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On this day in 1995 – February 3rd – Eileen Collins became the first woman to pilot a space shuttle, flying Discovery to the Russian Mir space station.

Four years later she would became the first woman commander of a space shuttle.


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On this day in 1906 – February 4th – Clyde Tombaugh was born in Streator, Illinois.

Tombaugh was the American astronomer who discovered Pluto. He died in 1997, and a portion of his ashes were on the New Horizons spacecraft that journeyed to Pluto and beyond.


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On this day in 1963 – February 5th – Dutch astronomer Maarten Schmidt had a sudden insight that provided the clue to solving the mystery of quasars.

Schmidt realized that a quasar wasn't an object in our Galaxy, and its strange spectrum wasn't full of unknown elements. It was mostly composed of hydrogen that was redshifted because of its enormous distance away in an expanding Universe.


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On this day in 1974 – February 5th – NASA's Mariner 10 took a historic gravity assist from Venus in order to make its flyby of Mercury.

It was the first spacecraft to turn the theoretical possibility of such a gravity assist into a reality, and it enabled the first visit of a spacecraft to Mercury.


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On this day in 1971 – February 6th – Alan Shepard hit the first golf balls on the Moon.

The Apollo 14 lunar module landed on the Moon on February 5th with lunar module pilot Ed Mitchell and commander Alan Shepard. Shepard hit the golf balls on their second exploration of the Moon.


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On this day in 1824 – February 7th – English astronomer and pioneering spectroscopist William Huggins was born in London.

He is best remembered for revolutionizing observational astronomy through the application of spectroscopic methods to determine the chemical constituents of stars and other celestial objects.


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On this day in 1984 – February 7th – during space shuttle mission STS-41B, NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless made the first untethered spacewalk.


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On this day in 1999 – February 7th – NASA's Stardust comet probe was launched.

Stardust was the first sample return mission to collect samples of cosmic dust, and of dust from a comet's coma, then return them to Earth.


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On this day in 1826 – February 8th – Jules Verne was born in Nantes, France.

The French author was a major European literary figure, best known in the English-speaking world for his exciting and influential adventure stories, many of which are considered early science fiction. Ray Bradbury said "We are all, in one way or another, the children of Jules Verne."


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On this day in 1974 – February 8th – the last crew to occupy NASA's Skylab returned to Earth.

Skylab, the first US space station, was launched in May 1973.


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