April 12 Becomes International Space Day on 50th Anniversary of Gagarin's Flight

World | April 12, 2011, Tuesday // 13:01
April 12 Becomes International Space Day on 50th Anniversary of Gagarin's Flight: April 12 Becomes International Space Day on 50th Anniversary of Gagarin's Flight Russian girls pass by a museum celebrating the 50th anniversary of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's space flight in Gagarin (formerly named Gzhatsk), Smolensk region, Russia. Photo by EPA/BGNES

On the 50 th anniversary of the date Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to see Planet Earth from space, the UN declared April 12 International Day of Human Space Flight.

On April 12, 1961, Gagarin's Vostok 1 spacecraft lifted him to an altitude of 200 miles and carried him once around the Earth. "Earth is blue and very beautiful," the cosmonaut exclaimed from above.

The first flight lasted 108 minutes. The public learned many years later that during this time there were 10 accidents, which seriously threatened Gagarin's mission. Also at the time, the news about the first space flight was announced by Soviet authorities only after Vostok 1 landed successfully, even though 600 km away from the planned location.

Modern Russia still sees Gagarin's achievement as one of the most significant in the country's history.

An official ceremony is going to be held at the Kremlin Tuesday afternoon with Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, bestowing awards to cosmonauts and space science veterans. The first Bulgarian cosmonaut, Georgi Ivanov, will also be present at the ceremony.

The Moscow subway is playing all day long songs dedicated to Gagarin. There will be fireworks Tuesday evening in many cities, and of course, in the Russian Federation's capital.

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Tags: Yuri Gagarin, Gagarin, Soviet, cosmonaut, space, flight, Dmitry Medvedev, Georgi Ivanov
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