SpaceX launches its second Dragon unmanned cargo vehicle, this time as the first privately-owned spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station. Carrying only supplies, equipment and experiments, the Dragon capsule carries out a program of closing to within a certain distance of the station and then slowly approaches until it is close enough to be grabbed by the station’s remote manipulator arm and attached to a docking port under the station crew’s control. The Expedition 31 astronauts aboard the station report that the interior of the capsule has a “new car smell” that is quite noticeable when compared to the atmosphere aboard the station. Over the course of a week, fresh cargo is unloaded into the station from the Dragon capsule, and cargo intended for return to Earth is loaded into the capsule. NASA is satisfied with the results and contracts SpaceX to begin routine cargo flights via Dragon later in the year.
The 766th episode of Doctor Who (the 68th since the series’ revival) airs on BBC1. This is the first part of a two-part story which revives the classic series reptile race, the Silurians, last seen on Doctor Who in 1984.
Actor Richard Biggs, best known to Babylon 5 fans as Dr. Stephen Franklin, dies of a ruptured aorta at the age of 43. An actor perhaps better known to the general public for numerous long-running soap opera roles, Biggs played Dr. Franklin for all five seasons of Babylon 5, but also enjoyed long runs on Guiding Light (a show on which he was still currently appearing at the time of his death) and Days Of Our Lives. At one point before pursuing acting, Biggs actually studied to become a real doctor. Throughout his acting career, he also actively taught acting, and most recently had embarked on a touring acting workshop with his friend and former B5 co-star Jason Carter. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
The 25th episode of the Star Trek prequel spinoff Enterprise premieres on UPN, bringing the series’ first season to an end. Matt Winston guest stars.
The week-long national syndication window opens for the 69th episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Duncan Regehr (Wizards & Warriors, V) and Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) guest star.
The week-long national syndication window opens for the 43rd episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Guest star Barrie Ingham, who guest starred in a 1960s Doctor Who story, becomes the first actor to receive on-screen credit in both Doctor Who and Star Trek.
NASA engineers complete a multi-year project to completely reprogram Voyager 2 during the unmanned space probe’s five-year journey from Saturn to Uranus. A planet receiving only a fraction of the sunlight that made photography possible at Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus requires much longer exposures, slower camera shutter speeds, and incredibly precise camera tracking. To compensate for the extreme lag in comunications to and from Uranus, data compression algorithms are devised using techniques that simply didn’t exist at the time of Voyager 2’s construction and original programming, but the compression scheme is an all-or-nothing proposition: it ties up Voyager 2’s backup computer, meaning that a failure of the main computer during a critical maneuver could send the probe off-course, perhaps even colliding with the bodies it intends to study.
NOAA’s GOES-5 Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite is launched from Cape Canaveral into a geosynchronous orbit over 85 degrees west longitude on Earth, a position which will change several times over GOES-5’s career until 1988, allowing it to monitor weather over the continental United States and Europe. GOES-5’s primary set of “eyes” will fail in 1984, forcing NOAA to return GOES-1 and GOES-4 to service until a replacement can be launched in 1987. Its usefulness as a weather satellite at an end, GOES-5 will be boosted into a graveyard orbit in 1990.
BBC 1 premieres the fourth and final episode of the short-run series The Nightmare Man, written by former Doctor Who script editor Robert Holmes, directed by ’70s Doctor Who director Douglas Camfield, and starring many faces familiar to fans of that series. Not intended to be an ongoing series, this one-off four-part serial is commissioned to fill a gap in the BBC’s summer schedule.
Arcade game maker Midway introduces the coin-op video game Rally-X in American arcades. The game, originated in Japan by Namco, is rolled out at a 1980 trade show for amusement and arcade machine operators alongside another Namco/Midway import, Pac-Man. With its more-accessible-to-mainstream-America race car elements, Rally-X is considered the hot favorite of the two, possibly a major hit in the making.
Under license from Namco, the game’s Japanese originators, Midway Manufacturing introduces the obsession that is Pac-Man to American arcades. Titled Puck-Man in its homeland (due to the yellow character’s resemblance to a round hockey puck), Midway swaps vowels for fear that vandals will turn the letter P into an F on the arcade cabinets. With its cute characters and instinctive game play, Pac-Man catches on immediately, propelling the video game industry into overdrive.