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On this day in 1611 – January 28th – NASA's space shuttle Challenger was engulfed in a huge fireball soon after launch. The seven crew members perished in the accident.

They are commemorated at the Astronaut Memorial at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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On this day in 1935 – January 29th – Czech astronomer Luboš Kohoutek was born in Zábřeh, Czechia.

Kohoutek has discovered over 70 minor planets, a number of planetary nebulae, a supernova and several comets. His name is probably best known internationally from the periodic comets that bear his name.
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On this day in 1958– January 31st – the United States launched Explorer 1.

The first satellite launched by the United States, it was part of the U.S. participation in the International Geophysical Year. It was the first spacecraft to detect the Van Allen radiation belt.
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On this day in 2003 – February 1st – NASA's space shuttle Columbia broke up during re-entry, killing the seven crew members.

They are commemorated at the Astronaut Memorial at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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On this day in 1966 – February 3rd – the Soviet spacecraft Luna 9 made the first successful soft landing on the Moon.

Luna 9 also sent back the first pictures taken on the Moon's surface.
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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. (Note: Shepard also hit the last golf balls on the Moon. So far!)
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