Star Trek renewed again

NBCFor the second year running, NBC makes an announcement over the closing credits of Star Trek, reassuring viewers that NBC has picked up the show for a third season. Where the second season’s renewal was brought about by a substantial fan letter-writing campaign (with guidance from Gene Roddenberry), the third season pickup comes after fans stage protest marches outside NBC’s headquarters in Burbank and New York, having gotten word (from Star Trek fan Bjo Trimble, by way of Roddenberry) that the series is likely to be cancelled. The renewal is a double-edged sword, however: in the fall, NBC will move the series to Friday nights, a time slot where it’s virtually guaranteed to be cancelled at the end of its third season.

Zond 4

Zond 4The Soviet Union launches an unmanned test flight of the Soyuz 7K-L1 command/service module, a spacecraft intended to orbit the moon with cosmonauts aboard. This unmanned flight, however, is designated Zond 4, and on its way back into Earth’s atmosphere it loses attitude control. With no precision guidance to ensure that Zond 4 will land on Soviet soil, Russian space authorities command the vehicle to self-destruct in mid-air to prevent their space technology from falling into another country’s hands. (The image accompanying this historical entry is computer-generated, and not a real photo.)

Lost In Space: Junkyard In Space

Lost In SpaceThe 83rd episode of Irwin Allen’s science fiction series Lost In Space premieres on CBS, starring Guy Williams, June Lockhart, and Jonathan Harris. Marcel Hillaire guest stars in the final episode of the series. Lost In Space will be revived in movie form three decades later, and the series will be reimagined for the 21st century by Netflix.

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The Invaders: The Life Seekers and The Pursued

The InvadersThe 41st and 42nd episodes of Larry Cohen’s science fiction series The Invaders, starring Roy Thinnes and produced by Quinn Martin’s QM Productions, is broadcast on ABC. Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Barry Morse (Space: 1999), Suzanne Pleshette (The Bob Newhart Show), Dana Elcar (MacGyver), and Barry Williams (The Brady Bunch) guest star.

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Yuri Gagarin, first man in space, dies

Yuri Gagarin aboard Vostok 1Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human space traveler, dies along with a flight instructor in a MiG jet fighter crash. Considered too valuable a publicity asset to risk in another spaceflight, Gagarin had been barred from any further space missions. Several investigations into the fatal crash are conducted, with none of them reaching any definitive conclusions, though unfavorable flying weather and a sudden dive (possibly also a result of the weather) are commonly cited factors. Gagarin’s ashes are buried in the wall of the Kremlin.

Star Trek: Assignment: Earth

Star TrekThe 55th episode of Gene Roddenberry’s science fiction series Star Trek premieres on NBC, guest starring Robert Lansing and Teri Garr. An oddball episode concerning itself heavily with its time-traveling guest star, Assignment: Earth is actually a sneaky “pilot” for a potential Star Trek spinoff – and Gene Roddenberry’s hedge against unemployment, as he has every reason to believe, at the end of Star Trek’s second season, that his series is about to be cancelled.

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2001: a space odyssey

HAL 9000The product of a four-year collaboration between visionary SF writer Arthur C. Clarke and director Stanley Kubrick, MGM’s 2001: a space odyssey premieres, delighting fans of hard SF and bewildering audiences and critics. It is released alongside Clarke’s novel of the same story, which both clarifies some of the more inscrutible story points (such as the reason for the behavior of HAL, the ship’s computer) and confuses others (the book depicts a mission to Saturn; the movie depicts a mission to Jupiter). Many critics and science fiction writers regard the movie as an instant classic of the genre, one which continues to be hugely influential in the years and decades to come.

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Luna 14

Luna 14The Soviet Union launches unmanned space probe Luna 14 toward the moon, where it takes up a lunar orbit and returns scientific data on cosmic rays and gravitational variances. This is the last orbital mission of the Luna series; future Luna vehicles will be landers or landers with rovers, some with sample return capability.

Doctor Who: The Wheel In Space, Pt. 6

Doctor WhoThe 209th episode of Doctor Who airs on the BBC. This story sees the return of the Cybermen and the introduction of Wendy Padbury as the Doctor’s new companion, Zoe. This episode concludes the series’ fifth season, but it leads directly into an unusual “in-universe” rerun of The Evil The Daleks for the following severn weeks. This is one of two episodes remaining intact from this story.

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ESSAThe recently-rechristened Environmental Sciences Service Administration launches, with the help of NASA, ESSA-7, the latest in a constellation of weather satellites operated by the former U.S. Weather Bureau. Like many of the other ESSA satellites, technical problems plague ESSA-7, and its camera system fails within a year. Engineering tests are carried out with ESSA-7 after it goes blind until the satellite is shut down early in 1970.