On April 12, 1961, our world changed forever as cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.
For 108 minutes, the 27-year-old flew in the Soviet Vostok-1, breaking through to the last frontier of mankind and setting the stage for the great space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
April 12 also marks the 30th anniversary of the first Space Shuttle flight in 1981.
In humanity's first half-century as a spacefaring species, government-run space programs put people on the moon and began to master low-Earth orbit. The next 50 years should bring a sea change, with commercial companies taking over near-Earth operations and freeing NASA and other space agencies to send astronauts to asteroids and Mars.
From Yuri Gagarin to Neil Armstrong to private spaceship pilots: 50 years of spaceflight (Washington Post blog)
Yuri Gagarin's space flight 50th anniversary: the view from Russia (The Telegraph)
What the next 50 years hold for human spaceflight (Space.com)
Yuri Gagarin image gallery (NASA)