Here are our picks for the top 10 first space events.
1First man in the orbit – Yuri Gagarian
Launch Date: 12 April, 1961
The Russian cosmonaut completed an orbit of earth during his 108-minute space flight aboard Vostok I. Being the first human outside the earth he later explained the experience of weightlessness: “You feel as if you were hanging in a horizontal position in straps. You feel as if you were suspended.” After landing back on Earth, Gagarian became an instant celebrity, touring the world to tell the adoring public about his big adventure. It was to be his only mission into space and he died in a plane crash in 1968 during a routine flight. His ashes were buried in the walls of the Kremlin in Moscow.
2First woman in orbit – Valentina Tereshkova
Launch Date: 16 June, 1963
The Russian orbited the Earth 48 times during her near-three-day spell aboard Vostok 6.
3First space walk – Alexey Leonov
Launch Date: 18 March, 1995
Another Russian cosmonaut, Leonov undertook a 12-minute period of ‘extra-vehicular activity’ (space walk) during the Voskhod 2 mission. He was secured by a five-meter feather.
4First death in space – Vladimir Komarov
Launch Date: 24 April, 1967
The Russian was killed when the Soyuz 1 aircraft he was piloting crashed on its re-entry to Earth.
5First moon walk – Neil Armstrong
Launch Date: 21 July, 1969
Apollo 11 mission commander Armstrong climbed down from the lunar lander Eagle and onto the moon’s surface.
6First tourist – Dennis Tito
Launch Date: 28 April, 2001
The American multimillionaire spent nearly eight days in space, reaching the International Space Station EP-1 aboard the Russian craft Soyuz TM-32.
7First primate in space – Albert II
Launch Date: 14 June, 1949
A rhesus monkey called Albert II reached an altitude of about 134Km in a US-launched V2 rocket. Albert II died on impact after a parachute failure.
8First animal in orbit – Laika
Launch Date: 3 November, 1957
The Russian mongrel dog Laika survived four orbits aboard Sputnik 2 before dying, possibly as a result of overheating.
9First manually controlled spacecraft – Alan Shepard
Launch Date: 5 May, 1961
The American reached an altitude of 187Km aboard Freedom 7 during which he had some control of his craft (Gagarian’s flight was strightly automatic).
10First whole day in orbit – Gherman Titov
Launch Date: 6 August, 1961
As well as spending a whole day aboard Vostok 2, Russian Titov orbited the earth 17 times and was the first to sleep in space.