Space: the not-so-final frontier. Not-so-final as we’d like to think it is. Of course, there’s space. But there’s also time. And thought. Speaking of space and time and thought, I think it’s time that I took the space to, once again, celebrate all things sci-fi in yet another weekly installment looking at the special people, places, and events that tell me just a bit more about what science fiction is.
On the other side of the pond in 1962, the “Telstar” satellite delivered the first live TV broadcast to Europe. In theatres, audiences were tempted to believe a puppet could fly when MUPPETS FROM SPACE launched. Auspicious birthdays include ROBOCOP’s OCP boss, actor Ronny Cox (1938); ANGEL’s comely sidekick, Charisma Carpenter (1970); and HARRY POTTER’s Daniel Radcliffe (1989).
In 1969, the Apollo 11 astronauts safely returned to Earth, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. (Mars? If you’re reading this, be warned: you’re next, dude.) Auspicious birthdays include two of science fiction’s most lovely ladies ever: FIREFLY’s Summer Glau (1981) and the incomparable WONDER WOMAN herself, Lynda Carter (1951).
In 1946, the U.S. government tested the first underwater atomic bomb at Bikini Atoll, hence the 3-eyed fish on “The Simpsons.” (Thank you, Mr. Oppenheimer.) On this day in 2008, Chris Carter tried to re-invigorate Mulder & Scully with their second feature, THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE; few people did believe. Auspicious birthdays include cinematography Peter Suschitzky (1941) whose contributions to our beloved genre can be seen in such films as RED PLANET, EXISTENz, and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.
All the way back in 1907, the Chester was launched, putting the first turbine-propelled ship out to sea. Auspicious birthdays include UNDERWORLD’s lovely Kate Beckinsale (1973) and legendary film director Stanley Kubrick (1928).
Under command of Air Force Col. Eileen Collins (above), the space shuttle Discovery completed the first shuttle mission commanded by a woman. (Pardon the blatant sexism, but I wonder how well she parked the thing when she brought it back to Earth! And no, mom, I’m not better than that!) Auspicious birthdays include veteran film producer Gary Kurtz (1940) who aided George Lucas in producing STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.
In 2006, researchers announced that two reptiles – the Umoonasaurus (shown above) and the Opallionectes – were the first of their kind found in the period soon after the Jurassic era. On this day in 1995, Kevin Costner fished up WATERWORLD, which remains one of Hollywood’s most ambitious failures. Auspicious birthdays include B-movie regular Bruce Abbott (1954) of RE-ANIMATOR and BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR fame.
On this day in 1958, the U.S. Congress authorized the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, more commonly known as NASA. In 1983, the forever tepid KRULL was released in theatres. In 2011, the equally tepid COWBOYS & ALIENS did the same. Auspicious birthdays include David Warner (1941) from the STAR TREK franchise as well as TIME BANDITS (shown above); and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” semi-regular Wil Wheaton (1972), the wonderchild everybody loved to hate.