"There's nothing new to be proud of in the last 20 years," said Savitskaya, a member of Russia's parliament from the Communist Party.
While Russian's aging spacecraft will serve as the only link to the International Space Station after the shuttle Atlantis closes out the U.S. program this summer, the Americans are working on a next-generation spaceship, whereas Russia has done virtually nothing to design a replacement to the 43-year-old Soyuz craft, Savitskaya said.
Space officials and astronauts from around the world arrived in Moscow to pay tribute to Gagarin, whose 108-minute flight April 12, 1961, spurred America to race for the moon. Tuesday also marks the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle launch.
"We are all the sons of Yuri Gagarin," Jean-Jacques Dordain, director of the European Space Agency, said at a Gagarin commemorative event. Gagarin died in 1968 at age 34 when a training jet he was piloting crashed.
Twenty-three days after Gagarin's space flight, American Alan Shepard became the second man in space.
"Without Gagarin going first, I probably wouldn't have gone to the moon," said Thomas Stafford, commander of the Apollo 10 mission that approached within eight miles of the moon in May 1969.
Before Gagarin's flight, many scientists were worried that humans wouldn't be able to survive in outer space.
"Some psychologists and other scientists said that a man could go mad when he is left to face the endless universe," said Boris Chertok, 99, who was a deputy of Sergei Korolyov, the father of the Soviet space program.