Now, 50 years on, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin is set to be honoured with a statue on London's Mall. The monument - which will be the first of a Soviet-era Russian in the capital - is due to be unveiled in July, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's historic visit to Britain three months after his space mission.

The U.S. Department of Defense released its first-ever National Security Space Strategy (NSSS), on Feb. 4. The document "seeks to maintain and enhance the national security benefits" the United States derives from its activities and capabilities in space.

The one thing that the world learned early on from the ISS experience is that space is a great forum for diplomacy. One time arch-rivals now work side by side on a daily basis.

Indeed, said [ESA Council chairman Giuseppe] Pizza, there is no question of achieving ambitious scientific objectives or opening a significant new chapter in space exploration without a global strategy, including the active participation of every European player.

LAST Sunday, it emerged that the UN was set to appoint a Malaysian astrophysicist called Mazlan Othman to lead international efforts to respond to visitors from outer space. As the article in the Sunday Times explained, Dr Othman is the head of the UN’s Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa).

Russian leaders are trying to use the current thaw in relations with the U.S. to enhance cooperation in space, pushing for joint exploration efforts extending past the life of the international space station.