Shuttles and Deltas and Thors, Oh, My!

Fifteen years ago today — February 3, 1995 — Space Shuttle Discovery launched from the Kennedy Space Center on mission STS-63. Astronauts James D. Wetherbee, Eileen M. Collins, C. Michael Foale, Janice E. Voss, and Bernard A. Harris, Jr., along with cosmonaut Vladimir Titov, completed a close-up flyby of Russia’s MIR space station.

(MIR space station as seen from mission STS-63. NASA image.)

STS-63 was the first time a shuttle approached and flew around space station MIR, as part of the preliminary phase of the International Space Station program. Also on this mission, Eileen Collins became the first female shuttle pilot.

Thirty years earlier, on February 3, 1965, Orbiting Solar Observatory 2 (OSO-2) was launched on a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral. Finally, to complete today’s space history trifecta, in between the two — 40 years ago, in 1970 — a Thor-Agena rocket launched the second Space Electric Rocket Test (SERT-2) from Vandenberg AFB.*

*Some sources say SERT-2 launched on February 4th, but I believe those are noting UTC rather than local time.

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