Year
1967
Month Day
January 27

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.

READ MORE: How Many Times Has the U.S. Landed on the Moon?

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ALSO ON THIS DAY

Future President Ronald Reagan serves in film unit

On January 27, 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

John Lennon writes and records “Instant Karma” in a single day

“I wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch and we’re putting it out for dinner.” That’s the way John Lennon told the story of “Instant Karma,” one of his most memorable songs as a solo artist and the third Lennon single to appear before the official breakup of the Beatles. ...read more

Shelby GT 350 debuts

On January 27, 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 January 27, 1944, 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 ...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

Monica Seles wins first Grand Slam title since being attacked

On January 27, 1996, Serbian-born tennis player Monica Seles, the former No. 1 women’s player in the world, defeats Anke Huber of Germany to win the Australian Open. The win in Melbourne was Seles’ first Grand Slam title since she was stabbed by Gunther Parche, a self-professed ...read more

First atomic detonation at the Nevada test site

Forcefully marking the continued importance of the West in the development of nuclear weaponry, the government detonates the first of a series of nuclear bombs at its new Nevada test site. Although much of the West had long lagged behind the rest of the nation in technological ...read more

Dante is exiled from Florence

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, as a virtual ...read more

Explosions trigger deadly panic in Nigeria

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 January 27, a Sunday ...read more

“Dracula Killer” murders four people

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President Lincoln orders Union forces to advance

On January 27, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issues General War Order No. 1, ordering all land and sea forces to advance on February 22, 1862. This bold move sent a message to his commanders that the president was tired of excuses and delays in seizing the offensive against ...read more

Liberation of Auschwitz: Photos

Auschwitz is liberated

On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops enter Auschwitz, Poland, freeing the survivors of the network of concentration camps—and finally revealing to the world the depth of the horrors perpetrated there. Auschwitz was really a group of camps, designated I, II, and III. There were also ...read more

Americans bomb Germans for first time

8th Air Force bombers, dispatched from their bases in England, fly the first American bombing raid against the Germans, targeting the Wilhelmshaven port. Of 64 planes participating in the raid, 53 reached their target and managed to shoot down 22 German planes—and lost only three ...read more