Happy Yuri's Night!

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Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2004
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43 years ago today Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth.

Every April 12 the event is commemorated by parties held in the name of Yuri's Night. "75 parties, in 34 countries, on 7 continents,
on 1 planet." It's also commemorated from orbit: The ISS crew sent greetings.


Check out the awesome Yuri music video created last year by the Moscow party. Consider planning a party and/or launch for next year.
This little bit of 'history' was a casualty of the cold war, but never really got corrected in the history books when the meltdown took place. Seems to be a bit too technical for most folks, but the real facts are that:

1) Yuri did not complete a full circle of the Earth, but stopped short of the launch pad by many hundreds of kilometers. No one knew this at the time because only the Soviets knew where the launch took place, and where the landing occurred.

2) Yuri was not in a path that could be called an orbit, because the perigee (low point) went deep through the atmosphere, would have caused severe aerodynamic drag, and pulled down his capsule. The vehicle path is not now considered to be a stable orbit, therefore not an orbit for record-keeping purposes.

3) Most importantly, Yuri did not land with his capsule. He departed the spacecraft while it was still descending, and landed separately by parachute. The international body that monitors and maintains records on manned spaceflight specifically requires that the astronaut land with (inside) his space vehicle.

Does any of that make Yuri's achievement unimportant? Of course not, it was still a great accomplishment. But the real first man in orbit was that other Soviet guy, 'ol what's his name . . . .
Gutenberg was a couple centuries too late to invent the first printing press, Columbus wasn't the first European in the new world by a long shot, and the police have no record of an incident in which some moron straps a JATO booster to their vehicle and ends up a greasy splotch 400' up the side of a mountain. But hey, history is an art, not a science. :)
Gherman Titov was the second cosmonaut launched...6 August 1961. (Thanks Mark Wade and Encyclopedia Astronautix!) Completed 17 orbits.

But as Justy notes, the slow revelation of the truth of Gagarin's flight does not detract in any way his achievement. Remember (or maybe you don't!) the accolades heaped upon Alan Shepard - and all he did was a fifteen-minute suborbital ride - after Gagarin.

On a tangent... I now think of our earlier astronauts (Mercury, Gemini, Apollo) as our equivalent of Lief Erickson - they may have gotten to space first, but now history's waiting for a new Columbus to truly open the Final Frontier.
Originally posted by graylensman
but now history's waiting for a new Columbus to truly open the Final Frontier.

I like that, "history's waiting"
Would that be an oxymoron?
Teacher's should use that to inspire their students.