Against all odds, Russia still remains one of the acknowledged leaders in space exploration and manned flights. This is said in a message of congratulations from Vladimir Putin to workers of the space and rocket industry, pilot cosmonauts, and cosmonaut veterans of the Russian Federation on Cosmonautics Day, which is marked in Russia on April 12, the day of the world's first space flight by Yuri Gagarin. The text of the message was received by RIA Novosti from the presidential press-service on Thursday. The president expressed confidence that "the rich history of Russia's cosmonautics, the huge potential of high-class specialists engaged in this sphere, and implementation of national and international programmes will enable this country to stay ahead in the space effort in the new century as well". Putin noted that 40 years ago "Yuri Gagarin's flight changed the world. A space era began in mankind's history. Starting from that moment civilisation embarked upon the path of large-scale scientific discoveries and creation of high technologies. They left their mark on the development of countries and the world outlook of peoples, opening up unprecedented prospects and possibilities". As the president emphasised, "we take rightful pride in the fact that this gigantic scientific and technological breakthrough was made precisely in this country. This happened thanks to the talent, the huge labour and courage of cosmonauts, scientists and all personnel of the rocket and space industry". The head of state wished them success, good health and all the best. On Thursday Putin, while visiting the cosmonaut-training centre in Star City outside Moscow, said that the space branch holds the key to the country's development. "This sphere can pull after it other branches of the economy," the head of state said.
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