13 May 1971

Over 900 unarmed Bengali Hindus are murdered in what became known as the Demra massacre.

Demra massacre in Bangladesh was the massacre of unarmed Hindu residents of the villages under Demra Union in present-day Faridpur Upazila in Pabna District by the occupying Pakistan Army aided by local collaborators on 13 May 1971. It is estimated that 800–900 people were killed in a single day. Rape and plunder were also carried out, and mosques, temples, schools and houses were set on fire.

When the Pakistani occupation army spread out from Dhaka towards the districts as a part of the Operation Searchlight, the people began to flee their homes. The Hindus began to flee Bangladesh and take refuge in neighbouring India. On their way they had taken shelter in the remote village of Baushgari in Demra union.

The Pakistani occupation army, led by the local collaborators entered the area through the Boral river and then cordoned off the Baushgari and Rupsi villages. One collaborator named Asad led the Pakistani troops to the Baushgari village. In the nightfall, the men were dragged out of their houses and made to stand in a line, while the women were raped in front of them by the Pakistani troops with the help of the collaborators. After that both the men and women were shot to death and their houses were set on fire. A few survivors interred the charred remains of the bodies in a mass grave the next morning. Around 350 Hindus were killed in Baushgari village.

An 11-member team from the International Crimes Tribunal investigated the Demra massacre in 2010. The team was led by Sayed Rejaur Rahman, one of the prosecutors of the tribunal. The investigators visited the killing spots in Baushgari village and interviewed the witnesses to the war crimes. In their investigation they found Motiur Rahman Nizami guilty of masterminding the massacre. Nizami was convicted and executed by hanging in 2016

15 February 1971

The decimalisation of British coinage is completed on Decimal Day.

On 15 February 1971, known as Decimal Day, the United Kingdom and Ireland decimalised their currencies.
Under the old currency of pounds, shillings and pence, the pound was made up of 240 pence denoted by the letter d for Latin denarius and now referred to as “old pence”, with 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound.

The loss of value of the currency meant that the “old” penny, with the same diameter as the US half-dollar, had become of relatively low value.

The Coinage Act of 1792 had officially authorized the United States as the first English-speaking nation to have decimalised currency, although Tsar Peter the Great used the concept for the Russian ruble close to a century earlier, in 1704, while China has used such a decimal system for at least 2000 years. The United Kingdom’s Parliament rejected Sir John Wrottesley’s proposals to decimalise sterling in 1824, which was prompted by the introduction in 1795 of the decimal French franc. After this defeat, little practical progress towards decimalisation was made for over a century, with the exception of the two-shilling silver florin worth 1/10 of a pound first issued in 1849. A double florin or four-shilling piece was a further step in that direction but failed to gain acceptance and was struck only from 1887 to 1890.

The Decimal Association was founded in 1841 to promote decimalisation and metrication, both causes that were boosted by a realisation of the importance of international trade following the 1851 Great Exhibition. It was as a result of the growing interest in decimalisation that the florin was issued.

In their preliminary report, the Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage considered the benefits and problems of decimalisation but did not draw any conclusion about the adoption of any such scheme. A final report in 1859 from the two remaining commissioners, Lord Overstone and Governor of the Bank of England John Hubbard came out against the idea, claiming it had “few merits”.

In 1862, the Select Committee on Weights and Measures favoured the introduction of decimalisation to accompany the introduction of metric weights and measures.

The decimalisation movement even entered fiction. In Anthony Trollope’s Palliser novels, Plantagenet Palliser is a passionate advocate of decimalisation, a cause the other characters seem to find intensely boring. Palliser’s scheme would have divided the shilling into ten presumably revalued pennies. This would have changed the threepence into 2 1/2

new pence, the sixpence into fivepence and the half crown into a two shilling, five pence piece. It would also have required the withdrawal and reissuance of the existing copper coinage. At the end of the fifth book in the series, The Prime Minister, Palliser muses that the reform will not be accomplished, since it can only be done by a Chancellor of the Exchequer sitting in the House of Commons, and the Duke now sits in the House of Lords.

The Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage, chaired by Lord Emmott, reported in 1920 that the only feasible scheme was to divide the pound into 1,000 mills but that this would be too inconvenient. A minority of four members disagreed, saying that the disruption would be worthwhile. A further three members recommended that the pound should be replaced by the Royal, consisting of 100 halfpennies.

In 1960, a report prepared jointly by the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of British Chambers of Commerce, followed by the success of decimalisation in South Africa, prompted the Government to set up the Committee of the Inquiry on Decimal Currency in 1961, which reported in 1963. The adoption of the changes suggested in the report was announced on 1 March 1966. The Decimal Currency Board was created to manage the transition, although the plans were not approved by Parliament until the Decimal Currency Act in May 1969. Former Greater London Council leader Bill Fiske was named as the Chairman of the Decimal Currency Board.

Consideration was given to introducing a new major unit of currency worth ten shillings in the old currency: suggested names included the new pound, the royal and the noble. This would have resulted in the “decimal penny” being worth only slightly more than the old penny this approach was adopted, for example, when South Africa, Australia and New Zealand decimalised in the 1960s, adopting respectively the South African rand, Australian dollar and New Zealand dollar equal in value to 10 shillings. But Halsbury decided, in view of the pound sterling’s importance as a reserve currency, that the pound should remain unchanged.

Under the new system, the pound was retained but was divided into 100 new pence, denoted by the symbol p. New coinage was issued alongside the old coins. The 5p and 10p coins were introduced in April 1968 and were the same size, composition, and value as the shilling and two shillings coins in circulation with them. In October 1969 the 50p coin was introduced, with the 10s note withdrawn on 20 November 1970. This reduced the number of new coins that had to be introduced on Decimal Day and meant that the public was already familiar with three of the six new coins. Small booklets were made available containing some or all of the new denominations.

The old halfpenny was withdrawn from circulation on 31 July 1969, and the half-crown followed on 31 December to ease the transition.

There was a substantial publicity campaign in the weeks before Decimalisation Day, including a song by Max Bygraves called “Decimalisation”. The BBC broadcast a series of five-minute programmes, “Decimal Five”, to which The Scaffold contributed some specially written tunes. ITV repeatedly broadcast a short drama called Granny Gets The Point, starring Doris Hare, the actress in On The Buses, where an elderly woman who does not understand the new system is taught to use it by her grandson. At 10 am on 15 February itself BBC1 broadcast ‘New Money Day’, a ‘Merry-go-Round’ schools’ programme in which puppet maker Peter Firmin and his small friend Muskit encountered different prices and new coins when they went to the shops.

Banks received stocks of the new coins in advance and these were issued to retailers shortly before Decimalisation Day to enable them to give change immediately after the changeover. Banks were closed from 3:30 pm on Wednesday 10 February 1971 to 10:00 am on Monday 15 February, to enable all outstanding cheques and credits in the clearing system to be processed and customers’ account balances to be converted from £sd to decimal. In many banks the conversion was done manually, as most bank branches were not yet computerised. February had been chosen for Decimal Day because it was the quietest time of the year for the banks, shops, and transport organisations.

Many items were priced in both currencies for some time before and after. Prior to Decimal Day the double pricing was displayed as e.g. 1s; from Decimal Day the order was switched to 5p . For example, this order was used on most football programmes during the 1970–71 season. High denomination 10p, 20p, and 50p stamps were issued on 17 June 1970. Post offices were issued with very simple training stamps in the same colours as the upcoming decimal stamps.

Exceptions to the 15 February introduction were British Rail and London Transport, which went decimal one day early, the former urging customers, if they chose to use pennies or threepenny pieces, to pay them in multiples of 6d. Bus companies at that time many state-owned by the National Bus Company were another exception, going decimal on Sunday 21 February.

8 February 1971

The NASDAQ stock market index opens.

The New York Stock Exchange has been around for a long time – it was officially formed in 1792, and is home to many of the world’s biggest and most successful companies. For a long time, it was the Big Daddy of American – indeed, world – stock exchanges. But at the beginning of the 1970s, it found itself with an upstart competitor.

America’s National Association of Securities Dealers was a body set up to regulate the OTC market ‘over the counter’ securities which were not traded on traditional stock exchanges.

To enable investors to trade more efficiently, it set up its own speedy and transparent trading system – the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, or Nasdaq. It began trading on this day in 1971, providing trading for over 2,500 securities. It was a very different beast to the venerable old stock exchanges of yore. It didn’t have a big building full of men in silly coats shouting at each other. This was the future – this was an electronic exchange.

It expanded rapidly, and soon gained a reputation where tech stocks would list. And while it is very tech heavy, it counts car hire firms, airlines, banks and food companies among its listings.

It trades around two billion shares a day – more than any other exchange. Since the millennium it has overseen over a thousand stockmarket flotations. It is the second-largest exchange in the world by market capitalisation. With companies including Apple and Google – each with a market cap of some $500bn – and Microsoft, with a market cap of over $400bn, that’s hardly surprising.

Its flagship index, the Nasdaq Composite, began life at 100 in 1971, shot up to over 5,000 before the spectacular dotcom crash of 2000, when it lost some 78% of its value. It peaked again in the summer of 2015. It is currently some 15% below its peak.

5 February 1971

Astronauts land on the moon in the Apollo 14 mission.

HOUSTON, Friday, Feb. 5 1971 —Two astronauts of Apollo 14—the fifth and sixth human beings ever—landed on the moon early this morning.

Capt. Alan B. Shepard Jr. and Comdr. Edgar D. Mitchell of the Navy steered the four?legged landing craft named Antares to a smooth touchdown at 4:18 A.M., Eastern standard time, on the moon’s highlands.

Their landing, the third made by American astronauts, came after a four?day, 250,000?mile voyage across the void of space. It came a year and a half after man’s first landing, Apollo 11’s pioneering visit to the Sea of Tranquility.

The four other men on the moon were Neil A. Armstrong, the first to set foot on the lunar surface — on July 20, 1969 — and Col. Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. of the Air Force, from Apollo II, and Comdr. Charles Conrad Jr. and Comdr. Alan L. Bean of the Navy, from Apollo 12.

In a Level Valley

The Apollo 14 astronauts brought their 16?ton landing craft down on a fairly level valley in the Fra Mauro highlands, a cratered and rockstrewn area where the astronauts should be able to find rocks as old as the solar system itself. They plan a 33½hour visit.

Continue reading the main story
While Maj. Stuart A. Roosa of the Air Force was scheduled to pilot the command module Kitty Hawk in a watchful orbit overhead, Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell would take two long excursions outside their landing craft to set up a nuclear?powered scientific station and get rock samples.

The descent engine on the lunar module fired at 4:05 A.M., at which time Captain Shepard declared:

“It’s a beautiful day in the land of Fra Mauro.”

And just before Antares touched down on the moon, Commander Mitchell exclaimed:

“There it is. Right on target. Beautiful. Right out the window. Just like you said it would be.”

Comments From Moon

When the craft set down—two minutes behind schedule—the first words were those of Captain Shepherd, who said:

“We’re on the surface. We made a good landing.”

After Mission Control acknowledged the success, tho astronaut added:

“That was a beautiful one. We landed on the slope. But other than that, we’re in great shape—right on the landing site.”

The first of their moon walks, which would last up to five hours each, was to begin around 9 AM. today. Captain Shepard would take the first steps down the ladder, followed a few minutes later by Commander Mitchell.

All their activities should be seen on earth through a color television transmission from Antares. The second moon walk, scheduled for early tomorrow morning, also was scheduled to be televised.

Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell were cleared shortly before midnight to begin the landing maneuver. Mission Control issued the goahead for “undocking.”

At 11:51 P.M., on Apollo 14’s 12th revolution of the moon, Antares and Kitty Hawk separated. The docking mechanism that had given the astronauts trouble early in the flight unlatched without flaw.

“You’re moving out,” Major Roosa radioed from Kitty Hawk. After a pause, Major Roosa said:

“Okay, we seem real steady. I’m going to back off from you.”

Major Roosa then fired maneuvering rockets on the command ship and moved back to a safe distance, flying higher than Antares.

Later at 1:10 A.M., Kitty Hawk’s main rocket fired a short burst to gather speed and move into a more circular orbit, about 70 miles above the moon. At that altitude, Kitty Hawk was in a favorable position to link up with Antares after its return from the moon.

As Kitty Hawk moved away, Antares followed an orbit ranging from about 69 miles on the far side of the moon to about 10 miles as it passed over the landing path.

For the final descent, following a long, curving trajectory from 10 miles to touchdown, Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell needed an 11?minute firing of the rocket in the lunar module’s lower stage. The descent was carefully plotted by radar, computer and the experienced eyes of the astronauts.

A problem with mysterious abort signals in the guidance computer on Antares caused concern as Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell prepared for the landing. Strange signals monitored on the ground indicated that an “abort command” was showing up in the computer, perhaps because of contamination in the abort switch.

New Instructions

If this had happened during a lunar?module rocket firing, it would have caused an unintentional abort of the lunar landing.

Consequently, mission control gave the astronauts a new set of instructions to be fed into the computer immediately after the descent rocket firing was begun. The new procedure would, in effect, tell the computer to ignore such an unintentional abort signal.

The astronauts got about six hours of sleep during a 10?hour rest period before their long and critical night began.

In making Apollo 14’s first status report of the day to Mission Control, Major Roosa said:

“We went to bed all healthy and we’re getting up the same way.”

At about 9 o’clock last night, Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell donned their heavy space suits, opened the hatch and crawled through the connecting tunnel into the attached lunar module.

One of their chief concerns during the inspection tour, was the condition of one of the two storage batteries in the lunar module’s ascent stage. When it was tested two days ago, it was found to have lost about three?tenths of a volt from its level at liftoff.

Had it further degraded, indicating problems in more than one cell, flight controllers would have had to call off the landing attempt.

But when the batteries were powered up, the astronauts reported their condition “exactly as it was last night.” The landing, in short, was still “go.”

Apollo 14 reached lunar orbit early yesterday morning and by 9 P.M. had looped the moon 11 times, traveling at a speed of about 3,500 miles an hour.

Target for Landing

Each time Apollo 14—the combined command ship and lunar module—swung around the face of the moon and swooped down to within 10 miles of the surface, the astronauts could see the rugged features of Fra Mauro.

It was early dawn at the time there, giving the astronauts the ideal lighting conditions for their landing. Their arrival was timed so that the astronauts would have the sun low on the horizon and behind their backs as they made the tricky descent to the moon.

The hills of Fra Mauro rise along the eastern rim of the Ocean of Storms, just south of the lunar equator. The landing area is about 110 miles east of where Apollo 12 touched down in November, 1969.

The precise landing target was set in a narrow valley between two clusters of craters that the astronauts nicknamed Triplet and. Doublet.

Some of the nearby hills and ridges rise as much as 8,000 feet high, seemingly even greater than a similar elevation on earth because the moon is roughly one?fourth the size earth.

Scientists believe that on this rugged terrain is material dating back 4.6 billion years to the creation of the moon. Analysis of the samples could determine much about the processes of the moon’s origin.

The goal for the first walk was to deploy instruments to record moonquakes, to measure electrically charged particles on the lunar surface and to collect imprints of solar particle bombardment.

The nuclear?powered scientific station was designed to operate more than a year. The Apollo 12 seismometer is still returning data.

On the second walk—EVA for extravehicular activity—the objective was hiking to a feature known as Cone Crater. The crater is situated at the top of a gentle hill that arise: about 330 feet above the relatively level landing site.

Cone Crater Objective

Rocks around the lip of the crater are thought to have been tossed there from the impact that formed the crater. They would thus come from much deeper inside the moon than any samples previously returned by astronauts.

Getting into position for the landing attempt took a two?step maneuver.

First, the Apollo 14 astronauts fired the spaceship’s main rocket to swing into a wide looping orbit of the moon. After two revolutions, they refired the same rocket, which is at the stern of the spaceship, to lower the orbit.

Both rocket firings cut off fraction of a second early, but that did not significantly throw the spaceship off its intendedi orbit.

In the lower orbit, Apollo I dipped as low as 12 miles fro the surface over the front ski: and then swung out to about 67 miles high while over the far side of the moon.

On previous missions, the lower orbit was achieved by the lunar module’s descent rocket after the two ships had separated. The change on this mission’ saved enough lunar module fuel to allow the astronauts an additional 15 seconds to hover at the last moment before touchdown.

While orbiting the moon, awaiting the landing attempt, he astronauts described the desolate world they saw below.

“It looks like a plaster mold that somebody has dusted vii grays and browns.” Commander Mitchell radioed.

“It has all the grays, browns, whites and dark craters ever body’s talked about before.” Captain Shepard added. “lt’s really quite a sight.”

6 December 1971

Pakistan cuts off diplomatic relations with India, initiating the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military confrontation between India and Pakistan that occurred during the liberation war in East Pakistan from 3 December 1971 to the fall of Dacca on 16 December 1971. The war began with preemptive aerial strikes on 11 Indian air stations, which led to the commencement of hostilities with Pakistan and Indian entry into the war of independence in East Pakistan on the side of Bengali nationalist forces. Lasting just 13 days, it is one of the shortest wars in history.

During the war, Indian and Pakistani militaries simultaneously clashed on the eastern and western fronts; the war ended after the Eastern Command of the Pakistan military signed the Instrument of Surrender on 16 December 1971 in Dhaka, marking the formation of East Pakistan as the new nation of Bangladesh. Officially, East Pakistan had earlier called for its secession from the unity of Pakistan on 26 March 1971. Approximately 90,000 to 93,000 Pakistani servicemen were taken prisoner by the Indian Army, which included 79,676 to 81,000 uniformed personnel of the Pakistan Armed Forces, including some Bengali soldiers who had remained loyal to Pakistan. The remaining 10,324 to 12,500 prisoners were civilians, either family members of the military personnel or collaborators. It is estimated that between 300,000 and 3,000,000 civilians were killed in Bangladesh. As a result of the conflict, a further eight to ten million people fled the country to seek refuge in India.

During the 1971 Bangladesh war for independence, members of the Pakistani military and supporting Islamist militias called the Razakars raped between 200,000 and 400,000 Bangladeshi women and girls in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape.

Unlike the 1965 war, the Navy NHQ staffers and commanders of the Pakistan Navy knew very well that the Navy was ill-prepared for the naval conflict with India. The Pakistan Navy was in no condition of fighting an offensive war in deep sea against the Indian Navy, and neither was it in a condition to mount serious defence against Indian Navy’s seaborne encroachment.

In the western theatre of the war, the Indian Navy’s Western Naval Command under Vice Admiral S.N. Kohli, successfully launched a surprise attack on Karachi port on the night of 4/5 December 1971 under the codename Trident. The naval attack involving the Soviet-built Osa missile boats sank the Pakistan Navy’s destroyer PNS Khaibar and minesweeper PNS Muhafiz while PNS Shah Jahan was also badly damaged. Pakistani naval sources reported that about 720 Pakistani sailors were killed or wounded, and Pakistan lost reserve fuel and many commercial ships, thus crippling the Pakistan Navy’s further involvement in the conflict. In retaliation, the Pakistan Navy submarines, Hangor, Mangro, and Shushuk, began their operations to seek out the major Indian warships. On 9 December 1971, Hangor sank INS Khukri, inflicting 194 Indian casualties, and this attack was the first submarine kill since World War II.

The sinking of INS Khukri was followed by another Indian attack on Karachi port on the night of 8/9 December 1971 under the codename Python. A squadron of Indian Navy’s Osa missile boats approached the Karachi port and launched a series of Soviet-acquired Styx missiles, that resulted in further destruction of reserve fuel tanks and the sinking of three Pakistani merchant ships, as well as foreign ships docked in Karachi. The Pakistan Air Force did not attack the Indian Navy ships, and confusion remained the next day when the civilian pilots of Pakistan International, acting as reconnaissance war pilots, misidentified PNS Zulfiqar and the air force attacked its own warship, inflicting major damages and killing several officers on board.

In the eastern theatre of the war, the Indian Eastern Naval Command, under Vice Admiral Nilakanta Krishnan, completely isolated East Pakistan by a naval blockade in the Bay of Bengal, trapping the Eastern Pakistan Navy and eight foreign merchant ships in their ports. From 4 December onwards, the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was deployed, and its Sea Hawk fighter-bombers attacked many coastal towns in East Pakistan, including Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar. Pakistan countered the threat by sending the submarine PNS Ghazi, which sank en route under mysterious circumstances off Visakhapatnam’s coast.

Due to high number of defections, the Navy relied on deploying the Pakistan Marines – led by Rear Admiral Leslie Mungavin – where they had to conduct riverine operations against the Indian Army, but they too suffered major losses, mainly due to their lack of understanding of expeditionary warfare and the wet terrain of East Pakistan.

14 November 1971

Mariner 9 enters into orbit around Mars.

Mariner 9 was an unmanned NASA space probe that contributed greatly to the exploration of Mars and was part of the Mariner program. Mariner 9 was launched toward Mars on May 30, 1971 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and reached the planet on November 14 of the same year, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet – only narrowly beating the Soviets’ Mars 2 and Mars 3, which both arrived within a month. After months of dust storms it managed to send back clear pictures of the surface.

Mariner 9 returned 7329 images over the course of its mission, which concluded in October 1972. Mariner 9 was designed to continue the atmospheric studies begun by Mariner 6 and 7, and to map over 70% of the Martian surface from the lowest altitude and at the highest resolutions of any Mars mission up to that point. An infrared radiometer was included to detect heat sources in search of evidence of volcanic activity. It was to study temporal changes in the Martian atmosphere and surface. Mars’ two moons were also to be analyzed. Mariner 9 more than met its objectives.

Under original plans, a dual mission was to be flown like Mariners 6–7, however the launch failure of Mariner 8 ruined this scheme and forced NASA planners to fall back on a simpler one-probe mission. NASA still held out hope that another Mariner probe and Atlas-Centaur could be readied before the 1971 Mars launch window closed. A few logistical problems emerged, including the lack of an available Centaur payload shroud of the correct configuration for the Mariner probes, however there was a shroud in NASA’s inventory which could be modified. Convair also had an available Centaur stage on hand and could have an Atlas readied in time, but the idea was ultimately abandoned for lack of funding.

Mariner 9 was mated to Atlas-Centaur AC-23 on May 9 with investigation into Mariner 8’s failure ongoing. The malfunction was traced to a problem in the Centaur’s pitch control servoamplifier and because it was not clear if the spacecraft itself had been responsible, RFI testing was conducted on Mariner 9 to ensure the probe was not releasing interference that could cause problems with the Centaur’s electronics. All testing came back negative and on May 22, a tested and verified rate gyro package arrived from Convair and was installed in the Centaur.

Liftoff took place on May 30 at 5:23 PM EST. All launch vehicle systems performed normally and the Mariner separated from the Centaur at 13 minutes and 18 seconds after launch.

13 May 1971

Over 900 Bengali Hindus are murdered in the Demra massacre.

Demra massacre in Bangladesh was the massacre of unarmed Hindu residents of the villages under Demra Union in present-day Faridpur Upazila in Pabna District by the Pakistani occupation army aided by local collaborators on 13 May 1971. It is estimated that 800–900 people were killed in a single day. Rape and plunder were also carried out, and mosques, temples, schools and houses were set on fire.

When the Pakistani occupation army spread out from Dhaka towards the districts as a part of the Operation Searchlight, the people began to flee their homes. The Hindus began to flee Bangladesh and take refuge in neighbouring India. On their way they had taken shelter in the remote village of Baushgari in Demra union.

he Pakistani occupation army, led by the local collaborators entered the area through the Boral river and then cordoned off the Baushgari and Rupsi villages. One collaborator named Asad led the Pakistani troops to the Baushgari village. In the nightfall, the men were dragged out of their houses and made to stand in a line, while the women were raped in front of them by the Pakistani troops with the help of the collaborators. After that both the men and women were shot to death and their houses were set on fire. A few survivors interred the charred remains of the bodies in a mass grave the next morning. Around 350 Hindus were killed in Baushgari village.

An 11-member team from the International Crimes Tribunal investigated the Demra massacre in 2010. The team was led by Sayed Rejaur Rahman, one of the prosecutors of the tribunal. The investigators visited the killing spots in Baushgari village and interviewed the witnesses to the war crimes. In their preliminary investigation they found Motiur Rahman Nizami guilty of masterminding the massacre.

19 April 1971

The first space station, Salyut 1 is launched.

Salyut 1 was the first space station of any kind, launched into low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on April 19, 1971. The Salyut program followed this with five more successful launches out of seven more stations. The final module of the program, Zvezda became the core of the Russian segment of the International Space Station and remains in orbit.

Background
Salyut 1 originated as a modification of the military Almaz space station program then in development. After the landing of Apollo 11 on the Moon in July 1969, the Soviets began shifting the primary emphasis of their manned space program to orbiting space stations, with a possible lunar landing later in the 1970s if the N-1 booster became flight-worthy. One other motivation for the space station program was a desire to one-up the US Skylab program then in development. The basic structure of Salyut 1 was adapted from the Almaz with a few modifications and would form the basis of all Soviet space stations through Mir.

Civilian Soviet space stations were internally referred to as “DOS”, although publicly, the Salyut name was used for the first six DOS stations. Several military experiments were nonetheless carried on Salyut 1, including the OD-4 optical visual ranger, the Orion ultraviolet instrument for characterizing rocket exhaust plumes, and the highly classified Svinets radiometer.

Construction and operational history
Construction of Salyut 1 began in early 1970, and after nearly a year it was shipped to the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Some remaining assembly work had yet to be done and this was completed at the launch center. The Salyut programme was managed by Kerim Kerimov, chairman of the state commission for Soyuz missions.

Launch was planned for April 12, 1971 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight on Vostok 1, but technical problems delayed it until the 19th. The first crew launched later in the Soyuz 10 mission, but they ran into troubles while docking and were unable to enter the station; the Soyuz 10 mission was aborted and the crew returned safely to Earth. A replacement crew launched in Soyuz 11 and remained on board for 23 days. This was the first time in the history of spaceflight that a space station had been manned, and a new record time was set in space. This success was, however, short-lived when the crew was killed during re-entry, as a pressure-equalization valve in the Soyuz 11 re-entry capsule had opened prematurely, causing the crew to asphyxiate. After this accident, all missions were suspended while the Soyuz spacecraft was redesigned. The station was intentionally destroyed by de-orbiting after six months in orbit, because it ran out of fuel before a redesigned Soyuz spacecraft could be launched to it.

Structure
At launch, the announced purpose of Salyut was to test the elements of the systems of a space station and to conduct scientific research and experiments. The craft was described as being 20 m in length, 4 m in maximum diameter, and 99 m3 in interior space with an on-orbit dry mass of 18,425 kg. Of its several compartments, three were pressurized, and two could be entered by the crew.

Transfer compartment
The transfer compartment was equipped with the only docking port of Salyut 1, which allowed one Soyuz 7K-OKS spacecraft to dock. It was the first use of the Soviet “probe and drogue” type docking system that allowed internal crew transfer, a system that is in use today. The docking cone had a 2 m front diameter and a 3 m aft diameter.

Main compartment
The second, and main, compartment was about 4 m in diameter. Televised views showed enough space for eight big chairs, several control panels, and 20 portholes.

Auxiliary compartments
The third pressurized compartment contained the control and communications equipment, the power supply, the life support system, and other auxiliary equipment. The fourth, and final, unpressurized compartment was about 2 m in diameter and contained the engine installations and associated control equipment. Salyut had buffer chemical batteries, reserve supplies of oxygen and water, and regeneration systems. Externally mounted were two double sets of solar cell panels that extended like wings from the smaller compartments at each end, the heat regulation system’s radiators, and orientation and control devices.

Salyut 1 was modified from one of the Almaz airframes. The unpressurized service module was the modified service module of a Soyuz craft.

Orion 1 Space Observatory
The astrophysical Orion 1 Space Observatory designed by Grigor Gurzadyan of Byurakan Observatory in Armenia, was installed in Salyut 1. Ultraviolet spectrograms of stars were obtained with the help of a mirror telescope of the Mersenne system and a spectrograph of the Wadsworth system using film sensitive to the far ultraviolet. The dispersion of the spectrograph was 32 Å/mm, while the resolution of the spectrograms derived was about 5 Å at 2600 Å. Slitless spectrograms were obtained of the stars Vega and Beta Centauri between 2000 and 3800 Å. The telescope was operated by crew member Viktor Patsayev, who became the first man to operate a telescope outside the Earth’s atmosphere.

15 February 1971

The decimalisation of British coinage is completed on Decimal Day.

February 15, 1971 All change as Britain switches to decimal currency
Britain said farewell to pounds, shillings and pence and hello to the new penny, the seven-sided 50p piece and the ‘tiddler’ as Decimal Day finally arrived.

The biggest change to Britain’s currency for more than a thousand years took place on this day in 1971 when the system of pounds, shillings and pence made way for a decimal system that divided the pound into 100 new pence.

Although the decimal debate dated back as far as the 17th century, Britain had resisted change from the old system of 240 pennies to the pound even though most of the world had adopted currency systems based around units of 10, 100 or 1,000.

A 1963 report by the Halsbury Committee recommended a switch to a decimal currency, and in March 1966 Chancellor of the Exchequer James Callaghan told the House of Commons that Britain would go decimal in 1971. The Decimal Currency Act wouldn’t be passed until May 1969, but by then the Decimal Currency Board, under Lord Fiske, was well established and the first decimal coins – versions of the shilling and two-shilling, or florin, bearing the 5p and 10p legends – had already reached the high street.

Decimal Currency Board chairman Lord Fiske on Decimal Day

The new 50p coin followed in October 1969, so that by Decimal Day itself, the population was already familiar with three of the six new coins – the ½p, 1p and 2p coins were introduced on ‘D Day’ itself.

Banks were closed from Thursday February 11 to give them time to clear cheques written in ‘old money’ and convert balances to decimal, while railway companies began accepting the new coins a day early to ease the process. Large stores opened special counters where shoppers could exchange their £sd for a handful of the 4,140 million new coins in circulation.

Thanks to a three-year education campaign which included a TV drama called Granny Gets the Point, free ready-reckoners and rudimentary conversion calculators and even a song by Max Bygraves extolling the virtues of the new coinage, fears of galloping inflation, crafty retailers rounding up prices or public rejection never came to pass, and the transition to the new decimal currency was hailed a success.

5 February 1971

The Astronauts land on the moon in the Apollo 14 mission.

HOUSTON, Saturday, Feb. 6 — Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard Jr. and Ed Mitchell, sleeping only briefly after an incredible four hours and 44 minutes spent wandering on the moon yesterday, left their lunar ship Antares at 3:23 a.m. today to begin a second recording-breaking moonwalk.

The astronauts were up and on the surface nearly two hour early, their spectacular walk beamed to earth via a color television camera set up on the surface yesterday.

A major task was to return 600 feet to a scientific package they had laid out yesterday to reposition an antenna designed to send seismic and other information to earth for months after America’s third successful lunar landing mission has ended.

The astronauts first set out on a long 4,600-foot hike to collect moon rocks which geologists believe will date back 4.6 million years to the beginning of the universe.

Like most of the gremlin-riddled Apollo 14 flight, the first moon walk was not without trouble. Communications problems stalled its start for 50 minutes. Unforeseen difficulties in some of their tasks caused its extension for an extra 30 minutes. And one of their experiments failed completely.

But the flaws were minor. The first of two long moon walks for the crew of the little lunar landers Antares accomplished its goal admirably. The astronauts were so pleased that they talked Mission Control into letting them begin today’s four to five-hour walk before its planned 5:38 a.m. start.

Only one small problem arose. A minor heat leak in Mitchell’s pressure suit was expected to limit the second walk to no longer than the one yesterday. The leak was not expected to interfere with any of the day’s goals.