April 12, 2011 AT 9:01 am

50 Years of Human Spaceflight!

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first human being in space. On 12 April, 1961, Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was launched into orbit in the spacecraft Vostok I, making one complete orbit before returning to Earth safely.

That was our first, but certainly not our last, trip into space. Since then we’ve sent almost 300 manned missions into space. We’ve put men on the moon, and right now, there are people living and working in orbit around our planet. It’s been an interesting 50 years. But you just can’t help but wonder: where do we go from here?

Today is a great day to discuss this question with your family, your colleagues and your fellow citizens. There has been a marked decline in the interest of the general public in the space program — that is lamentable, considering how much we have benefitted from it technologically (ICs, superalloys, etc), economically (jobs, manufacturing) and spiritually (we went to the moon! w00t!). Perhaps we can take this opportunity to revive the conversation, and the enthusiasm.

Happy Human Spaceflight Day! 🙂

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