Apollo 12: more footprints on the moon

Apollo 12Astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean land on the moon in the Apollo 12 lunar module Intrepid, a mere 600 feet away from the 1967 landing site of the unmanned Surveyor 3 probe. Pieces of Surveyor 3 are gathered for return to Earth to study the effects of prolonged exposure to the lunar environment. Conrad and Bean conduct two moonwalks, each lasting nearly four hours.

This mission is dramatized in the That’s All There Is episode of HBO’s 1998 series From The Earth To The Moon.

STS-80

Space ShuttleSpace Shuttle Columbia lifts off on the 80th shuttle flight, a science mission lasting nearly 18 days. Two free-floating experiment platforms are deployed and then retrieved by the end of the mission for delivery back to Earth. Two spacewalks to test space station construction techniques are called off for safety reasons when a problem arises with Columbia’s airlock. Aboard Columbia for her 21st flight are Commander Kenneth Cockrell, Pilot Kent Rominger, and mission specialists Tammy Jernigan, Thomas Jones and Story Musgrave.

STS-87

Space ShuttleSpace Shuttle Columbia lifts off on the 88th shuttle flight, a mission lasting nearly 16 days to conduct microgravity studies and deploy a space science payload which begins spinning after the shuttle’s manipulator arm releases it. Plans to match the shuttle to the satellite’s rotation and recapture it are called off in favor of a no-less-risky seven-hour, two-man spacewalk to slow the satellite’s rotation and retrieve it. Aboard Columbia for her 24th flight are Commander Kevin Kregel, Pilot Steven Lindsey, and mission specialists Winston Scott, Kalpana Chawla, Takao Doi and Leonid Kadenyuk.

Arecibo Observatory slated for demolition

Arecibo ObservatoryAfter being in operation for most of the past 57 years, the fate of the Arecibo Radio Telescope facility is sealed by the failure of two major tension cables suspending the 900-ton equipment platform over the dish carved into the Puerto Rican countryside. Engineering safety assessments reveal that other cables are on the verge of failure, which could lead to an “uncontrolled collapse” putting the lives of nearby researchers and engineers at risk. As a result, the Arecibo facility – originally a project of Cornell University but now managed by the University of Central Florida – is slated for demolition as soon as is safely possible, provided its aging superstructure doesn’t collapse under its own weight first. The observatory’s physical superstructure had been under close observation since suffering major damage from Hurricane Maria, which caused widespread destruction in Puerto Rico in 2017. The closure of the Arecibo facility marks the end of a significant era of radio astronomy.

Herbert F. Solow, producer, dies

Herbert F. SolowHired by Lucille Ball to help turn around the fortunes of Desilu Studios in the 1960s following her divorce from studio co-founder Desi Arnaz, producer and production executive Herbert F. Solow became known as “the man who sold Star Trek” – namely, he pitched the series to the networks, and finally made a sale to NBC, getting the storied science fiction series on the air at last. Solow also sold CBS on the spy-fi series Mission: Impossible at the same time, and later scored another major sale to CBS in the form of the detective series Mannix. He adapted (from a novel) and produced the early 1970s TV movie adaptation Killdozer, and co-created the late ’70s sci-fi series Man From Atlantis. He also went on to add “movie producer” to his resume; in later years, he looked back fondly upon his role in starting the Star Trek franchise with such biographical books as “Inside Star Trek: The Real Story“. Herb Solow died at the age of 89.

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