Vehicle Assembly Building open for business

Vehicle Assembly BuildingNASA’s massive Vehicle Assembly Building is completed at the spaceport rapidly taking shape on Cape Canaveral ahead of the Apollo lunar missions. Topped off at a total cost of $117,000,000, the VAB is where Saturn V rockets are assembled for the Apollo moonshots, and the huge, eight-acre building will later transition to the assembly of the Space Shuttle launch system elements and the Space Launch System boosters for the 21st century Orion program.

Nimbus 3

NimbusNASA launches the Nimbus 3 satellite, designed to observe weather patterns from orbit and test new weather and climate detection technologies. Nimbus 3 is the first Earth-orbiting spacecraft to test the SNAP-19 radioisotope thermoelectric generator system; devices similar to the SNAP-19 will become the primary power source for later deep space and outer solar system interplanetary missions. Nimbus 3 loses attitude control in 1970, but is kept online for engineering information-gathering purposes until 1972.

Columbia returns from orbit

ColumbiaThe first shuttle to return from space, Columbia touches down on the dry lake bed strip at Edwards Air Force Base in California, two days and six hours after liftoff (and after putting a cool million miles on the odometer). The aerodynamics involved in gliding after re-entry are found to be trickier than the previous test landings of the Enterprise. Inspection of the thermal tiles lining the shuttle’s belly reveals more damage than expected, and NASA begins working to refine the process of fitting the tiles to the shuttle.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Angel

Buffy The Vampire SlayerThe seventh episode of Joss Whedon’s trend-setting supernatural series Buffy The Vampire Slayer, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, airs on the WB network. Anthony Stewart Head and Alyson Hannigan also star; David Boreanaz guest stars.

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