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Emily LakdawallaApril 12, 2011

Happy 50th birthday of human spaceflight

On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to see firsthand the blackness of space above our home planet's thin atmosphere. Since there's lots of thoughtful reporting and commentary being posted on this anniversary, I thought it'd be more useful to link to some particularly interesting posts than to add in my comments.

A few sites focus on imagery. has a nice 30-picture photo album of the historic first flight and its aftermath. Today's APOD is selected to show a view similar to what Gagarin would have seen.

Visit Roscosmos for the view of the anniversary from Russia. There are two AP stories by Vladimir Isachenkov, one looking back and one looking forward. Daniel Fischer has a very thorough page full of links to articles across the Web (the blog entry is in German but most of the links go to English articles).

Some opinion pieces on the significance of this day: from Michael Benson, for the New York Times; Jeff Foust, for The Space Review; Pallab Ghosh, for BBC News.

Yuri's view?

ISS Expedition 7 Crew, EOL, NASA, via Astronomy Picture of the Day

Yuri's view?
The Astronomy Picture of the Day for April 12, 2011 commemorates Yuri Gagarin's first flight with an image, taken from the Space Station, showing how Earth might have appeared to him, 50 years before.

I have not had time to view this full-length feature movie, First Orbit, which combines Space Station images with the audio (subtitled in English) from the first flight, but it's been recommended very highly; National Geographic has an article about the film.

Read more: history, human spaceflight

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Emily Lakdawalla

Solar System Specialist for The Planetary Society
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