Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Yuri's Night

Early in the morning of April 12, 1961, a Vostok spacecraft carrying Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968) was launched from the secret Soviet base at Turyatam. Gagarin became the first human in space and the first man in orbit.

For nearly 30 years, the Soviets hid the fact that Gagarin ejected from his spacecraft about 23,000 ft above the ground. For the flight to have been officially declared a spaceflight under FAI rules, Gagarin would have had to land inside the capsule.

Whether this was an "official" flight or not, nothing can detract from Gagarin's heroism in taking this first flight into the unknown. "Yuri's Night" is now celebrated at parties all around the world.

This postcard from 1962 bears the pre-printed signature of Gagarin at bottom, as well as his hand signature along the right-hand side.

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