Zond 5

Zond 5The Soviet Union launches Zond 5, a Soyuz 7K-L1 command & service module intended for flight around the moon. Rather than a cosmonaut crew, however, Zond 5 has biological specimens on board, including insects, plants, bacteria, and a pair of turtles – the first living creatures from Earth to orbit the moon. The specimens are all returned safely, though Zond 5 is the second consecutive Zond flight to lose attitude control after re-entry, splashing down in the Indian Ocean rather than making the customary propulsive return to Soviet soil. American intelligence agencies are aware of the mostly successful flight, and NASA alters the Apollo manned flight schedule to attempt to put men in orbit of the moon by the end of 1968.

Apollo 7

Apollo 7After a year of redesign and reorganization, NASA resumes manned flights with Apollo 7, the first of the successful Apollo flights. An 11-day Earth-orbit shakedown cruise for the Apollo command/service module, the mission becomes contentious when the three-man crew – Wally Schirra, Walt Cunningham and Donn Eisele – is loaded down with a jam-packed mission plan. Worse, Schirra comes down with a cold which quickly spreads to his crewmates in the enclosed biosphere of the Apollo command module. The flight’s technical goals are met with flying colors, though the crew’s snippy responses to ground controllers keep them off the crew rotation for future Apollo flights.

This mission is dramatized in the We Have Cleared The Tower episode of HBO’s 1998 series From The Earth To The Moon.

Soyuz 3

Soyuz 3The Soviet Union resumes its manned space program with the launch of cosmonaut Georgy Beregovoy aboard the redesigned Soyuz 3 vehicle. The unmanned Soyuz 2 is launched the day before to serve as a docking target for Soyuz 3, but while the two vehicles pass close to each other, no docking is achieved. Beregovoy successfully returns to Earth – the first Soyuz cosmonaut to do so – after four days in orbit.

Doctor Who: The Invasion, Part 1

Doctor WhoThe 220th episode of Doctor Who airs on the BBC. Kevin Stoney guest stars as Tobias Vaughn, and Nicholas Courtney returns as the freshly-promoted Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, head of the newly created UNIT. This is the last Cybermen story until 1975.

This episode is missing from the BBC’s archives, but has been replaced on DVD with an animated reconstruction.

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Arecibo and the Crab Nebula Pulsar

AreciboCornell University student Richard Lovelace, working at the Cornell-funded Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico, uses the massive telescope and its on-site computers to determine the rotational period of a pulsar discovered near the center of the Crab Nebula, approximately 6,500 light years from Earth. The position of the pulsar relative to the nebula strengthens the case for pulsars and (still hypothetical) neutron stars occurring at the heart of supernova remnants. The Crab Nebula pulsar had been discovered only three years earlier.

Zond 6

Zond 6The Soviet Union launches an unmanned Soyuz 7K-L1 spacecraft, designated Zond 6, on a seven-day flight around the moon and back to Earth. Like Zond 5 before it, Zond 6 carries specimens of Earth animals and plants, but a rupture of the Soyuz pressure vessel results in these specimens being exposed to hard vacuum, resulting in instant death. Furthermore, the spacecraft opens and jettisons its parachutes too early, leaving it to slam into the ground at high speed. With continued glitches plaguing the Zond flights, Soviet mission planners aren’t confident enough in the 7K-L1 capsule to put cosmonauts in it for the next flight.

Doctor Who: The Invasion, Part 4

Doctor WhoThe 223rd episode of Doctor Who airs on the BBC. Kevin Stoney guest stars as Tobias Vaughn, and Nicholas Courtney returns as the freshly-promoted Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, head of the newly created UNIT. This is the last Cybermen story until 1975.

This episode aired on the fifth anniversary of Doctor Who’s first broadcast.

More about Doctor Who in the LogBook
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Doctor Who: The Invasion, Part 5

Doctor WhoThe 224th episode of Doctor Who airs on the BBC. Kevin Stoney guest stars as Tobias Vaughn, and Nicholas Courtney returns as the freshly-promoted Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, head of the newly created UNIT. This is the last Cybermen story until 1975.

This episode is missing from the BBC’s archives, but is later replaced on DVD by an animated reconstruction.

More about Doctor Who in the LogBook
Order VWORP!1 from theLogBook.com Store

Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 2: The Stargazer

OAO-1NASA launches the second Orbiting Astronomical Observatory satellite, given the nickname “Stargazer” after it successfully enters service. OAO-2 will remain in service for over four years, making significant contributions to the scientific understanding of comets and supernovae. Two separate experiments, including one designed and overseen by Dr. Fred Whipple, observe the sky in ultraviolet light from Earth orbit.

The Brown Box

Brown BoxAt Sanders Associates, Ralph Baer completes the sixth iteration of his recently-patented Television Gaming & Training Apparatus, now covered in brown woodgrain and called “The Brown Box.” Utilizing logic circuits and spot generators rather than a computer chip, the Brown Box is capable of playing video ping pong and other simple games. This is the prototype of the first mass-marketed home video game system. Sanders begins courting prospective licensees, including RCA, Zenith, General Electric, Motorola and Magnavox; companies already manufacturing television sets will be the corporate entites most likely to show an interest. RCA declines, but one of its executives, having seen the Brown Box demonstrated, later defects to Magnavox, which eventually licenses the Brown Box technology from Sanders. The result will be the Magnavox Odyssey, the first-ever home video game console.

The Mother of All Demos

The Mother of All DemosAt the Fall Joint Computer Conference held at the San Francisco Convention Center, computer visionary Douglas Englebart demonstrates a collaborative computer system loaded down with groundbreaking technologies: the first computer mouse, driving a point-and-click object-oriented graphical user interface, bitmapped graphics, hypertext, real-time video conferencing, and a live networked collaborative space. Decades later, computer historians give this event – billed in the conference program as “a research center for augmenting human intellect” – a new name: the mother of all demos.

Apollo 8

Apollo 8Moved ahead in the schedule due to ongoing difficulties with the construction of the lunar module, Apollo 8 lifts off from Cape Canaveral on a mission that represents NASA’s biggest gamble yet in the race for the moon: on only the second manned Apollo flight, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders will go to the moon, orbit it in their command/service module, and return to Earth (the lunar module is still in the late stages of development). Mission planners plot out a free return trajectory – ensuring that without engines, Apollo 8 could loop around behind the moon and swing back toward home.

This mission is dramatized in the 1968 episode of HBO’s 1998 series From The Earth To The Moon.

Live From The Moon

Apollo 8Broadcasting live black & white television pictures from lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, the crew of Apollo 8 delivers one of the most-watched broadcasts of 1968. As the surface of the moon rolls silently outside the windows of their command/service module, the astronauts take turns reading the first chapter of Genesis, dedicating it to “all of you on the good Earth.” After ten orbits of the moon, Apollo 8 fires its engine, putting it on a return trajectory to Earth; it splashes down safely three days later.

This mission is dramatized in the 1968 episode of HBO’s 1998 series From The Earth To The Moon.