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This Day In History, 1961 and 1981: More Space Stuff!

April 12 is a date upon which two space-related anniversaries fall.

On April 12, 1961, aboard the spacecraft Vostok 1, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first human being to travel into space.

On April 12, 1981, exactly twenty years later, the space shuttle Columbia was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, becoming the first reusable manned spacecraft to travel into space. Piloted by astronauts Robert L. Crippen and John W. Young, the Columbia undertook a 54-hour space flight of 36 orbits before successfully touching down at California's Edwards Air Force Base on April 14. Oddly enough, the shuttle was originally scheduled to launch two days before; the fact that it launched on the anniversary of Gagarin's flight was a fluke.
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