Someday in the future we all might be making plans for space travel for a vacation. For now, the idea of taking a trip to space is for the wealthy and the professionals.
Today, however, is historical as it relates to travel in the outer regions of our world. The significance of both can’t be overlooked as one event eventually would lead to another.
It was on this day in 1961 that the battle for space supremacy shifted from the United States to the then Soviet Union. Yuri Gagarin would become the first man to go to space aboard the craft Vostok 1. The Cosmonaut remains one of Russia’s national treasures.
His flight lasted all of 89 minutes and American’s and others around the world watched the sky for a glimpse of his ship traveling across the black night. He was given the title Hero of the Soviet Union after his trip around the world. It would not be until John Glenn orbited the Earth three times in 1962 that the U.S. would put a man in space.
His success and that of the Soviet government was a major blow to the U.S. space program and space race. The U.S. made it a priority to land a man on the moon so that the Soviet Union could not claim another victory. It was this space race that would eventually lead to the development of the NASA space shuttle missions.
The shuttle missions began on this day in 1981 when the Space Shuttle Columbia was launched from Cape Canaveral. It would be the first spacecraft of it’s kind, a reusable shuttle that could return to Earth like a plane and be relaunched.
Columbia spent two days in space before returning on the 14th. Sadly, the shuttle disintegrated in 2003 upon reentry sending debri over the state of Texas. The entire crew was lost.