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Human Spaceflight
Human Spaceflight Mission to Earth

Goals: The goals of the world's human spaceflight programs are to prove people can safely leave Earth's protective atmosphere and survive in outer space.

Accomplishments: Since Yuri Gagarin's successful orbital flight in 1961, men and women from more than two dozen nations have traveled into space. The International Space Station is the latest in a series of space facilities that provide a safe haven and research platform for humans to live and work in Earth orbit. Earth orbiting missions also proved it was possible to safely venture beyond Earth orbit and enabled 12 American astronauts to walk on the Moon between 1969 and 1972.

Get the latest news on humans living in space: NASA News Topics: Shuttle and Station


Key Dates
1961:  Launch
12 Apr 1961:  First Human in Space (Yuri Gagarin)
5 May 1961:  Freedom 7 Launch (Alan Shepard, First US Man in Space)
Status: In Progress
Fast Facts
Human Spaceflight Facts Laika the dog was the first Earthling in space. The Soviet Union launched her into orbit aboard Sputnik 2 in 1957.

Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (right) became the first human in space in 1961. The first American in space was Alan Shepard. Shepard also was the fith American to walk on the Moon.

American Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders were the first humans to leave Earth orbit aboard Apollo 8 in 1968.
Science & Technology Features
People Spotlight
Sally Ride Sally Ride
"Rocketing into space aboard the space shuttle Challenger as the first American woman to fly in space is one of my favorite moments." Read More...
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Last Updated: 1 Feb 2011