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Science goes tragically awry, as the space shuttle Challenger explodes seconds after lift-off and the Soviet nuclear power plant at Chernobyl has a partial meltdown. Politics heats up in the Philippines with Ferdinand Marcos out and Corazon Aquino in; Libya takes a direct hit from U.S. fighter planes, and the American public meets Lt. Col. Oliver North for the first time.

  • Challenger explodes
  • Halley's comet
  • Soviets launch Mir
  • Aquino sworn in
  • Marcos ousted
  • Libya strike
  • Chernobyl accident
  • Iran-Contra probe

  • Space shuttle Challenger explodes -- January 28, 1986

    Carrying seven crew members, including high school teacher Christa McAuliffe, the space shuttle Challenger lifts off January 28 -- and explodes 74 seconds later. There are no survivors. Debris from the crash rains into the Atlantic Ocean for more than an hour. It is the worst disaster in the U.S. space program. The space shuttle program is suspended while the accident is investigated.

    The explosion:
    1M QuickTime Movie (160x120) 2M QuickTime Movie (320x240)

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    Halley's comet disappoints skywatchers -- February 1986

    After plenty of hype, Halley's comet fails to provide the brilliant display that skywatchers worldwide anticipate. The best views are in the Southern Hemisphere, although some relatively light solar activity restricts the comet's brightness.Scientists, however, derive rich gains from the encounter.

    Images from space:
    1.5M QuickTime Movie (160x120) 3M QuickTime Movie (320x240)

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    Soviets launch Mir -- February 20, 1986

    The Soviet Union launches into orbit Mir, a new space station. Mir, the Russian word for peace, has six docking ports, special laboratories for scientific research and improved cabins for cosmonauts. Weeks later, a veteran crew is sent to man the 56-foot-long and 13.6-foot wide station.

    (Courtesy TASS)
    Launch coverage:
    1.3M QuickTime Movie (160x120) 2.5M QuickTime Movie (320x240)

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    Aquino sworn in as Philippine president -- February 25, 1986

    Backed by the popular "people power" movement, Corazon Aquino, widow of slain opposition leader Benigno Aquino, is sworn in as president of the Philippines on February 25. Her rival, longtime strongman Ferdinand Marcos, is sworn in during a separate ceremony that same day, but within hours he flees the country. Aquino declares, "The long agony is over."

    Aquino's inauguration:
    1.2M QuickTime Movie (160x120) 2.3M QuickTime Movie (320x240)

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