Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Space Station Crew Celebrates Anniversaries

Six 21st-century explorers aboard the International Space Station marked two special anniversaries today, noting that the exploration of outer space has gone from a competition to global cooperation in the 50 years since Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth.

Russian cosmonauts Dmitry Kondratyev, Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev, along with U.S. astronauts Catherine "Cady" Coleman and Ronald Garan, and Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency celebrated the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's flight and the 30th anniversary of the first U.S. shuttle launch.

Garan noted that in the early days of space exploration, the United States and Russia were "in a space race against each other, in a somewhat antagonistic competition."

But today, the U.S., Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada all have come together to build the International Space Station.

"You look at us today, the six of us onboard representing 15 nations in the International Space Station partnership, and representing all the nations of the world, really, and you see where we've come," Garan said. "One of the legacies of the space program over the past 50 years, of human spaceflight, is international cooperation."

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