Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy: Episode 6

Hitchhiker's Guide To The GalaxyThe sixth episode of Douglas Adams’ breakthrough radio science fiction comedy series The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is first broadcast on BBC Radio. This is the second episode co-written by John Lloyd, though his contributions are frequently downplayed by Adams in later years. Due to the unexpected popularity of the six-episode series, the BBC asks Adams for more Hitchhiker’s Guide, but in the interim he has also taken on a new full-time job as script editor of Doctor Who, making it harder to simultaneously write another six-episode radio series.

More about The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy in the LogBook

Voyaging silently onward?

Voyager 2 (CG)NASA’s Voyager 2 space probe, leaving the inner solar system en route to a grand tour of the outer planets, suddenly stops transmitting to Earth, failing to acknowledge commands sent by its ground controllers. Any chance of the probe conducting its studies of Jupiter and Saturn, let alone Uranus or Neptune, is in serious jeopardy. Discovering a problem with Voyager 2’s ability to compensate for the Doppler shift in signals coming from Earth, NASA engineers devise a workaround to compensate for this problem from the ground, saving the mission.

Mego snags Buck Rogers toy license

Twiki figureStill stinging from the business decision to not bid on the Star Wars toy rights in 1977, toy maker Mego International grabs the license for Universal Studios and NBC’s upcoming science fiction series Buck Rogers In The 25th Century while the show is still in the earliest stages of pre-production. This lead time, unusual in the late ’70s toy business, will become more common in later years; Mego has action figures and vehicles ready to ship when the series premieres in late 1979.

More about Mego Buck Rogers toys in ToyBox

Pioneer Venus Orbiter launched

Pioneer VenusNASA launches the 1,100 pound Pioneer Venus Orbiter, designed to orbit Venus for a year to study the planet’s atmosphere and its interaction with other space phenomena. Though launched separately, the two Pioneer Venus spacecraft will arrive at Venus within days of one another in December 1978. The Orbiter takes radar observations of the cloud-shrouded planet, from which the first surface map of Venus is derived. As with many other unmanned NASA spacecraft designed for relatively short-duration missions, the Pioneer Venus Orbiter outlives its design lifespan, staying fully functional into the 1990s and eventually becoming the only American spacecraft to view Halley’s Comet in 1986.

Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds

Mars invades Earth again thanks to producer Jeff Wayne, who gathers an unlikely assemblage of prodigious talent around him to create a new musical version of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds. Featuring Richard Burton, Justin Hayward (of Moody Blues fame), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann) and others, the double-album becomes an instant classic – a science fiction rock opera.

More about Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War Of The Worlds in Music Reviews

Soyuz 29

Soyuz 29The Soviet Union launches Soyuz 29 on a mission to berth at space station Salyut 6 for a period of around four months. Cosmonauts Vladimir Kovalyonok and Aleksandr Ivanchenkov are aboard, and they eventually set a new space endurance record, remaining in orbit for 139 days. Numerous material science experiments are carried out, as well as a spacewalk to retrieve samples of various materials left exposed to space outside the station. The crew is also assigned to take on a more rigorous exercise program. They will return to Earth in November after swapping vehicles with the crew of Soyuz 31.

GOES-3 goes up

GOES-3NOAA’s GOES-3 Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite is launched from Cape Canaveral into a geosynchronous orbit over the Indian Ocean, replacing the first operational GOES satellite, GOES-1. GOES-3 will serve as a working weather satellite for over a decade, ultimately decommissioned from that role in 1989 and then serving as a communications satellite for the Pacific Ocean region and Antarctica, a role it continues to fill over 35 years later.