Doctor Who: Inferno, Part 7

Doctor WhoThe 278th episode of Doctor Who airs on BBC1. Most of the regular and recurring cast members double as “fascist alternate universe” versions of themselves; Olaf Pooley and Christopher Benjamin guest star. This is the last appearance of Caroline John as series regular Liz Shaw, despite the character not getting a send-off scene.

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Apollo 18 & 19 cancelled

ApolloAfter the Congressional budget for the fiscal year of 1971 delivers a major blow to the budget for continued space exploration, NASA cancels Apollo 18 and 19, having already taken Apollo 20 off the schedule to use its Saturn V to launch a space station into Earth orbit. Both lunar landing missions are scrapped purely due to budgetary concerns, rather than to repurpose their hardware for other missions. The Saturn V rockets constructed to send these two missions to the moon become very large, expensive museum pieces. Barring any changes to crew rosters or destination, Apollo 18 would have taken Dick Gordon, Vance Brand and Harrison Schmitt to Copernicus crater, while Apollo 19 would have seen astronauts Fred Haise, William Pogue and Gerald Carr exploring the Hadley Rille, which became Apollo 15’s destination.

Luna 16

Luna 16The Soviet Union launches unmanned space probe Luna 16 toward the moon, the first success in the Soviet space program’s ongoing attempt to mount a robotic sample return mission. The lander’s drill-equipped sample collection arm gathers a 35 millimeter, 100-gram core sample of lunar soil, which is then packed into a shielded return capsule for direct return to Earth (seen here after landing). Now claiming that they advocate robotic sample return missions without putting human lives at risk, the Soviets can at last claim a lunar first – the first robotic return to Earth of a soil sample from another body in the solar system.

UFO: Identified

UFOThe first episode of Gerry Anderson’s live-action UFO series premieres on ITV, starring Edward Bishop, George Sewell, and Gabrielle Drake. Wanda Ventham guest stars. The series is also exported to the United States as a syndicated program, but U.S. program directors more familiar with Gerry Anderson’s previous “Supermarionation” series tend to schedule it as a children’s show, unaware of UFO’s more mature themes.

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NOAAThe United States government reorganizes ESSA (the Environment Science Services Administration) into NOAA or the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, an agency responsible for weather prediction and research and for functions involving oceanic conditions, coastal fisheries, and then-current investigations of a potential Alaskan oil pipeline.

Zond 8

Zond 8The Soviet Union launches Zond 8, the final Zond flight and the final flight of the Soyuz 7K-L1 capsule which was intended to be the command & service module of the Soviet manned lunar effort. Again, the vehicle orbits the moon and returns to Earth unmanned after a week in space. For only the second time, the 7K-L1 vehicle performs every phase of the flight flawlessly – though the Soviet Union, trying to downplay the space race, now retroactively denies that it was ever interested in sending men to the moon.

Luna 17 and Lunokhod 1

Luna 17The Soviet Union launches unmanned space probe Luna 17 toward the moon, carrying with it the first automated moon rover, Lunokhod 1. Solar-powered and deployed to the surface via a pair of ramps, the wheeled rover operates for eleven months, more than double the expected operational life span. Unlike Luna 16, Luna 17 and Lunokhod perform their studies of the lunar surface without returning any soil samples to Earth.


NOAA / ESSA satellite seriesNASA and the newly-rechristened National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (formerly ESSA) launch NOAA-1, a weather satellite intended to operate in a near-polar low Earth orbit. Equipped with four cameras, NOAA-1 will operate in orbit for nearly a year before it begins suffering equipment malfunctions. Overheating in the spacecraft’s attitude control system forces ground controllers to turn off some of its weather sensing equipment, and NOAA-1 will eventually be shut down in August 1971.