27 January 1967: Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee died in the Apollo 1 command module during testing after a fire started. The command module was pressured with pure oxygen to 2 atmospheres making it an obvious fire hazard. Since the door was designed to open inward and the interior pressure was 1 atmosphere greater than the exterior, the door was held firmly shut. Toxic smoke asphyxiated the astronauts and the intense oxygen-fueled flames roasted them.
those who made the ultimate sacrifice
so others could reach for the stars
Ad astra per aspera
(A rough road leads to the stars)
Edison’s device is an incandescent light source — an object so hot that it emits visible light. It also emits copious amounts of infrared (often called "heat rays"). Only 10% of the electric energy put into an Edison-style "Electric Lamp" comes out as useful illumination. The rest is invisible, wasteful heat.
The traditional light bulb is destined to fade away in popularity as newer, more efficient technologies take over. What will we use as the icon for a brilliant idea in the future?
Voyager 2 made its closest approach to Uranus on 24 January 1986. It is the only space probe to have visited this planet so far. Voyager 2 is one of five space probes currently on a solar system escape trajectory.
Pioneer 10 was launched 2 March 1972 from Cape Canaveral on a three stage Atlas Centaur rocket. It visited Jupiter for a few days in December 1973 and was flung out of the solar system by the massive planet. After more than 30 years the venerable spacecraft sent its last signal to Earth on 22 January 2003. At last contact Pioneer 10 was 82 astronomical units away from the sun (more than twice the average distance from the sun to Pluto). The last detectable radio signal (which was too weak to be decipherable) took 11 hours and 20 minutes to reach the earth. Pioneer 10 is currently 105 astronomical units from the sun and is traveling at 12 km/s.
English explorer Robert F. Scott and his expedition arrive at the South Pole on 18 January 1912, only to discover that Roald Amundsen had gotten there first. Everyone in the expedition died on the return journey. See my post on Amundsen’s arrival for more info.
December 25th 1642 Julian calendar: Sir Isaac Newton is born. Jesus on the other hand was actually born in the summer. His birthday was moved to coincide with the traditional pagan holiday that celebrated the winter solstice with lit fires and slaughtered goats.
Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders became the first humans to orbit the moon. On 24 December 1968, as they came from behind the Moon on their fourth orbit they saw the earth rise above the horizon. Anders snapped the now famous photo.