It happened today…

Published On: September 24, 2014

MangalayaanThe unmanned Mangalayaan space probe arrives, intact and functioning, in Mars orbit, making India the first country on Earth to successfully reach Mars on its first attempt. (A high failure rate among past Mars missions has plagued both the Russian and American space programs.) A 23-minute engine burn slows Mangalayaan down enough to be captured by Mars’ gravity, but leaves the vehicle with twice the fuel reserves expected for its projected six-month mission.

Published On: September 24, 1992

Television!After months of build-up and publicity (and not very many cable systems signing up to carry it), USA Network’s genre-specific offshoot Sci-Fi Channel launches on American cable TV. Its early schedule is comprised entirely of reruns of such series as Doctor Who, Dark Shadows, and several series from Gerry Anderson’s Century 21 Productions, as well as genre movies. In the years to come, Sci-Fi Channel begins originating its own programming (primarily by entering co-production deals with the makers of Canadian-made and other foreign-made genre series). A protest from a small but vocal number of industry figures and science fiction writers, all of whom object to the “derisive” term “sci-fi,” fails to convince the network’s Florida-based founders to change its name to “SF Network.”

Published On: September 24, 1990

Star Trek: The Next GenerationThe week-long national syndication window opens for the 74th episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Despite a summer of rumors (spread primarily via pre-internet computer bulletin board systems) involving cast members being killed off in the conclusion of the Borg two-parter, the regular cast returns, leaving Riker with the task of recovering and restoring the Borg-abducted Captain Picard. A soundtrack album for both parts of the story is released in 1991 by popular demand. This episode opens the series’ fourth season.

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Published On: September 24, 1982

Tac/ScanSega releases the arcade game Tac/Scan in American arcades. The vector graphics coin-op switches rapidly between a traditional overhead view and a first-person view several times during each game, including a sequence in which players are asked to navigate a dizzying warp tunnel.

More about Tac/Scan in Phosphor Dot Fossils

Published On: September 24, 1982

Atari 2600Activision releases the Megamania! cartridge for the Atari VCS home video game system. Inspired by the arcade game Astro Blaster, and subtitled “A Space Nightmare”, Megamania! pits players against airborne bow ties and hamburgers – and their own energy management skills. A national TV ad campaign featuring The Tubes heralds the game’s arrival.

More about Atari 2600 in Phosphor Dot Fossils

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