Jan. 28


NASA selects 110 test pilots

from the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy to be

the first prospective astronaut candidates for Project Mercury. The agency eventually culled the number down to seven.


Space Shuttle Challenger, STS 51-L, explodes shortly after liftoff. All seven crew members, including teacher Christa McAuliffe, were killed.

Jan. 29

A Saturn 1 rocket, designated SA-5, launches in a successful orbital test flight from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Jan. 31

A Mercury capsule launches on a Redstone rocket

from Cape Canaveral, Fla., for a suborbital test flight with a chimpanzee named Ham on board. Though

the launch overshot its target, Ham was recovered unharmed.

The Soviet Union’s unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft makes the first successful soft landing on the Moon. The lander then sent the first radio and television signals from the Moon to Earth.

Apollo 14 launches on a Saturn 5 rocket from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell touched down on the Moon’s Fra Mauro region during

the third manned Moon landing, while Command Module pilot Stuart Roosa remained in lunar orbit.

Feb. 1

The United States performs the first test launch of the Minuteman ICBM from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The Space Shuttle Columbia, STS-107, disintegrates upon re-entry, killing its

seven-astronaut crew.

Feb. 2

Friedrich Schmiedl launches a V7 rocket carrying approximately 100 letters from Schoeckelbei Graz to SanktRadegund, Austria, a distance of about 2 kilometers

. It was the first official launch of rocket mail.