Apollo 1 (initially designated AS-204) was the first manned mission of the U.S. Apollo manned lunar landing program. The planned low Earth orbital test of the Apollo Command/Service Module never made its target launch date of February 21, 1967, because a cabin fire during a launch rehearsal test on January 27 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 34 killed all three crew members—Command Pilot Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward H. White II, and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee—and destroyed the Command Module (CM). The name Apollo 1, chosen by the crew, was officially retired by NASA in commemoration of them on April 24, 1967.
Mercury-Redstone 2 (MR-2) was the penultimate test flight of the Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle prior to the first crewed American space mission in Project Mercury. It was launched at 16:55 UTC on January 31, 1961 from LC-5 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Mercury spacecraft No. 5 carried “Ham the Chimp”, a chimpanzee, on a suborbital flight, landing in the Atlantic Ocean 16 minutes and 39 seconds after launch. Monkeys had been flown into space before, but Ham was the first higher primate to test a spacecraft.
Ham the Chimp was a chimpanzee and the first hominid launched into space, on 31 January 1961, as part of America’s space program. Ham’s name is an acronym for the lab which prepared him for his historic mission — the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center, located at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.
The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when the NASA Space Shuttle orbiter Challenger (OV-099) (mission STS-51-L) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida at 11:38 EST (16:38 UTC). Disintegration of the vehicle began after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed at liftoff. The O-ring failure caused a breach in the SRB joint it sealed, allowing pressurized burning gas from within the solid rocket motor to reach the outside and impinge upon the adjacent SRB aft field joint attachment hardware and external fuel tank. This led to the separation of the right-hand SRB’s aft field joint attachment and the structural failure of the external tank. Aerodynamic forces broke up the orbiter.