Soyuz TM-2 / Mir Expedition 2

Soyuz TM-2The Soviet Union launches Soyuz TM-2, the first manned launch of a newly uprated version of the Soyuz capsule. Cosmonauts Yuri Romanenko and Aleksandr Laveykin travel to the Mir space station, where Laveykin remains for 174 days before departing in July, but Romanenko sets a new space endurance record, remaining in orbit for 326 days. Romanenko’s return to Earth just before the end of 1987 marks the end of Expedition 2’s occupancy of Mir.

Supernova 1987A

SN 1987AAstronomers both amateur and professional glimpse the first supernova to occur in the age of modern science. Given the name Supernova 1987A, the huge burst of light – visible to the naked eye in Earth’s southern hemisphere by the early summer months of 1987 before it begins fading out – is a collapsing star on the edge of the Tarantula Nebula. The star previously seen in that location is a blue supergiant, which wasn’t a likely candidate to go nova according to the existing theories of stellar evolution at the time. In the 1990s, the slowly expanding ring of debris rushing outward from Supernova 1987A becomes a favorite observation target for the Hubble Space Telescope. The supernova is more than 150,000 light years away from Earth’s solar system in the direction of the Large Magellenic Cloud.

GOES-7 goes up

GOES-7NOAA’s GOES-7 Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite is launched from Cape Canaveral into a geosynchronous orbit now designated GOES-EAST to monitor weather patterns over the United States. Originally intended for a 1986 launch, GOES-7 has been kept on the ground by the investigation into the destruction just after launch of its predecessor, GOES-G. GOES-7 will become the first of the GOES satellites to operate in both the GOES-EAST and GOES-WEST orbits, and will be retired from active weather-watching duty in 1999, becoming a communications relay satellite until it is decommissioned in 2012.

Pioneer Venus eyes Comet Wilson

Comet WilsonA victory lap after its successful study of Halley’s Comet in 1985 and 1986, the Pioneer Venus Orbiter uses its unique position at the solar system’s second planet to observe another comet, the recently-discovered Comet Wilson. Spotted for the first time only the year before, little is known about Comet Wilson, a lack of data that Pioneer Venus helps to correct by imaging the comet in the ultraviolet portion of the spectrum. Pioneer Venus will also study two other comets later in 1987.

Patrick Troughton, Doctor Who actor, dies

Patrick TroughtonPatrick Troughton, the first actor to inherit the lead role of Doctor Who from another actor (and still one of the best-loved incarnations of the time-traveling Doctor), dies at the age of 67 on the second day of a science fiction convention in Columbus, Georgia. Despite worries about a persistent heart condition (he had already suffered heart attacks in 1978 and 1984), Troughton had made the trip to America against his doctor’s advice, suffering a fatal third heart attack after breakfast. His final TV appearance, the series Knights Of God, will air later in the year, having actually been filmed in 1985.

Kvant-1: Mir expands

Mir-KvantThe Soviet Union launches the first Kvant module to join with the Mir core module. An expansion originally devised for the Salyut 7 space station, Kvant provides additional working space and life support systems aboard Mir as, well as a gyroscopic stablization system to keep the station properly oriented without the constant use of engines and fuel. Years later, the basic Kvant design will be developed further in Russia’s contributions to the International Space Station.

Space Station Freedom’s new mission

ISSPresident Reagan approves a $10,000,000,000 budget for a redesigned, pared-down Space Station Freedom, to be constructed over sixteen Space Shuttle launches beginning in 1994, with Freedom not being fully operational until 1996. To the stern disapproval of the scientific community, almost all laboratory space has been removed from Freedom’s design proposal, leaving only Japan and the European Space Agency to provide lab space. Without the space for American astronauts to conduct scientific experiments, Space Station Freedom’s new primary mission is quite clearly stated to be to catch the American space program up with, or surpass, the Soviet Union’s long-duration space missions aboard the Mir space station. While the Preisdent approves of the slimmed-down station design, NASA must now run the gauntlet to get Congressional approval to proceed.

Mocking up Magellan

Making MagellanNASA has to borrow some of its own spare parts back from the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum to begin engineering mock-up work on the unmanned Venus radar mapping probe Magellan. As JPL works on modifications to a backup central bus component left over from the Voyager program, a physical copy of that bus from an engineering backup of the Voyager spacecraft is loaned back to JPL, shipped to Pasadena from Washington, D.C. (This loan saves JPL the trouble of building another replica of the bus, the central hub of the spacecraft containing its computer and electrical systems, which could add significant cost to the preparations.) The real Magellan, due to be launched soon after the currently grounded space shuttle program resumes, will cut costs by incorporating unused backup equipment from its predecessors, including a Voyager central bus and high-gain antenna, a medium-gain antenna spare from the Mariner missions to Mars, and a Galileo data handling system.

Twilight Zone: Episode 34

Twilight ZoneCBS airs the 34th episode of a revival of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. Gina Gershon (Showgirls, Tripping The Rift, Riverdale), Martin Balsam (The Six Million Dollar Man), Jenny Agutter (Logan’s Run), Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager), and Dennis Haskins (Saved By The Bell) star in two half-hour stories combined to fill an hour time slot, as CBS has already cancelled the series (but will revive it under a different production team to produce more episodes to make the Twilight Zone revival viable for syndication).

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WerewolfThe first episode of Werewolf airs on the recently-launched Fox Network, the first genre series in the new network’s three-month history. Created by Frank Lupo (The A-Team, Hunter), the series stars John J. York and Lance LeGault, with guest appearances by Chuck Connors (The Rifleman), Ethan Phillips (Benson, Star Trek: Voyager), Michelle Johnson (Blame It On Rio), and Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon A Time, Star Trek: Voyager).

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Twilight Zone: Episode 35

The Twilight ZoneCBS airs the 35th episode of a revival of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. Jennifer Rubin and James Whitmore Jr. (Baa Baa Black Sheep) star in an episode comprised of two short stories, Song Of The Younger World and The Girl I Married. Though the series ends its run on CBS’ prime time schedule at this point, CBS spends over a year retooling the series and moving its production base to Canada to produce a further 30 episodes to air in first-run syndication, bolstering the show’s episode count and its future prospects as a syndicated show.

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Soyuz TM-3

Soyuz TM-3The Soviet Union launches Soyuz TM-3 on an eight-day mission into space which includes a visit to space station Mir. Cosmonauts Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Muhammed Faris (the latter of whom is the first Syrian space traveler) return to Earth at the end of the mission, along with Mir crew member Yuri Romanenko, while Alexander Viktorenko takes Romanenko’s slot on Mir. In order to leave the newer vehicle docked to Mir as an escape craft, the Soyuz TM-3 crew returns aboard Soyuz TM-2.

Bourgeois Tagg: Yoyo

Bourgeois TaggIsland Records issues Yoyo, the second album by rock group Bourgeois Tagg, fronted jointly by Brent Bourgeois and Larry Tagg. This album is produced by Todd Rundgren, who also recruits most of the band members to play on his next album. The biggest hit turns out to be the ballad “I Don’t Mind At All”, written by Bourgeois and guitarist Lyle Workman; the band breaks up at a later date.

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The Legend Of Zelda

WarriorNintendo 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.

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Knights Of God, Episode 1

Knights Of GodUK regional broadcaster TVS premieres the first episode of Richard Cooper’s alternate-history series Knights Of God, portraying a struggle between oppressive government and rugged resistance fighters in a post-civil-war UK. Gareth Thomas (Blake’s 7) and Patrick Troughton (Doctor Who) star; though filmed in 1985, it is Troughton’s final televised role (he died earlier in 1987). The series has never been repeated.

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Art Of Noise: In No Sense? Nonsense!

Art Of NoiseArt Of Noise releases its third album, In No Sense? Nonsense!. Now consisting only of Anne Dudley and J.J. Jeczalik, the group’s popular direction continues, with a cover of the Dragnet theme song (used heavily to promote a big-screen remake/spoof of the cop show starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks) and an instrumental from the Fat Boys’ movie Disorderlies, “Roller 1”.

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