Europe made its bid to get in on the space race and prepare for inter-planetary supply management with the first successful launch of the Ariane rocket. Developed by the European Space Agency, it was a four stage vehicle designed to put two telecommunications satellites at a time into orbit.
While it wasn’t a big step forward, like the Voskhod 1 which was launched 50 years ago on October 12, it put a new player in the inter-planetary game (as communication relay stations are going to be necessary, and that is going to be accomplished by way of satellites), and a player that would contribute to the International Space Station.
It may have been Christmas eve, but dedicated scientists kept working. It’s unfortunate that corporations, including General Dynamics, who promised us a convoy to Mars in 1975 back in 1963, didn’t show the same dedication.