Today in History for January 31st

Highlights of Today in History: U.S. launches first satellite into orbit; Libyan intelligence officer convicted of Pan Am 103 bombing; U.S. soldier executed for desertion during World War II; Norman Mailer is born; Franz Schubert is born. (Jan. 31)

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

MIKE GRACIA: January 31, 1958. America enters the Space Age, successfully launching its first satellite into orbit, Explorer 1. It happens just months after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the very first satellite into orbit.

2001. A Libyan intelligence officer is convicted of murder and gets life in prison for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in Lockerbie, Scotland. That's the verdict from a Scottish court convened in the Netherlands. The court acquits a second Libyan in the 1988 bombing which killed 270 people.

1945. Private Eddie Slovik becomes the first US soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion. Slovik is shot by an American firing squad in France during the final months of World War II in Europe.

1923. Norman Mailer, one of the great American authors in the years after World War II, is born in Long Branch, New Jersey.

And 1797. Composer Franz Schubert is born in Vienna, Austria.

[MUSIC - "AVE MARIA"]

(SINGING) Ave Maria.

Today in History, January 31. Mike Gracia, The Associated Press.