The Anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's Flight

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Image of Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin (image credit: NASA).

On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to venture into space. At just after 9 am local time at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Gagarin launched into low earth orbit, completed a full orbit in 108 minutes, and returned safely. This achievement not only firmly set the Soviet Union has the leader in space technology at the time, but marked the beginning of the human exploration of space. Internationally, April 12 is now "Yuri's Night," an evening of celebration meant to highlight the impressive achievement of Gagarin and the Soviet Union, and to promote the further exploration of space. At a Yuri's Night event you might find dancing, space-themed drinks, artwork, and bunch of space nerds having fun!

Gagarin's flight occurred only 57 years after the Wright brothers took to the air at Kitty Hawk. The following decade after Gagarin's flight also saw unprecedented steps forward in aviation and space exploration, culminating with the United States landing humans on the Moon.

While our steps out into space have been impressively quick, relatively speaking, humans have only begun to explore what space has to have offer. Over the coming decades, we will undoubtedly see many more 'firsts,' but 1961 will always mark the original first step.

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The Anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's Flight
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Jesse Rogerson, PhD

As a passionate science communicator, Jesse Rogerson loves promoting science literacy to the public. He frequently represents the Canada Aviation and Space Museum on television and radio, social media, and at conferences. A trained and practicing astrophysicist, Jesse holds a PhD in observational astrophysics from York University, and publishes his research in peer-reviewed journals. Jesse enjoys riding his motorcycle, board games, and ultimate frisbee.