Tag Archives: Yuri Gagarin

A future space capsule, currently developed by Lockheed Martin for NASA, which might be used to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, the moon or even distant asteroids. (c) AMNHD. Finnin

The past and future of space exploration at the ‘Beyond Planet Earth’ exhibit

The Vostok capsule, in which Yuri Gagarin embarked on April 12, 1961 to become the first person in space. (c) AMNH\R. Mickens

The Vostok capsule, in which Yuri Gagarin embarked on April 12, 1961 to become the first person in space. 

This year, mankind celebrated 50 years of space exploration since Yuri Gagarin‘s pioneering flight around Earth’s orbit, however the American Museum of Natural History  is more concerned to set its eyes towards future, once with the opening of its new “Beyond Planet Earth” exhibit, which features tomorrow’s space age wonders, as well as relics from the old space programs.

Colonies on the Moon? Man on Mars? Life on Europa? These are all concepts man has been dreaming about from the very first flight off the ground, when the sky stopped being the limit, and mankind shot for the stars. With this in mind, the exhibit in Manhattan’s Natural History Museum is far from being just a space-junk gallery – it’s a fountain of inspiration.

A future space capsule, currently developed by Lockheed Martin for NASA, which might be used to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, the moon or even distant asteroids. (c) AMNH\D. Finnin

A future space capsule, currently developed by Lockheed Martin for NASA, which might be used to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, the moon or even distant asteroids. 

A prototype for a helmet designed to be worn by Russian cosmonauts on the moon. The Russian lunar program was shortly decommissioned, however, after 1969.

A prototype for a helmet designed to be worn by Russian cosmonauts on the moon. The Russian lunar program was shortly decommissioned, however, after 1969.

Visitors can walk through variously themed rooms, like those touching the point of lunar colonies, near-Earth asteroids, visits to Mars, and Jupiter’s moon, Europa, which offer thought for thought and insight on how these projects might became within human reach. You’ll be amazed on what kind of amazing odd-balls ideas are on display, as well, like the “lunar elevator”, which if ever put to use would employ 28,000 miles of cable to ferry lunar materials to a docking station for eventual transport to Earth.

A re-installment of the crucial moment in 2009, when astronaut John Grunsfeld installed the new Wide Field Camera 3, the device that currently captures many of Hubble’s most amazing images. (c) AMNH\R. Mickens

A re-installment of the crucial moment in 2009, when astronaut John Grunsfeld installed the new Wide Field Camera 3, the device that currently captures many of Hubble’s most amazing images. 

A lunar base model on display at the exhibit. (photo credit unknown)

A lunar base model on display at the exhibit.

Of course, although the exhibit is concerned about the future, the past has its own special and rightful place. There are full-scale, gee-whiz models of Sputnik (the first man-made satellite), the Apollo lunar module and the Hubble Space Telescope.

“Humanity’s fascination with space travel is, at its core, part of our larger instinct to explore the natural world,” said Ellen V. Futter, president of the American Museum of Natural History. “This year, with groundbreaking discoveries of hundreds of exoplanets and the upcoming launch of the most scientifically advanced Mars rover to date, has already ushered us into the next phase of space exploration.”

Beyond Planet Earth visitors can play with an interactive consoles, which transports the user into a veritable super Mars explorer which can fly around Mars and zoom in on cavernous craters, massive volcanoes, and vast valleys.

Beyond Planet Earth visitors can play with an interactive console, which transports the user into a veritable super Mars explorer which can fly around Mars and zoom in on cavernous craters, massive volcanoes, and vast valleys.

Welcome to Mars!

Welcome to Mars!

Despite NASA recently shut down its shuttle program, and the ever-thinning space exploration budget, museum officials are confident that space exploration is far from over. On the contrary, we’re heading towards a new golden space age. Space colonization is inevitable, said Michael Novacek, senior vice president and provost for the museum. “This exhibit is meant to feed that conviction,” he said. It offers up “plausible if expensive” ways to get there.

The exhibit not only promises to be entertaining, but highly interactive as well. In the Mars exploration dedicated room, for instance, visitors may engage in an interactive “game” to transform Mars from a frozen, thin-aired environment into an Earth-like planet, a process typically referred to as terraforming. Maybe the most amazing exhibit by far, however, is the exoplanets hall, where a stunning holographic representation of planets from distant corners of the Milky Way will be on display.

A dummy "astronaut" wearing the Biosuit, the next generation of space suits.

A dummy “astronaut” wearing the Biosuit, the next generation of space suits.

‘Beyond Planet Earth’ began this week and is set to run for another week, until Sunday, November 27. The American Museum of Natural History is located in  Central Park West at 79th Street, New York. So, NYC ZME Science readers, what do you think of the exhibit? Have you visited it yet? Do, please, share some thoughts.


[VIDEO] Watch Yuri Gagarin’s historic orbital flight entirely in “First Orbit”

A few weeks ago I told you a bit about “First Orbit”, a marvelous documentary by Christopher Riley which practically visually recreates the same path Yuri Gagarin undertook exactly 50 years ago when he became the first man ever to go into space. Every six weeks, the International Space Station orbit matches the same arc around the world traced originally by Yuri Gagarin’s Vostok capsule, fact which instantly gave the film maker the idea to gain access to real time footage of the orbit and sync it with Yuri Gagarin’s radio transmissions with the Soviet mission control. The video was shot by ISS astronaut Pablo Nespoli.

You can watch and amaze at the beauty of “First Orbit” right below in the full 1:39 hours video stream – be sure to change to HD mode, it’s worth it. Besides the excellent atmosphere and syncing (you’ll be able to hear and see what Gagarin was communicating back home through the ISS perspective), the music is absolutely stellar. If you like, you can also download it from the First Orbit website.

If you needed more reasons than these to realize Yuri Gagarin was awesome, you’ll be totally convinced after watching the movie.

31 reasons why Yuri Gagarin rocks

Today, we celebrate 50 years since Yuri Gagarin went into outer space, thus becoming the first human being to do this. But there’s more to him than just that. Here’s a list of some of the things that make him awesome:

1. He was the first man to go into outer space, of course.
2. In the middle of the Cold War, Yuri Gagarin wasn’t only a hero for the Soviets, but he was one in America too.
3. His peers thought extremely highly of him, and in an anonymous survey took before the launch, almost all of them pointed at him as the right man for the job.
4. In the moments before Vostok was launched, even though success wasn’t certain at all and death was a serious possibility, he hailed this opportunity as sublime.
5. He was only 26 when he went into outer space.
6. Yuri Gagarin was an athlete throughout his whole life.
7. He didn’t settle for doing just this, he always wanted other challenges.

8. He accepted risky missions too. Sadly, this was also the reason why he died, only a few years after going into outer space.
9. His mother and father were peasants, and he showed that no matter who you are, you can reach for the stars if you really want to.
10. He had a dashing smile.
11. Also, he had the medals to go with it.
12. He became a role model for Russians, as well as people from the whole world.
13. He paved the way for a new era, the era of space flight.
14. After he graduated, he went on to one of the worst places for flying an aircraft, at the border of Norway and Russia.
15. He was extremely modest, as anyone who met him can confess.
16. He had a sharp and witty sense of humor, something not that common in those days and environment.
17. Even when compared with other astronauts, Yuri Gagarin still stands out as extremely strong psychologically.
18. He was only 1.57 meters tall, but he was farther away from the ground than anybody.
19. As he went into the capsule, he was humming a song whose first two lyrics are: The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows/Where her son flies in the sky.
20. After the space flight, Gagarin wanted to re-qualify as a pilot so he can follow this career.
21. The people of Manchester, England, cheered and applauded him for hours as he visited the city. That wasn’t something you’d expect at all during those days.
22. He really loved hockey, and the Kontinental Hockey League is now named the Gagarin trophy.

Gagarin and Korolev

23. He’s on the home page of Google (at least today, 12 April).
24. Sergei Korolev, the absolutely brilliant mastermind behind the Soviet space program, spoke highly of him everytime he had the chance.
25. He also said he had a smile that “that lit up the Cold War”.
26. As part of their training, astronauts were asked to stay a few days in isolation chambers. Some of them sang, some of them recited poetry, but Gagarin thought about the future.
27. He was so polite he used to bring flowers to the journalists at press conferences.
28. He also applauded them.
29. He supported the idea of having a woman go into outer space.
30. He is the first man to officially see the whole word; after all, he did orbit the earth.
31. ZME Science loves him! Heh, just kidding, that’s not a reason to be awesome, but we love him anyway… and I couldn’t stop the list at 30.

NASA to announce permanent homes for retired shuttles

Exactly 30 years ago, the first orbital space shuttle launch took place, marking the start of a slew of successful missions, with 135 successful launches, which provided important insights in space exploration, offered satellite deployment, space lab work and indispensable International Space Station service.

The shuttle program however will be permanently retired soon, with only two more flights left – shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis. Discovery, which completed its final journey to the International Space Station last month, and Enterprise, the first shuttle, which took its maiden voyage in 1977 but was a test orbiter and not capable of spaceflight, have been already retired.

All four shuttles will be symbolically donated to four worthy institutions for displaying purposes, with the official announcement settling the resting place for each shuttle going live this Tuesday. Currently there 27 institutions across the US competing to have one of the shuttles on permanent display, among which Houston’s NASA Mission Control or Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. I’m pretty sure one of the two will have a shuttle on display somewhere, it would be most fitting, really. Other institutions  that would love to host a space shuttle are the  Johnson Space Center, the Air Force Museum in Ohio and museums in New York City, Seattle and Chicago.

Apparently, Shuttle Discovery, which ended its flying career last month, is going to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

This Tuesday, April 12th, also marks the 50th anniversary of the first human journey into outer space. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became an international celebrity after his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit around Earth April 12, 1961.

We’ll keep this post updated as soon as the remaining three institutions each hosting a shuttle for permanent display are officially announced. Be sure to return to this page, if you’re still curious.

50 years since Yuri Gagarin went into outer space

Yuri Gagarin, a soviet astronaut was the first man to ever go into outer space, exactly 50 years ago, when his shuttle, Vostok, went into outer space and completed an orbit around the planet. Interestingly enough, Vostok 1 marked his only spaceflight, but what a spaceflight it was ! Many milestones were reached since spatial exploration began, but no matter what happens, Yuri Gagarin will always be the first human to walk into space.

Gagarin was everything you could expect from a Soviet astronaut; he was fit throughout all his life, focused, and very demanding with both himself and others. He wasn’t only admired by the people and his superiors, but his peers thought very highly of him too – which definitely speaks a lot. At the moment, he was the best the Soviet system had to offer, and the Russians reached most of the early space milestones, including the first space station, the first being in outer space, and, of course, the first man in outer space.

In a post flight report, Gagarin remembers the experience of space flight:

The feeling of weightlessness was somewhat unfamiliar compared with Earth conditions. Here, you feel as if you were hanging in a horizontal position in straps. You feel as if you are suspended.

The orbit lasted 1 hour and 48 minutes, and rumour about Gagarin’s flight spread throughout the world; a new era had began, and space wasn’t the roof anymore, it was just another dimension. What’s extremely interesting are some claims that, at some moment in space, Gagarin made an intriguing sentence: “I don’t see any God up here.”.

Sadly, Gagarin died in a jet flight that malfunctioned and crashed, but his legacy remains; when people look towards the stars at night and dream of going there – Gagarin opened the way. However, no later than a month after this, the US launched a ship that took Alan Shepard into outer space; the road to space was paved.

NASA to announce home of retiring space ships

Tuesday will mark the 50th year since human space flight, since the day Yuri Gagarin left Russia and became the first man to go in outer space, as well as the 30th anniversary of the launch of the shuttle Discovery, the legendary but already retired space shuttle. This is the day when NASA will announce who will get to house the three other retiring space ships.

Moving, cleaning, and preparing the space ships is a thorough and costly operation, and it will rise up to $28 million apiece; the costs will be assured by whoever gets to keep them in exchange for… keeping them. The first criteria of selection is to be somehow related to NASA‘s space program, which is not unreasonable at all, giving the numerous appliants and the few shuttles. However, even so, there are only 3 shuttles and 21 elligibile locations.

So far, the decision process has been covered in mystery, and there’s no indication we will get a clue before tomorrow, when NASA will announce the retiring place of the shuttles. It is a difficult process, and it’s hard to keep the political out of it, but hopefully, wherever they go, they will be a standing testament to the efforts of so many brave men and women, and to the intelligence of humans, who can defeat so many things, including the gravitational pull.

Yuri Gagarin statue

London celebrates Yuri Gagarin with statue

Yuri Gagarin statueAs long as space and science is concerned, April is clearly Yuri Gagarin month, the first man in space, celebrating 50 years since his historic orbital flight. Besides having a Soyuz spacecraft named after him, another recent celebration of Yuri Gagarin include the erection of a statue in London in his honor.

The zinc-alloy figure will sit just off The Mall, next to Admiralty Arch, where Gagarin met the then UK Prime Minister Harold MacMillan, and will be placed right near the statue of another great explorer,the circumnavigator of the globe – Captain James Cook.

The 3.5m (12ft) statue is a gift from the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) to the British Council, the organisation which represents the UK culturally abroad. The statue will actually be a replica of the one currently residing in Lubertsy, Russia, where Gagarin used to train as a foundry worked in his teenage years, since the town inhabitants were reluncted to part with such an important symbol.

The original was made in 1984 to celebrate what would have been Gagarin’s 50th birthday – he died in a plane crash aged 34,” explained Andrea Rose, director of visual arts at the British Council.

“It will be patinated, but it will be quite silvery. We wanted it to look just like the original.

“It shows Gagarin in a very typical mode: he’s wearing a spacesuit; his profession is on show. He’s also standing on a globe and the trajectory of his orbit is around him.”

The statue will be formally unveiled in London on 14 July by the cosmonaut’s daughter, Elena Gagarina, who is the director of the Kremlin Museums.

‘Yuri Gagarin’ blasts off to the ISS

It’s a pretty busy period for the people over at the International Space Station (ISS). Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome last night paid tribute to Yuri Gagarin as the Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft named after the first man to walk into space blasted off towards the ISS.

A week from now, on April 12, we will be celebrating 50 years from the groundbreaking first flight into outer space, done by Yuri Gagarin, and astronauts Ronald Garan, and cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyayev and Andrei Borisenko departed from the same pad as their predecessor.

The Soyuz, a legedary Russian spaceship is due to dock the ISS tomorrow, and there it will hook up with Expedition 27 crew members commander Dmitry Kondratyev, and flight engineers Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli who have been orbiting the space station since December last year and will return to Earth in May. They will be replaced by NASA astronaut Mike Fossum, cosmonaut Sergei Volkov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa. NASA will be streaming LIVE videos of tomorrow’s docking here, and if you ask me, it wil be quite a show, so don’t miss it.

EDIT: the live broadcast is already running, you can see the guys gearing up and preparing for the launch.

Yuri Gagarin’s historic first space flight recreated on video

While almost anyone in the world has an image in their head of  Neil Armstrong making mankind’s hugest steps, in the case of a similarly important historical astronautical milestone there isn’t any video footage of Yuri Gagarin’s 1961 orbit around the world – just audio radio conversations.

Yuri Gagarin was the first human to journey into outer space when his Vostok spacecraft launched successfully and completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961. After re-entry, Gagarin ejected from the craft and landed safely by parachute. Yuri died of an untimely death in a 1968 jet crash, the Vostok being his first and only space flight, although he was a back-up for the Soyuz 1 mission, which ended in tragedy.

In 2011, fifty years Gagarin’s orbital flight, the crew of the International Space Station have recreated the view of Earth from the same path Gagarin’s capsule took, in high-definition video. The resulting film is titled “FirstOrbit” and will launch on Youtube next month, on the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s flight.

More trailers here.