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Stamp Profile50th Anniversary of human space flightUnited NationsIssue Date 12/04/2011On 12 April 2011, the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) will issue three stamps in the denominations of US$ 0.44, CHF 0.50 and € 0.35 in a mini-sheet format of sixteen stamps to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Human Space Flight. UNPA is also issuing one souvenir sheet with six different denominations, two from each office. The denominations are US$ 0.44, US$ 0.98, CHF 0.85, CHF 1.00, € 0.55 and € 0.65. This is the first time ever that UNPA has issued a souvenir sheet in this format.On 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics became the first human to travel into outer space. His space flight heralded a new era of human endeavour in what has become known as the “final frontier”. Since that historic flight, humans have set foot upon the Moon, have learned to work in the harsh vacuum of outer space, and, for the last decade, have maintained a permanent human presence outside the Earth.Though human space flight began during the height of the cold war, it became an arena of both competition and cooperation. The race that culminated in the first steps taken on the Moon by American astronaut Neil Armstrong on 20 July 1969, also resulted in the first tentative steps towards international cooperation in human space flight – the 1975 joint American-Soviet space mission, known as the “Apollo-Soyuz Test Project”. Since then, nations have recognized the benefits of working together in outer space and that cooperation has led to the establishment of humanity’s permanent space outpost: the International Space Station (ISS). With over 15 nations working together in what is considered one of humankind’s greatest scientific and technical achievements, the ISS is a truly international endeavour and epitomizes one of the goals of the United Nations: international cooperation in outer space.United Nations interest in the use and exploration of outer space began shortly after the launch of the first satellite “Sputnik-1” in 1957. Recognizing the incredible potential offered by space technology for overcoming Earth-based problems like famine and disasters, the Member States of the United Nations established a permanent United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). Tasked with developing a legal framework for the conduct of activities in outer space and also facilitating the use of space-based technology and its application for developed and developing nations alike, the Committee met for the first time on 27 November 1961, the same year as Gagarin’s flight. In the five decades of its existence, COPUOS has created five international treaties and five legal principles governing the activities of nations in outer space. This body of space law enshrines key concepts such as: the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all nations, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all humankind; the banning of the placement of weapons of mass destruction in outer space; and outer space is not subject to national appropriation. With modern civilization becoming increasingly dependent on space-based technology such as satellite communications and satellite navigation, the potential damage to these systems by collisions with space debris has become of increasing concern to nations. As such, the work of COPUOS has become even more relevant today, with its development of guidelines for use by countries to prevent and mitigate the creation of space debris; its discussions on the need to ensure the long-term sustainability of space activities; and its continuing work in ensuring all countries benefit from the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.