The further adventures of Luke Skywalker

Star WarsA series of story conferences begin between Star Wars writer/director George Lucas and science fiction writer Leigh Brackett, the first work toward shaping the storyline for an anticipated (but still untitled) Star Wars sequel film. Lucas has brought Brackett on board to contribute new ideas, but she will only submit a first draft before succumbing to cancer. The conferences continue through early December; the eventual product of these early story meetings will be 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back.

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The early bird gets an empty box

Star WarsCaught completely off-guard by the seemingly unstoppable runaway success of Star Wars, whose toy license it signed on for earlier in the year, toy manufacturer Kenner does something desperate and unprecedented: it sells a mostly-empty box (contents: the Force?) called the Star Wars Early Bird Kit, containing stickers, pictures, and a card to mail off to receive four figures – Luke, Princess Leia, R2-D2 and Chewbacca – by mail sometime between “February and May 1978.” The delay is needed to ramp up production on the figures, which will also be available at retail in 1978. To the surprise of everyone, including Kenner executive Bernard Loomis, who devised the Early Bird Kit, the result is a runaway sales success story.

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Soyuz 26

Soyuz 26A two-man crew – cosmonauts Yuri Romanenko and Georgi Grechko – is launched aboard Soyuz 26 by the Soviet Union. The Soyuz capsule docks with the recently-launched Salyut 6 space station, and the crew takes up residence for over three months, setting a new space endurance record at 96 days. The Soyuz 27 crew visits in January and swaps vehicles with the station occupants, meaning that Romanenko and Grechko technically return to Earth aboard Soyuz 27 in March 1978. Ten days into the mission, the first Soviet spacewalk since 1969 is undertaken to examine the forward docking hatch of Salyut 6, with which the previous mission failed to connect. This spacewalk was the first outing of the Soviet-made Orlan spacesuit, a design still in use on the International Space Station in the 21st century.