We just revisited the legacy of astronaut Scott Carpenter, one of the Mercury 7, who passed away yesterday at the age of 88. It’s somehow fitting that today marks another landmark of space exploration. On October 11, 1968, the American space program launched the Apollo 7 mission. The first of the Apollo missions to actually send a crew into space, it essentially took over the mission originally intended for Apollo 1, which tragically suffered a fire on the launch pad that killed its entire crew. While the odds of something similar happening to Apollo 7 were very slim, that still had to be a bit of an eerie mission until everybody was safely back on the ground.
The Apollo 7 crew included Commander Walter Schirra, Command Module Pilot Donn Eisele, and Lunar Module Pilot R. Walter Cunningham. It orbited the Earth for 11 days, during which it sent out the first live TV broadcast ever from an American spacecraft (pictured above). In our age of astronauts regularly tweeting and posting YouTube videos from the International Space Station, it’s easy to take that for granted and forget how significant that broadcast was. There was a bit of headbutting between the crew and Mission Control after, among other things, Schirra came down with a cold. (I do not want to experience snot in space.) Nevertheless, the mission was a success and all three astronauts returned to Earth safely on October 22. Sadly, it was the final NASA spaceflight for all three crew members. Apollo 8 launched only two months later, on December 21, and became the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon and then return to Earth.
Beyond: Two Souls Hits PlayStation 3
If you’re a PlayStation gamer, there’s a good chance you might already have your copy of Beyond: Two Souls purchased and in the console by now. Two Souls is the latest from writer/game designer David Cage, the bloke responsible for Fahrenheit (called Indigo Prophecy in North America) and Heavy Rain. His games have a tendency to be dark, emotionally gripping, and experimental when it comes to the control scheme. Sometimes that latter element works really well, and other times…well, let’s just say there were numerous moments in Heavy Rain that involved me swearing at the screen and screaming “WHY CAN’T YOU JUST WALK LIKE A NORMAL AVATAR DAMN IT?!?”
Anyway, even when they’re flawed, Cage’s games are always interesting and ambitious. Beyond: Two Souls should be no different, plus it brings a pair of Hollywood A-listers to the table: both Ellen Page and Willem Defoe performed in the game, with page playing the main character, Jodie Holmes. Here’s a quick synopsis:
From the visionary mind of David Cage, director of the award-winning Heavy Rain, comes the most powerfully emotional experience on PlayStation 3. A singularly unique psychological action thriller delivered by A-list Hollywood performances, BEYOND: Two Souls takes you on a thrilling journey across the globe as you play out the remarkable life of Jodie Holmes.
Born with a connection to a mysterious entity with incredible powers, Jodie was different. In an adventure spanning 15 years of her life, your actions will determine Jodie’s fate as she faces extraordinary challenges, danger, and heartwrenching loss on a journey to discover the truth of who she is. BEYOND promises an emotionally charged journey unlike any video game before.
Happy Birthday to Claudia Black
Australian actress Claudia Black, best known for her brilliant role as Aeryn Sun on Farscape, was born on this day in 1972. That role alone would have guaranteed her a place in the heart of any sci-fi fan worth their salt, but she also appeared in Pitch Black and joined fellow Farscaper Ben Browder with a recurring role on Stargate SG-1. Frankly, it’s a crime that she and Browder have never really had the massive careers they deserved. Among other things, the pair pulled off probably the hottest, most convincing, and most cleverly written romantic relationship in televised science fiction. Happy birthday, Claudia!
…and Tim Choate
On a much sadder note, today would have — should have — been the 59th birthday of Tim Choate, who played the unforgettable Zathras on Babylon 5. (He also played Zathras.) Like far too many of the B5 cast, Tim died tragically young, killed in a motorcycle accident in 2004.