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On this day in 2009 - May 14th - the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the Planck Space Observatory.

Launched along with the Herschel Space Observatory, from 2009-2013 Planck made high resolution studies of the cosmic microwave background radiation left over from the very early Universe.


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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.


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On this day in 1718 - May 15th - Johannes Kepler discovered the simple mathematical rule governing the orbits of the solar system's planets, now recognized as Kepler's Third Law of planetary motion.

Kepler's three laws described the orbital motions of the planets in a solar system where they orbited the Sun, not the Earth.


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On this day in 2011 - May 16th - STS-134 Endeavour launched, the final space shuttle mission.


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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.)


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On this day in 1836 - May 17th - English scientist and astronomer Norman Lockyer was born.

Lockyer and French scientist Pierre Janssen independently discovered the gas helium in the light spectrum of the Sun decades before any was found on Earth.


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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.


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On this day in 1969 - May 18th - Apollo 10 was launched.

Apollo 10 was a dress rehearsal for the first Moon landing, testing all of the components and procedures, just short of actually landing.


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On this day in 2009 - May 18th - The final spacewalk to service the Hubble Space Telescope took place.

Amongst other things the astronauts installed some new instruments, made repairs to two instruments, replaced old batteries, and added new gyroscopes.


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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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