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Conversations from the Four Rivers Region

Datebook: January 5 – Nixon Orders Development of Space Shuttle Program 40 Years Ago

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The shuttle program was formally launched on January 5, 1972, when President Nixon announced that NASA would proceed with the development of a reusable space shuttle system. The intent was to launch as many as 50 missions per year, with hopes of driving down per-mission costs. The spacecraft system was operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons. Major missions included launching numerous satellites and interplanetary probes, conducting space science experiments, and 37 missions constructing and servicing the International Space Station. A major international contribution was the Spacelab payload suite, from the ESA. NASA retired the Space Shuttle last year. Until another U.S. launch vehicle is ready, crews will travel to and from the International Space Station aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft or possibly a future American commercial spacecraft.

It’s Thursday, January 5

Maiden Alley Cinema presents “Take Shelter” starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, rated R. A man experiences bad dreams and hallucinations, prompting him to build an elaborate and expensive storm shelter in his family’s backyard. The film shows at 7 and at 9:10 tomorrow night. For additional weekend showtimes, visit

Author Nick Flynn gives a reading on Monday at 7:30PM in Murray State’s Clara Eagle Art Gallery. Flynn is the author of three books of poetry and two memoirs, one of which is being made into a film starring Robert DeNiro. The reading is free and open to the public, and a book signing and reception will follow at the Faculty Club.

The Paducah Wastelanders’ New Year’s Art Exhibition will be at the Yeiser Art Center tomorrow and Saturday from 10AM to 4PM. The show features paintings, photography, mixed media, ceramics, and sculptures. For more information, call 442-1985.

The Juke Joint Shuffle returns to 913 on Saturday at 1PM. Find out more at


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