Tonight is Yuri's Night.
50 years ago on April 12, 1961 The U.S.S.R. ushered in the era of human spaceflight by launching Yuri Gagarin into orbit and bringing him safely back to Earth.
I was 5 years old. When I was born, nothing had ever orbited the Earth but the moon. The Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union had a tremendous influence on me growing up. You probably followed sports. I followed the space program.
I wrote about Gagarin's flight 3 years ago. You can read about it there. No point in rewriting it here. I'll just quote what I thought was so amazing about his flight.
"The first human to strap himself on top of an ICBM (in the same place the nuke was supposed to go), fly into space, orbit the earth, and come back home.
Props to Comrade Yuri and Vostok 1.
The flight profile of Vostok 1 was a bit controversial and ballsy as hell.
He rockets into space strapped into his Vostok spacecraft propelled by an R-7 ICBM.
After orbiting the earth once on a completely ballistic trajectory, he reenters the atmosphere. After reentry, he ejects from the Vostok on his rocket powered ejection seat.
After achieving sufficient separation from the Vostok, Gagarin releases himself from the enormous ejection seat, triggers his own personal parachute, and lands on his own two feet in Mother Russia.
That, is some serious fucking hero shit."
Here is a great infographic from space.com that shows you what I'm talking about. Definitely click to embiggenate.
Since the 50 years from Gagarin's 1st flight, 499 humans have been to space and 12 of them have walked on the moon and we have a permanent human presence in space aboard the International Space Station.
In the next few years there will be tourists taking sub-orbital joy rides and inflatable, orbiting hotels where people can finally have zero G sex.
Thanks, Comrade Yuri! Poyekhali indeed!
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