The first episode of Irwin Allen’s science fiction series The Time Tunnel premieres on ABC, starring James Darren and Robert Colbert as two members of a top secret government time travel project who travel back in time to the sinking of the Titanic. Michael Rennie guest stars.
ITV airs the seventh episode of Ace Of Wands, starring Michael McKenzie, Tony Selby and Judy Loe. Vernon Dobtcheff guest stars. This episode, like the rest of the series’ first two seasons, is now missing from the archives.
The first episode of the BBC’s short-lived science fiction series Moonbase 3, Departure And Arrival, premieres. Written by series creators Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks, and produced during their downtime as producer and script editor of Doctor Who, Moonbase 3 is an attempt to do “serious” SF without fanciful elements such as aliens.
NASA launches the Viking 2 lander and orbiter, designed and operated by Jet Propulsion Laboratory, aboard a Titan IIIE rocket bound for Mars. The combined Viking 2 spacecraft will take nearly a year to reach Mars, achieving orbit in August 1976 and surveying the surface for suitable landing sites before the northern plain named Utopia Planitia is selected for a September 1976 landing attempt.
In a meeting with BBC Head of Series & Serials Ronnie Marsh, Dalek and Survivors creator Terry Nation – who has already found himself at odds with the producer of Survivors – pitches a new series idea. Described as “The Dirty Dozen in space,” Nation’s series idea envisions a slightly disharmonious group of rebels taking up arms against a totalitarian, almost Orwellian future government. The concept, which Nation names Blake’s 7 at the meeting, will take a few years to make it to the screen.
The first Space Shuttle external tank, given the designation MPTA-ET (main propulsion test article external tank), is completed at NASA’a Michoud assembly plant in New Orleans. Though constructed to flight specifications (as they stand in 1977), MPTA-ET is not intended for orbital flight, but is instead erected on a test firing stand at a NASA facility in Mississippi for tests of the three-engine shuttle propulsion system, tests which do not produce a satisfactory result until July 1980. Its job completed, MPTA-ET is later put on display at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
CBS airs the first episode of the Space Academy spinoff series Jason Of Star Command, starring Craig Littler, Sid Haig, and James Doohan (Star Trek). Though intended by Filmation to follow up on the previous year’s Space Academy series, there is very little crossover other than reuse of sets, props, and special effects shots. Jason shares a Saturday morning time slot with the animated show Tarzan And The Super 7, and emulates the feel of classic adventure movie serials.
NOAA’s GOES-4 Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite is launched from Cape Canaveral into a geosynchronous orbit over 98 degrees west longitude on Earth, a position which will change several times over GOES-4’s career until 1988, allowing it to monitor weather over the continental United States and Europe. In 1988, GOES-4 will become the first satellite to be boosted into a “graveyard” parking orbit using its remaining propellant, leaving it intact in a higher-than-geostationary orbit to avoid collisions with operational satellites.
Taito America releases the arcade game Change Lanes, designed by Dave Needle, in American arcades. The game is an early mash-up of first-person racing and combat genres, putting players in the driver’s seat of a multi-terrain car that must ram through enemies and avoid missiles launched by aircraft to survive long enough to refuel.
The Schnell Fenster album The Sound Of Trees is released in America by Atlantic Records (having already been issued by EMI in Australia and New Zealand). The band is formed around former members of Split Enz, including founding guitarist Phil Judd, percussionist Noel Crombie, ’80s bassist Nigel Griggs, and guitarist Michael den Elzen (the only member of the group not to have played for Split Enz, though he has been a session player on a Tim Finn solo album). The single “Whisper” fails to take off in the States and the band breaks up after running up significant debts trying to promote the album.
NASA launches Space Shuttle Discovery on the 64th flight of the shuttle program. The cargo bay carries an experiment to test LIDAR applications from orbit, and is the site of a six-hour spacewalk to test an alternative to the retired MMU “jet pack” for EVA rescue purposes. Aboard Discovery for her 19th mission are Commander Richard Richards, Pilot Blaine Hammond, and mission specialists Jerry Linenger, Susan Helms, Carl Meade and Mark Lee.
As Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin leaves a speaking engagement in Beverly Hills, a self-proclaimed skeptic accosts him, demanding that the astronaut swear on the Bible that he actually went to the moon. With a Japanese news crew’s cameras rolling, Aldrin proceeds to punch the man in the face. The heckler and self-proclaimed “ambush journalist” tries to file assault charges, though police decide in Aldrin’s favor – especially since this is the third time the man has ambushed Aldrin with his theory that all of the Apollo flights to the moon were hoaxes.
Sci-Fi channel airs the 21st episode of Ronald D. Moore’s re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica. Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess) guest stars.
Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off for its first spaceflight, and the first normal International Space Station construction mission, in four years. A new truss section with more 240-foot solar power panels is added to the station over the course of three spacewalks, each lasting at least six hours. Aboard Atlantis for this flight are Commander Brent Jett, Pilot Christopher Ferguson, and mission specialists Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Joe Tanner, Daniel Burbank, and Steven MacLean.
American pay cable channel Starz premieres the 41st episode of Russell T. Davies’ science fiction series Torchwood, bringing the Miracle Day season to a close. Bill Pullman (Independence Day), John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG) and Frances Fisher (Eureka, Titanic, Strange Luck) guest star.