The International Day of Human Space Flight, a new observance proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, marks one of humankind’s greatest achievements: the presence of people in space.
On this date in 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first envoy of humanity to outer space, opening the way for exploration that has generated important benefits for the human family.
Through the years, space science and technology have helped us confront very down-to-earth problems, producing solutions that are transforming our approach to climate change, food security, global health, humanitarian assistance and more.
Today, these discoveries and applications are proving indispensable to global efforts to achieve sustainable development. With the Rio+20 conference just over two months away, space-driven research, insights and analysis will continue to play a crucial role.
For half a century, the United Nations, through the Office for Outer Space Affairs, has sought to bring the benefits of space to all on Earth, including by working to ensure that outer space is used for peaceful purposes.
With the involvement of a growing number of countries, the exploration of outer space is now a truly global undertaking. I am confident that the International Day of Human Space Flight will remind us of our common humanity and our need to work together to conquer shared challenges. I hope it will also inspire young people in particular to pursue their dreams and move the world towards new frontiers of knowledge and understanding.