World Space Week: Russia stands out

At the opening ceremony of World Space Week in Vienna, Austria last week, the model of the Russian GLONASS satellite was unveiled, a reminder of the important contribution by the Soviet Union and Russia to space travel and science. Since 1999, the week October 4 to October 10 has been designated World Space Week by the United Nations Organization.

The importance of satellite navigation was highlighted by the United Nations at the event, where Russia donated the model of its Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) to the permanent space exhibition in Vienna, on October 4, the first day of World Space Week, recalling the launching of the Soviet Union's Sputnik I, the world's first artificial satellite, on October 4 1957. October 10 commemorates  the day on which the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies was signed in 1967.

Although space science is one of the many areas in which rivalry gave way to collaboration, there is a tendency in the international media to give more protagonism to the NASA space programme than the Soviet/Russian one. Let us therefore remember the massive contribution to Humanity the Soviet/Russian space programmes have made.

To begin with,  the first satellite (Sputnik I, 1957), the first launch of an ICBM (R7 Semyorka, 1957), the first animal in space, Laika (1957), the first rocket into orbit, Luna 1 in 1959. The first transmission of telemetry from space in 1959, the first rocket to pass the moon and the first object to enter into solar orbit (Luna 1), the first photos of the dark side of the Moon (Luna 3). The first return flight of mammals to and from space (1960, two dogs, Belka and Strelka, returning to Earth after being in orbit in Sputnik 5), the first probe to Mars (1960, Marsnik 1), the first probe to reach Venus (Venera 1 in 1961).

The first man in space, Yuri Gagarin (Vostok 1, 1961), the first man to spend a day in space - Gherman Titov, 1961, also the first man to sleep in space, the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova (1963), the first walk in space (Aleksei Leonov, 1965), the first arrival to the moon in 1959 (Luna 2), the first object on the surface of Venus, 1965 (Venera 3), the first object on the Moon, 1966, Luna 9, also the first lunar transfer and the first lunar orbit, 1966.

The first docking in space, unmanned (Cosmos 186/188) in 1967. The U.S. only managed to imitate this achievement in 2006; the first manned docking in space in 1969 and the first exchange of crews, the first samples from the Moon sent by Luna 16 in 1970, the first robot on the moon in 1970 (Lunokhod 1), the first data received from the surface of Venus, 1971.

The first station in space (Salyut 1, 1971), the record for permanence in space - Mir space station, the first probe to reach the surface of Mars (Mars 2), the first pictures of the surface of Venus, the first woman to walk in space, Sveltana Savitskaya, the first crew to visit two (Russian) space stations, Salyut and Mir.

For those who say these were victories of the past, let us ask them whose door one has to knock on these days if one wants to reach the International Space Station?

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey