Castle Bravo

Castle BravoThe United States’ thermonuclear testing program Operation Castle commences with the first detonation, code named Castle Bravo, on a reef near Bikini Atoll. The most powerful hydrogen bomb detonation carried out by the American military during the 20th century, Castle Bravo has a yield of 15 megatons, three times greater than predicted, with a blast radius of over four miles. Radioactive fallout spreads over 7,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean, including neighboring islands and a Japanese fishing boat, with both populations showing symptoms of radiation sickness shortly afterward, forcing evacuations and later reparations.

The National Severe Storms Laboratory

NSSLTo further research into the formation and evolution of severe weather in the midwestern United States, the U.S. Weather Bureau establishes the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma. Operating in close cooperation with the University of Oklahoma’s meteorology department and the Severe Local Storms Warning Service in Kansas City, the NSSL focuses on improving prediction and detection of destructive weather, including tornadoes, quickly fixating upon the potential of Doppler radar.

Star Trek renewed again

NBCFor the second year running, NBC makes an announcement over the closing credits of Star Trek, reassuring viewers that NBC has picked up the show for a third season. Where the second season’s renewal was brought about by a substantial fan letter-writing campaign (with guidance from Gene Roddenberry), the third season pickup comes after fans stage protest marches outside NBC’s headquarters in Burbank and New York, having gotten word (from Star Trek fan Bjo Trimble, by way of Roddenberry) that the series is likely to be cancelled. The renewal is a double-edged sword, however: in the fall, NBC will move the series to Friday nights, a time slot where it’s virtually guaranteed to be cancelled at the end of its third season.

Enterprise in drydock

EnterpriseThe 275-pound, 18-foot filming “miniature” of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek arrives at the Smithsonian, but it’s just as well that its planned display in the National Air & Space Museum won’t open until 1976: having suffered years of mishandling and barely-adequate storage at Paramount, with a final round of damage occurring during shipping, television’s most famous spaceship arrives in need of extensive repairs. Both of the round caps of the Enterprise’s warp engines are missing, and the intricate lighting setup built into the engines has been destroyed as a result, and the “radar dish” at the bottom of the model is missing as well. The Enterprise model will undergo extensive restoration and repainting for three months at the Smithsonian’s Maryland facility.

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The Uranus Option

VoyagerDespite the fact that a useful – and rare – alignment of the large outer planets will make a “Grand Tour” possible, NASA has only thus far funded a stripped-down version of the ambitious original Grand Tour plan, a pair of Mariner Jupiter/Saturn ’77 unmanned space probes (later renamed Voyager). Jet Propulsion Laboratory admits that scientists and mission planners have drawn up a “Uranus option” to extend the mission of one of the vehicles to reach Uranus four or five years after a Saturn encounter and gravity assist, and are making modifications to one of the vehicles to permit this contingency. (NASA has yet to approve continuing the MJS’77 program long enough to reach Uranus.) Mission planners also admit that a visit to Uranus could give the vehicle another gravity assist toward Neptune, while admitting that the odds of the vehicle surviving a journey to Neptune with its ability to gather images and scientific data intact would require “a miracle.”

Star Wars: Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye

Splinter Of The Mind's EyeSplinter Of The Mind’s Eye, the first print fiction follow-up to George Lucas’ Star Wars, is published by Ballantine Books. Written by Alan Dean Foster – who had ghost-written the novelization of Star Wars published under Lucas’ name – “Splinter” originates as a concept for a low-budget movie follow-up in the event that the movie bombs. By the time of its publication, it’s readily apparent to all that the movie has succeeded, and that a sequel will be coming, leaving “Splinter”‘s status in the storyline uncertain. The cover artwork is by Ralph McQuarrie, whose pre-production illustrations were of vital importance during the making of the original movie.

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Landsat 5

LandsatNASA launches Earth resource observation satellite Landsat 5, virtually identical to the Landsat 4 satellite launched in 1982. Like Landsat 4, Landsat 5 is capable of sending real-time data to Earth through the Tracking & Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) system. Landsat 5 becomes the longest-operating Earth observation satellite, outliving its anticipated three-year design life by a factor of ten and not becoming inoperable until 2013; by the time it was shut down, Landsats 7 and 8 had been launched. Among the events Landsat 5 witnessed from orbit were a tsunami that killed nearly a quarter million people along Indonesia’s coastlines in 2004, and the 1986 meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the Soviet Union.

Brent Bourgeois

Brent BourgeoisFormer Bourgeois Tagg frontman Brent Bourgeois releases his first solo album on Charisma Records, getting some minor airplay with singles “Dare To Fall In Love” and “Can’t Feel The Pain” (the latter featuring Fleetwood Mac veteran Christine McVie). The only other former Bourgeois Tagg member in evidence on the album is guitarist Lyle Workman, who continues recording with Bourgeois even when he jumps tracks to Christian music several years later.

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Dark Shadows: Episode Nine

Dark ShadowsThe ninth episode of a modern reboot of Dan Curtis’ gothic horror series Dark Shadows is broadcast on NBC, starring Ben Cross, Lysette Anthony, Roy Thinnes (The Invaders), and Jean Simmons. Adrian Paul (Highlander) guest stars.

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The Tomorrow People: The Monsoon Man – Part 4

The Tomorrow PeopleThe 14th episode of Roger Price’s rebooted science fiction series The Tomorrow People is broadcast on ITV in the U.K. (and will appear later on Nickelodeon in North America), starring Kristian Schmid, Naomie Harris (Spyfall), and Christian Tessier. Christopher Benjamin (Doctor Who) and Mac McDonald (Red Dwarf) guest star.

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The Tomorrow People: The Living Stones – Part 4

The Tomorrow PeopleThe 24th episode of Roger Price’s rebooted science fiction series The Tomorrow People is broadcast on ITV in the U.K. (and will appear later on Nickelodeon in North America), starring Kristian Schmid, Alexandra Milman, and Christian Tessier. Clive Merrison and Danny John-Jules (Red Dwarf) guest star.

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STS-109: Hubble’s new wings

Space ShuttleSpace Shuttle Columbia lifts off on the 108th shuttle flight, the third Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. Numerous enhancements are carried aboard the shuttle to replace existing parts on the decade-old orbiting telescope, including new cooling systems and a new set of solar power arrays. Aboard Columbia for her 27th flight are Commander Scott Altman, Pilot Duane Carey, Payload Commander John Grunsfeld, and mission specialists Nancy Currie, James Newman, Richard Linnehan and Michael Massimino.

Space Shuttle Columbia makes her final landing at the end of this 11-day mission.

Gary Hutzel, Star Trek effects supervisor, dies

Gary HutzelFormer Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica visual effects supervisor Gary Hutzel dies. His duties as a visual effects coordinator on Star Trek: The Next Generation led to a supervisory role on both that series and its spinoff, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Hutzel’s work continued in the 21st century re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica and its own spinoff series, Caprica. His other credits include the movie Spy Kids and the Syfy series Defiance. Mr. Hutzel was 60.

Agent Carter: Hollywood Ending

Agent CarterThe 18th episode of the Marvel Cinematic Universe series Agent Carter, starring Hayley Attwell as Agent Peggy Carter, is broadcast on ABC. Wynn Everett (The Newsroom) guest stars in the final episode of the series.

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The One-Year Mission ends

Scott KellyHaving traveled to the International Space Station as part of the Expedition 43 crew, astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Korniyenko return to Earth after their heavily-publicized “One-Year Mission”, along with cosmonaut Sergey Volkov. Though the duration of the “One-Year Mission” is closer to 11 months, Kelly has broken the American record for continuous time spent in space. NASA hopes medical data gathered during his stay will help to keep future astronauts healthy, both physically and mentally, on long-term flights to such future destinations as Mars.

The Expanse: Paradigm Shift

The ExpanseThe 16th episode of the science fiction series The Expanse, based on the series of novels by James S.A. Corey (a pseudonym for writers Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham), is broadcast on cable channel Syfy. Chad L. Coleman (The Orville) and Sam Huntington (Being Human) guest star.

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