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  • Writer's pictureZach Sellinger

A Big Day in Space

Today is April 12, 2021. The date itself is a huge one in terms of firsts and accomplishments. Way back then, nobody knew how a human can travel into space, so they put all that hard work in to make it happen. And that moment would come in 1961 when Soviet test pilot Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.

Why April 12 out of all dates? Well, it was an ordinary date the Soviets set to launch Gagarin into space. But any day could’ve worked. Even I could’ve written this on July 1st or January 13th if the Soviets made history earlier or later. But what matters most is that one accomplishment would soon change the world. The news spread to the United States, Europe, and even China. They gained the motivation to send humans into space, which they’re still doing along with the Russians (who the Soviet Union became after the Cold War).

What’s also impressive on April 12th is the debut of the Space Shuttle, one of my favorite launch vehicles. NASA had been developing the Shuttle for ten years straight, wanting to provide a cost-efficient method to travel to low Earth orbit while reusing as much hardware as possible. Why not do it in the form of a spaceplane, which can launch like a rocket and land like an airplane? Such an amazing idea, I tell you!

However, the Space Shuttle making its first launch on April 12th was not intended because a first attempt was scrubbed two days ago due to a computer problem. But regardless, all of us can recognize both events that helped revolutionize the space industry as a whole. The Space Shuttle program lasted a little over 30 years, conducting 135 missions to build a giant space station, doing scientific research, and launching probes beyond Earth orbit. Even though there were two disasters along the way, the Space Shuttle helped redefine what us humans know about microgravity in space in addition to the above-mentioned achievements.

To sum it up, April 12th is a big day in space; a day that began an ongoing era of human space exploration and showed how people can reuse spacecraft and refly them in record time. I’m sure that in the near future, there will be another ordinary date that’ll signify what America’s next step in space exploration could be.

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