On March 6, 1986, the Soviet Union’s Vega 1 spacecraft flew by Halley’s Comet.
Vega 1 was the first of five missions to fly by Halley’s Comet in the same month. This fleet of spaceships has been called the “Halley Armada”.
Related: Halley’s Comet Photos Through History
Because Halley’s Comet only appears once every 75 years, space agencies around the world took advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Before Vega 1 went to the comet, it first passed by Venus to drop off a lander. It then used Venus to perform a gravity assist maneuver, which put it on track to fly close to Halley’s Comet.
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Email Hanneke Weitering at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her at @hannekescience. Follow us at @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.