A Blast from the Past

By United Press International   |   Jan. 28, 2003 at 3:00 AM

Today is Jan. 28.

It was the U.S. space program's worst disaster -- and indeed, the worst space tragedy ever. On this date in 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 72 seconds after blastoff from Cape Canaveral, killing all seven astronauts, including civilian teacher Christa McAuliffe. Millions of people around the world watched televised replays of the horrifying event, which grounded NASA's manned space program for more than two years.

In 1994, a mistrial was declared in the case of Lyle Menendez, charged with his brother Eric in the murders of their parents. The jury had been unable to reach a verdict in Eric's case two weeks earlier.

On this date in 1995, the United States and Vietnam agreed to exchange low-level diplomats and open liaison offices in each other's capital cities.

Five former police officers in South Africa admitted on this date in 1997 to killing anti-apartheid activist Stephen Biko, who'd died in police custody in 1977 and whose death had been officially listed as an accident.

And in 1878, the first commercial telephone switchboard began operation in New Haven, Conn. It had 12 subscribers.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.

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