Fifty years ago today, Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to see the earth from orbit. Riding aboard the Soviet Vostok 3KA-3, Gagarin lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, on April 12, 1961. His flight lasted a little under two hours … just enough time to orbit the earth once. He then reentered the earth’s atmosphere and at an altitude of about ll 7 km Gagarin ejected from the Vostok capsule and parachuted to safety. Gagarin landed in a farm field and asked a local farmer if he could borrow the phone to call Moscow. And the rest is history …
“Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship, I marveled athte beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty, not destroy it!’ Yuri Gagarin, first man in space
Thus ended the first space flight of a human in space. Since then, over 500 humans have slipped the surly bonds of earth, and 12 have walked on the moon. And every year since 2001, the world celebrates this event with Yuri’s Night, the World Party for Space, as a gen-x celebration that began forty years after Gagarin’s epic voyage. Yuri’s Night connects thousands of space enthusiasts from around the world to honor a pivotal point in our shared history and to keep the dream of space exploration alive. The idea was born from the United Nation’s Space Generation Advisory Council and was the brainchild of Trish Garner, George Whitesides and Loretta Hidalgo.
Every year, space activists and party planners from 64 locations around the world throw the biggest party on the planet. The party starts with a countdown in Sydney and rolls all around the globe like New Year’s Eve. There are VIPs, usually who have been in space themselves or who work as engineers in the programs, music, great food, and a LOT of partying. And space fans are encouraged to throw their own interstellar shindig. It may be a bit too late for this year, but head on over to Yurisnight.net and register to get the party started for next year. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll throw a party from the Sea of Tranquility.