Monday, April 8, 2013

Countdown to Yuri's Night!


On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to enter space. Secured in a small capsule named Vostok 1, he launched from Leninsk, Kazakhstan (now renamed "Baikonur"), the first and still-largest space launch facility in the world. The 27-year-old cosmonaut made a historic 106-minute (not 108!) orbital flight around planet Earth.

Aw shucks, it was nothin'...

In 1962, the Soviet Union established День Космонавтики, or "Cosmonautics Day,” to commemorate Yuri's amazing achievement.

Now, it is celebrated by the entire world!

Yuri Gagarin

In 2001, Trish Garner, Loretta Hidalgo, and George Whitesides  founded "Yuri’s Night," with the support of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) — and each year since, the parties celebrating the first human in space have only grown larger!

This year, festivities all around the world are being held between April 4th – April 12th. The current count for parties, according to the official Yuri’s Night Net, is 255 parties in 42 countries!

So say the founders: The goal of Yuri's Night is to increase public interest in space exploration and to inspire a new generation of explorers. Driven by a worldwide network of celebrations and educational events, Yuri's Night creates a global community of people committed to shaping the future of exploration while developing responsible leaders and innovators.

Юрий Гагарин 1934 - 1968

So, find a party!  Follow me at @pillownaut on Twitter this week, I'll be sharing rare pictures and interesting tidbits about Gagarin's life for my #TriviaThursday series, including his test pilot days, space training, honors and awards, family and career! Oh, and that time he stole a skeleton from a classroom... and played Poseidon in a comedy. Not kidding.

Lastly, though certainly not leastly (I know it's not a word, don't email me en masse!!), April is an exciting month historically for many space firsts, and we have some huge anniversaries this year!

April 1, 1960TIROS-1, the first Imaging weather satellite was launched by NASA.

April 3, 1966 – The Soviets' LUNA 10 craft was the very first to orbit the Moon.

April 12, 1961
– On Vostok 1, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space.

April 23, 1971Salyut 1 became the first human-crewed space station to launch.