International Day of Human Space Flight

International Day of Human Space Flight

The General Assembly, in its resolution of 7 April 2011, declared 12 April as the International Day of Human Space Flight “to celebrate each year at the international level the beginning of the space era for mankind, reaffirming the important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals and increasing the well-being of States and peoples, as well as ensuring the realization of their aspiration to maintain outer space for peaceful purposes.”

Human Space Flight Yuri Gagarin - the first human in space.

12 April 1961 will always be remembered as the first milestone of human space flight. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, then aged 27, completed a 108-minute orbit of the Earth. This was a major victory for the USSR in the context of the cold war and the space race.

Because no one was certain how weightlessness would affect a pilot, the spherical capsule had little in the way of onboard controls. The work was done either automatically or from the ground. If an emergency arose, Gagarin was supposed to receive an override code that would allow him to take manual control. But Sergei Korolov, chief designer of the Soviet space program, disregarded protocol and gave it to the pilot prior to the flight.

Over the course of 108 minutes, Vostok 1 traveled around the Earth once, reaching a maximum height of 203 miles (327 kilometers). Over Africa, the engines fired to bring Gagarin back to Earth. The craft carried ten days worth of provisions in case the engines failed and Gagarin was required to wait for the orbit to naturally decay. But they were unnecessary. Gagarin re-entered Earth's atmosphere, experiencing forces up to eight times the pull of gravity, but remained consciousness.

On 27 March 1968, while on a routine training flight from Chkalovsky Air Base, he and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin died in a MiG-15UTI crash near the town of Kirzhach.