January 28, 1986: The U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 74 seconds into its flight, killing seven persons, including Christa McAuliffe, a teacher who was to be the first ordinary citizen in space.
January 30, 1972: In Londonderry, Northern Ireland, 13 Roman Catholics were killed by British troops during a banned civil rights march. The event became known as Bloody Sunday.
February 1, 2003: Sixteen minutes before it was scheduled to land, the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart in flight over west Texas, killing all seven crew members. The accident may have resulted from damage caused during liftoff when a piece of insulating foam from the external fuel tank broke off, piercing a hole in the shuttle’s left wing that allowed hot gases to penetrate the wing upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
February 2, 1990: In South Africa, the 30-year-old ban on the African National Congress was lifted by President F.W. de Klerk, who also promised to free Nelson Mandela and remove restrictions on political opposition groups. Mandela was freed 9 days later, after spending 27 years in prison.
February 3, 1870: The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing the right of citizens to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.