I don't know if anyone else is interested in this sort of thing, but I am.
The last couple of months marked some important space anniversaries.
First, the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's launch -- the first man in space. He blasted off on April 12, 1961. His re-entry vehicle was very crude -- a sphere with no guidance control at all, so it just fell back to earth until the parachute opened. I think I read that it spun while plummeting through the atmosphere -- it must have been quite a ride.
You can read Russia's account of the flight here
There was a British TV documentary a bit later that tried to prove that the flight didn't happen, but the US CIA knew it did. They had been closely monitoring Soviet space activity, including radio from all orbiting vehicles.
Actually, Yuri Gagarin's story is kind of sad. After that flight, since he was now a "hero of the Soviet Union", they didn't let him fly again -- not in space, and not in airplanes, even though he was a pilot. Finally, in 1968, they granted him permission to fly with a trainer, and his plane crashed.
Second, the 50th anniversary of Alan Shepherd's launch -- the first US man in space. His brief sub-orbital flight was on May 5, 1961. If they hadn't sent up that Chimpanzee named "Ham" first, but has put Shepherd on that flight, he would have beat Gagarin. Shepherd wanted to go on that flight.
Third, the 30th anniversary of the first Space Shuttle flight. This was on April 12, 1981. Officials said that this date was not picked because of Gagarin's flight, but just because the vehicle was ready then.
[This message has been edited by TopNotch (edited 05-20-2011).]