Today is Tuesday, Jan. 31, the 31st day of 2012. There are 335 days left in the year.
On Jan. 31, 1961, NASA launched Ham the Chimp aboard a Mercury-Redstone rocket from Cape Canaveral; Ham was recovered safely from the Atlantic Ocean following his 16½-minute suborbital flight.
On this date:
In 1606, Guy Fawkes, convicted of treason for his part in the “Gunpowder Plot” against the English Parliament and King James I, was executed.
In 1797, composer Franz Schubert was born in Vienna.
In 1865, Gen. Robert E. Lee was named general-in-chief of all the Confederate armies.
In 1917, during World War I, Germany served notice it was beginning a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare.
In 1929, revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his family were expelled from the Soviet Union.
In 1944, during World War II, U.S. forces began a successful invasion of Kwajalein Atoll and other parts of the Japanese-held Marshall Islands.
In 1945, Pvt. Eddie Slovik, 24, became the first U.S. soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion as he was shot by an American firing squad in France.
In 1950, President Harry S. Truman announced he had ordered development of the hydrogen bomb.
In 1958, the United States entered the Space Age with its first successful launch of a satellite into orbit, Explorer I.
In 1971, astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell and Stuart Roosa blasted off aboard Apollo 14 on a mission to the moon.
In 1992, leaders of the U.N. Security Council’s member states held an unprecedented summit, after which they issued a declaration on collective security, arms control and nuclear non-proliferation.
In 2000, an Alaska Airlines jet spiraled into the Pacific Ocean off Port Hueneme, Calif., killing all 88 people aboard.
Ten years ago: The Bush administration handed abortion opponents a symbolic victory, classifying a developing fetus as an “unborn child” as a way of extending prenatal care to low-income pregnant women under the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a speech that the United States had to prepare for potential surprise attacks “vastly more deadly” than those on 9/11. Kentucky, cited by the NCAA for more than three dozen recruiting violations, was placed on three years’ probation.
Five years ago: President George W. Bush, visiting Wall Street, delivered his “State of the Economy” speech in which he took aim at lavish salaries and bonuses for corporate executives. Delaware Sen. Joe Biden formally launched his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Nine blinking electronic devices planted around Boston threw a scare into the city in what turned out to be a marketing campaign for a late-night cable cartoon. Best-selling author and columnist Molly Ivins died in Austin, Texas, at age 62.
One year ago: A federal judge in Florida declared the Obama administration’s health care overhaul unconstitutional, siding with 26 states that argued people cannot be required to buy health insurance. Egypt’s military promised not to fire on peaceful protests and recognized “the legitimacy of the people’s demands.” Myanmar opened its first parliament in more than two decades, an event greeted with cautious optimism by opposition lawmakers despite the military’s tight management of the event.