at a military depot in Lagos, Nigeria, trigger a stampede of fleeing people, during which more than 1,000 people are killed. The Ikeja armory was located just north of the city center of Lagos and housed a large barracks and munitions depot. On ...read more

The so-called Dracula killer

On this day in 1978, Richard Chase, who becomes known as the “Dracula Killer,” murders Evelyn Miroth and Daniel Meredith, as well as Miroth’s 6-year-old son andanotherwoman,in Sacramento, California. Chase sexually assaulted Miroth with a knife before killing her and mutilating ...read more