On this day in 1975, United States Air Force General Thomas Stafford shook hands with Soviet Colonel Alexei Leonov through a set of hatches in their respective space capsules.

As you can partly hear here, each man used the other’s language. The mission also saw Donald “Deke” Slayton, one of the original Mercury astronauts who had been deprived of a spaceborne billet owing to a health issue, finally travel into space.

President Ford and Premier Brezhnev spoke to the astronauts. Here is an excerpt of Ford’s conversation:

[THE PRESIDENT.] It has taken us many years to open this door to useful cooperation in space between our two countries, and I am confident that the day is not far off when space missions made possible by this first joint effort will be more or less commonplace….

COL. ALEKSEI LEONOV. Mr. President, I am sure that our joint flight is the beginning for future explorations in space between our countries. Thank you very much for very nice words to us. We will do our best….

THE PRESIDENT…. As the world’s oldest space rookie, do you [SLAYTON] have any advice for young people who hope to fly on future space missions?…

MR. SLAYTON…. Well, yes, I have a lot of advice for young people, but I guess probably one of the most important bits is to, number one, decide what you really want to do and then, secondly, never give up until you have done it….

I remember this—truly or not—especially the footage. It made a big impression on me. Much later, when I saw Billy Bragg perform this song it made me deeply sad.

I know we should be—and should have been—fixing our hopes and spending our money improving things here on earth, but those spaceships rising toward heaven were something to see.