The Anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's Flight

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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
NASA
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Jesse Rogerson, PhD

Jesse is a passionate scientist, educator, and science communicator. As an assistant professor at York University in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, he teaches three classes: History of Astronomy, Introduction to Astronomy, and Exploring the Solar System. He frequently collaborates with the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and lends his expert voice to the Ingenium Channel. Jesse is an astrophysicist, and his research explores how super massive black holes evolve through time. Whether in the classroom, through social media, or on TV, he encourages conversations about how science and society intersect, and why science is relevant in our daily lives.