Soyuz 21

Soyuz 21The Soviet Union launches cosmonauts Boris Volynov and Vitaly Zholobov aboard Soyuz 21, the first mission to the newly-orbited Salyut 5 military space station. Though a few scientific experiments are conducted, most of the crew’s activities involve military surveillance of Earth. The crew’s stay is intended to last as long as two months, though an emergency aboard the station will cut that stay short.

Pluto 350

Pluto 350Encouraged by the public interest in Voyager 2’s recent visit to Neptune, scientist Robert Farquhar and graduate student Alan Stern pitch a concept for a compact mission, using hardware derived from the Voyager program, to the planet Pluto. Named Pluto 350, for the 350-kilogram upper weight limit decided on as a feasible and affordable launch weight, their proposed mission would launch in November 2001, have a close encounter with asteroid 1442 Corvina in 2002, then a return to Earth to catch a gravity assist in 2005, with a further gravity assist at Jupiter boosting Pluto 350 to its final target in 2015. In addition to pitching this plan to NASA, Farquhar and Stern appeal to the public by publishing a detailed six-page mission plan in the pages of the Planetary Society’s newsletter. However, a tendency toward larger spacecraft – such as the Mariner Mark II architecture envisioned for the upcoming Cassini and CRAF missions – means that Pluto 350 is not given serious consideration by NASA.

Moving Buran

BuranOne of the last remaining prototypes of the Soviet-era Buran space shuttle is transported over land (and in pieces) from Gorky Park to an exhibition center in the center of Moscow to become part of an exhibit of Russian technological accomplishments. The unfinished Buran spaceframe had served numerous uses during its 30+ stay in Gorky Park, ranging from an impressive display piece to a diner (!).

Ennio Morricone, composer, dies

Ennio MorriconeLegendary Italian film composer Ennio Morricone dies at the age of 91. With over 500 film and TV credits to his name, he was one of the most prolific composers by either Hollywood or European standards, and his early partnership with director and college classmate Sergio Leone led to his first international success, the score from the 1966 spaghetti western The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. That brought Morricone to Hollywood’s attention, and he went on to score such films as Once Upon A Time In The West, Two Mules For Sister Sara, Guns For San Sebastian, Duck You Sucker, Exorcist II, La Cage aux Folles, Orca, The Thing, Once Upon A Time In America, Red Sonja, The Untouchables, Bugsy, In The Line Of Fire, Mission To Mars, The Hateful Eight, and many others.