Austria will release a commemorative stamp on golden jubilee of manned space flight. The age of manned space travel, a milestone in the history of mankind, began on 12 April 1961, a historic day whose 50th anniversary is being recalled with a commemorative stamp. In the accordance with the occasion, the issue is correspondingly innovative, with a special gloss resulting from the application of a printed silver foil to the stamp. The mini-sheet consisting of 10 stamps, the margin of which is decorated with illustrations of various famous spacecraft, beyond doubt constitutes in its entirety a successful piece of “contemporary philately”.
The history of manned space travel: It was Yuri Gagarin, the legendary Russian cosmonaut, who on that 12 April 1961 was the first man to orbit the earth in a Vostok spacecraft. Only a few weeks later, on 5 May 1961, the USA replied with a 16 minute suborbital flight by Alan Shepard as part of its Mercury programme.
In 1968, the first humans travelled into space in Apollo 7, ultimately leading to the first manned Moon landing in 1969 with the famous Apollo 11 and the three astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins. After this, the focus was on space nearer to earth. The Salyut and Skylab space stations provided a modest home for humans in space. In addition, the Apollo-Soyuz project in 1975 was the first joint American-Soviet mission. Thereafter, the two nations went their separate ways for the next 20 years.
The US space shuttle was developed as early as the 1970s. Although despite the Colombia disaster it is still being used, a successor system is already in the process of development. Following the strategic realignment of NASA at the beginning of 2004, other space vehicles are needed for the planned Moon and Mars flights, while in addition the future of the ISS is uncertain.
The Soviet Union also used the shuttle concept in the 1980s — leading to the Buran space shuttle, the counterpart to the US space shuttle. As a result of financial and political difficulties, the Buran was however never used for a manned mission and in 1993 the programme was finally stopped. At the same time, the Soviet Union continued to work on its manned space station programme. 1986 saw the launch of the first Mir space station module, which remained in operation until 2001 and supplied 28 base crews.