9 March 1796

Napoléon Bonaparte marries Joséphine de Beauharnais, his first wife.

On March 9, 1796, French statesman and military leader Napoleon Bonaparte married his first wife, Josephine de Beauharnais. He was only 26 years old at the time and she was much older than him—a widow at 32 years old. But the two would start one of the most notorious marriages of all time.

The great French emperor
Napoleon Bonaparte is a recognizable name in history, but how much do you really know about the French leader? Shortly after marrying Josephine, he was elected First Consul of France in 1802. He eventually crowned himself emperor of the French in 1804. This coronation brought the first Republic to an end.

During the 10 years of his reign, Bonaparte conquered Spain, Germany, Poland, Austria, and Italy. He instructed the French to follow his new civil code, known as the Code Napoleon. Citizens were required to follow a new set of laws concerning property, colonial affairs, family life, and individual rights.

Meeting Josephine de Beauharnais
Josephine de Beauharnais was known as the “rose” before meeting Bonaparte. But once the pair met, Bonaparte disliked her name and insisted on formally changing it to “Josephine.” Her first marriage, to Alexandre de Beauharnais, ended abruptly when her husband was guillotined during the Reign of Terror.

Josephine had many lovers before meeting Bonaparte. She was in high demand as a suitable wife, but once Bonaparte set his eyes on the 32-year-old widow, the rest was history.

Their iconic marriage
Most people know about Bonaparte and de Beauharnais’s marriage, referring to them as Antony and Cleopatra. While Bonaparte was serving in the French Revolutionary War, he would often send her love letters while they were apart. But eventually, their marriage came to an unfortunate end.

Josephine failed to produce an heir. While Bonaparte adopted her children from her previous marriage, they weren’t heirs to his throne. With this in mind, Bonaparte divorced de Beauharnais in 1809 to remarry and produce an heir.

Despite the divorce, Bonaparte remained devoted to his first wife for the rest of his life. When he heard the news of her death in 1814, Bonaparte locked himself inside his bedroom for two days. On his deathbed in 1821, her name would be his final word—never forgetting his first love.

9 March 2011

The Space Shuttle Discovery makes its final landing after 39 flights.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The shuttle Discovery braved the hellish fire of re-entry for the last time Wednesday and glided back to Earth to close out the space plane’s 39th and final voyage, an emotion-charged milestone marking the beginning of the end for America’s shuttle program.

Dropping through a partly cloudy sky, the commander, Steven W. Lindsey, and Col. Eric A. Boe of the Air Force guided Discovery through a sweeping left overhead turn, lined up on Runway 15 and floated to a picture-perfect touchdown at 11:57 a.m. Eastern time to wrap up an extended 13-day space station assembly mission.

As it coasted to a stop under a brilliant noon sun, Discovery had logged some 5,750 orbits covering nearly 150 million miles during 39 flights spanning a full year in space — a record unrivaled in the history of manned rockets.

“And Houston, Discovery, for the final time, wheels stopped,” Mr. Lindsey radioed flight controllers in Houston.

The space shuttle Discovery ended its final mission Wednesday, landing smoothly in Florida.
“Discovery, Houston, great job by you and your crew,” replied Charles Hobaugh, an astronaut in mission control. “That was a great landing in tough conditions, and it was an awesome docked mission you all had.”

Mr. Lindsey and Colonel Boe were joined aboard Discovery by Benjamin Alvin Drew Jr.; Nicole P. Stott; Michael R. Barratt, a physician-astronaut; and Capt. Stephen G. Bowen of the Navy.

Continue reading the main story
RELATED COVERAGE

Museums Compete for NASA’s Soon-to-be-Retired Space Shuttles MARCH 8, 2011
Shuttle Discovery Makes Final Landing MARCH 9, 2011, 3:01 P.M. E.S.T.
RECENT COMMENTS
FEB March 12, 2011
Not science. Nostalgia.Please provide more real science articles and less paparazzi journalism.

FEB March 12, 2011
Schlock!The truly sad part about his is that we hold this pathetic space program in any regard. Poorly made with a poor safety record and…

Dave Huntsman March 11, 2011
As a proud veteran of 20 years on the space shuttle team, I nevertheless want to correct BIll Harwood when he says “But between Atlantis’s…

As support crews swarmed onto the broad runway, engineers in the nearby Vehicle Assembly Building were busy preparing the shuttle Endeavour for rollout. The target date for Endeavour’s 25th and final flight is April 19.

NASA’s remaining orbiter, the Atlantis, is scheduled for liftoff June 28 on the shuttle program’s 135th flight, the final chapter in a post-Apollo initiative that produced what is arguably the most complex, capable and costly manned rockets ever built.

”We’re seeing a program come to a close here, and to see these shuttles, these beautiful, magnificent flying machines, end their service life is obviously a little bit sad for us,” Dr. Barratt said.

“But it is about time — they’ve lived a very long time, they’ve had a fabulous success record,” he added. “We look forward to seeing them retire with dignity and bringing on the next line of spaceships.”

What sort of spaceship might ultimately replace the shuttle is an open question, and it is not yet clear how NASA will fare in the budget debate.

But between Atlantis’s landing this summer and the debut of whatever vehicle replaces it — several years from now at best — the only way for American astronauts to reach orbit will be to hitch rides aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft at $55 million a seat.

That is a bitter pill for the thousands of men and women who have worked on the shuttle fleet over the past three decades, who now face layoffs and the prospect of seeing Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis — the world’s most sophisticated spacecraft — turned into museum displays.

“We won’t do anything nearly as complex with another vehicle for a very long time,” Mr. Drew said. “Five or 10 years from now, they’re going to look back and say ‘How did we ever build a vehicle that could do all these things?’ ”

Correction: March 9, 2011
An earlier version of this article misstated the military standing of the astronaut Benjamin Alvin Drew Jr. He retired from the Air Force as a colonel; he is not a captain in the Air Force.

9 March 2011

The space shuttle Discovery makes its final landing after 39 flights.

The oldest and most traveled space shuttle, Discovery, landed back on Earth after its final space flight and will now end its days as a museum piece to the delight the crowds.The shuttle cruised onto the runway at Kennedy Space Center at 1657 GMT, wrapping up a rich, 27-year career in spaceflight that has spanned more distance and endured longer than any of the remaining three US shuttles.

Discovery’s arrival back on Earth marks the beginning of the end for the three-decade old US shuttle program, which will formally end after Endeavour and Atlantis take their final spaceflights in the coming months.“Discovery is an amazing spacecraft and she has served her country well,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “The success of this mission and those that came before it is a testament to the diligence and determination of everyone who has worked on Discovery and the Space Shuttle Program, over these many years. As we celebrate the many accomplishments of this magnificent ship, we look forward to an exciting new era of human spaceflight that lies ahead.”

Discovery’s last trip to the International Space Station was initially scheduled to last 11 days but was extended to 13 so that astronauts could work on repairs and install a spare room.