Magellan: mapping Venus in stereo

VenusThe third phase of data gathering begins for NASA’s Magellan unmanned space probe, launched via space shuttle in 1989 and currently orbiting the heavily-clouded planet Venus. Using radar to peer through the planet’s dense clouds, Magellan has now mapped 96% of the planet’s surface, and will now spend much of the remainder of 1992 filling in details in regions it has missed, as well as re-scanning some regions of Venus stereoscopically, allowing for three-dimensional terrain reconstruction.

Star Trek: TNG spinoff announced

Deep Space NineParamount formally announces plans to launch another Star Trek spinoff, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in 1993, with filming to begin later in 1992. With casting yet to be finalized and the series concept still in flux, the public’s first glimpse is a year away; many trade publications still list Michelle Forbes’ TNG character, Ensign Ro, as one of DS9’s main characters. The series will be the first Star Trek entity not created by the late Gene Roddenberry; instead, TNG showrunners Rick Berman and Michael Piller have created the show’s concept, which is said to be “darker and grittier.”

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Missing Cybermen Tomb unearthed

Doctor WhoIn what is hailed as the biggest missing episode find in the history of fans’ attempts to recover lost segments of Doctor Who, the complete four-part story The Tomb Of The Cybermen, completely missing from the BBC’s archives, is located in near-pristine condition in the archives of a Hong Kong broadcaster. Since the tapes’ audio is the original English soundtrack and the video requires little significant clean-up or restoration, the BBC’s home video department fast-tracks Tomb for a VHS release in May 1992. As of this find, only 110 half-hour episodes of black & white Doctor Who remain missing.

STS-42

Space ShuttleSpace Shuttle Discovery lifts off for an eight day Spacelab mission, with an multi-national crew participating in “IML-1” (International Microgravity Laboratory) experiments. Discovery’s crew for this flight consists of Commander Ronald Grabe, Pilot Stephen Oswald, mission specialists Norman Thagard, David Hilmers, and William Readdy, and payload specialists Roberta Bondar and Ulf Merbold.

Soyuz TM-14: Russia in space

Soyuz TM-14Soyuz TM-14 lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the first space mission from post-Soviet Russia. It carries cosmonauts Alexander Viktorenko, Alexander Kaleri, and Klaus-Dietrich Flade to space station Mir. Viktorenko and Kaleri remain aboard Mir for 145 days, while Flade returns to Earth with the previous station crew aboard Soyuz TM-13. When TM-14 returns to Earth in August 1992, Viktorenko and Kaleri suffer an unusual landing, with their descent module rolling to an upside-down position, trapping the cosmonauts inside until rescue crews arrive.

STS-45

STS-45NASA launches Space Shuttle Atlantis on the 46th shuttle mission, carrying the Spacelab-based ATLAS (Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science) experiment module. Aboard Atlantis for the nearly-nine-day flight are Commander Charles Bolden, Pilot Brian Duffy, Payload Commander Kathyrn Sullivan, mission specialists David Leestma and Michael Foale, and payload specialists Byron Lichtenberg and Dirk Frimout. NASA extends the mission by one day to accomodate additional experiments.

Young Indiana Jones Chronicles: Congo, January 1917

Young Indiana Jones ChroniclesThe sixth episode of George Lucas’ historical adventure series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles airs on ABC, starring Sean Patrick Flanery. Bryan Pringle (Brazil) and Friedrich von Thun (Schindler’s List) guest stars in the finale of the abbreviated first season. Already a hit with critics, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles won’t be seen again until September, at which point it will be a heavily-promoted part of ABC’s fall season.

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STS-49: Endeavour’s first flight

STS-49Space Shuttle Endeavour leaves Earth for the first time, carrying a crew of seven to orbit on the 47th shuttle mission. Over nearly nine days, three spacewalks are taken up with the tricky and dangerous task of capturing a four-and-a-half-ton communications satellite into Endeavour’s cargo bay to repair and relaunch it. (The satellite, Intelsat VI, had been stranded in the wrong orbit since its 1990 launch aboard a Titan rocket.) The record-setting spacewalks involved – each lasting over seven hours and marking the first time three astronauts have operated outside their vehicle – force NASA to cancel one of two experimental EVAs to test space station construction techniques. Endeavour’s first crew consists of Commander Daniel Brandenstein, pilot Kevin Chilton, and mission specialists Pierre Thuot, Kathryn Thornton, Richard Hieb, Thomas Akers and Bruce Melnick.

Star Wars: Dark Force Rising

Dark Force RisingTimothy Zahn’s novel “Star Wars: Dark Force Rising”, the second in a trilogy of officially licensed follow-ups to the original trilogy, is released by Bantam Books. As with the first installment of the new trilogy (which will become known years later alternately as the Zahn Trilogy or the Thrawn Trilogy), “Dark Force Rising” requires no Jedi mind tricks to wind up at the top of the bestseller lists.

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