The BBC airs the sixth episode of Nigel Kneale’s trend-setting science fiction series The Quatermass Experiment, bringing the six-part story to a close. The success of the series prompts the BBC to request a sequel series from Kneale. This episode was not archived and does not exist in the BBC’s archives.
NASA launches the Ranger 1 lunar probe, designed to test a new vehicle configuration to reach the moon, transmitting pictures back to Earth as it falls toward impact on the lunar surface. The Agena second stage rocket designed to push Ranger 1 into a much higher orbit to escape Earth’s gravity fails, and Ranger 1 falls back into Earth’s atmosphere, disintegrating eight days after launch. This is the first of a series of setbacks for the troubled Ranger program.
After data returned by JPL’s Mariner spacecraft reveals that – as JPL predicted – Mars has a thin atmosphere and very low atmospheric pressure, plans for a Saturn V-launched orbiter with two 10,000-pound Mars landers are scuttled. The Voyager Mars mission, not expected to launch until 1973, proved too complex and costly for the current state of the art. The Voyager name will later be bestowed upon a pair of Mariner spacecraft exploring beyond the orbit of Mars, while the Voyager concept will later be scaled down to a more feasible and cost-effective orbiter/lander combination called Viking.
Nintendo releases The Legend Of Zelda for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America, having already released a version early in 1986 in Japan. Rolled out with a major advertising campaign, Zelda revitalizes and redefines the video adventure game genre, as well as players’ expectation of electronically-moderated role-playing games, and spawns one of Nintendo’s most profitable major tentpole franchises.