Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Earthlings, let's now tap Moon & Mars

Rakesh Sharma, India's first cosmonaut, remembers his time in space and his training in Russia on the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's maiden space voyage.
Half a century ago, the 27-year-old Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin created history by becoming the first man to journey into space. As Russia and the world celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first manned space-flight by Gagarin, it’s important to remember that it was not only a giant leap for mankind, but also marked an all-time high for the Soviet patriotic pride in the Cold War period. In essence, April 12 was not only the day when mankind achieved what was previously thought impossible, but also the culmination of decades of Soviet space research that had already launched the first satellite in October 1957, the first animal to orbit the Earth (Laika, the dog) in November 1957, and numerous other milestone flights and satellites.

Gagarin’s flight was, importantly, one of the biggest ‘victories’ for the Soviet Union in the Cold War Soviet-U.S. Space Race – a fierce contest for supremacy in outer space exploration. In other words, this was a battle of giant egos and both countries burned millions of dollars in research to be the first to conquer some tiny part of the final frontier.

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