The end of January is marked by two tragedies in NASA history.
January 27, 1967: Apollo 1 (AS-204) launch pad fire
This photo show the interior of the command module after the fire. Investigators later determined likely cause to be electrical arcing from defective wiring.
During a pre-flight test on January 27, 1967, for what was intended to be the first manned Apollo mission into space, a fire broke out in the cockpit of the command module. Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee died in the fire.
January 28, 1986: Challenger (STS-51-L) Explosion
Front row from left, Mike Smith, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair.
Back row from left, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, Judith Resnik.
This memorable tragedy occurred on January 28, 1986, when the Challenger Space Shuttle broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing the 7 crew members on board. Significant at the time was the presence of payload specialist Christa McAuliffe, intended to be the first school teacher in space.