Doctor Who: The End Of Time, Part 2

Doctor WhoThe 758th episode of Doctor Who (the 60th since the series’ revival) airs on BBC1. This is the second part of the final story of David Tennant’s era, with an unusually grim storyline for its holiday airdate. Bernard Cribbins, John Simm (Life On Mars) and Timothy Dalton guest star. This also marks the end of Russell T. Davies’ tenure as showrunner, though he continues to work on the Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures spinoffs.

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Doctor Who: Eleven Doctors Collectors’ Set

Eleven Doctors Collectors' SetBritish toymaker Character Options releases the Eleven Doctors Collectors’ Set, a boxed set featuring – for the first time – action figures of all eleven actors to have portrayed Doctor Who. With prices weighing in at around the $100 mark (and often well past that price point), the set is, for the moment, the only means of acquiring the eighth Doctor (as played by Paul McGann) in action figure form.

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STS-130

Space ShuttleSpace Shuttle Endeavour lifts off on the 130th shuttle flight, a 14-day mission to the International Space Station. The Endeavour crew and station astronauts install another module, the Tranquility node, allowing for further expansion of the station in the future; this module also includes the cupola “control tower” that has become visually synonymous with the ISS. Aboard Endeavour for her 24th flight are Commander George Zamka, Pilot Terry Virts, and mission specialists Nicholas Patrick, Stephen Robinson, Robert Behnken and Kathryn Hire.

GOES-15

GOES-15NOAA’s GOES-15 Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite is launched from Cape Canaveral into geosynchronous orbit to monitor weather patterns over the United States. In accordance with NOAA’s policy of having standby weather satellites already in orbit before their predecessors are decommissioned, GOES-15 is held in reserve until late 2011, when it will become the primary GOES-WEST satellite. It remains in orbit on active weather-watching duty.

Spirit signs off

SpiritNASA’s Spirit Mars rover makes its last contact with ground controllers on Earth. With the Martian winter fast approaching, and the rover’s wheels leaving it stuck in an unfavorable position to keep its solar panels angled toward the sun, Spirit gradually loses power until it shuts off, its mission having lasted nearly seven and a half years – almost 30 times its original design and mission lifespan of 90 days. Spirit’s ground controllers are reassigned to either Opportunity (which is still mobile and operating) or the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover mission.

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour

Doctor WhoThe 759th episode of Doctor Who (the 61st since the series’ revival) airs on BBC1. This is the first full episode to feature Matt Smith as the eleventh Doctor, and introduces Karen Gillan as new companion Amy Pond (and Steven Moffat as the series’ showrunner). Arthur Darvill makes his first appearance as Rory; astronomer Sir Patrick Moore guest stars as himself.

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STS-131

Space ShuttleSpace Shuttle Discovery is launched on the 131st shuttle flight, a 15-day resupply mission to the International Space Station. Equipment and experiment packages are transferred to the station from a logistics module in the shuttle cargo bay. The joint portion of the flight features the largest female astronaut contingent in orbit at any one time to date, with three of Discovery’s six crewmembers plus station astronaut Tracy Dyson. Aboard Discovery for her 38th flight are Commander Alan Poindexter, Pilot James Dutton, and mission specialists Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Rick Mastracchio, Naoko Yamazaki, Clayton Anderson and Stephanie Wilson.

X-37B OTV-1

X-37BIn a launch simply designated USA-212, the U.S. Air Force launches the Boeing-built X-37B unmanned vehicle into Earth orbit. Resembling a scaled-down Space Shuttle, the X-37B is launched via an Atlas V rocket, though during launch it is fully surrounded by an aerodynamic shell rather than being side-mounted to its booster like the manned Shuttle. The X-37B does not return until December, using a landing profile similar to that of the Shuttle (but automated), and the details of the mission remain classified.