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On this day in 1978 - May 12th - ESA's VILSPA ground station (now the European Space Astronomy Centre) in Spain was officially opened by their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.

VILSPA was one of European Space Agency's original tracking stations and has been responsible for providing telemetry, tracking and command support to ESA as well as non-ESA satellites.


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

Launched along with the Planck Space Observatory, from 2009-2013 Herschel observed the cosmos in infrared.


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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 1973 - May 14th - NASA launched Skylab.

It was the first US space station, and it included a workshop, a solar observatory, and several hundred life science and physical science experiments.


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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 was launched, the final space shuttle mission.


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On this day in 1925 - May 16th - American astronomer Nancy Grace Ronan was born.

One of the first female executives at NASA, Ronan is known to many as the "Mother of Hubble" for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope.


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On this day in 1974 - May 17th - NASA launched the first ever geostationary satellite.

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 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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