Luna 9: first soft landing on another world

Luna 9The Soviet Union lands a palpable hit in the space race, claiming the first intact soft-landing of a man-made probe on another body in the solar system. Luna 9, a 200-pound sphere whose weighted base rolls to the correct orientation before opening petals exposing its camera and other instruments, proves that the lunar surface is dense enough to hold up heavy objects (previous scientific speculation has presented the possibility of a heavy lander sinking into a quicksand-like lunar surface).

ESSA-1: Operational TIROS

ESSAThe recently-rechristened Environmental Sciences Service Administration (previously the U.S. Weather Bureau) launches, with the help of NASA, the first “Operational TIROS” weather satellite, ESSA-1. Based on the architecture of the later TIROS satellites, this is intended to be the first fully-operational, long-life weather satellite, in the tradition of many of the long-lived TIROS weather satellites. But eight months into its operational lifetime, ESSA-1’s on board camera system fails, rendering it blind – it becomes useless as a weather satellite and is kept online for engineering experiments until spring 1967.


ChallengerSpace Shuttle Challenger lifts off on a satellite delivery mission, but the launches of both satellites go awry when their boosters (the Payload Assist Modules designed to launch satellites from the shuttle) put them in the wrong orbits. A German satellite is retrieved, repaired, and placed back into its orbit. A few days after launch, a member of Challenger’s crew will become the first free-floating human satellite. On this flight, Challenger’s crew consists of Commander Vance Brand, Pilot Robert Gibson, mission specialists Bruce McCandless, Ronald McNair and Robert Stewart. This is the first shuttle flight to end on the runway at Kennedy Space Center, eliminating the need for a costly, time-consuming 747 ferry flight to retrieve the shuttle from Edwards Air Force Base.


Space ShuttleSpace Shuttle Discovery lifts off on the 60th flight of the shuttle program. During its eight days in orbit, Discovery hosts the first Russian cosmonaut ever to fly aboard an American spacecraft, initiating an ongoing agreement between the two countries’ space agencies that will eventually lead to shuttles visiting Mir and the construction of the International Space Station. Aboard Discovery for her 18th flight are Commander Charles Bolden, Pilot Kenneth Reightler, and mission specialists Jan Davis, Ronald Sega, Franklin Chang-Diaz and Sergei Krikalev.

STS-63: the shuttle visits Mir

Space ShuttleSpace Shuttle Discovery lifts off on the 67th flight of the shuttle program, a history-making mission that sees Discovery conducting rendezvous maneuvers at the Russian space station Mir. Though the shuttle isn’t equipped to dock at Mir, the close flyby is a necessary step before a docking mission can take place, and Discovery’s crew includes a former Mir cosmonaut. The crew for this flight is Commander James Wetherbee, Pilot Eileen M. Collins, and mission Specialists Michael Foale, Janice Voss, Bernard Harris and Vladimar Titov.

The Cape: Hurricane

TimecopThe 15th episode of The Cape airs in syndication in North America, starring Corbin Bernsen and Adam Baldwin, presenting a fictionalized version of NASA’s shuttle program.

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Crazy Climber 2000

Crazy Climber 2000Nichibutsu, originators of the 1980 arcade game Crazy Climber, releases the 3-D sequel/remake Crazy Climber 2000 for the Sony Playstation in Japan only. Though this is not the first PS1 Crazy Climber game, it is the first to allow players to use both the D-pad and the four action buttons as two D-pads, mimicking the two-joystick control scheme of the original arcade game.

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