‘The Space Age’: The Space Age began April 12, 1961, when Soviet Major Yuri Gagarin successfully orbited the Earth in his Vostok 1. The Soviet Union had long been in competition with the United States over military and technological dominance of the world, and Gagarin’s first orbit was both a huge win for the Soviet Union and a major blow to the United States. Since 1962, many humans have been launched into space, yet they have all been launched from Soviet Union or United States soil.