Skylab 3

Skylab 3With the first Skylab crew having salvaged the first American space station, the second crew – designated Skylab 3 – lifts off for another long-term stay in space. Alan Bean, Jack Lousma and Owen Garriott spend 59 days aboard Skylab, performing a spacewalk to conduct further repairs to their damaged space station, investigating the effects of long-duration weightlessness and space travel on the human body, and observing the sun through Skylab’s solar telescope system. A thruster leak in the Apollo command/service module forces NASA to consider a rescue mission.

Community Memory

Community MemoryEarly networked computing pioneers Lee Felsenstein, Efrem Lipkin and Mark Szpakowski open the first public Community Memory terminal at Leopold’s Records in Berkeley, California. With read-only access for free (and a 25-cent charge to add information to the database, which is maintained on a SDS 940 mainframe at TransAmerica Corporation and accessed via 110 baud acoustic modem), the intention is to computerize the popular push-pin-powered public notice board. Other terminals are eventually made available at various locations, but the SDS 940 proves to be inadequate, and this first iteration of the Community Memory Project will eventually be deactivated in January 1975. Some computer historians regard this as the first computer bulletin board system, although it was accessible only by being physically present at one of the provided nodes. The first dial-up BBS will not appear until 1978.

Skylab rescue mission prepared

Skylab Rescue at KSCA thruster leak in the Skylab 3 crew’s Apollo command/service module forces NASA to consider a Skylab Rescue mission using a modified five-seater Apollo vehicle, mounted atop a Saturn IB and rolled out to the pad in readiness for the emergency flight. NASA brings in enough engineers and employees to have shifts working around the clock, seven days a week, to get the emergency mission ready for launch on September 9th. The thruster issue is later resolved, and the first-ever planned space rescue mission stands down. Astronauts Vance Brand and Don Lind are assigned to the rescue mission; both men later flew the Space Shuttle, though Brand will also fly in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. The modified command/service module and Saturn rocket are retained in case a rescue is needed for the final Skylab flight, and then as an Apollo-Soyuz backup vehicle, before being retired and displayed at the Smithsonian and Kennedy Space Center.

WABOT-1

WABOT-1At Tokyo’s Waseda University, robotics pioneer Professor Ichiro Kato and his team unveil the first full-size humanoid robot, WABOT-1. Capable of hearing and responding in speech, grasping objects, using artificial eyes to measure distances to objects, and rudimentary walking movement, WABOT-1 is the culmination of designs laid out as early as 1967 and construction and testing begun in 1970. Its creators estimate that it had the mental abilities of an 18-month-old child. (It is still intact and on display at Waseda University.)

The U.S.S. Enterprise gets a toon-up

Star TrekAfter years of denying that Star Trek had ever been a “kids show” like its prime-time rival Lost In Space, Gene Roddenberry agrees to NBC’s offer to restart the science fiction cult classic as an animated series, premiering on the seventh anniversary of the live-action show’s debut with the episode Beyond The Farthest Star. In the end, this series becomes the only iteration of the Star Trek franchise to win an Emmy Award for a non-technical (i.e. music, hairstyling, special effects) category.

More about Star Trek in the LogBook

The Starlost: Voyage Of Discovery

The StarlostAfter months of preparation and contentious saber-rattling by series creator Harlan Ellison, who demands to have his name replaced with a pseudonym after quitting the series he devised, The Starlost premieres in Canada and the United States with the episode Voyage Of Discovery, showcasing an intriguing (but ultimately under-utilized) series premise with a shockingly low-budget, shot-on-video look. It’s the first science fiction series produced in Canada with the intention of broadcast in the United States, which would become a common practice in the 21st century. It runs for only a single, truncated season, and for many years is much-maligned as “the worst TV sci-fi series ever”; Ellison’s complaints about the treatment of his own creation in the years to come does little to dispel this opinion.

More about The Starlost in the LogBook

Soyuz 12: the USSR returns to space

Soyuz 12After two years of reorganization and rethinking, the Soviet manned space program resumes with the launch of Soyuz 12, carrying cosmonauts Vasili Lazarev and Oleg Makarov. Previously a three-seater, Soyuz has been redesigned following the Soyuz 11 tragedy: the vehicle now seats a crew of two, both wearing fully pressurized spacesuits. Originally intended to visit the Salyut 2 station, Soyuz 12 is only a two-day shakedown flight for the redesigned spacecraft (Salyut 2’s own technical problems have rendered it uninhabitable by a human crew).

Gotcha!

Gotcha!Atari releases its fourth arcade game: the very first video maze game, Gotcha!. The two-player game is essentially a game of tag played in a slowly-shifting maze, with the controllers inexplicably covered with dome-shaped pink rubber covers, leading Gotcha! to be dubbed “the boob game”.

More about Gotcha! in Phosphor Dot Fossils

Mariner 10 launched

Mariner 10The first unmanned space probe to use a gravity assist maneuver to get from one planet to another in a reduced amount of time, Mariner 10 is lauched on a course for the planet Venus, where a carefully planned trajectory allows it to take pictures and measurements at that planet before using Venus’ gravity to fling Mariner 10 inward toward Mercury, allowing it to reach two planets in under two months. It will be the first space probe to visit Mercury.