On this day in 1857 - May 15th - Scottish-American astronomer Williamina Fleming was born.
Fleming, a computer at Harvard College Observatory, was a pioneer in the classification of stellar spectra. During the course of her career, she also discovered 10 novae, 52 nebulae, and 310 variable stars.
On this day in 1974 - May 17th - the first geostationary satellite was launched.
SMS-1 (Synchronous Meteorological Satellite) was the first satellite in the first series of geostationary meteorological satellites. (A geostationary satellite is in an orbit that keeps it above the same part of the Earth all of the time.)
On this day in 1968 - May 17th - the first ESRO satellite was successfully launched.
The European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) was a precursor to the European Space Agency (ESA). ESRO-2B was the first mission controlled by teams at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. It was mainly intended to study X-ray and particle emissions from the Sun.
On this day in 1991 - May 18th - Helen Sharman became the first Briton and the first European woman in space.
She was launched with crew mates Anatoli Artsebarsky and Sergei Krikalev on a Soyuz spacecraft, orbiting Earth for two days before docking with the Mir space station where she performed a number of experiments.
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