- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 12, 2011

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia’s president is pledging to uphold the nation’s preeminence in space as the country marks the 50th anniversary of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s first human spaceflight.

President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday on a visit to Mission Control outside Moscow that Russia mustn’t lose its edge in space.

Medvedev had a brief conference call with the Russian, U.S. and Italian crew of the International Space Station, congratulating them on the date and wishing them success in their own mission.

Cosmonauts and space officials will gather later at the Kremlin for an award ceremony.

On Monday, cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya warned that Russia risks losing its edge in space by relying exclusively on Soviet-era achievements and doing little to design new spacecraft.

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