On This Day: Space Shuttle Columbia launches first commercial mission

On Nov. 11, 1982, the space shuttle Columbia blasted off on the first commercial space mission.
By UPI Staff  |  Nov. 11, 2017 at 3:00 AM
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Nov. 11 (UPI) -- On this date in history:

In 1831, Nat Turner, who led fellow slaves on a bloody uprising in Virginia, was hanged. Turner, an educated minister, believed he was chosen by God to lead people out of slavery.

In 1889, Washington was admitted to the union as the 42nd state.

In 1918, World War I ended with the signing of the Armistice of November 11, 1918, in a railroad car in a forest in France.

In 1921, U.S. President Warren Harding dedicated the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It is commonly called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Many countries have similarly named memorials.

In 1938, Kate Smith first performed "God Bless America" on her weekly radio show. The song had been written for her by Irving Berlin.

In 1945, composer Jerome Kern, who wrote such memorable tunes as "Ol' Man River," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "The Last Time I Saw Paris," died at the age of 60.

In 1982, the space shuttle Columbia blasted off on the first commercial space mission.

In 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan nominated Judge Anthony Kennedy to the U.S. Supreme Court after Judge Douglas Ginsburg withdrew his nomination and Judge Robert Bork was rejected by the Senate. Kennedy joined the court in February 1988.

File Photo by Olivier Douliery/UPI

In 1989, an estimated 1 million East Germans poured into reopened West Germany for a day of celebration, visiting and shopping. Most returned home.

In 1992, the Church of England broke the tradition of a male-only clergy when it voted to allow the ordination of women as priests.

In 2000, a fire on a cable car taking skiers up an Austrian mountain caught fire, killing 155 people. Twelve people survived the blaze, which erupted while the car was inside a tunnel.

In 2001, two months after terrorist attacks on the United States, President George W. Bush and leaders from around the world stood near the World Trade Center ruins and, in a solemn ceremony, honored the dead from more than 80 nations.

In 2004, Yasser Arafat, the longtime Palestinian leader whose career ranged from terrorist to diplomat, a key figure in the forever smoldering Middle East, died in a Paris hospital after several days in a coma. He was 75.

In 2005, Harvard-educated Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, dubbed the "Iron Lady," claimed electoral victory and became the first woman president of Liberia.

File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

In 2006, an anonymous tip led investigators to a mass grave in Bosnia containing more than 100 victims of the Srebrenica massacre.

In 2011, Mexican Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora, point man in the government's war against organized crime and drug cartels, was among eight people killed in a helicopter crash in southern Mexico City.

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