oday is the International Day of Human Space Flight celebrating the beginning of the space era for the people. The United Nations General Assembly, in a 2011 resolution declared April 12 as the International Day of Human Space Flight. The aim is to celebrate each year at international level the beginning of the space era for the people, reaffirming the important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals and increasing the well-being of States and people while ensuring the realization of their aspiration to maintain outer space for peaceful purposes.
The UN points out that April 12, 1961 was the date of the first human spaceflight Vostok 3KA, carried out by the Soviet Union’s famous cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. This historic event opened the way for space exploration for the benefit of all people.
The General Assembly in its resolution expressed its deep conviction of the common interest of the people in promoting and expanding the exploration and use of outer space, as the province of all people, for peaceful purposes and in continuing efforts to extend to all States the benefits derived therefrom.
Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight lifted Unites States’ President John F. Kennedy’s vision also to space. He allocated billions of dollars to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and told them to launch spaceflights to the moon. This began the Apollo series and President Kennedy’s dream to put a man on the moon was achieved when on July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins sat atop another Saturn V at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Centre.
According to NASA, the three-stage 363-foot rocket used its 7.5 million pounds of thrust to propel them into space and into history. At 9:32 a.m. EDT, the engines fired and Apollo 11 cleared the tower. About 12 minutes later, the crew was in Earth orbit.
After one and a half orbits, Apollo 11 got a “go” for what mission controllers call “Translunar Injection” - in other words, it was time to head for the moon. Three days later, the crew was in lunar orbit. A day after that, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin climbed into the lunar module Eagle and began the descent, while Michael Collins orbited in the command module Columbia.
Michael Collins later wrote that Eagle is “the weirdest-looking contraption I have ever seen in the sky,” but it will prove its worth.
When it came to set Eagle down in the Sea of Tranquility, Neil Armstrong improvised, manually piloting the ship past an area littered with boulders. During the final seconds of descent, Eagle’s computer was sounding alarms.
It turned out to be a simple case of the computer trying to do too many things at once, but as Buzz Aldrin later pointed out, “unfortunately it came up when we did not want to be trying to solve these particular problems.”
When the lunar module landed at 4:18 p.m. EDT, only 30 seconds of fuel remained. Neil Armstrong radioed “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Mission control erupted in celebration as the tension broke, and a controller told the crew “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue, we’re breathing again.” As they stepped out of the Lunar Module Neil Armstrog’s first words were, “It is one small step for a man, but a giant leap for all mankind.”
Some skeptics say the Russians and the Americans went to outer space and the moon because they thought they could find uranium or plutonium to make nuclear weapons. Whether or not this was the motive, let us hope that space medical research and communication technology will be used and there will be an equitable distribution of its benefits for the common good of all people with space being the common province of all.