Jun 29, 1995:
U.S. Space Shuttle Docks with Russian Space Station
~~"On this day in 1995, the American space shuttle Atlantis docks with the Russian space station Mir to form the largest man-made satellite ever to orbit the Earth.
This historic moment of cooperation between former rival space programs was also the 100th human space mission in American history. At the time, Daniel Goldin, chief of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), called it the beginning of "a new era of friendship and cooperation" between the U.S. and Russia. With millions of viewers watching on television, Atlantis blasted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in eastern Florida on June 27, 1995.
Just after 6 a.m. on June 29, Atlantis and its seven crew members approached Mir as both crafts orbited the Earth some 245 miles above Central Asia, near the Russian-Mongolian border. When they spotted the shuttle, the three cosmonauts on Mir broadcast Russian folk songs to Atlantis to welcome them. Over the next two hours, the shuttle's commander, Robert "Hoot" Gibson expertly maneuvered his craft towards the space station. To make the docking, Gibson had to steer the 100-ton shuttle to within three inches of Mir at a closing rate of no more than one foot every 10 seconds.
The docking went perfectly and was completed at 8 a.m., just two seconds off the targeted arrival time and using 200 pounds less fuel than had been anticipated. Combined, Atlantis and the 123-ton Mir formed the largest spacecraft ever in orbit. It was only the second time ships from two countries had linked up in space; the first was in June 1975, when an American Apollo capsule and a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft briefly joined in orbit.
Once the docking was completed, Gibson and Mir's commander, Vladimir Dezhurov, greeted each other by clasping hands in a victorious celebration of the historic moment. A formal exchange of gifts followed, with the Atlantis crew bringing chocolate, fruit and flowers and the Mir cosmonauts offering traditional Russian welcoming gifts of bread and salt. Atlantis remained docked with Mir for five days before returning to Earth, leaving two fresh Russian cosmonauts on the space station. The three veteran Mir crew members returned with the shuttle, including two Russians and Norman Thagard, a U.S. astronaut who rode a Russian rocket to the space station in mid-March 1995 and spent over 100 days in space, a U.S. endurance record. NASA's Shuttle-Mir program continued for 11 missions and was a crucial step towards the construction of the International Space Station now in orbit."
Jun 29, 1972:
Supreme Court Strikes Down Death Penalty
~~" In Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court rules by a vote of 5-4 that capital punishment, as it is currently employed on the state and federal level, is unconstitutional. The majority held that, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, the death penalty qualified as "cruel and unusual punishment," primarily because states employed execution in "arbitrary and capricious ways," especially in regard to race. It was the first time that the nation's highest court had ruled against capital punishment. However, because the Supreme Court suggested new legislation that could make death sentences constitutional again, such as the development of standardized guidelines for juries that decide sentences, it was not an outright victory for opponents of the death penalty.
Jun 29, 1967:
Actress Jayne Mansfield Dies in Car Crash
~~"Blonde bombshell actress Jayne Mansfield is killed instantly on this day in 1967 when the car in which she is riding strikes the rear of a trailer truck on Interstate-90 east of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Mansfield had been on her way to New Orleans from Biloxi, Mississippi, where she had been performing a standing engagement at a local nightclub; she had a television appearance scheduled the following day. Ronald B. Harrison, a driver for the Gus Stevens Dinner Club, was driving Mansfield and her lawyer and companion, Samuel S. Brody, along with three of Mansfield's children with her ex-husband Mickey Hargitay, in Stevens' 1966 Buick Electra. On a dark stretch of road, just as the truck was approaching a machine emitting a thick white fog used to spray mosquitoes (which may have obscured it from Harrison's view), the Electra hit the trailer-truck from behind. Mansfield, Harrison and Brody were all killed in the accident. Eight-year-old Mickey, six-year-old Zoltan and three-year-old Marie, or Mariska, had apparently been sleeping on the rear seat; they were injured but survived.
Born Vera Jayne Palmer in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Mansfield arrived in Hollywood as a young wife and mother (to daughter Jayne Marie) in 1954, determined to become an actress. From the beginning, she wasn't afraid to make the most of her assets, particularly her curvaceous figure, flowing platinum blonde hair and dazzling smile. Cast in the Broadway comedy "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?", she turned heads as a voluptuous, dumb blonde movie star; in one famous scene she appeared in nothing but a white towel. She famously appeared nude in the 1963 comedy "Promises! Promises!", and stills from the set appeared in Playboy magazine, but her best performance was generally believed to have been in 1957's "The Wayward Bus," based on the John Steinbeck novel and costarring Joan Collins. While her screen career amounted to about a dozen less-than-memorable films, off screen she played the movie star role to perfection, and became one of the most visible glamour girls of the era.
In 1958, after her first marriage ended in divorce, she married Hargitay, a former Mr. Universe; they divorced in 1963, and Mansfield was married once more, to Matt Climber, in 1964. That marriage also ended in divorce and she was awarded custody of their child, Octabiano. Mariska Hargitay, injured in the accident that killed her mother, later launched her own acting career, most memorably starring in the long-running television drama "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."