The idea of sending an object to space was conceived in the minds of many science fiction authors hundreds of years before it was actually feasible. Some of these works even included various descriptions of exactly how that would be done. During the 20th century, with the development of adequate propulsion technologies, stronger and lighter materials and other technological and scientific breakthroughs, the idea of outer-earth missions was no longer a dream, but a viable practice.
The first successful space launch was of the Soviet unmanned Sputnik I mission on October 4, 1957. The first orbital flight made by a human being was Vostok 1, carrying Yuri Gagarin on April 12 1961.