First US television ratings

TVThe A.C. Nielsen Company publishes its first-ever television ratings in the United States, compiling data collected over a “sweep month” running from early April through early May of 1950. The top TV program at the time, according to Nielsen’s data gathering, is Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater. The Nielsen ratings and data collection methodology will attract controversy for decades to come, and will spell doom for many shows with small but loyal followings.

SAS-C

SAS-BNASA launches Explorer 53, renamed Small Astronomy Satellite C, from an Italian-owned offshore launch platform off the coast of Kenya. SAS-C is a smaller spacecraft than NASA’s larger Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO) series, but can be aimed very precisely at any cosmic X-ray sources that it detects. One of SAS-C’s discoveries is MXB1730-33, a binary star giving off rapid X-ray bursts. SAS-C will remain in orbit and functional until it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere in 1979.

Quark premieres

QuarkNBC airs the pilot of Quark, a new series from Get Smart creator Buck Henry which marks an unlikely combination of science fiction and sitcom. The pilot broadcast gets enough attention to merit a series pickup, but within weeks, Henry’s writing staff is presented with a much meatier target for satire than Star Trek, which Quark originally sets out to parody.

More about Quark in the LogBook

Project UFO Sighting 4010: The Waterford Incident

Project UFOThe tenth episode of Harold Jack Bloom’s sci-fi series Project UFO airs on NBC, portraying fictionalized investigations into what the show claims are actual cases from the U.S. Air Force’s Project Blue Book investigations. William Jordan and Caskey Swaim star. Anthony Geary (General Hospital) and Dr. Joyce Brothers guest star.

This series is not yet chronicled in the LogBook. You could help change that.

Voyager 2 and the Backup Mission Load

Voyager 2 at SaturnWith the Jupiter encounter behind it, NASA’s Voyager 2 unmanned spacecraft is given a new backup mission plan, replacing the original Jupiter/Saturn backup plan implemented after a radio receiver failure befell the spacecraft in 1978. Intended to reap the minimum acceptable science observations (including photography) and transmit them to Earth should Voyager 2’s ability to receive new commands be lost, this new backup mission load now includes automated observation plans for Saturn and Uranus, the latter of which will not be reached until 1986.

V: The Final Battle Part Two

VNBC premieres the second part of its continuation of Kenneth Johnson’s alien invasion epic, V: The Final Battle. The birth of Robin’s alien-hybrid children is one of the genre cliffhangers of the decade. This marks the science fiction soundtrack debut of Dennis McCarthy, who later goes on to score most of the Star Trek spinoffs of the next three decades; he is tapped at a very late stage (mere days prior to broadcast) to rescore the entire miniseries – so late, in fact, that it’s ultimately impossible for him to redo the music for the first night in the time allotted.

More about Vin the LogBook

STS-49: Endeavour’s first flight

STS-49Space Shuttle Endeavour leaves Earth for the first time, carrying a crew of seven to orbit on the 47th shuttle mission. Over nearly nine days, three spacewalks are taken up with the tricky and dangerous task of capturing a four-and-a-half-ton communications satellite into Endeavour’s cargo bay to repair and relaunch it. (The satellite, Intelsat VI, had been stranded in the wrong orbit since its 1990 launch aboard a Titan rocket.) The record-setting spacewalks involved – each lasting over seven hours and marking the first time three astronauts have operated outside their vehicle – force NASA to cancel one of two experimental EVAs to test space station construction techniques. Endeavour’s first crew consists of Commander Daniel Brandenstein, pilot Kevin Chilton, and mission specialists Pierre Thuot, Kathryn Thornton, Richard Hieb, Thomas Akers and Bruce Melnick.

Clementine goes off course

ClementineNASA’s Clementine lunar orbiter, its moon mapping mission complete, is directed to fire its engines to put it on a trajectory for asteroid 1620 Geographos, a near-Earth asteroid named for the National Geographic Society (which sponsored a sky survey that led to its discovery). But one of Clementine’s thrusters stays on too long, firing for 11 minutes and revving the vehicle up to an unrecoverable spin of 80 revolutions per minute, exhausting its entire fuel supply in the process. Clementine’s secondary mission to Geographos is abandoned, and its batteries are exhausted a month later.

The LogBook… on the web!

LogBookPreviously distributed between computer bulletin board systems and FidoNet BBS nodes as a series of text files, theLogBook makes its debut on the world wide web, on a slice of web space borrowed from the University of Arkansas. In most cases, the episode guides previously distributed via BBS are simply the text files posted on the web, though conversion into HTML documents gradually takes place. The gigantic full-screen graphical menu overwhelms many a dial-up web surfer and is quickly replaced with a simpler, text-based menu.

More about theLogBook.com’s history can be found here

Episode II pre-production underway

Star WarsBefore Episode I‘s theatrical premiere, the pre-production phase of Star Wars Episode II has already begun, with principal photography to commence toward the end of 1999. Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiamid, Ahmed Best, and Anthony Daniels are all slated to reprise their roles, though it will be necessary to recast Anakin Skywalker, since the second film will take place at least a decade after the events of The Phantom Menace.

More about Star Wars in the LogBook

Apollo rides again?

Apollo command moduleLast flown in the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission, the Apollo command/service module is – briefly – given strong consideration by NASA to serve as a “lifeboat” for the crew of the International Space Station, even to the point of conducting a study about un-mothballing the surviving unused Apollo hardware sitting in museums around the world. Part of the reason for this unusual study is that NASA’s budget has run out for finding a workable solution to keeping a “lifeboat” available to station astronauts in the anticipated long gap before the Space Shuttle’s return to service. Ultimately, even the seemingly unthinkable return of Apollo is nixed, since at least a Saturn IB booster would need to be similarly refitted – at huge expense – to lift a 30-year-old Apollo capsule into space.