Soyuz 17

SalyutSoyuz 17 is launched by the Soviet Union, carring cosmonauts Alexei Gubarev and Georgi Grechko to the Salyut 4 space station. The two men move into the station for a month-long stay, breaking the previous Soviet space record, and proceed to conduct several science experiments. Discovering that the mirror of Salyut 4’s on-board telescope is warped, the crew resurfaces it in orbit and repairs the telescope. When Soyuz 17 returns to Earth, the crew is in for one of the bumpiest landings of the Soviet space program to date, landing in a blizzard with 45mph winds at ground level. Despite this, the vehicle lands safely and the crew is not injured.

From Weather Radio to Disaster Radio

Weather RadioAfter years of studies into the feasibility of constructing a nationwide disaster alert system, NOAA Weather Radio is officially designated the “sole government operated radio system” for both weather-related disasters and other major emergency announcements (nuclear attacks are specifically mentioned in the declaration from President Ford). This shift in policy toward using the National Weather Service’s radio infrastructure for all potential disaster situations is at least partially inspired by the April 1974 tornado “Super Outbreak” in the midwest. For the first time, Congress approves a budget earmarked specifically for weather radio, topping $3,000,000 for expansion in 1976.

Salyut 3: first weapon fired in space

Salyut 3One day before deorbiting the vacant space station for reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, Soviet military space officials fire the anti-aircraft cannon mounted on the exterior of space station Salyut 3 – the first test of spacecraft-to-spacecraft weapons in history (though there is no target on which to test the ammunition rounds). Without a steerable mount, in practice, the entire Salyut 3 station would need to have been pointed at the gun’s target. The station is destroyed by friction upon atmospheric reentry a day later.

Shuttle schedule slippage

Space ShuttleWith the final Apollo spacecraft’s flight mere months away, an internal NASA document examining the progress of the Space Shuttle program, approved in 1972 by President Nixon, spells out what seems like a worst-case scenario: thanks to the difficulties of creating whole new orders of technology to create a reusable space vehicle (on a budget which each successive Congress keeps slashing), the shuttle won’t be lifting off until 1979 at the earliest, leaving a potential four-year gap in American crewed spaceflight when NASA was anticipating (and publicizing) a gap of no more than two years. (In actuality, the time between crewed American space missions will be even longer than that.)

The Changes: The Cavern

The ChangesThe tenth and final episode of The Changes airs on BBC1, adapting the novels of Peter Dickinson into a ten-part television serial starring Vicky Williams and Keith Ashton. Oscar Quitak (Brazil) guest stars. The series was filmed in 1973, but has been held for broadcast until 1975; an entire generation of young viewers will go on to consider the short series a seminal event in UK genre TV.

More about The Changes in the LogBook

Games with cartridges

Alpex Corporation, an American computer company, files “the ‘555 Patent” for a “television display control apparatus” capable of loading software from ROM chips embedded in swappable cartridges and other media. This patent effectively shifts the infant video game industry from a hardware-based model to a software-based model, and is licensed by Fairchild Semiconductor for the first cartridge-based video game, the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (later known as Channel F), a year later; the resulting sea change forces a sudden reassessment in the R&D departments at Atari and Magnavox, among others. Due to the remarkably broad nature of patent #4026555, Alpex will be able to take nearly every video game manufacturer to court to force them to license the technology from Alpex through the early ’90s. The first major challenge to Alpex’s patent will come from Nintendo in 1986, a case that will eventually make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997 – by which time Alpex will go bankrupt pursuing the case.

Mariner 10: one last visit to Mercury

Mariner 10The NASA/JPL probe to the inner planets, Mariner 10, makes its last flyby of Mercury, zipping over the planet’s north pole at an altitude of just over 200 miles, and taking the last close-up pictures of Mercury until the Messenger space probe in 2008. Just over a week after its final Mercury encounter, Mariner 10 runs out of fuel and is instructed to shut down. The next Mariner probes, Mariners 11 and 12, are slated to venture toward the outer solar system, and eventually undergo a name change, becoming Voyagers 1 and 2 – making Mariner 10 the last of the Mariner space probes.

Strange New World

Strange New WorldABC premieres the made-for-TV movie Strange New World, starring John Saxon, Keene Curtis, and Catherine Bach. Created by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry (but heavily rewritten by writers hired by Warner Bros.), Strange New World is the third attempt to build a series pilot around the story of an astronaut frozen in suspended animation and reawakened only after the fall of human civilization. Again, there is no series pickup, though the concept will eventually form the basis of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, a syndicated series produced in the early 2000s after Roddenberry’s death.

More about Gene Roddenberry’s 1970s pilot projects in the LogBook