50 years ago today, Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet test pilot, was launched into space in Vostok 1. After orbiting the Earth more or less once, he ejected from his capsule after a safe re-entry, landed in a field. He then had to ask a startled farmer and his daughter to find him a telephone. Some more information about the flight can be found here.
Gagarin's first journey, which was very much a venture into the unknown for a human being, is a source of great inspiration for many. About 530 people have followed in his footsteps, 12 of them to the surface of the Moon.
I'm unhappy that we're now taking somewhat of a step back with the retirement of the Space Shuttle and I hope we'll have new reusable spacecraft soon.
It's a shame that Gagarin is not here for this anniversary. Rest in Peace.