It happened today…

Published On: February 20, 1999

Soyuz TM-29Russia launches Soyuz TM-29 to the Mir space station, carrying an international crew. Cosmonaut Viktor Afanasyev, French spationaut Jean-Pierre Haigneré, and Slovakian cosmonaut Ivan Bella are aboard. Afanasyev and Haigneré take up residence aboard Mir for 188 days, while Bella returns to Earth with Mir’s previous crew aboard Soyuz TM-28 after one week. When Afanasyev and Haigneré return to Earth in August 1999, they bring home cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev, who by that point has served a full year in orbit aboard Mir. This is the last flight to Mir sponsored by the Russian government, which is now throwing its weight behind the International Space Station, and Mir is left unmanned when Soyuz TM-29 returns to Earth.

Published On: February 20, 1981

Star WarsGeorge Lucas completes his handwritten first-draft screenplay for the third Star Wars film, titled Revenge Of The Jedi at this early stage. Revisions to the script will continue throughout 1981, with The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders Of The Lost Ark co-writer Lawrence Kasdan once again contributing to the story and dialogue; a revision to the movie’s title will also be made, though merchandising with the early title will already be in circulation by that time.

More about Star Wars in the LogBook

Published On: February 20, 1971

Emergency Broadcast SystemsA simple accidental tape swap at the Emergency Broadcast System‘s point of origination at NORAD replaces a routine Saturday morning EBS test with an actual emergency message involving a national emergency and an imminent message from the White House. In accordance with FCC rules, numerous radio and television stations across the country interrupt their programming in anticipation of news of a national emergency that isn’t actually happening. The situation is corrected within an hour, though questions about the effectiveness of the EBS linger at the local and national levels.

Published On: February 20, 1962

John GlennThe third manned Mercury flight, Friendship 7, puts John Glenn in orbit for nearly five hours, the first American astronaut to circle the Earth. The retro-rocket package on Glenn’s vehicle, Friendship 7, becomes an issue when a sensor indicates that the heat shield protecting the capsule’s interior from the intense heat of reentry has slipped. Intended to be cast off before reentry, the retro package is left on at the insistence of ground controllers, resulting in an unusually rough ride home after only three orbits.

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