Arrow: Crisis On Infinite Earths, Part 4

ArrowThe 168th episode of Arrow, a modern-day reboot of DC Comics’ Green Arrow superhero starring Stephen Amell, airs on the CW. Grant Gustin, Tyler Hoechlin, Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, Melissa Benoist, and Ruby Rose guest star in the continuation of a major crossover event uniting all of the CW’s DC Comics-inspired series.

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Starliner grounded

Boeing CST-100 StarlinerAfter Boeing discloses major software glitches that had previously gone unannounced from December’s uncrewed test flight of the human-rated CST-100 Starliner space vehicle, the vehicle is grounded pending a second test flight that can demonstrate the issues in question have been corrected. The software glitches include the onboard computer’s event timer being off by 11 hours, and a second glitch, had it not been discovered, would have caused the Starliner command module and its separated service module to collide before re-entry – an event likely unsurvivable in a crewed mission. Boeing and NASA will both participate in the investigation of the issues before certifying the Starliner for another flight.

Max Von Sydow, actor, dies

Max Von Sydow as Ming the MercilessActor Max Von Sydow, a frequent flyer in the science fiction and fantasy genre (among a legendary and very storied history of work in film and TV), dies at the age of 90. Rising to prominence in Ingmar Bergman’s influential 1957 movie The Seventh Seal, Von Sydow’s other major roles included Christ in 1965‘s The Greatest Story Ever Told, Father Merrin in 1973‘s The Exorcist and 1977‘s Exorcist II. In 1980, Von Sydow became a genre fixture with his near-definitive portrayal of Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon. Later genre entries included King Osric in 1982‘s Conan The Barbarian, roles in Dune and Dreamscape (both in 1984), The Minority Report (2002), episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, The Tudors, and Game Of Thrones (the latter for which he received an Emmy nomination), and a brief but pivotal role in the opening scenes of 2015‘s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Al Worden, astronaut, dies

Al WordenApollo 15 astronaut Al Worden dies at the age of 88. As the mission’s command module pilot, he was the only member of Apollo 15’s crew to not walk on the moon, though he does still hold the distinction of performing the furthest spacewalk from Earth, when he retrieved film cannisters from the body of the service module, requiring him to suit up and venture outside the vehicle while it was roughly halfway on its journey from the moon back to Earth. With the other members of the crew, he was embroiled in a seemingly minor scandal involving space-flown postal covers that turned out to almost be a career-ender once the astronauts were back on Earth; he made the jump to NASA’s Ames Research Center rather than returning to the Air Force, where he had been a past instructor at the Aerospace Research Pilot School, reporting directly to Colonel Chuck Yeager. After retiring from NASA, he made an unsuccessful run for Congress in 1982, and continued promoting the space program and science education.

Honor Blackman, actress, dies

Honor Blackman in The AvengersHonor Blackman, who rose to fame portraying Cathy Gale in the second and third seasons of The Avengers, dies at the age of 94. Despite her success in The Avengers, she left her starmaking role behind to graduate to big screen spy antics in the James Bond film Goldfinger. Other movie roles included Jason And The Argonauts and Bridget Jones’s Diary, with TV roles in Danger Man, The Saint, Columbo, The Upper Hand, and a guest starring role in parts 9-12 of the 1986 Doctor Who story The Trial Of A Time Lord.

Space Force (The Series)

Space ForceStreaming service Netflix debuts the first season of Star Trek: Picard, starring Steve Carell, John Malkovitch, and Tawny Newsome, and co-created by Carell. Guest stars include Larry Joe Campbell (The Orville), Lisa Kudrow (Friends) and the late Fred Willard, who died two weeks before the show’s premiere. The series is a satirical take on the recently formed Space Force of the U.S. Armed Forces.

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SpaceX Crew Dragon DM-2

NASA SpaceX Demo-2 launchThree days after weather caused a scrub of their initial launch attempt, astronauts Douglas Hurley and Bob Behnken lift off into orbit aboard SpaceX Dragon DM-2, the second demo mission of the Crew Dragon vehicle, and the first to carry humans to space. (A previous mission, DM-1, was an uncrewed test of the Crew Dragon.) They are the first American astronauts to lift off from American soil and reach orbit since the final crew of the space shuttle lifted off in 2011. (The launch takes place six years and one day after the Crew Dragon was first unveiled.)

Mission in progress; further information pending

Twilight Zone: Season 2

The Twilight ZoneThe second season of Jordan Peele’s revival of Rod Serling’s science fiction anthology series The Twilight Zone streams on CBS All Access. Unusually for CBS All Access, which normally rolls out one episode per week of its original series, all ten episodes of the season are made available simultaneously, more in line with Netflix’s distribution model.

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Ennio Morricone, composer, dies

Ennio MorriconeLegendary Italian film composer Ennio Morricone dies at the age of 91. With over 500 film and TV credits to his name, he was one of the most prolific composers by either Hollywood or European standards, and his early partnership with director and college classmate Sergio Leone led to his first international success, the score from the 1966 spaghetti western The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. That brought Morricone to Hollywood’s attention, and he went on to score such films as Once Upon A Time In The West, Two Mules For Sister Sara, Guns For San Sebastian, Duck You Sucker, Exorcist II, La Cage aux Folles, Orca, The Thing, Once Upon A Time In America, Red Sonja, The Untouchables, Bugsy, In The Line Of Fire, Mission To Mars, The Hateful Eight, and many others.

Grant Imahara, actor, dies

Grant Imahara as Sulu in Star Trek ContinuesGrant Imahara, who played Lt. Sulu in the fan-made series Star Trek Continues but is probably better known for his part in the popular TV series Mythbusters, dies from a ruptured brain aneurysm at the age of 49. As a member of Mythbusters’ “Build Team”, he used his background in electrical engineering and robotic design to help create real-world proofs of the sometimes outlandish ideas being tested in the show. Prior to that, Imahara worked at Industrial Light & Magic, and had built and operated droids (including R2-D2) for the Star Wars prequel trilogy, as well as doing similar work for movies such as Galaxy Quest, AI, Terminator 3, and the Matrix trilogy. He had roles in Sharknado 3 and episodes of Eureka.

Emirates Mars Mission sends Hope to Mars

Hope launchThe United Arab Emirates launch their first uncrewed interplanetary mission, the Emirates Mars Mission, from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center atop a Japanese H-IIA rocket. Expected to arrive at Mars in February 2021, the Hope orbiter will study Martian weather from orbit, not only serving as a true weather satellite for the red planet, but also gathering data on the factors leading to Martian atmosphere loss. The project, initiated in 2014, is intended not only to study Mars, but to attempt to gather a base of talent that could eventually build an Arab space industry.

China launches Tianwen-1 toward Mars

Tianwen-1 launchChina launches the uncrewed Tianwen-1 space probe atop a Long March 5 rocket from the launch facilities in Wenchang. Intended to achieve orbit around Mars in February 2021, the spacecraft includes an orbiter and a lander/rover; the orbiter will look for suitable landing sites for the lander/rover combo, which is not expected to be dropped off until April 2021. The rover has soil gathering and analysis capabilities, while the orbiter has ground-penetrating radar. Tianwen-1 is intended to take up the unfulfilled mission objectives of the Yinghuo-1 orbiter, which was launched as a payload on Russia’s failed Fobos-Grunt mission in 2011 (which fell back into Earth’s atmosphere).

John Saxon, actor, dies

John Saxon in Planet EarthActor John Saxon, a frequent guest star in American TV and movies from the 1960s through the ’90s (and still actively working well into the 2010s), dies at the age of 83. He began appearing in movies in his late teens in the early 1950s, but became a frequent flyer on the small screen, with guest roles in such genre fare as The Time Tunnel, The Sixth Sense, Night Gallery, The Six Million Dollar Man, Wonder Woman, The Bionic Woman, The Fantastic Journey, Ray Bradbury Theater, and Masters Of Horror, with movie roles in Battle Beyond The Stars and the A Nightmare On Elm Street Series. In the early ’70s, he starred in two iterations of a Gene Roddenberry series pilot, Planet Earth and Strange New World, neither of which went to series.

The year sci-fi took over the Emmys

Emmy nominationsThe nominees for the 72nd annual Emmy Awards are announced, and genre shows are unusually well represented. HBO’s comics adaptation Watchmen raKes in 26 nominations, including Outstanding Limited Series and the best actor, actress, writing, directing, music, costuming, and design awards in the Limited Series category. The Mandalorian is nominated in 15 categories, including Best Drama Series, music, guest actor, voice-over performance, and visual effects; Westworld is nominated in 11 categories, The Handmaid’s Tale is nominated in ten (including Best Drama Series), Stranger Things nets eight nominations (including Best Drama Series), Star Trek: Picard is nominated in five categories, and Space Force is nominated in four. One nomination each goes to Star Trek: Short Treks, Star Wars: Resistance, Cosmos: Possible Worlds, Lost In Space, Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance, Chasing The Moon, The Boys, Black Mirror, and the interactive feature Doctor Who: The Runaway. CNN’s Apollo 11 documentary is nominated in five categories.

Perseverance Rover launched toward Mars

Perseverance Rover Atlas V launchNASA launches the Perseverance Rover on its way to the planet Mars atop an Atlas V rocket. Though built around an assembly of flight spares left over from the Curosity Rover, Perseverance (known more formally as the Mars 2020 Rover) carries new experiments, including an ability to gather soil samples and seal them for pickup and return to Earth by a later (as yet unannounced) mission, over 20 built-in cameras, and – in a first for planetary exploration – a microphone designed to record the sounds of the Martian environment. Also attached to Perseverance is a drone, Ingenuity, designed for independent flight in the Martian atmosphere. Perseverance is aimed at Jezero Crater, an environment where liquid surface water is believed to have existed in Mars’ distant past, with a February 2021 landing date. The vehicle alarms ground controllers by going into a “safe mode” after launch, but communications and telemetry resume shortly afterward.

Star Trek: Lower Decks: Second Contact

Star Trek: Lower DecksStreaming service CBS All Access premieres the first episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks, created by Mike McMahan (Rick & Morty) as the first ongoing animated Star Trek series since the early 1970s. Chronicling the voyages of a new set of characters aboard the 24th century U.S.S. Cerritos, Lower Decks stars Tawny Newsome (Space Force), Jack Quaid (The Boys), Noel Wells (Craig Of The Creek), Eugene Cordero (Other Space), Dawnn Lewis (A Different World, Futurama), and Jerry O’Connell (Sliders).

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