Press Releases

    For information only - not an official document

    UNIS/OS/407
    12 April 2011

    12 April: International Day of Human Space Flight

    VIENNA, 12 April (UN Information Service) - It was on 12 April 1961 when the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into outer space, orbiting the Earth on Vostok-1 in a flight lasting 108 minutes. His spaceflight heralded a new era of human endeavour in, what has become known as, the "final frontier". Recognizing the importance of the first envoy of humanity into outer space, the United Nations General Assembly on 7 April 2011 held a special session to commemorate the first human flight into outer space. In its resolution A/RES/65/271, the General Assembly declared 12 April the International Day of Human Spaceflight, "to celebrate each year worldwide the beginning of the space era for mankind, reaffirming the important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals and increasing the well-being of States and peoples, as well as ensuring the realization of their aspiration to maintain space for peaceful purposes."  On 12 April 2011, the United Nations Postal Administration also issued a series of special commemorative stamps at each of its offices in New York, Geneva and Vienna, including a stamp featuring an iconic image of Yuri Gagarin.

    "Today we are celebrating one of the greatest triumphs of human progress: for the first time in human history, an individual was able to see the Earth from the breathtaking perspective of outer space," said Yury Fedotov the Director General of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV) at the official opening of the exhibition at the Vienna International Centre on 4 April to commemorate the 50th anniversary of this historic event. Organized by the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations at Vienna with the support of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the exhibition, that runs through 15 April, is displaying photographs commemorating Yuri Gagarin's space flight and other memorabilia from his goodwill tour around the globe, including his entry in the Visitors Book when he went to the United Nations headquarters in New York in 1963 along with the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova.

    "Yuri Gagarin's flight is an inspiration that engenders a quest for excellence; an inspiration that fans the flames of passion to pursue a dream, especially among the young. There is no higher value you can place on his achievement," stressed Mazlan Othman, Director of UNOOSA on the occasion. UNOOSA, which works to promote international cooperation in the use of outer space to achieve development goals for the benefit of humankind, will commemorate another important anniversary in 2011: the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). Tasked with developing a legal framework for the conduct of activities in outer space and also facilitating the use of space-based technology and its applications for developed and developing nations alike, the Committee met for the first time on 27 November 1961, the same year as Gagarin's flight. In the last five decades, the Committee has developed five treaties and five principles governing the use of outer space. It has also helped States develop their indigenous capabilities to use space technology for sustainable development.

    To commemorate these important anniversaries, UNOOSA will organize in June a month-long international exhibition on the 50 years of human space flight, together with several side-events, such as the Astronaut's Panel discussing "The Future of Humanity in Space", to be held in the Vienna City Hall on 2 June, in cooperation with the City of Vienna.

    * *** *

    For further information contact:

    Romana Kofler
    Associate Programme Officer, UNOOSA
    Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-4962
    Email: romana.kofler@unoosa.org