1971: Salyut 1
Salyut 1 was the first space station. It was launched by the Soviet Union on April 19, 1971. Its first crew was launched in Soyuz 10 spacecraft but was unable to board it due to a failure in the docking mechanism. Later on, its second crew was launched in Soyuz 11 and remained on board of the space station for 23 productive days. However, during the reentry of the Soyuz 11 reentry capsule a pressure-equalization valve opened prematurely killing all three members of the crew. Salyut 1 re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on October 11, 1971. Thus the first space station was short lived. A few years later the Americans launched their own space station, Skylab.