Voskhod 2: the first spacewalk

Voskhod 2Voskhod 2 is launched by the Soviet Union, this time with only a two-man crew for a very specific mission. Cosmonauts Pavel Belyaev and Alexei Leonov orbit Earth for 28 hours, but during one orbit an airlock is extended from the side of their Voskhod capsule and Leonov squeezes through the airlock tunnel in a spacesuit, becoming the first human being to exit his spacecraft in flight. He spends 10 minutes walking in space, but this Soviet space first nearly ends badly; Leonov’s suit “inflates” as a result of pressurization, making it extremely difficult to enter the vehicle again (and nearly overexerting him in the process of getting back inside). A guidance system malfunction forces Belyaev to manually control the vehicle during reentry and descent, but Voskhod 2’s crew capsule lands over 700 miles away from Moscow in a remote wilderness in the dead of winter, and the cosmonauts wait hours for a recovery team to rescue them via helicopter.

New Babylon 5 movie and potential series

Babylon 5The Sci-Fi Channel officially announces that it will be producing a new Babylon 5 movie in 2001, tentatively titled Babylon 5: The Legend Of The Rangers, set three years after the events of Babylon 5’s fifth season, as the Anla’shok try to restore peace and order to the war-torn galaxy. Members of the Babylon 5 cast may appear in the movie – which is confirmed as a pilot for a potential new series with the same premise – but the cast will consist largely of new faces. Douglas Netter and creator J. Michael Straczynski will serve as executive producers.

Al Worden, astronaut, dies

Al WordenApollo 15 astronaut Al Worden dies at the age of 88. As the mission’s command module pilot, he was the only member of Apollo 15’s crew to not walk on the moon, though he does still hold the distinction of performing the furthest spacewalk from Earth, when he retrieved film cannisters from the body of the service module, requiring him to suit up and venture outside the vehicle while it was roughly halfway on its journey from the moon back to Earth. With the other members of the crew, he was embroiled in a seemingly minor scandal involving space-flown postal covers that turned out to almost be a career-ender once the astronauts were back on Earth; he made the jump to NASA’s Ames Research Center rather than returning to the Air Force, where he had been a past instructor at the Aerospace Research Pilot School, reporting directly to Colonel Chuck Yeager. After retiring from NASA, he made an unsuccessful run for Congress in 1982, and continued promoting the space program and science education.