“I don’t even like to fly. I take trains.” – Zefram Cochrane
Today in 2063 in the Star Trek universe, Zefram Cochrane pilots the first warp-drive craft into space and attracts the attention of the Vulcans, resulting in Earth’s official first contact with an alien species. The future is all conveniently documented for us in the 1996 movie “Star Trek: First Contact” so we have something to look forward to after the zombies attack.
There’s a certain poetry to Cochrane hosting the uptight Vulcans at a bar while Roy Orbison blasts away, don’t you think? We can only hope if aliens do find us interesting enough to talk to without probing, the human race will do it with similar style. Reality suggests, however, that first contact will be tweeted by someone before the aliens set foot (or tentacle) on our soil.
Celebrate today by defeating the Borg wherever you find them and cranking the song “Magic Carpet Ride” until the windows shake. The video clip below is one of our faves for two reasons. You can’t go into space without loud music, and some of the switches inside the Phoenix were Trekkie in-jokes: two of them were marked TOS 3 and TOS 8 for the original Star Trek series, referencing the first time Cochrane appeared in the series’ 38th episode.
Astronaut Charles Conrad on the Gemini 5 mission. Photo credit: NASA
Today in 1965, astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles Conrad left our earthly terrain to push the boundaries of manned space flight. Their goal was to spend eight days in space so NASA would better understand the effects of spending more time in space. It was also a nose-tweak to the Russians, who set the former record for man in space just two years earlier. Cooper and Conrad easily beat the Russians’ duration record of four days with a then-whopping eight days in space, although the mission didn’t always go smoothly: there problems with water supply, thrusters and general conditions. While the men had experiments to keep them busy, at least one lamented the lack of reading material. You know, because looking down on the gorgeous site of the earth gets old when there’s nothing else to do for eight days.
Still, the mission was deemed a success, and took man one step closer to the reality of living in space. This mission is also noteworthy since it is the first one to have its own patch, thanks to Cooper. After Gemini 5, every NASA manned mission in space would have an insignia patch, a tradition that continues to this day.Tweet