Soyuz 17

SalyutSoyuz 17 is launched by the Soviet Union, carring cosmonauts Alexei Gubarev and Georgi Grechko to the Salyut 4 space station. The two men move into the station for a month-long stay, breaking the previous Soviet space record, and proceed to conduct several science experiments. Discovering that the mirror of Salyut 4’s on-board telescope is warped, the crew resurfaces it in orbit and repairs the telescope. When Soyuz 17 returns to Earth, the crew is in for one of the bumpiest landings of the Soviet space program to date, landing in a blizzard with 45mph winds at ground level. Despite this, the vehicle lands safely and the crew is not injured.

From Weather Radio to Disaster Radio

Weather RadioAfter years of studies into the feasibility of constructing a nationwide disaster alert system, NOAA Weather Radio is officially designated the “sole government operated radio system” for both weather-related disasters and other major emergency announcements (nuclear attacks are specifically mentioned in the declaration from President Ford). This shift in policy toward using the National Weather Service’s radio infrastructure for all potential disaster situations is at least partially inspired by the April 1974 tornado “Super Outbreak” in the midwest. For the first time, Congress approves a budget earmarked specifically for weather radio, topping $3,000,000 for expansion in 1976.

Landsat 2

LandsatNASA launches its second Landsat satellite, originally named ERTS-2 (Earth Resource Technology Satellite) and still based on the Nimbus experimental weather and Earth-observation satellites. Originally intended to be online for a year, Landsat 2 functions through 1982, carrying a suite of instruments and sensors nearly identical to that of Landsat 1.

Salyut 3: first weapon fired in space

Salyut 3One day before deorbiting the vacant space station for reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, Soviet military space officials fire the anti-aircraft cannon mounted on the exterior of space station Salyut 3 – the first test of spacecraft-to-spacecraft weapons in history (though there is no target on which to test the ammunition rounds). Without a steerable mount, in practice, the entire Salyut 3 station would need to have been pointed at the gun’s target. The station is destroyed by friction upon atmospheric reentry a day later.

Shuttle schedule slippage

Space ShuttleWith the final Apollo spacecraft’s flight mere months away, an internal NASA document examining the progress of the Space Shuttle program, approved in 1972 by President Nixon, spells out what seems like a worst-case scenario: thanks to the difficulties of creating whole new orders of technology to create a reusable space vehicle (on a budget which each successive Congress keeps slashing), the shuttle won’t be lifting off until 1979 at the earliest, leaving a potential four-year gap in American manned spaceflight when NASA was anticipating (and publicizing) a gap of no more than two years. (In actuality, the time between manned American space missions will be even longer than that.)