This Day in History: April 12

space shuttle liftoff 1981 – Launch of first space shuttle. On this day in 1981, NASA launched the first space shuttle, Columbia, which was designed to orbit Earth, transport people and cargo to and from orbiting spacecraft, and glide to a runway landing on its return to Earth.

Yuri Gagarin

1961 – Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space.

Union Flag

1606 – The Union Flag, precursor to the Union Jack, was adopted as the national flag of Great Britain.

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