To Infinity and Beyond—50th Anniversary of Manned Space Flight


Yuri Gagarin

Fifty years ago today, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first person to orbit the earth. The 27-year old Gagarin circled the earth in a 108 minute flight in a 5-ton Vostok capsule. Then-Vice-President Lyndon Johnson admitted: "I felt uneasy and apprehensive. In the open West, you learn to live with the sky as part of your life. But now, somehow, in some new way, the sky seemed almost alien."

In catchup mode, NASA launched astronaut Alan Shepard into a 15 minute suborbital flight on May 5. Stung by this Soviet technological success, President John Kennedy announced in a speech before Congress on May 25, 1961 the goal that the U.S. would send an American safely to moon before the end of the decade. The space race was on.

Space became an arena for national competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. In the 1960s, four cents of every tax dollar was devoted to the space program and the Apollo moon program cost approximately $25 billion ($170 billion in 2010 dollars). Fifty years later, space will perhaps now become an arena for commercial competition.

Whatever the politics, Gagarin's trip was an amazing technological triumph that deserves commemoration.

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  1. That Yuri Gagarin, not only did he go really high before anyone else, he could bend spoons with his mind. Amazing commie bastard.

    “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…”

    “And do the other things.” I doubt today a president could use vague phrasing such as that and still have it be labeled a great speech.

    1. he was referring to womanizing. That’s why he was so great.

      1. ah huh, tell us how u wouldn’t do marilyn monroe…gayboy

        1. I don’t think she’s still as fresh but if he’s a med doctor, he probably won’t mind the autopsy scar, and the decomposition

    2. The “other things” were Rice playing Texas and then some other crap about mountains and stuff. It wasn’t really vague.

      1. But it was silly.

    3. I think he just got the words mixed up.
      “…and do other broads, because I am so hard….”

  2. I for one do not want to go to bed at night by the light of a communist moon.

    1. “The Moon’s Ass Belongs to the US. So Don’t Be Landing Your Skanky Rocket on It. Don’t Even Be Looking at the Moon

  3. Nice Gargarin picture.

    1. I believe it is a picture from Soviet postage stamp.

      Also, it looks like Gagarin is about to get a Vostok in the eye.

      TBS: I have to admire Gagarin’s sheer guts in being the first to go into space. Despite all of the previous tests, nobody really knew what would happen to him.

    2. It’s like someone went out of their way to make that spacecraft penis-shaped.

  4. The Soviets were just commemorating the centennial of the first shot of the US Civil War.

    Little known fact.

  5. My gf and I are throwing a Yuri’s Night party in Tallahassee. A caterer friend is preparing some sort of cheese moon for the party and some sort of specialty cocktail. Pretty sure I’m going to be useless to non-existant at work tomorrow.

    1. My gf and I are throwing a Yuri’s Night party in Tallahassee. A caterer friend is preparing some sort of cheese moon for the party and some sort of specialty cocktail. Pretty sure I’m going to be useless to non-existant at work tomorrow.

      By “gf,” do you mean your boyfriend, cause the whole thing sounds pretty gay.

      (I keed. I keed.)

      1. To be truly gay, would have needed a reference to a having a huge Titan rocket ready to ‘go off’

  6. And, soon, this country will essentially no longer have a real space program once the shuttles are retired.

    Meanwhile, China has a plan to go to Mars before us, and equaled us in the number of space launches for the first time this year.

    Which country will be the Superpower in the 21st Century? It’s not hard to tell.

    1. i hear China already has a plan to build empty malls and skyscrapers on Mars. such forethought! how can we compete with that??!!

    2. SpaceX alone is decades ahead of the Chinese in technology.

      1. Exactly. How will the Chinese Space Program get anywhere before us if we don’t have technology for them to steal anymore?

    3. Which country will be the Superpower in the 21st Century? It’s not hard to tell.

      Because nothing … NOTHING … makes a country powerful and influential like diverting scarce resources into an unproductive space program.

  7. Interesting: Yuri was banned from further space missions because the Russians were worried about losing their hero. He died in 1968 in a training flight in a MiG.

    1. Yeah, they turned him into an alcoholic out of frustration that he couldn’t do what he had been trained for and wanted to do. He was apparently drunk at the time he flew the MiG into the ground.

    2. This story about Vladimir Komarov and Yuri Gagarin was really interesting. Basically Komarov fell on the grenade, or horrible space vehicle, so that Gagarin wouldn’t.…

  8. Just reading the FBI vault records on
    Francis Gary Powers…..ry+Powers+

  9. Velcro, bitches!

    Where’s your libertarianism, now?

    1. NASA: Velcro was invented by Swiss guy and patented in 1955. Tang was invented at General Foods and first marketed in 1959.

      1. Does anybody even drink Tang anymore? It was a pretty lousy substitute for bad bugjuice, as I recall.

      2. He is somewhat correct because silent velcro was developed for use on military uniforms, and the use in the aerospace industry popularized both Tang and velcro.

        The US government funds research seeps into our private lives constantly:

        NASA’s research was furthered by the music industry, who used it to develop audio cassettes. Audio cassettes, being smaller and able to store more music, quickly dominated the music industry and increased the availability of music.

        Every time a libertarian clicks on one of Warty’s shitty music links they need to say I love paying taxes

        1. 10 points for anyone who can say why metal zippers can’t work in a vacuum.

      3. uhhh…

        Moon boots, bitches!

        1. We can also thank the space program for satellites.

          1. The one huge industry that actually developed directly from the space program.

  10. For a bunch of drunken Slavs, the Russians can still do space pretty well, you gotta give them that.

    And they forged ahead without giving a good crap about failures.

    1. Yeah, my Hero of the Soviet Union medal looks really good on my charbroiled corpse.

    2. Actually, when their moon launch rocket blew up on the pad at Turyatum in 1967, they shut down their Lunar program altogether.

      NORAD detected a huge explosion near Turyatum with their over-the-horizon radar. Scared the shit out of them because they thought it was nuclear at first. Next pass with the spy satellite over Turyatum showed a huge scortch mark aroung the wreckage of the launch pad. NORAD did not let the news out at the time; it wasn’t until years later that the story made the western press.

      1. Please Komrad Aresen, was no plan to go to moon! Nyet! Just build wery big rocket that look like could go to moon to scare kapitalists into thinking ve goink to moon, so they spend lots of evil Amerikan money. But no plan to actually go to moon!

  11. It’s amazing how the former commies invented space tourism while NASA didn’t.

  12. The Germans did have good rocket scientists and engineers, and the Russkies and USA made full use of them.

    Check out Operation Paperclip.

  13. This is all nonsense. The first primate in space was an American, Albert II, and he did it over a decade before Gagarin.

    1. The atheist in me wants to launch all the Primates into space…

      *Oh! You’re talking about species Pan and it’s relatives.*


      1. You should love all your primate brothers. [And sisters!] And sisters.

        1. Stop all this gender pandering. You should love your pregnant brothers, two-spirit people, transsexual abortion recipients and others.

          Brothers and sisters? Stop labeling people by what they have between their legs!

          1. Sorry, but I’m a chromosome fascist.

          2. Who will be the first pregnant man to go into space and have an abortion?

  14. The Volkov 1 looked like a piece of shit, anyhow. Commie aesthetics.

  15. And, in case anyone forgets, it is also the 30th anniversary of the first launch of the space shuttle.

    1. John Young and Bob Crippen. Remember it well. Not their fault the programmed cost too damned much.

      1. The program. Not sure who the “programmed” are.

  16. What impressed me the most is how Gagarin had to to bail out of the module and parachute down as it was descending.

    1. He was trying to defect.

  17. Check out the Google search page today.

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  19. Yuri Gagarin’s great achievement was the beginning of the future.

  20. This anniversary is different. There has been almost nothing in comparison to other technologies that has advanced in the last 50 years of human spaceflight. It is unfortunate, but true.

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