I can still remember Yuri Gagarin's flight as if it had happened last week. We already had a (black and white) TV
in the house about one year. I still remember the images. We would never imagine personal computers even less the Internet. Yet the event was huge. It sort of took us by surprise. I had followed Sputnik1's beeps on the family radio, the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit in 1957. I was only 6 but I can remember it clearly.
A lot of Anetters were not born in 1961. We need to consider the historical aspect first.
The Start of Human Spaceflight, April 12 1961
12 April 1961 was the date of the first human space flight, carried out by Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet citizen. This historic event opened the way for space exploration for the benefit of all humanity. The General Assembly expressed its deep conviction of the common interest of mankind in promoting and expanding the exploration and use of outer space, as the province of all mankind, for peaceful purposes and in continuing efforts to extend to all States the benefits derived there from.
April 12 was already a huge day in space history twenty years before the launch of the first shuttle mission. On that day in 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, making a 108-minute orbital flight in his Vostok 1 spacecraft.
These flights marked a considerable advance and were like nothing ever seen before but they were also a strong propaganda tool in favour of the Soviets and the Communist system.
International Day of Human Space Flight
The General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/65/271 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.”
We now have the International Space Station orbiting above us and ironically -- after the Space Shuttles retirement -- there is only one type of vehicle left that can ferry astronauts to the ISS. It's the Russian Soyuz and it will most probably be so for several more years.
The Space X company will soon be testing a unmanned capsule for a possible docking with the Space Station.
Let's wait and see how that goes before we can talk about anything else as the Virgin Galactic company have not yet tested their little passenger ship for suborbital service and we do not have any precise date as to when they will do it.
There is also the ESA and Arianespace who are being extremely successful with their automated vehicles supplying the Space Station (Automated Transfer Vehicle) and the old style Russian cargo ship Progress based on Soyuz technology, now the Progress M1.
We know the old style equipment still works perfectly well the rest is yet to come.
Finance will have a big part to play. Space flight involves huge amounts of money.