14 May 1973

The United States space station, Skylab is launched.

Skylab, the American space station and laboratory, was launched into space on May 14, 1973, starting a six-year journey that recorded various in-space firsts and discoveries.

Operated by NASA, Skylab orbited Earth for four years. It included an Apollo telescope mount, a multiple docking adapter with two docking ports, an airlock module with EVA hatches, and the orbital workshop, the main habitable volume of the station.

Although it was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, three manned missions to the station were conducted between 1973 and 1974 using the Apollo Command/Service Module atop a smaller Saturn IB. Each mission carried three astronauts.

Power for the station came from solar arrays and fuel cells in the docked Apollo CSM. The rear of the station included a large waste tank, propellant tanks for maneuvering jets, and a heat radiator.

Skylab marked the first ever in-space major repair. After the station was damaged at launch when the micrometeoroid shield separated from the station and tore away, Skylab was deprived of most of its power and lost protection from intense solar heating. The first group of astronauts was able to deploy a replacement heat shade and free the single remaining, jammed main solar array.

Numerous scientific experiments were conducted aboard Skylab during its operational life. Indeed, from the station crews were able to confirm the existence of coronal holes in the sun. The Earth Resources Experiment Package was used to view the Earth with sensors that recorded data in the visible, infrared, and microwave spectral regions. And thousands of photographs of Earth were taken, while records for human time spent in orbit were extended.

The Skylab student project allowed high school students to submit ideas for experiments to be performed on the station. Students were able to participate in 19 experiments and two experiments were used on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.

Plans were made to refurbish and reuse Skylab using the Space Shuttle, however, when shuttle development was delayed, Skylab made a partially controlled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated in 1979. Debris was scattered in the Indian Ocean and in a sparsely-populated area of Western Australia.

After Skylab’s disintegration, the focus shifted to the reusable Spacelab module, an orbital workshop that could be deployed from the Space Shuttle and returned to Earth. This eventually led to the US Orbital Segment of the International Space Station.

14 May 1836

The ‘Treaties of Velasco’ are signed in Velasco, Texas.

The Treaties of Velasco were two documents signed at Velasco, Texas on May 14, 1836, between Antonio López de Santa Anna of Mexico and the Republic of Texas, in the aftermath of the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. The signatories were Interim President David G. Burnet for Texas and Santa Anna for Mexico. The treaties were intended, on the part of Texas, to provide a conclusion of hostilities between the two enemies and to offer the first steps toward the official recognition of the breakaway republic’s independence.

Santa Anna signed both a public treaty and a secret treaty, but neither treaty was ratified by the Mexican government because he had signed the documents under coercion, as a prisoner. Mexico claimed Texas was a breakaway province, but it was too weak to attempt another invasion. The documents were not even called “treaties” until so characterized by US President James K. Polk in his justifications for war some ten years later, as Representative Abraham Lincoln pointed out in 1848.

Although Gen. Vicente Filisola began troop withdrawals on May 26, the government of President José Justo Corro in Mexico City resolved, on May 20, to disassociate itself from all undertakings entered into by Santa Anna while he was held captive. Mexico’s position was that Santa Anna had no legal standing in the Mexican government to agree to those terms or negotiate a treaty;

Santa Anna’s position was that he had signed the documents under coercion as a prisoner, not as a surrendering general in accordance with the laws of war. In fact, he had no authority under the Mexican Constitution to make a treaty, and in any case, the treaties were never ratified by the Mexican government.

Santa Anna was not given passage to Veracruz. He was kept as a prisoner of war in Velasco and, later, in the Orozimbo plantation, before being taken to Washington, D.C., in the United States to meet with President Andrew Jackson. Sailing on the frigate USS Pioneer, the guest of the U.S. Navy, he did not arrive in Veracruz until February 23, 1837.

Because the provisions of the public treaty were not met, the terms of the secret agreement were not released until much later. Although a fait accompli since mid-1836, neither the independence of Texas nor its later annexation by the U.S. was formally recognized by Mexico until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War that resulted from the annexation and recognized the Rio Grande as the Mexico – United States border.

14 May 1998

The final show of television series, Seinfeld airs on NBC.

“It’s just very difficult to end a series,” Sopranos creator David Chase once said, years after he aggravated millions of fans by cutting to black before Tony could get his comeuppance. “For example, Seinfeld, they ended it with them all going to jail. Now that’s the ending we should have had. And they should have had ours, where it blacked out in a diner.”

Seventeen years after the Seinfeld finale, people are still crapping on it. Not just haters, but even its stars. Like when Julia Louis-Dreyfus went on David Letterman’s final show last month and cracked, “Thanks for letting me take part in another hugely disappointing series finale.”

On May 14, 1998, approximately 76 million people tuned in to see how the show “about nothing” would execute its farewell. Co-creator Larry David, who’d left the show after season 7, returned to write the finale, and NBC’s hype machine was running full throttle. Would Elaine and Jerry get hitched? Would Newman be killed in some delightfully ghastly accident? Of course, what actually happened was Jerry and George finally got their TV deal, but before they could celebrate with Elaine and Kramer in Paris, the four of them were arrested in Latham, Mass., for failing to help a man being car-jacked. A media circus descended on their trial, where they were found guilty and sentenced to a year in jail—essentially for being horrible people. All the fringe characters they’d ever wronged during nine seasons of TV—from Marla the Virgin to library cop Joe Bookman—testified against them. The penultimate scene was of the four guilty losers discussing the buttons on George’s shirt—a throwback to the show’s first episode.