Russia’s Cosmonautics Day: Beyond the Stars

Russia’s Cosmonautics Day: Beyond the Stars

It’s not “Cosmonauts Day” as you might think, but “Cosmonautics Day,” which rhymes with “robotics” and “aeronautics.” They’re all appropriate words when it comes to Russia’s Yuri Gagarin and the world’s first manned space flight on April 12, 1961.

As the USSR's first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin was named "Hero of the Soviet Union" Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

As the USSR’s first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin was named “Hero of the Soviet Union”

Pioneering Cosmonaut

Gagarin was only 27 years old when he blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, soaring into space aboard the “Vostok” (“East”) as the Soviet Union’s first cosmonaut; his flight time was just under two hours. His pioneering flight was a big plus for the Soviets in a space race with its Cold War nemesis, the United States. For that pioneering flight, Gagarin was presented the U.S.S.R.’s top award, “Hero of the Soviet Union.”

A moment of glory: Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's became the first human in space on April 12, 1961

A moment of glory: Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s became the first human in space on April 12, 1961

Yuri Gagarin's original 1961 space capsule, on display near Moscow, Russia Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Yuri Gagarin’s original 1961 space capsule, on display near Moscow, Russia
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Cosmonauts who followed in Gagarin's pioneering path Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Cosmonauts who followed in Gagarin’s pioneering path
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Cosmonautics Day

Since 1962, Gagarin’s achievement is celebrated on April 12th, “Cosmonautics Day.” These days, it’s observed with an official ceremony that starts at Yuri’s statue near Moscow Mission Control. Beyond Russia, space fans around the world celebrate in “Yuri’s Night,” from flash dance mobs to space-based parties featuring movies, star-gazing, and even space-themed weddings.

MIR Founder Douglas Grimes celebrates "Yuri's Night" at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA Photo credit: Annie Lucas

MIR Founder Douglas Grimes celebrates “Yuri’s Night” at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA
Photo credit: Annie Lucas

Titanium statue of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in Moscow, Russia Photo credit: Lindsay Fincher

Titanium statue of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in Moscow, Russia
Photo credit: Lindsay Fincher

It's tradition to raise hands at Yuri Gagarin's statue in Baikonur, Kazakhstan Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

It’s tradition to raise hands at Yuri Gagarin’s statue in Baikonur, Kazakhstan
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Are You Ready To Go Inside the Russian Space Program?

MIR has been leading intrepid space buffs on our small group tour, Inside the Russian Space Program . A popular optional add-on is cosmonaut training, which includes experiencing a Zero-G flight at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. You’re literally walking – and floating! – in the steps of Soviet space explorers.

More photos and info:
Flying high in Zero-G weightlessness in Star City, Russia <br>Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Flying high in Zero-G weightlessness in Star City, Russia
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Mission Control Center Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Mission Control Center
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

An unforgettable highlight of the tour is witnessing the launch of a Soyuz rocket as it speeds toward the International Space Station.

Rollout of the Soyuz rocket in Baikonur, Kazakhstan Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Rollout of the Soyuz rocket in Baikonur, Kazakhstan
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Blastoff from Baikonur, Kazakhstan! Destination: International Space Station Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Blastoff from Baikonur, Kazakhstan! Destination: International Space Station
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Here, in Gagarin’s footsteps, it is easy to imagine 1961 all over again, and a race into space that captured two competing nations for generations.

Where stars are truly born, in this nursery of new stars 2.7 million light-years away Photo credit: National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)

Where stars are truly born, in this nursery of new stars 2.7 million light-years away
Photo credit: National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)

 

Travel to Russia with MIR

MIR has over 30 years of travel experience in Russia, with affiliate offices in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Siberia offering on-the-ground support, and tour managers that clients rave about. Our full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”

Join MIR’s journey of close encounters with Russian cosmonauts, space officials, and their training facilities on Inside the Russian Space Program, which travels from Star City to the Baikonour Cosmodrome during a 10-day exploration of the Russian Space Program.

Chat with one of our destination specialists by email or by phone at 1-111-111-1111 to start planning your travels today.

 

 (Top photo credit: Douglas Grimes)

 

PUBLISHED: March 24, 2014

Related Posts

Share your thoughts