Media playback is unsupported on your device

Pillinger: 'It was a race' to get the first man in space

12 April 2011 Last updated at 21:17 BST

Russia has marked the 50th anniversary of the first human space flight by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

President Dmitry Medvedev told the nation, "We were first into space, we have a huge number of achievements, we don't want to lose our advantage".

The event was marked by ceremonies and a 50-gun salute in Moscow.

Professor Colin Pillinger, who was part of NASA's Apollo space programme, explains why Gagarin's flight was such a momentous occasion.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.