First Man in Space – 50 Years Later

I enjoy seeing the latest Google Doodles each day as I’m surfing the net for one thing or another. (click here to view the cool “official and unofficial Google Logos Collection“)  Today’s Google Doodle is appropriately sketched to commemorate the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Alexeevich Gagarin’s flight into space on April 12, 1961; the first flight of man into space!

I found out some interesting facts about Gagarin and space exploration from quick news reports on the tv as well as looking around the web today:

  •  His town of Gzhatsk was renamed Gagarin in his honor.
  • Here’s a pretty cool clip of him receiving a hero’s welcome.
  • America sent their first man (Alan Shepard) into space less than one month later!
  • Yuri’s short stature actually worked out to his advantage in being chosen for the mission considering the small soviet space shuttle’s cockpit. (Take heart you short folk out there!   😉   )
  • Yuri’s flight came less than 4 years after the Soviets launched the first animal in space (a dog) in which the poor pooch died in space.  That failed attempt must have been on his mind in space, you think?!
  • Here is an interesting history of animals in space from NASA.
  • The first woman in space was Valentina Tereshkova on June 16, 1963. (“One small step for woman; one giant leap for womankind!”)
  • Gagarin was promoted to Major during his flight.
  • The US didn’t send a woman to space until 1983 – 20 years after the Soviets! (from http://spacerules.tumblr.com )
  • Gagarin is recorded as saying, “I was in a cloud of fire rushing toward Earth“, when discussing his dangerous re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere although that was kept secret for over 30 years. (from this website)
  • His journey lasted 108 minutes.
  • Yuri, just after lift off 50 years ago to this day, said, “Poyekhali!” (in Russian obviously!) meaning “Here we go!
  •  Gagarin is reported to have said, “Someone who never met God on Earth, would never meet Him in space.” (cool quote!)
  • 3 years after his flight, when returning from church and speaking with his close friend, Colonel Petrov, said, “Valentin, just think on these words, ‘Who Art In Heaven.’” (from road to Emmaus) (Quoting from The Lord’s Prayer)
  •  Here’s one last thought that occurred to me : The man who came from “the heavens” to Earth (Jesus) and the man who first went to “the heavens” from Earth (Yuri Gagrin) had something interesting in common: their fathers were both carpenters by trade. Now that‘s pretty cool!  🙂

For those of you who appreciate video, here is a short clip commemorating Yuri Gagarin’s flight exactly 50 years ago: http://www.nasa.gov/mpg/146085main_yuri.mpg

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