Celebrating Yuri Gagarin 50th anniversary of first space flight

first_imgIt’s not often a person can claim he or she has seen something no other person in the world has ever witnessed, but 50 years ago today, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin saw the Earth from a view unlike any other. On April 12, 1961, Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth, paving the way for space exploration from then on out.Famous for yelling “Poyekhali!,” or “let’s go!,” in English, at takeoff, the 27-year-old took off alone in the 98-foot-high Vostok 1 spacecraft making him the first man in space. Gagarin didn’t even have to fly the spacecraft himself. Because effects of weightlessness had only been tested on dogs in 1961, Gagarin wasn’t put in control of the ship for obvious reasons. Instead, the craft was controlled by the ground crew. All Gagarin had to do was have the guts to try something no man in the world had ever done.The trip was a success, and Gagarin returned safely. Little did Gagarin know, but the 108-minute-long flight was the only space time the cosmonaut would actually get. When Gagarin returned as a national hero, the Russian government treated him like a glass egg. They didn’t want anything to happen to such a positive symbol of nationality in the case of an accident in another space flight. So, Gagarin was only allowed to train and fly jet fighters. Ironically, he died in 1968 when his MiG-15 jet fighter crashed during a flight in bad weather. Gagarin was only 34 years old.There are many ways of honoring the pioneer’s space flight. A monument was erected in Star City, Russia where the world’s oldest space-flight training center still lives. A statue of Gagarin is also going to be placed in London across the statue of British explorer Captain Cook.In addition to statues, today also marks the 10th anniversary of Yuri’s Night, an annual celebration honoring Gagarin’s flight. More and more Yuri’s Night events have been popping up around the world over the past 10 years. There are 451 official Yuri’s Nights scheduled for tonight around the globe.Today is also the 30th anniversary of the first-ever shuttle mission. NASA is retiring the shuttle program later this year, which means some of the retired shuttles will be looking for homes. The shuttles Discovery, Endeavor, and Atlantis will end up in museums and space centers across the country. NASA has been searching for homes for the shuttles since 2008. According to Space.com, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is said to announce his choices today.There are about 21 museums in the running, however, the Discovery shuttle is said to be promised to the Smithsonian Institute. Not just any location can house a shuttle, though. There are a few strict requirements, including a climate-controlled indoor display, the ability to accommodate a shuttle delivery on the back of a Boeing 747 jet by December 2011, and the ability to afford the estimated $28.8 million needed to prepare a safe display for the orbiter.Unfortunately, there were no cameras aboard the Vostok 1 50 years ago. But, in early 2010 director Christopher Riley decided to recreate Gagarin’s orbit around the Earth with the use of digital film and the new cupola window on the International Space Station. He used a transcript of the original communications between Gagarin and mission control and built a story board around it. The tricky part was finding the original audio, which took Riley almost a year to track down. The result is a film released today called “First Orbit.” You can see the trailer below.Read more at Space.com, the Guardian.co.uk, and PCMag (Image via NASA)last_img

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