Inside the Collection

yuri gagarin

The Friendship 7 Mission’s secret stamp of approval

February 22, 2012

Kerrie Dougherty
Fifty years ago, in the early hours of February 21, 1962 (Sydney time), NASA astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, on board his Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7. Although two previous Mercury missions had flown brief sub-orbital flights, achieving orbit was an important goal for the US space program at that point in the Cold War contest of the Space Race.

Yuri’s Day-celebrating human spaceflight

April 12, 2011

Kerrie Dougherty
Fifty years ago today, on April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was launched into orbit, becoming the first person in space. In the Cold War climate of the times, this event was not only a major technological and scientific achievement, but also a tremendous propaganda victory for the Soviet Union in the Space Race with the United States.