'Poyekhali!' Remembering Our First Space Voyager (Part 1)

Clad in his orange space suit, Yuri Gagain appears pensive in this image recorded during his journey to the launch pad on 12 April 1961. Photo Credit: Roscomos

In the early hours of 11 April 1961—more than five decades ago—an enormous booster trundled humanity’s first manned spacecraft to its launch site in a […]

To Swim in Space: The World’s First Spacewalk (Part 1)

Forty-nine years ago this month, Alexei Leonov became the first human to see the Earth, unhindered by the confines of a spacecraft, as God or another space traveller might see it. The experience almost cost him his life. Photo Credit: Roscosmos

From the moment he saw it, Alexei Leonov was captivated. He and […]

'On the Edge': The Legacy of Valentina Tereshkova

By the summer of 1963, the Soviets had launched the world’s first man in space (Yuri Gagarin) and its first woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova). For an image-conscious Soviet leadership, these achievements were exploited for the political advantages which they afforded. Photo Credit: Roscosmos

It is a quirk of historical coincidence that both […]

'The Common Touch': Selecting the First Woman Cosmonaut

Right from the start, the training of Russia’s first female cosmonauts was as alien as the environment in which one of them would operate. Although all had flying or parachuting experience, the closeted military world of the cosmonaut team came as a huge cultural shock to them. Photo Credit: Roscosmos

Fifty years ago […]

'The Main Road': The World’s First Space Station (Part 1)

Artist’s concept of Soyuz 10 approaching the Salyut 1/DOS space station in April 1971. Image Credit: Roscosmos

When Neil Armstrong first set foot on the Moon in July 1969, the people of the Soviet Union did not see the live coverage of his historic steps. It was a decision later condemned by cosmonaut […]