Yuri’s Night – Celebrating the First Human in Space

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space on board Vostok 1 on the morning of April 12, 1961.

Photo of Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin – 1st human in space

The event is celebrated as Yuri’s Night around the world each April. The 2020 celebration is a virtual World Space Party at https://party.yurisnight.net/ due to the covid-19 pandemic. The Yuri’s Night webcast on youtube will connect Yuri’s Night fans around the world to dozens of astronauts, celebrities, musicians, space professionals and more in a huge celebration of humanity & human spaceflight worldwide.

“Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty — not destroy it!”

— Yuri Gagarin

Cosmonauts were chosen not only for their excellence in training but also for their short stature because the cockpit was small. Gagarin was 1.57 meters or 5 feet 2 inches tall.

Legend says that Gagarin had to relieve himself on the way to the launch pad. Modern (male) cosmonauts have done so as well: They leave the bus and relieve themselves at the left back wheel of the bus. A new space suit design might mean and end to this tradition.

Vostok 1 made one complete orbit of the Earth that took 108 minutes. The first American in space was Alan Shepard’s aboard the Freedom 7 Mercury capsule. Shepard’s craft entered space, but was not capable of achieving orbit.

Vostok I capsule used by Yuri Gagarin in first space flight. Now on display at the RKK Energiya Museum outside of Moscow.

Gagarin ejected from the space capsule when it was still 7 km from the ground. He then deployed a parachute at 2.5 km in altitude.

A farmer and her daughter came upon Gagarin after his landing. Dressed in his orange spacesuit and dragging his parachute, he told them “don’t be afraid, I am a Soviet like you, who has descended from space and I must find a telephone to call Moscow!”

A crater on the Moon is named for Gagarin, as is asteroid 1772 Gagarin.

The following infographic from space.com has more on how the first human spaceflight worked.