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What Happened in 2003 Significant Events, Popular Culture, Prices

Human Genome Project

The Human Genome Project is completed during April. Scientists from around the world successfully finished sequencing about 99% of the human genome. They identified over 20,000 individual genes and base pairs that create the basic DNA composition of humans. The project began in 1990 and it was a collaborative global effort led by the National Institutes of Health. Following its completion, scientists hoped that the research would help in understanding how to predict and cure certain diseases in the future.

United States - Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster

The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster takes place on February 1st. NASA’s STS-107 mission carried seven crew members (Rick Husband, William McCool, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson, Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon) into space where they conducted scientific experiments for 16 days. The Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry, tragically killing all on board. The disaster was likely caused by damage taken to the left wing during the launch when a piece of foam hit the wing. Following the catastrophe, NASA’s space shuttle program was suspended for 2 years while they investigated the disaster and tried improve the program.

United Kingdom -- Ronaldo's Manchester United Debut

The Portuguese soccer sensation Cristiano Ronaldo made his Premier League debut for Manchester United during August at the age of 18. Ronaldo played with Manchester United until 2009 when he left the Premier League to join La Liga as a forward for Real Madrid and was paid a record-breaking 94 million Euros. Considered by many to be one of the best soccer players of all time, he has won over 20 trophies and he holds dozens of records including having scored the most goals in all UEFA competitions and becoming the first player to score 100 goals in the UEFA Champions League.

World - Final Concorde Flight

The final Concorde flight took place during November. The Concorde was a supersonic, high-end passenger jet that flew at twice the speed of sound. The first Concorde flight took place in 1969 and regular flights began in 1976. Round-trip tickets cost thousands of dollars and the service was mainly used by wealthy patrons. After a tragic Concorde crash in 2000 and the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, demand for the service decreased and they shuttered the service due to low passenger numbers.

Space - Oldest Exoplanet Found

1. NASA confirms the discovery of one of the oldest known exoplanets, PSR B1620-26 b.

2. The planet, nicknamed “Methuselah,” was thought to be about 12.7 billion years old and is about 12,400 light years from Earth.

3. It was initially found in 1993 but its status was not officially confirmed until 10 years later with the help of the Hubble telescope.

4. Astronomers noted that it was the first planet to be confirmed with a circumbinary orbit (orbiting a pulsar and a white dwarf star) and the first in a globular cluster.

5. They also determined that the exoplanet has a mass of about 2.6 times that of Jupiter and it takes about 100 years to complete its orbit.

ESA Launches SMART-1

The European Space Agency (ESA) launches the SMART-1 (Small Missions Advanced Research in Technology-1) spacecraft during September . The unmanned satellite was launched from a site in Kourou, French Guiana. This was the ESA’s first mission to the Moon and the space probe orbited the Moon for about three years. It conducted several experiments that measured chemical elements and minerals visible on the lunar surface and solar activity. It was purposefully crashed into the Moon’s surface after 2,890 orbits.

China -- Shenzhou 5

China launched Shenzhou 5, its first manned space mission during October of 2003. The Shenzhou 5 mission carried China’s first astronaut Yang Liwei, who had been a pilot. The flight lasted just over 21 hours and landed successfully in inner Mongolia. Accomplishing this feat made China the third nation, after the Soviet Union (Russia) and the United States, to launch its own manned space flight.

Department of Homeland Security

The new United States Department of Homeland Security officially begins operation

U.S. invasion of Iraq plan

United States plans for an invasion of Iraq due to an imminent threat from weapons of mass destruction

shock and awe campaign

The United States and the United Kingdom start with their shock and awe campaign with a massive air strikes on military targets in Baghdad before the invasion of Iraq by Land Forces.

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein, former President of Iraq, is captured in Tikrit by the U.S. 4th Infantry Division.

U.S. 393 tornadoes

A major severe weather outbreak spawned more tornadoes than any week in U.S. history. 393 tornadoes were reported in 19 states

Algeria Earthquake

Earthquake in Boumerdès region of northern Algeria - 2,200 killed

France Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong wins his fifth Tour De France

Do Not Call List

Do Not Call List starts providing consumers on June 27th with an opportunity to limit telemarketing calls.

Sky marshals

Armed undercover "sky marshals" are used on Aircraft to prevent terrorist attacks following 9/11

Freedom Fries

Americans rename "French Fries" to "Freedom Fries" in protest to France's stand on Iraq


Toyota overtakes Chrysler to get the number three slot in US Car Sales

John Muhammad

Ex-soldier John Muhammad is found guilty of the Washington sniper shootings

Cost of Living 2003

How Much things cost in 2003

Average Cost of new house $246,300.00

Average Median Income $45,016.00

Cost of a gallon of Gas $1.83

Popular Culture 2003

The ABC's 20/20 airs the controversial Granada Television documentary Living with Michael Jackson

Keiko the Orca made famous by the "Free Willy" movies, dies

The Recording Industry Association of America (or RIAA) files copyright lawsuits against Internet users for trading songs online

Apple launches Itunes which becomes a major success selling 10 million songs within 4 months of launch

A white tiger attacks Roy Horn of the duo "Siegfried & Roy" leaving him partially paralyzed

Michael Jackson is booked on suspicion of multiple counts of child molestation ( later acquitted )

JK Rowling's fifth Harry Potter book "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" is released

Popular Films

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Finding Nemo

The Matrix Reloaded

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Bruce Almighty

The Last Samurai

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

The Matrix Revolutions

X2: X-Men United

Bad Boys II

Lost in Translation

Popular Musicians

Amanda Perez

Elton John


Christina Aguilera


David Gray

Limp Bizkit



Sheryl Crow

Hilary Duff

Norah Jones



Shania Twain


Avril Lavigne

50 Cent

Clay Aiken

Kylie Minogue


Kelly Clarkson



Justin Timberlake

Fleetwood Mac



P. Diddy

100 years of Harley-Davidson

10's of thousands of Harley Owners gather in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to celebrate 100 years of Harley-Davidson Motor Cycles.

Volkswagen Beetle

The last old-style Volkswagen Beetle rolls off its production line in Puebla, Puebla, Mexico

Italy countrywide blackout

Italy suffers a near countrywide blackout when electricity supplies fail

UK highest temperature ever recorded

The highest temperature ever recorded in the UK - 38.5°C (101.3°F) at Brogdale near Faversham in Kent

Iraq car bomb attack

A car bomb attack in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq has left nearly 100 dead including a leading Shia Muslim politician Ayatollah Hakim.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Voters recall Governor Gray Davis from office and elect Arnold Schwarzenegger to succeed him.

India car bombs

Two large car bombs are exploded in busy area's of Bombay killing 50 and injuring nearly 150.

Iraq Abu Abbas

The wanted terrorist Abu Abbas is captured in Baghdad

Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch

Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch is amongst those captured US Troops free her 9 days later

Iran earthquake

A massive earthquake devastates southeastern Iran. Over 40,000 killed

France heat wave

In France a 104 degree heat wave kills approximately 5,000

Sudan Dafur Rebels

Dafur Rebels begin attacking Sudanese government targets, bringing a swift military and police campaign to Darfur causing millions to flee their homes.

President George W. Bush

President George W. Bush on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln announces major combat in Iraq is over on May 1

US Interest Rates

US Interest Rates at 45 year record low of 1% and core inflation rate of 37 year record low 1.3%

Justice Roy Moore

Justice Roy Moore, is suspended when he refused to take down the Ten Commandments from an Alabama state justice building.

Hurricane Isabel

Hurricane Isabel claims 40 lives and leaves six million people without power

Kyoto Protocol

Kyoto Protocol in danger of failing following International Climate Conference in Moscow

Iraq Terrorists bomb

Terrorists bomb the United Nations Baghdad Headquarters

Turkey Terrorists

Terrorists from Al-Qaeda drive two trucks packed with explosives and bombs into the Bet Israel and Neve Shalom synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey killing 27

Turkey Suicide bomb attacks

Suicide bomb attacks on British interests in the Turkish city of Istanbul kill 27 and injure 400

2003 Calendar

Technology 2003

The Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates over Texas upon reentry, killing all seven astronauts onboard.

The highly infectious disease SARS ( Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome ) spreads from China, Singapore and Vietnam, Worldwide nearly 9,000 People are effected in 15 countries and over 800 die from the effects.

Human Genome Project successfully completed with 99% of the human genome sequenced to 99.99% accuracy.

Secretary of State Colin Powell urges the U.N. Security Council to move against Iraq due to possession of weapons of mass destruction

In the biggest blackout in the history of the north America some 50 million people in the northeastern states of US and southern Canada lose power.

The birth of Prometea, the first cloned horse by Italian scientists.

The space probe Galileo makes a fiery dive into Jupitors atmosphere it was launched in 1989 and is one of the most successful NASA Projects.

Concorde makes its last commercial flight, bringing the era of airliner supersonic travel to a close, at least for the time being

Arnold Schwarzenegger is elected Governor of California

Libya agrees to give Up Chemical Weapons

Saddam Hussein is captured by U.S. forces

Concerns continue to grow over possible Asian bird flu outbreak also known as avian influenza.

Major World Political Leaders 2003

Australia Prime Minister John Howard

Brazil President Fernando Henrique Cardoso Till 1 January

Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva From 1 January

Canada Prime Minister Jean Chrétien till December 12,

Canada Prime Minister Paul Martin from December 12,

China Chairman of the People's Republic of China Jiang Zemin Till March 23

China Chairman of the People's Republic of China Hu Jintao From This Day In History March 23rd

France President Jacques Chirac

Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schröder

India Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Italy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

Mexico President Vicente Fox

Russia / Soviet Union General Secretary of the CPSU Vladimir Putin

South Africa State President Thabo Mbeki

United States President George W. Bush

United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair