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February 28th in Astronomy and Space Science
Unmanned Spaceflight1959US launches Discoverer 1, the first satellite in polar orbit. This also marks the first launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast. Its unique geographical location allows launches from Vandenberg to fly due south without crossing over land until they reach Antarctica. The satellite is lost shortly after launch and is believed to have crashed somewhere near the South Pole. It is later revealed that "Discoverer" was the cover name for the Corona series of cold-war spy satellites.
Manned Spaceflight1990Space Shuttle Atlantis launched on mission STS-36, with a classified DOD payload.
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