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Today is Yuri’s Day/Night

April 12, 2011

50 years ago today, the USSR beat the US in the first milestone of the space race: they put the first human, Yuri Gagarin, into space. Gagarin’s accomplishment is celebrated each year in a series of “Yuri’s Night” parties. Obviously this year is a big deal, since it’s the 50th Anniversary, and not only does Discovery News have a gallery of photos from various Yuri’s Night parties around the globe, but this story also clued me into something I didn’t yet know about- a feature length film by director Chris Riley that attempts to re-create what Yuri would have seen from his capsule. Audio from the flight has been released, as have video clips of Gagarin’s face during the flight, but no video of the earth below was taken during the flight. So, Riley teamed up with Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli to capture video footage from the International Space Station’s Cupola as the passed over the same areas Gagarin’s capsule did during that first flight. Check it out on YouTube here.

30 years ago today, the US reached another milestone, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of Gagarin’s flight- they launched the first space shuttle flight. It was shuttle Colombia, with astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen on board. Thus it’s only fitting that today, during a ceremony celebrating 30 years of shuttle flights, NASA will announce the final resting places of the 3 remaining shuttles after they’re decommissioned. Many museums and towns with history tied to the space program have made their cases for getting one of the shuttles, but it’s expected that one will go to the Smithsonian and another to the Kennedy Space Center visitor complex. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess, but I have a feeling the 3rd will go to Houston, as it’s home to NASA’s mission control. (Update: the announcement was just made, and Discovery goes to the Smithsonian, Atlantis goes to Kennedy Space Center, and Endeavour goes to the California Science Center in L.A.) This celebration at KSC is just getting underway as I type this at 11:50am CDT, and the announcement regarding the shuttles’ destinations is scheduled for 3pm EDT (2pm here in Nashville). Watch it all at NASA TV if you’re interested. I’ll update this post after the announcement is made.

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