12 Apr 2024

International Day of Human Space Flight: Advancing the Sporting Code for Astronautics Progress

12 April marks the celebration of International Day of Human Space Flight, an occasion that commemorates remarkable achievements and advancements in space exploration by humankind.

It was created in 2011 at the United Nations General Assembly in dedication of the first crewed space flight made on 12 April 1961 by Yuri Gagarin "to celebrate each year at the international level the beginning of the space era for mankind, reaffirming the important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals and increasing the well-being of States and peoples, as well as ensuring the realisation of their aspiration to maintain outer space for peaceful purposes."

The International Day of Human Space Flight is an opportunity for FAI to make an update on the hard work being undertaken by the FAI Astronautic Records Commission (ICARE) on the revision of its Sporting Code to effectively capture the current momentum in spaceflight and to anticipate its evolution in the coming decades.

ICARE President Scott Neumann commented:

"The revision of the FAI Sporting Code is essential to ensure that it accurately captures the advancements and milestones in astronautics, thereby maintaining the FAI's role as a leading governing body in the ever-evolving field of astronautics worldwide."

Evolving Landscape of Astronautics

Space exploration has undergone substantial transformations since 2009, the year in which the last revision of the Astronautics Sporting Code (Section 8) was made. These include significant technological advancements, the development of new spacecraft and capabilities, and the democratisation of access to spaceflight through commercial enterprises.

Distinguishing World Records and Milestone Events

Unlike other disciplines covered in the Sporting Code, astronautics presents unique challenges due to high costs and complex topics. In disciplines such as aeronautics and ballooning, the sporting code can inspire and motivate pilots to undertake technological improvements and vehicle development to set world records. However, the development of new spacecraft requires substantial financial resources, limiting the ability of individuals or small organisations to pursue such endeavours solely for record-breaking purposes. The new Astronautics Sporting Code is being constructed by being forward looking and anticipating the spaceflight developments in the coming decades.

The revision of the Astronautics Sporting Code also aims to include the possibility to mark the milestones of spaceflight history as they are being made, outside of the world record structure. These accomplishments represent singular events which happen once, cannot be improved upon, and mark a significant milestone in astronautics.


Several proposals for amendments to the Sporting Code were recently approved at the ICARE Annual Meeting. To implement these changes, amendments to the FAI Statutes and By-Laws are necessary, which requires approval by the General Conference in November.