Fifteen years ago today — July 23, 1994 — NASA mission STS-65 ended when Space Shuttle Columbia landed at Kennedy Space Center. Astronauts Robert D. Cabana, James D. Halsell, Richard J. Hieb, Carl E. Walz, Leroy Chiao, Donald A. Thomas, and Chiaki Naito-Mukai had launched from KSC on July 8. The mission was the second flight of the International Microgravity Laboratory, which carried 82 Space Life Science and Microgravity Science experiments — over twice as many as it had on its first mission. Chiaki Naito-Mukai was the first Japanese woman to fly in space and set the record for longest flight to date by a female astronaut.
Then, ten years ago today — July 23, 1999 — Shuttle Columbia launched from KSC on mission STS-93, carrying astronauts Eileen M. Collins, Jeffrey S. Ashby, Steven A. Hawley, Catherine G. Coleman, and French astronaut Michel Tognini. Eileen Collins was the first woman to command a Space Shuttle mission as she directed the deployment of the most sophisticated X-ray observatory ever built: the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, originally known as the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility.
Oh, and forty years ago today, the Apollo-11 astronauts were on their way back to earth. Take a look at the Smithsonian’s commemorative site if you have a few minutes.by