Feb. 11


Five Iridium communications satellites launch into low Earth orbit on board a Delta 2 rocket from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Feb. 12


The Soviet Union launches the unmanned probe Venera 1 to Venus. Though it failed to enter the planet’s orbit, it became the first spacecraft to

make a flyby of

Venus on its way to orbiting the sun.


NASA’s Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission lands on the asteroid Eros

to gather information on its

composition, mass, geology and gravity.

Feb. 14


The Soviet Union launches the unmanned spacecraft Luna 20, which successfully completes

a soft landing on the Moon and returns

soil samples back to the Earth.

Feb. 15


James E. Webb is sworn in as NASA Administrator, replacing

T. Keith Glennan, the first person appointed

to the



Sea Launch lofts the direct-broadcast television satellite Echostar 10 on a Zenit-3SL rocket from its Odyssey ocean-faring platform in the Pacific Ocean.

Feb. 16


Japan launches its Tansei satellite on an M-4S-2 launch vehicle from the Kagoshima Space Center. The launch

was a test for the M-4S-2

rocket and

for satellite performance


Feb. 17


The U.S. Navy’s Vanguard 2 satellite launches from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on a Vanguard rocket.

The satellite –

designed to measure cloud-cover from

orbit – produced the first series of satellite photographs of Earth.


NASA launches five nearly identical probes in its Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions

during Substorms, or THEMIS, mission. Launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the mission was designed to track the origin of substorms, which cause the appearance of auroras on Earth, within the Earth’s magnetic field.