WandaVision

WandaVisionStreaming service Disney Plus premieres the first and second episodes of WandaVision, created for TV by Jac Schaeffer and starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprising the characters of Wanda Maximoff and Vision. Kathryn Hahn also stars. Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the series involves the characters after the events of Avengers: Endgame, and progresses through a succession of styles patterned on classic TV sitcoms (for reasons that become apparent as the story unfolds).

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Mira Furlan, actress, dies

Mira FurlanYugoslavian-born actress Mira Furlan, best known to genre fans as Ambassador Delenn from Babylon 5 (one of the few characters to appear in both the 1993 pilot movie and the 1998 series finale), and for her recurring role as Rousseau in Lost, dies at the age of 65. With her husband, director Goran Gajić, she escaped the Serbo-Croatian war and emigrated to the United States early in the 1990s, just in time to land the role of Delenn. She also continued film and stage appearances, as well as releasing an album titled Songs From Movies That Have Never Been Made, with lyrics in both her native tongue and English.

Louis Clark, musician, dies

Louis ClarkOrchestral conductor, arranger and composer Louis Clark, best known for the chart-topping early ’80s mash-up Hooked On Classics, dies at the age of 73 after a period of illness. Aside from the Hooked On Classics single and album, Clark was the architect of the orchestral arrangements for Electric Light Orchestra during that band’s 1970s peak years, working in the albums Eldorado (1974), Face The Music (1975), A New World Record (1976), Out Of The Blue (1977), Discovery (1979), and ELO’s contributions to the Xanadu soundtrack (1980). He went on to become a full-time member of Electric Light Orchestra Part II (later renamed The Orchestra), creating that band’s orchestral arrangements as well as performing on stage, often playing the orchestral parts with synthesizers and samples. He also worked on numerous solo projects by members of ELO, including Kelly Groucutt’s Kelly album (1982), Roy Wood’s Starting Up (1987), and collaborating with Jeff Lynne on Roy Orbison’s Mystery Girl (1989). He also did orchestral arrangements for acts such as Asia, Renaissance, America, and Ozzy Osbourne.

WandaVision: The Series Finale

WandaVisionStreaming service Disney Plus releases the ninth and final episode of WandaVision, created for TV by Jac Schaeffer and starring Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, and Kathryn Hahn. The series sets up both a spinoff for Hahn’s character, as well as a lead-in to future feature film Doctor Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness, to be released in 2022.

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Michael Collins, astronaut, dies

Michael CollinsApollo 11 command module pilot Michael Collins, who remained in the command module Columbia in orbit of the moon while his crewmates, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, landed on the moon, dies at the age of 90 after battling cancer. Upon returning to Earth, Collins opted to retire from NASA and found work within the United States government, leading to his becoming the first director of the National Air & Space Museum, a facility which had yet to open at the time he took charge of it. Collins wrote a memoir, Carrying The Fire, in 1974, one of the earliest astronaut memoirs (and the first from a member of the crew charged with making the first lunar landing). Prior to Apollo 11, he had flown with John Young aboard Gemini 10, and prior to that had distinguished careers as both a fighter pilot and a test pilot. He applied for the second group of NASA astronauts, but didn’t make the cut until NASA was recruiting its third class.

Jackie Lane, actress, dies

Jackie Lane as Dodo in Doctor WhoFormer actress Jackie Lane, who portrayed the first Doctor’s companion, Dodo Chaplet, in the third season of Doctor Who opposite William Hartnell, dies at the age of 79. One of the actresses originally considered for the role of Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter, at the beginning the series, Ms. Lane wasn’t offered a role until the show entered its third season. The character of Dodo was rather abruptly introduced at the end of part four of The Massacre, and then is not seen again after the end of part 4 of The War Machines, presumably having decided to stay on Earth in her native time period, though the character’s fate is never specified; in real life, her contract was allowed to expire with no attempt made to keep her in the series. Burned by that experience, she retired from acting and became an agent, representing fellow Doctor Who stars Tom Baker and Janet Fielding during that phase of her career. Though she appeared in a handful of DVD bonus features covering her time on Doctor Who, she chose to stay out of the convention ecosystem, resisting offers to make public appearances.

Virgin Galactic Unity-22

Virgin Galactic Unity-22Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity lifts off from Spaceport New Mexico on its first fully-crewed flight with passengers, including Virgin Galactic founder/owner Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic’s Beth Moses (who flew aboard a previous flight), Sirisha Bandla, and Colin Bennett, with veteran Virgin Galactic pilots David Mackay and Michael Masucci at the vehicle’s controls. The flight is suborbital only, but does earn the rookies among its crew their commercial astronaut wings. The flight was only announced at the beginning of July, where some observers interpreted the announcement as an attempt to upstage the previous announcement that Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin would be flying a fully crewed New Shepard capsule on July 20th. Independent flight of Unity lasts approximate 14 minutes, from drop/booster ignition from its carrier aircraft to landing (total time in both air and space for those aboard is approximately 58 minutes, from takeoff of the carrier aircraft to Unity‘s touchdown on the runway). (The flight system of carrier aircraft and air-dropped spacecraft was established almost exactly 17 years earlier in the first SpaceShipOne flight by Scaled Composites, which sold the design to Virgin Galactic for commercial development.)

Blue Origin NS-16

Blue Origin NS-16Blue Origin, the private spaceflight company founded and owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, launches its first fully-crewed New Shepard capsule into suborbital space. Aboard are Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, Mercury 13 astronaut candidate Wally Funk (at 82, the oldest human to have traveled in space to date), and Oliver Daemen (at 18, the youngest human space traveler to date); the vehicle is fully automatic and has no pilots (or, indeed, control systems for pilots) aboard, with the flight lasting ten minutes from liftoff to landing under parachute. This is the first crewed spaceflight launched from Blue Origin’s Texas facility. As both the New Shepard booster and crew capsule are reusable, the hardware has all been previously flown.

Nauka Module Launched

Nauka launchRussia launches the Nauka Multipurpose Logistics Module Upgrade component of the International Space Station. Part of the original design for the ISS, Nauka was built in time to be launched in 2007, but its addition to the station was repeatedly delayed, missing planned launch windows in 2009, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2020. Parts of Nakua required upgrades and replacements over the years that it awaited launch, as these parts began to fail certification due to their age. (Much of the module was 14 years old before it ever made it to the launch pad.) Nakua, designed to automatically rendezvous and dock with the station, begins encountering technical problems once it is in orbit, delaying the docking maneuver. It replaces the Russian Pirs module, which becomes the first ISS module to be detached and allowed to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.

Nauka Module docks with International Space Station

Nauka docking time lapseDelayed several days due to technical glitches that occurred after its launch, the Russian Nauka Multipurpose Logisitics Module Upgrade docks with the International Space Station. Some glitches continue to occur during the modules approach and docking phase, with the Russian crew members aboard the station manually intervening when necessary. After docking, however, Nauka’s thrusters begin firing, rotating the station 45 degrees off-axis, eventually exhausting its fuel supply. Once its thrusters are no longer capable of moving the station, the station is restored to its original orientation, with NASA reassuring the public that the event posed no danger to the crew. Some spacewalks will be required to fully connect Nauka’s systems to those of the rest of the station, but it is expected to become the hub of Russia’s research activity aboard the ISS.

Tony Selby, actor, dies

Tony Selby as Sam in Ace Of WandsActor Tony Selby, known to British sci-fi and fantasy fans both as recurring rogue Sabalon Glitz in Doctor Who and as series regular Sam Maxsted in the first two (now missing) seasons of Ace Of Wands, dies of COVID-19-related complications at the age of 83. With his first credited TV role at the age of 13, Mr. Selby was a frequent fixture in British TV and films. He made numerous appearances in The Wednesday Play, and appeared in The Avengers, Department S, Callan, Special Branch, and Crown Court. He also made movie appearances, in such films as Villain, Adolf Hitler – My Part In His Downfall, and uncredited roles in Alfie and Superman. His 21st century TV appearances included Dream Team, New Tricks, and Doctors.

Soyuz MS-19

Soyuz MS-19 crewSoyuz MS-19 is launched to the International Space Station from Baikonur Cosmodrome, carrying a three-person crew (the first all-Russian Soyuz crew since Soyuz TM-30 in 2000) to a brief stay aboard the International Space Station. Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, a veteran of three previous flights, commands and pilots the mission, whose other crewmembers, film director Klim Shipenko and actress Yulia Peresild, are passengers visiting the station to shoot approximately 40 minutes of footage for a movie to be released at a later date. The revival of “space tourism” aboard the ISS sparks new controversy about the topic, particularly within the Russian space program, mirroring similar controversy surrounding the burgeoning suborbital passenger spaceflight industry. Shipenko and Peresild return to Earth after 12 days aboard the ISS, catching a ride home aboard Soyuz MS-18 alongside returning ISS Commander Oleg Novitskiy; Shkaplerov remains aboard the ISS to assume command. Soyuz MS-19 will return the current ISS crew to Earth in March 2022.

Blue Origin NS-18

William Shatner in spaceThe second crewed flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital space capsule lifts off on a ten-minute parabolic trajectory. Of major interest to the press is the presence of Star Trek actor William Shatner aboard the flight, riding in a seat donated by Blue Origin. At 90 years old, Shatner replaces previous New Shepard passenger Wally Funk as the oldest human being in space, and returns from his trip visibly moved by the experience. Along with Shatner for the ride are Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s VP of mission and flight operations, former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, and Dassault Systèmes executive Glen de Vries. (The latter two each paid $250,000,000 for their seats.)

Charging the view of distant atmospheres

Jupiter and Europa as seen by Hubble in August 2020NASA and ESA announce that spectrographic analysis of Hubble Space Telescope data gathered during observations of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa reveals that Europa has a persistent atmosphere of water vapor, but only on the hemisphere of the moon that is opposite of the direction of its orbital motion. (This unusual effect had been predicted in computer modeling, but had not been directly observed until now.) The atmosphere is present in Hubble spectroscopy data as old as 1999 and as recent as 2015. The stability of the water vapor in the atmosphere is the real surprise find, since surface-based water was assumed to be in solid ice form.

Joanna Cameron, actress, dies

Joanna Cameron in The Secret of IsisActress Joanna Cameron, perhaps best known for starring in the cult classic 1970s live-action kids’ superhero series Isis (a.k.a. The Secret of Isis), dies at the age of 70s after suffering complications from a stroke. Launching her career in 1969 at the behest of family friend Bob Hope, Cameron at one point held the Guinness World Record for the most commercial appearances for a single actor. Following her two-season stint as Isis, she moved on to TV guest roles in The Amazing Spider-Man, McMillan & Wife, and Switch, with her last TV credit in the appropriately titled 1980 made-for-TV movie Swan Song. After leaving Hollywood, she produced and directed promotional films for the U.S. Navy, and then moved into careers in health care and hotel marketing.

Launching Lucy

LUCY mission renderingNASA launches the Lucy spacecraft on its twelve-year mission to study select specimens of the Trojan asteroid swarms that both precede and trail the planet Jupiter at the stable LaGrange points in its orbit. Lucy’s complex trajectory calls for it to conduct gravity assist flybys of Earth in 2022 and 2024, and to survey the main asteroid belt body 52246 Donaldjohanson in 2025, en route to reaching its first Trojan asteroid, 3548 Eurybates, in 2027. Future targets include 15094 Polymele later in 2027, 11351 Leucus and 21900 Orus in 2028, and – after a further gravity assist flyby of Earth in 2030 – the binary Trojan pair 617 Patroclus-Menoetius in 2033. Lucy’s name is not an abbreviation; it is named after a famous fossil skeleton discovered in 1971 by a team led by anthropologist David Johanson; it is hoped that studying the Trojan asteroids will lead to discoveries that make them similar “missing links” in the solar system’s own fossil record.

Star Trek: Prodigy: Lost And Found

Star Trek: ProdigyStreaming service Paramount Plus premieres the two-part pilot episode of the animated series Star Trek: Prodigy, created by Dan & Kevin Hageman. The first Star Trek series in over 40 years designed for a younger audience, the series features the voices of Brett Gray, Ella Purnell, Jason Mantzoukas, Angus Imrie, Rylee Alazraqui, and Dee Bradley Baker, with Kate Mulgrew reprising the role of Captain Janeway.

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Bob Baker, writer, dies

Bob Baker in K9 Unleashed (1999)Writer Bob Baker, a former Doctor Who script writer who, with his frequent 1970s writing partner Dave Martin, created the character of K-9, dies at the age of 82. Born in Bristol, Baker forged a fruitful writing partnership with Martin, with their first Doctor Who story, The Claws Of Axos, transmitted by the BBC in 1971. They continued to be frequent contributors to that series throughout the 1970s, while simultaneously creating children’s fantasy series closer to home at HTV, including Sky and King Of The Castle. A 1977 Doctor Who script, The Invisible Enemy, introduced the enduring character of robot dog K-9, who would continue to appear regularly through 1981, even meriting a pilot for a spinoff series, K-9 & Company, that same year, and eventually making guest appearances in the 21st century revival of Doctor Who and its spinoff, The Sarah Jane Adventures. Baker and Martin stopped working together in the late ’70s, with Baker pursuing one solo Doctor Who writing assignment (1979’s Nightmare Of Eden) before co-creating another HTV fantasy series, Into The Labyrinth, which ran for three seasons starting in 1981. In 2009, after years of pitching the idea, a K-9 spinoff produced in Australia launched, produced by Baker (who also wrote or co-wrote two scripts). Baker was still trying to attract co-production interest in a second season of K-9, or possible a movie spinoff, toward the end of his life. Baker gained wider recognition as co-creator of the Wallace & Gromit animated shorts and movies (as well as their spinoff, Shaun the Sheep), which won both Oscar and BAFTA awards.

Dean Stockwell, actor, dies

Dean Stockwell as AlActor Dean Stockwell, known to many genre fans as Al from the time-travel series Quantum Leap, dies at the age of 85. Beginning his career on the Broadway stage at the age of six, Stockwell quickly made his way to Hollywood, appearing alongside the likes of Errol Flynn, Frank Sinatra, Katherine Hepburn, and Roddy McDowall, among many others. In the early 1980s, while he was contemplating a career change, an appearing in the film Paris, Texas revitalized Stockwell’s profile as an actor, leading to roles in Dune, Blue Velvet, and Married To The Mob, which earned Stockwell an Oscar nomination. Immediately after that, he was cast as Al in Quantum Leap, a show in which he co-starred opposite Scott Bakula for five seasons, racking up nominations for Emmy Awards for four of those years. Later genre TV work included a recurring role on Syfy‘s revival of Battlestar Galactica.

Star Trek: Prodigy: Terror Firma

Star Trek: ProdigyStreaming service Paramount Plus releases the fifth episode of the animated series Star Trek: Prodigy, created by Dan & Kevin Hageman. Though originally intended to run concurrently with Star Trek: Discovery’s fourth season, the series goes on hiatus after this episode in order to allow post-production to catch up, with many elements of production having reverted to remote work due to a surge of a new variant of COVID-19. It is the first time since May 1999 that two Star Trek series have aired new episodes in the same week.

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Hawkeye: Never Meet Your Heroes

LokiStreaming service Disney Plus premieres the first episode of Hawkeye, created for TV by Jonathan Igla and starring Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld. Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the series follows the exploits of the non-super-powered title character after the events of Avengers: Endgame.

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