It happened today…

Published On: March 21, 1991

Space Station FreedomAt the insistence of Congress, NASA submits a significant redesign of the long-overdue and over-budget Space Station Freedom for approval. Where previous design changes tried to retain a massive “dual keel” allowing for experiment modules and other activities that could be performed a safe distance away from the station’s habitation modules, the new Space Station Freedom clusters all of its modules together in one place and removes the dual keel structure permanently. Scoffing at the truncated new design, critics refer to the newly-submitted proposal as “Space Station Fred” instead of “Space Station Freedom”.

Published On: March 21, 1988

Star Trek: The Next GenerationThe week-long national syndication window opens for the 19th episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This is the first episode of the series to focus on the Klingon race – a holdover from the original series and movies that series creator Gene Roddenberry had planned to avoid revisiting until co-producer (and fellow classic Trek producer) Bob Justman convinced him otherwise during pre-production, leading to the very late creation of a “Klingon Marine” named Worf.

More about Star Trek: The Next Generation in the LogBook

Published On: March 21, 1983

Star Trek: Strategic Operations SimulatorSegaa releases the arcade game Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator in American arcades. The vector graphics coin-op, simulating the “tactical views” seen on the Enterprise in the first two Star Trek movies, is the first officially licensed Star Trek video game. It also reflects some corporate synergy: Sega has recently been bought by Paramount Pictures parent company Gulf + Western.

More about Star Trek video games in Phosphor Dot Fossils

Published On: March 21, 1965

RangerNASA launches the Ranger 9 lunar probe, built by Jet Propulsion Laboratory and intended to go directly to the moon, transmitting pictures of the surface back to Earth until it impacts the lunar surface. Despite NASA scientists’ insistence that the last Ranger probe carry scientific instruments and not just cameras, Ranger 9 is outfitted with cameras only; as a tradeoff, scientists get to nominate its target on the surface, selecting the crater Alphonsus, suspected to be a site of lunar volcanism. Ranger 8 functions flawlessly, sending live video back to Earth until impacting in the crater floor, and for the first time the terminal descent of one of the Ranger probes is broadcast live on TV. This concludes the Ranger program, as NASA now needs to switch its efforts to the unmanned Surveyor lunar landers to find out if the moon’s surface can support the weight of a manned lander. The basic architecture of the Ranger spacecraft is adopted as the heart of the ongoing Mariner planetary space probe series, up to and including the Mariner Jupiter/Saturn ’77 missions (later renamed Voyager) over a decade later.

Published On: March 21, 1952

Weather BulletinThe newly formed Weather Bureau-Army-Navy Severe Weather Unit‘s second attempt to warn the public that tornado formation is possible within a specific area strikes paydirt. Again covering a large area including portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, later expanded to include states esst of this area, this forerunner of modern tornado watches is right on the money, predicting an outbreak of more than 20 tornadoes in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi and Kentucky. Despite the advance notification, the Severe Weather Unit has work to do in educating the public about its bulletins: over 200 deaths still occur as a result of the tornadoes.

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