Orbital Sciences Cygnus CRS Orb-1

CygnusHaving successfully demonstrated a working model of the Cygnus unmanned cargo spacecraft in 2013, Orbital Sciences delivers its first Cygnus vehicle under a new commercial resupply contract with NASA. The S.S. C. Gordon Fullerton (named for one of the earliest Shuttle astronauts, now deceased) cargo ship lifts off from Wallops Island, carrying nearly 2,800 pounds of supplies and equipment to the International Space Station. It will remain docked at the ISS for 36 days.

A 90% chance of iron rain

Luhman 16bA team of scientists publishes a report in the journal Nature revealing that, using Doppler observations, they have achieved a very basic map of the “weather” patterns on the dim brown dwarf star Luhman 16B, discovered in 2013 at a distance of only 6.5 light years from Earth’s solar system. The observations reveal that the high temperature is likely to be 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, with a very good chance of violent storms raining molten iron onto Luhman 16B’s surface in the forecast.

Cliff Bole, frequent Star Trek director, dies

Star Trek: TNGDirector Cliff Bole, a Hollywood veteran with episodes of such classic shows as The Six Million Dollar Man, MacGyver, and Spenser: For Hire under his belt, dies at the age of 75. Best known for his very frequent returns to the Paramount lot, Bole directed episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager, including the all-time fan favorite TNG two-parter The Best Of Both Worlds (1990). He also directed other genre shows such as The X-Files, Supernatural, and Millennium.

Dale Gardner, shuttle astronaut, dies

Dale GardnerShuttle astronaut Dale Gardner, who flew aboard space shuttle Challenger’s STS-8 mission in 1983 and the STS-51A mission aboard Discovery in 1984, dies unexpectedly. As a Mission Specialist aboard both flights, he participated in the risky task of manually retrieving a wayward satellite that was considered too large a target to risk snagging with the shuttle’s remote manipulator arm on the Discovery mission. Using one of the Manned Maneuvering Units that would fall out of favor during post-Challenger-disaster safety reviews, Gardner manually captured the satellite and helped to berth it in Discovery’s cargo bay (and then held up a “for sale” sign for the camera). Gardner left NASA and returned to the Air Force and then to civilian life following the Challenger disaster, and had recently retired just over a year before his death. He was 65.

Harold Ramis, Ghostbusters star/writer, dies

Harold Ramis as EgonWriter, director and actor Harold Ramis dies after several years of battling vascular disease. An SCTV comedy veteran who went on to co-write Stripes, Animal House and Caddyshack, Ramis gained genre fame in 1984 for co-writing Ghostbusters, and starring in it as Dr. Egon Spengler, the brains of the ghostbusting operation. He did both again for the less successful Ghostbusters II in 1989, but went on to write and direct such films as Groundhog Day and Analyze This. Ramis was 69.

More about Harold Ramis in Scribblings

Dragon CRS-3

SpaceX DragonThe third SpaceX Dragon unmanned resupply mission to the International Space Station lifts off, testing a new version of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster rocket which incorporates landing legs and an attitude control system designed to return the booster’s first stage safely to Earth for possible reuse. The attitude control system succeeds in cancelling out the booster’s roll and brings the first stage down for a controlled splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. The Dragon capsule goes on to dock with the ISS two days later.

Soyuz TMA-13M / ISS Expedition 40

SoyuzThe 122nd Soyuz vehicle launched, Soyuz TMA-13M, lifts off from Russia to the International Space Station, carrying the station’s 40th crew to its stay in orbit. Aboard are flight engineers Maksim Surayev, Greg Wiseman and Alexander Gerst; of the three, only Surayev has previous spaceflight experience, and he will become the ISS Commander upon the departure of Expedition 39. Expedition 40’s stay aboard the ISS is slated to last six months, and Soyuz TMA-13M will be used as a return vehicle by the crew of Expedition 41 later in 2014. Though Soyuz TMA-13M was intended to use the recently developed six-hour fast-track launch trajectory to reach the station the same day it launched, technical glitches delayed its arrival at the ISS until May 28th.

Dragon V2 unveiled

DragonSpaceX founder Elon Musk unveils the Dragon V2 manned spacecraft, an evolution of the unmanned Dragon capsules that have been ferrying cargo to the International Space Station. With room for seven astronauts and 3-D printed engines that can output 16,000 pounds of thrust, Dragon V2 is said to be fully reusable and should be capable of landing propulsively on land rather than splashing down in a body of water. While many of the vehicles impressive specifications are revealed, no announcements are made of when NASA might permit a manned test flight to the ISS, or how far along Dragon V2 is in meeting NASA’s exacting standards for manned spacecraft.

Moving Buran

BuranOne of the last remaining prototypes of the Soviet-era Buran space shuttle is transported over land (and in pieces) from Gorky Park to an exhibition center in the center of Moscow to become part of an exhibit of Russian technological accomplishments. The unfinished Buran spaceframe had served numerous uses during its 30+ stay in Gorky Park, ranging from an impressive display piece to a diner (!).

Douglas E. Smith, Lode Runner creator, dies

Lode RunnerThe creator and programmer of Lode Runner, Douglas E. Smith, dies at the age of 53. A spare-time creation that became an all-consuming passion for Smith, Lode Runner sparked a nearly unprecedented bidding war among major computer game publishers in 1983. At the time of Smith’s death, Lode Runner has been ported to most major game and computer systems over the past 31 years.

Mangalayaan arrives at Mars

MangalayaanThe unmanned Mangalayaan space probe arrives, intact and functioning, in Mars orbit, making India the first country on Earth to successfully reach Mars on its first attempt. (A high failure rate among past Mars missions has plagued both the Russian and American space programs.) A 23-minute engine burn slows Mangalayaan down enough to be captured by Mars’ gravity, but leaves the vehicle with twice the fuel reserves expected for its projected six-month mission.

Soyuz TMA-14M / ISS Expedition 40

Soyuz TMA-14MPart of the 40th full-time crew of the International Space Station lifts off from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard Soyuz TMA-14M. Upon arriving in orbit, one of the Soyuz solar panel “wings” fails to deploy, only unfolding properly once the vehicle has docked at the ISS. Aleksandr Samokutyayev, Yelena Serova and Barry Wilmore take up residence on the ISS, becoming part of the Expedition 40 and 41 crews. This crew returns to Earth in March 2015 aboard the same vehicle.

Maggie Stables, Doctor Who actress, dies

Doctor Who and A Town Called FortuneDoctor Who audio actress Maggie Stables, who originated the role of the first TARDIS traveler unique to the audio medium, dies after a lengthy illness. First appearing in a guest role in Big Finish Productions’ inaugural Doctor Who story, The Sirens Of Time, in 1999, Stables was quickly cast as Dr. Evelyn Smythe, a new companion for the sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) who defied the series’ convention of casting young actresses in such roles. Ms. Stables reprised the role intermittently, making her final appearance in a trilogy of stories released by Big Finish early in 2011; the character appeared in animated form in a 2002 webcast, but never appeared on television.

Star Wars: Rebels: Spark Of Rebellion

Star Wars: RebelsCable channel Disney XD premieres the first full episode of the series Star Wars: Rebels, a CGI animated storyline falling between the original and prequel trilogies of the Star Wars saga, featuring a cell of rogue Rebels fighting the totalitarian Empire. Though technically in the same continuity as its predecessor, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Rebels is the first Disney-produced Star Wars project following the studio’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012. The first episode is roughly 43 minutes in length, a typical length for hour-long US television drama, but most future episodes (except for select “event” stories) will run 22 minutes long.

More about Star Wars: Rebels in the LogBook

The Flash: Pilot

The FlashThe first episode of The Flash, a modern-day reboot of DC Comics’ superhero, premieres on the CW, starring Grant Gustin. The series has been developed for TV by Greg Berlanti, creator of Arrow and past TV successes including Everwood and Eli Stone, and is part of the CW’s “shared universe” of DC Comics adaptations frequently referred to by fans as the Arrowverse. Stephen Amell (Arrow) guest stars; Barry Allen’s father is played by John Wesley Shipp, who played The Flash in his last TV series during the 1990-91 season.

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