The month of April is mentioned several times with particularly large capitals in space travel records. After all, the month has identified some milestones in both manned and unmanned spaceflight. In particular, the birthdays of the first Russian astronaut and the first American space shuttle stand out. Incidentally, both events celebrate this milestone – twenty years apart – on the same calendar day.
Russian fighter pilot Yuri Gagarin became the first human to explore space on April 12, 1961. Gagarin, 27, made an Earth orbit using Vostok 1. The launch was launched from the Baikonur space base in the then Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan. Gagarin’s flight lasted 108 minutes from launch to landing.
With this realization, the Soviet Union expanded its leadership in the space race with the United States. After all, the country was previously able to put the first satellite into orbit around Earth with Sputnik 1. Thus the success of the first manned space flight became an important propaganda tool for Soviet leaders. However, Gagarin himself was killed in an accident with a MiG-15 fighter plane near Moscow nearly seven years later.
After those first Soviet space successes, it will be some time before the United States can catch up. After twenty-three days, NASA was able to report the launch of astronaut Alan Shepard with its Mercury program, but that flight did not take more than 15 minutes and was limited to a ballistic jump.
It wasn’t until February 20, 1962, that John Glenn became the first American astronaut to orbit Earth in space.
Meanwhile, the Soviet Union will continue to tie space prefixes together. On August 6, 1961, German Titov became the first space traveler to stay in space for more than a day with Vostok 2. A year later, Andrian Nikolaev (Vostok 3) and Pavel Popovich (Vostok 4) made the first synchronized flight with two space capsules. The Vostok program ended in June of the following year with a flight from Valentina Tereshkova, who would become the first woman in space.
However, after that initial series of launches, NASA began to catch up. The US space agency prepared the trip to the moon with the Gemini and Apollo projects. The Soviet Union chose the Voskhod and Soyuz programs. The culmination of the first stage of the space race between the United States was on July 21, 1969, with the landing of American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin (Apollo 11) on the surface of the Moon.
After that, the two countries basically chose to expand the search in space. This initially led to the launch of Skylab laboratories at NASA and Salyut in the Soviet Union. However, the idea of international cooperation in space gradually began to grow, which eventually led to the construction of the International Space Station (ISS).
On April 12, 1981, exactly twenty years after the start of manned spaceflight, NASA set another milestone. On that day, the space shuttle Columbia launched its first mission from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen. Thus Colombia became the first reusable manned spacecraft.
The US fleet of space shuttles was subsequently expanded to include space shuttles Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavor. Among other things, they had to bring the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) to their destination and return to Earth.
Colombia conducted a total of twenty-eight missions, with the space shuttle remaining in space for a total of more than 300 days. It made 4,808 revolutions around the Earth and covered a distance of roughly 201.5 million kilometers.
The space shuttles carried out a total of 135 space missions. Challenger and Colombia crash, killing the crew. After the space shuttles were decommissioned a decade ago, NASA had to rent seats for its manned space flight on the Russian space shuttle Soyuz. However, it has recently become possible to recall private American companies such as Elon Musk’s subsidiary Spacex.
Incidentally, there are some notable astrological birthdays on the agenda for later this month. After all, on April 19, it would be exactly fifty years ago when Russia brought its first space station into orbit with Salyut 1.
On April 28, twenty years passed before Italian-American billionaire Dennis Tito became the first space tourist in history. Tito, 60, paid Russia $ 20 million for an eight-day stay on the International Space Station. So far, seven tourists have managed to make a trip to the space station.