September 14, 1985 – a day where both pessimism and promise were running neck and neck.
The pessimistic part came with news of the successful testing of an anti-nuclear weapon against a target in space. The ASAT test was, as the Pentagon put it; “absolutely flawless”. The day before, the U.S. launched a killer satellite weapon from an F-15 fighter. The rocket scored a direct hit on an old satellite orbiting some 350 miles above the earth. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger beamed enthusiastic, calling it a “great step forward in reaching parity with the Soviet Union“. However, the head of Air Force research, Lt. Gen. Bernard Randolph said more tests were needed. However, critics were concerned this would trigger a new arms race in Space and that this did nothing to improve chances of successful talks at the upcoming summit with the Soviets in November.
Likewise pessimistic was the unsuccessful launch of the French Ariane spacecraft in the South Pacific. French President Francois Mitterrand was on hand to witness the disaster; the Ariane being blown up at around the third stage. It was heralded as Europe’s answer to the Space Shuttle but it was another blow to French space exploration hopes, at least for the immediate future. Coupled with growing protests and bitterness over France’s continued nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific atoll of Moruroa. The recent sinking of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior, allegedly by French agents, was an added embarrassment to the Mitterand government. But Mitterrand responded with gravity and determination to continue testing and refusing to take responsibility for the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior and reasserted France’s rights in the South Pacific.
But the promising news came from Arizona, where word that artificial heart recipient Michael Drummond was looking good and was happy to be alive to be sustained on an artificial heart until a human donor heart could be found. It was the first time an artificial heart was used in such an operation, and the successful BTT (Bridge To Transplant) signaled the beginning of a new era in medical research.
All that, and a lot more on this up-and-down September 14th in 1985 as presented by The CBS World News Roundup.