Doctor Who: Invasion Of The Dinosaurs Pt. 1

Doctor WhoThe 360th episode of Doctor Who airs on BBC1. In an attempt to preserve the surprise of the dinosaurs’ appearance at the end of this episode, the on-screen title is simply Invasion – a decision which later sees the color videotape of the episode erased when the BBC orders the deletion of the 1969 Patrick Troughton Doctor Who story The Invasion.

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The Questor Tapes

The Questor TapesABC premieres the made-for-TV movie The Questor Tapes, starring Robert Foxworth, Mike Farrell, John Vernon and Majel Barrett. Created and co-written by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, The Questor Tapes is a promising series pilot, though no series based on it is ordered. (Years later, many observers will notice that Roddenberry transfers Questor’s personality and even some of his backstory to a new Star Trek character named Data.)

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Mariner 10 visits Venus

Venus by Mariner 10The unmanned Mariner 10 space probe swings past the planet Venus at a distance of less than 4,000 miles, its cameras capturing a completely opaque sphere whose clouds reveal no surface. But when viewed through ultraviolet filters, Venus suddenly reveals an immense amount of atmospheric detail. Mariner 10’s UV views of Venus are the best images available until the dual Pioneer Venus mission of the late 1970s; meanwhile, Mariner 10 speeds past the planet en route to Mercury.

The Enterprise’s new home?

Star TrekAn agreement is struck between Paramount Pictures’ television division and the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum (currently the Smithsonian Air Museum, which is planning the grand opening of its space-related exhibits for the bicentennial year of 1976) concerning the 18-foot, 275-pound filming model of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek. Since Paramount foresees no use for the gigantic “miniature”, the studio agrees to donate the model to the Smithsonian as an exhibit – provided the Smithsonian foots the $500 bill for shipping. The model was originally built by Howard Anderson Co. in 1964 for the first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, at a cost running into tens of thousands of dollars. The Smithsonian plans to restore and display the model in its Space and Life exhibit, though years later the Enterprise will be “demoted” to a display near the museum’s gift shop.

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Titan IIIe

Titan IIIeIn advance of the Viking and Voyager interplanetary missions, which will need more powerful boosters to heft heavier spacecraft into deep space, NASA conducts a test launch of the Titan IIIe/Centaur launch stack, an experimental combination of the venerable Titan rocket and a liquid-fueled Centaur upper stage. Previous Centaur upper stages were attached to wider Atlas rockets, so the unusual bulb-shaped payload shroud of the Centaur is of concern when placed atop the Titan, which has a more narrow diameter; if successful, however, this configuration could launch payloads three times larger than an Atlas/Centaur combination. The test flight, originally scheduled for January 24th, actually fails – a loose part causes the Centaur stage to fizzle rather than fire – and the rocket is destroyed in mid-air. However, with worries about the large Centaur payload atop the narrow Titan rocket laid to rest, NASA approves the Titan IIIe/Centaur for flight, beginning with the launch of a joint American/German science satellite, HELIOS-1, later in 1974.

Enterprise in drydock

EnterpriseThe 275-pound, 18-foot filming “miniature” of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek arrives at the Smithsonian, but it’s just as well that its planned display in the National Air & Space Museum won’t open until 1976: having suffered years of mishandling and barely-adequate storage at Paramount, with a final round of damage occurring during shipping, television’s most famous spaceship arrives in need of extensive repairs. Both of the round caps of the Enterprise’s warp engines are missing, and the intricate lighting setup built into the engines has been destroyed as a result, and the “radar dish” at the bottom of the model is missing as well. The Enterprise model will undergo extensive restoration and repainting for three months at the Smithsonian’s Maryland facility.

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Mariner 10 visits Mercury

Mercury by Mariner 10After using the gravity of the larger planet Venus to fling it further toward the sun, NASA’s unmanned space probe Mariner 10 zips by the innermost planet, Mercury, less than 500 miles away from its cratered surface. Its cameras capture the first-ever views of the barren planet, whose surface temperatures vary between frigid on the night side and oven-baked on the hemisphere facing the sun. Mariner 10 passes behind the sun, catching up with Mercury again half a year later.