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US experts view outer space cooperation as main achievement after Gagarin’s flight

April 11, 17:39 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
Experts from the renowned US public organization Space Foundation, which popularizes space exploration, made this statement on the eve of Cosmonaut Day celebrated in Russia on April 12.
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© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

WASHINGTON, April 11. /TASS/. The changeover from rivalry between the United Stated States and Russia to broad international cooperation was the main achievement in the space industry over 55 years that passed since Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight, US experts said on Monday.

Experts from the renowned US public organization Space Foundation, which popularizes space exploration, made this statement on the eve of Cosmonaut Day celebrated in Russia on April 12.

"The two most important achievements are the maturation of space from a two-nation ‘race,’ to an international collaboration involving more than 100 countries; and the current evolution of the global space enterprise to include private investment and commercial space enterprise on a significant industrial scale," Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham said.

Competing partners

The Space Foundation head believes that "there are certainly still important competitions between nations and companies" in outer space but "the fact that these same ‘competitors’ are also partners and collaborators has encouraged a greater global sense of purpose."

"The Apollo-Soyuz program was the great ‘mother’ of the idea of competitors becoming partners, and this continued with Shuttle-Mir and of course the ISS program," Pulham said.

"So, the pathways blazed by the U.S. and Russia continue to provide the model for how to compete and cooperate at the same time," he added.

Explorers by nature

Pulham’s opinion is shared by former NASA astronaut and Space Foundation Special Advisor Leroy Chiao who made a total of four space flights aboard US space shuttles and Russia’s Soyuz carrier rockets, during which he performed six walkouts and worked in 2004-2005 with Russian cosmonauts as part of a long-term space expedition to the International Space Station.

When asked about the main achievements in space exploration over the past 55 years, he noted that in a technological sense "the main achievements were getting humans into space in the first place, then landing on the Moon, building a reusable, multi-purpose Space Shuttle and organizing a truly international coalition to build and operate the International Space Station."

"By taking these steps, we have set the stage to explore further and deeper into space. In a philosophical sense, the greatest achievement is getting off of our planet to strive towards our neighboring planets in our solar system. This shows that humans are no longer content to be Earth-bound and that we are explorers by nature.".

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