WASHINGTON, D.C., April 12, 2012 — Fifty-one years ago on April 12th, 1961, 27 year old Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space, and the first to orbit the earth. The rocket carrying Gagarin’s space craft launched from Baikonur Cosmodome at 6:07 a.m. local time at the launch site.
The mission which lasted roughly 108 minutes, took the cosmonaut once around earth at 17,500 miles per hour for an hour and a half flight. Now, over a half century later, the flight milestone is celebrated globally, with a yearly celebration called “Yuri’s Night.”
The official website for Yuri’s Night touts the event as “a global celebration of humanity’s past, present, and future in space. Yuri’s Night parties and events are held around the world every April in commemoration of April 12, 1961, the day of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s first manned spaceflight, and April 12, 1981, the inaugural launch of NASA’s Space Shuttle.”
In 2011, the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight, over 100,000 people attended 567 officially-recognized events in 75 countries on all 7 continents, while thousands more watched the 12-hour live Yuri’s Night Global Webcast and participated online in the virtual world of Second Life.
The events have drawn hundreds of thousands of spaceflight enthusiasts including some celebrities. For 2012, the event has 217 events scheduled, 9 of them virtual which will take place across 51 countries.
To join “The World Space Party” or for more information on the events, you can visit Yuri’s Night.
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