January 27, 1967 was the day that Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffe and Ed White died at launch complex 34, at what was then referred to as Cape Kennedy, during a routine test of the Apollo 1 spacecraft.
January 28, 1986 was the day that Francis Scobee, Mike Smith, Ron McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judy Resnik, Greg Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe all perished aboard Challenger in the explosion of STS-51L.
January 16, 2003 was the day that Rick Husband, Willy McCool, Mike Aderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon suffered a catastrophic injury to the wing of of their spacecraft, Columbia, during the launch of STS-107. Injury that would cause them all to perish 16 days later when Columbia broke up during reentry
January maybe not the greatest month for spaceflight?
Maybe. But on January 27 2016, SpaceX successfully tested the Crew Dragon parachute system and just six days ago they successfully tested powered landing of the Crew Dragon. Blue Origin just landed one of their rockets for the second time. SpaceX almost made it with the recent attempt to land a Falcon 9 off the pacific coast – not to mention the landing they perfectly executed back in December – and all of the successful payload deployments too. NASA completed recently the final assembly and welding of the pressure vessel for the first operational Orion crew vehicle. Welding has always been a big part of the NASA program when all is said and done. If you want; find your welding school here. The first operational Orion crew vehicle is rolling along to a 2018 launch. Boeing’s Starliner commercial crew vehicle is moving rapidly through development. Right now, Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are aboard the ISS racing toward completion of their “Year in Space” research mission in just over a month. There are currently more than 30 unmanned and robotic missions taking place throughout the solar system.
I gotta say, I think Gus, Ed, Roger and all of the other 29 Astronauts and Cosmonauts who have died since manned spaceflight began would have been damned proud of what’s going on today. We are, us humans, a space faring civilization. In ways that may seem small to some when compared to the dreams of the future, a future whose ideas are often fueled by great Science Fiction, we are continuing to build and learn and develop and explore.
To infinity and beyond! Engage! To boldly go where no one has gone before! Never give up, Never surrender!
We have cleared the tower.