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STS-124
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2008 World Events



January 2: Crude oil prices hit $100 a barrel for the first time.

January 7: In the BCS title game, the Louisiana State University Tigers defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes 38-24 to win the BCS national championship.

January 11: Distinguished explorer and mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary passes away at the age of 88 years old.  Hillary along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 29th of 1953.

February 4: The New York Giants defeat the New England Patriots 17 to 14 in Super Bowl XLII.

February 7: NASA launches space shuttle Atlantis on STS-122.  It delivers and installed the European built Columbus science laboratory on to the International Space Station.

February 17:
Nascar racing driver Ryan Newman wins the 50th running of the Daytona 500.

February 19: President of Cuba, Fidel Castro, announces his resignation from the Presidency to be effective on February 24th.

February 20: The United States Navy launches a missile to destroy an out of control orbiting U.S. spy satellite to alleviate a re-entry threat from the satellite's toxic steering fuel.

February 22: A U.S. B-2 bomber crashes after takeoff from a military air base in Guam.  Both crew members eject safely.

February 24: The 80th annual Academy Awards Ceremony is held in Los Angeles, California.  The film "No Country for Old Men" wins the Oscar for best picture. Actor Daniel Day-Lewis wins the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in "There Will Be Blood." Actress Marion Cotillard wins the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in "La Vie en Rose".

March 2: Dmitry Medvedev is elected as the President of Russia.  He is to succeed Vladimir Putin in May as president. Putin will remain in power as Prime Minister.

March 9: The European Space Agency's Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle launches from French Guiana.  The Jules Verne spacecraft is an unmanned cargo vessel for supplying the International Space Station.

March 19: Renown author and futurist Sir Arthur C. Clarke passes away at the age of 90.  Clarke is probably best known for the science fiction novel "2001: A Space Odyssey."

April 3: The European built Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle docks for the first time with the International Space Station.

April 5: American actor Charlton Heston passes away at the age of 84 years old.  Heston acted in several blockbuster movies including, "The Ten Commandments", "Ben Hur", and "Planet of the Apes".

April 28: India launches a rocket that delivers 10 satellites into orbit on a single launch.  That is a record for the most satellites orbited on a single launch.

May 3: Cyclone Nargis is devastated the South East Asian nation of Myanmar.  Over 130,000 people are believed to have lost their lives.

May 3: A horse named Big Brown wins the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby.  The runner up in the race is a horse named Eight Belles.  Eight Belles is euthanized after the race because it had fractured both of its front ankles during the race.

May 12: A 7.9 magnitude earthquake strikes central China.  Over 60,000 people are presumed dead.

May 15: California becomes the second state to recognize same sex marriages.

May 25: Scott Dixon wins the ninety second running of the Indianapolis 500.

May 25: NASA's Phoenix spacecraft makes a successful landing on the planet Mars.

May 31: NASA launches space shuttle Discovery on STS-124 at 5:02 EDT.  It is another mission to continue the construction of the International  Space Station. It delivers and installed the Japanese laboratory named Kibo.  My wife and I watched the launch from the Banana Creek VIP site at the Kennedy Space Center.  For the story and photos from this launch, please follow the STS-124 link.

June 3: United States Presidential Candidate Barak Obama appears to have secured enough delegate votes to become the Democratic Presidential Nominee.

June 4: The Detroit Red Wings defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4 games to 2 to win the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup.

June 7: Motorcycle daredevil, Robbie Knievel jumps 21 Hummers at Texas Motor Speedway before the IRL race.  Knievel is the son of the famed daredevil Evel Knievel.  For my account of this motorcycle jump follow the Knievel link.

June 15: A ceremony is held at Ellington Air Field in Houston, Texas for the return of the STS-124 crew.  Mary and I attended the ceremony.  For my account and photos of the crew return ceremony follow the STS-124 Return link.

August 7: The former Soviet state of Georgia sent troops into the breakaway republic of South Ossetia.

August 8: Russia responds with a massive invasion of South Ossetia and Georgia.  Over the next few days, the Georgian military is decimated.  Some saw this as a means for Russia to re-exert their influence over world politics.

August 10: At Texas Motor Speedway I complete my rookie experience with the Richard Petty Driving Experience.  I is training to race against Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot Al Worden at the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Walt Disney World in October.  For my account of my rookie experience follow the Racing link.

August 15: Georgia and Russia sign a cease fire brokered by the president of the European Union, France's President Nicolas Sarkozy.

August 18:
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf resigns before the Pakistani Parliament could enact impeachment proceedings against him.  It is the end of a turbulent and unpopular political career for Musharraf.

September 5: The jobless rate in the United States is reported to be 6.1% by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  That number is the worst that the rate has been since 2003.

September 7: The financial services companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are placed under conservatorship by the U.S. Government.  These two companies hold over half of the mortgages in the United States.  There failure would have had severe economic impact on households across the United States.

September 14: In another sign of the approaching economic Armageddon, financial institution Merrill Lynch agrees to be purchased by Bank of America.

September 15: Fear over the financial crises causes the Dow Jones Industrial average to drop over 500 points.  It is the worst single day drop since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

September 15: Unable to find a buyer financial institution Lehman Brothers declares bankruptcy.

September 16: The U.S. Federal Reserve decides to bail out insurance and finance group AIG with an 85 billion dollar rescue.

September 24: The largest U.S. savings and loan, Washington Mutual, is seized by federal regulators.  JP Morgan chase then buys the majority in Washington Mutual.

September 25: The People's Republic of China launches from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center a Long March 2F rocket carrying into orbit the Shenzhou VII spacecraft.  On board are three astronauts, Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming, and Jing Haipeng.  It is the first time that China has launches a spacecraft with 3 taikonauts on board.

September 26: American actor Paul Newman passes away at the age of 83.

September 27:
Zhai Zhigang becomes the first Chinese taikonaut to walk in space when he stepped out of the Shenzhou VII spacecraft.  Liu Boming also receives spacewalk credit for performing a stand up EVA from the Shenzhou orbital module to hand Zhai a Chinese flag.  Liu wears a Russian built Orlan spacesuit for this EVA while Zhai wears a Chinese built Feitian spacesuit.

September 28: The Shenzhou VII spacecraft safely lands in Mongolia with taikonauts Zhai, Liu, and Jing after a three day space mission.

September 28: The world financial markets are stunned by a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives that rejects the 700 billion dollar financial bailout plan.  This plan would have allowed the government to acquire bad mortgage assets form private companies.  The vote in the House of Representatives is 228 against and 205 for.  This news shocks the financial markets and the DOW drops 778 points.  It is the largest drop ever.

October 1: With an economic catastrophe looming, the U.S. Senate votes 74 to 25 in support of a $700 billion dollar bailout plan for the financial industry.

October 3: Reversing itself, The U.S. House of Representatives approves the financial bail out plan in a 273-161 vote and President Bush signed the measure into law. 

October 3: It is reported by the U.S. Labor Department that 159,000 people lost their jobs in September.  That is the worst monthly job loss in over 5 years.

October 17: The 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 7 mission is celebrated at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas. For my account of this celebration follow the Apollo 7 40th link.

October 30: As a further sign of the deteriorating economy the U.S  gross domestic product (GDP) is reported to have shrunk by 0.3%.  It marked the first time in over 17 years that the GDP has dropped.

November 1: Swiss oceanographer, explorer, and engineer Jaques Piccard passes away at the age of 86.  On January 23, 1960 Piccard and Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh reached the floor of the Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean.  This trench is the deepest spot of all the oceans on the Earth and is measured to be 35,797 feet below sea level.

November 4:
Democratic Senator Barak Obama is elected President of the United States. Pakistani  President elect Obama wins 338 electoral votes compared with Senator John McCain's 161.  The historic election marked the first time that an African American is elected as President of the Untied States.  Riding the wave of anti-Republican sentiment the Democrats increased their power in the House of Representatives and the Senate as well.

November 7:
The U.S. Labor Department reports that 240,000 jobs were lost in October.  This brought the U.S. jobless rate to 6.5%.  It is the highest rate since 1994 and is further evidence of the deteriorating U.S. economy.


November 9: Three men convicted of committing the 2002 bombing in Bali, Indonesia that killed 202 people are executed.  Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, Imam Samudra, and Ali Ghufron are put to death by firing squad.

November 14: NASA launches space shuttle Endeavour on STS-126.  It is another mission to continue the construction of the International Space Station.  My wife, 2 grandchildren and our daughter watch the launch from the Banana Creek VIP viewing site at the Kennedy Space Center.  For my story and photos from this launch, please follow the STS-126 link.

November 19: The Dow Jones industrial average falls 427 points.  That brought the average to 7997, which is the first time that the DOW closed below 8000 since 2003.

November 24: The U.S. Treasury Department and the FDIC enact a plan to rescue troubled financial institution Citigroup.

November 25: The U.S. Government announces another plan of over 800 billion dollars to aid the troubled U.S. economy.

November 26: Ten terrorists attack Mumbai, India.  170 people are killed and over 300 are injured.It takes Indian security forces over three days to end the siege.

December 1: The National Bureau of Economic Research announces that the United States economy had been in recession since December of 2007.  This announcement causes the Dow Jones industrial average to drop 680 points.

December 5: The U.S. Labor Department announces that 553,000 jobs were lost in November.  That brings the unemployment rate up to 6.7%.

December 9: Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Glazkov passes away at the age of 69. Glazkov flew in space on the Soyuz 24 mission as Flight Engineer in February of 1977.

December 9: Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevitch is accused of attempting to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barak Obama.

December 18: American actress Majel Barrett Roddenberry passes away at the age of 76.  She is married to the creator of the television series "Star Trek" and made numerous appearances on Star Trek and it's subsequent follow-ons in various roles.

December 19: President Bush announces a 17.4 billion dollar plan to rescue the troubled U.S. auto industry.  This is a attempt to avoid two of the top three auto makers from falling into bankruptcy.

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UPDATED : August 10, 2009
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