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Today in History: JAN 31, US enters space age

Jan 30, 2023, 7:00 AM | Updated: Jan 31, 2023, 1:52 pm

Today in History

Today is Tuesday, Jan. 31, the 31st day of 2023. There are 334 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Jan. 31, 1958, the United States entered the Space Age with its first successful launch of a satellite, Explorer 1, from Cape Canaveral.

On this date:

In 1797, composer Franz Schubert was born in Vienna.

In 1863, during the Civil War, the First South Carolina Volunteers, an all-Black Union regiment composed of many escaped slaves, was mustered into federal service at Beaufort, South Carolina.

In 1865, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution abolishing slavery, sending it to states for ratification. (The amendment was adopted in December 1865.)

In 1919, baseball Hall-of-Famer Jackie Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia.

In 1945, Pvt. Eddie Slovik, 24, became the first U.S. soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion as he was shot by an American firing squad in France.

In 1961, NASA launched Ham the Chimp aboard a Mercury-Redstone rocket from Cape Canaveral; Ham was recovered safely from the Atlantic Ocean following his 16 1/2-minute suborbital flight.

In 1971, astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell and Stuart Roosa blasted off aboard Apollo 14 on a mission to the moon.

In 2000, an Alaska Airlines MD-83 jet crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Port Hueneme (wy-NEE’-mee), California, killing all 88 people aboard.

In 2001, a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands convicted one Libyan and acquitted a second, in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi was given a life sentence, but was released after eight years on compassionate grounds by Scotland’s government. He died in 2012.)

In 2015, Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, was found unresponsive in a bathtub at her Georgia townhome and was taken to an Atlanta-area hospital. (She died six months later.)

In 2016, Novak Djokovic maintained his perfect streak in six Australian Open finals with a 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3) victory over Andy Murray.

In 2020, the United States declared a public health emergency over the new coronavirus, and President Donald Trump signed an order to temporarily bar entry to foreign nationals, other than immediate family of U.S. citizens, who had traveled in China within the preceding 14 days. The Senate narrowly rejected Democratic demands to summon witnesses for President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial.

Ten years ago: Chuck Hagel emerged from his grueling confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee with solid Democratic support for his nomination to be President Barack Obama’s next defense secretary. A gas explosion caused three floors of the headquarters of Mexico’s national oil company Pemex to collapse, killing 37 people. Caleb Moore, 25, an innovative freestyle snowmobile rider who’d been hurt in a crash at the Winter X Games in Colorado, died at a hospital in Grand Junction.

Five years ago: Republican congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who became known for leading a House panel’s investigation into the 2012 attacks against Americans in Benghazi, Libya, announced that he would be retiring from Congress after his term expired. Much of the world was treated to a rare triple lunar treat – a total lunar eclipse combined with a particularly close full moon that was also the second full moon of the month.

One year ago: U.S. health regulators gave full approval to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. North Korea confirmed it had test-launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. territory of Guam, the North’s most significant weapon launch in years. The New York Times said it had purchased the online word game Wordle for a price in the “low seven figures.” Rafael Nadal won a men’s record 21st Grand Slam singles title with a comeback five-set victory over second-ranked Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final.

Today’s birthdays: Composer Philip Glass is 86. Former Interior Secretary James Watt is 85. Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, the former queen regent, is 85. Former U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., is 82. Blues singer-musician Charlie Musselwhite is 79. Actor Glynn Turman is 76. Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan is 76. Actor Jonathan Banks is 76. Singer-musician Harry Wayne Casey (KC and the Sunshine Band) is 71. Rock singer Johnny Rotten is 66. Actor Kelly Lynch is 64. Actor Anthony LaPaglia is 64. Singer-musician Lloyd Cole is 62. Rock musician Al Jaworski (Jesus Jones) is 57. Actor Minnie Driver is 53. Actor Portia de Rossi is 50. Actor-comedian Bobby Moynihan is 46. Actor Kerry Washington is 46. Bluegrass singer-musician Becky Buller is 44. Singer Justin Timberlake is 42. Actor Tyler Ritter is 38. Country singer Tyler Hubbard (Florida Georgia Line) is 36. Folk-rock singer-musician Marcus Mumford (Mumford and Sons) is 36. Actor Joel Courtney is 27.

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Today in History: JAN 31, US enters space age