Friday, April 15, 2011

Remembering Yuri Gagarin: The First Man in Space




It wasn‘t just a great achievement for the Soviet Union, it was, in the words of the British astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell, ‘one of the greatest achievements in the history of mankind’

Fifty years on from Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man in space, let’s remember not only an amazing scientific achievement, but also a quite special human being.  


He was curious and interested in everything," remembers his daughter. "He was part of a generation that had had so few opportunities open to them and then, after the war, they were avid for everything."

You can read the whole of the Guardian’s report of an interview with Gagarin’s daughter Elena here.

8 comments:

Douglas said...

The world celebrated Yuri Gagarin this week, with "Yuri's Night" parties being organized by space flight enthusiasts around the world. There was a Yuri's Night celebration in Minneapolis, but I didn't attend.

John said...

Great post. I find it interesting that Gagarin was a fan of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. If I remember correctly, Saint-Exupéry portrayed the Businessman character in The Little Prince rather negatively because of his greediness. Our culture could definitely use more influence from the people like Saint-Exupéry.

vladimir gagic said...

Wonderful article. It is nice to see recognition of an amazing milestone and person, regardless of his nationality.

Neil Clark said...

thanks for the comments.John- re
Saint-Exupéry- I dont know if you ever saw this appreciation piece I wrote a couple of years back for TAC.
http://neilclark66.blogspot.com/2009/11/antoine-de-saint-exupery-imagination.html

Anonymous said...

It is said that when Gagarin fell to Earth in a broken experimental aircraft, he kept calmly and clearly reporting his efforts to regain control and his instrument readings all the way to the ground.

neil craig said...

The shameful thing is that we have barely progressed further than that. We did get to the Moon but that was 40 years ago. We can't do it now and the eco-fascists are making every possible effort to make sure we never do.

When China, India and indeed Russia establish the first permanent Moonbase it will not be because they have tried particularly hard to succeed but because we, with all the advantages, have tried particularly hard not to.

Eussia is currently looking for a partner to build a nuclear rocket to explore from Earth orbit outwards. The partner has to have nuclear knowhow and be willing to put up £370 million. That is 20 days worth of bombing Libya so obviously we can't (well won't) afford anything so forward looking.
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/05/russia_nasa_nuclear_spacecraft/

FaridaSamatha said...

We all agree the Bombing of Libya is not only stupid it is false. Yes Muammar Gadhafi is a very bad man and he is a brutal dictator. But if that is the case why not intervene in Bahrain or Syria. Oh yes both countries have no oil at all and that is the reason why the U.S. or the West will not interven there. But since Libya has alot of oil it is alot easy. So who cares about building a Base on the moon. Oil is more important for the Western leaders.

Gregor said...

I’m no fan of the USSR, but find it a bit risible that the modern Russians are expected to come up with mea culpas for a regime that 1) Was imposed upon them 2) For all its faults crushed the Nazis who planned to exterminate most non-German east europeans 3) Revolutionised space travel.

Whilst the cold war had its dark side (threat of nuclear war, both sides arming horrific regimes) I think the technocratic side was a plus and the philosophy of science was both more accessible and more optimistic than it is now: just contrast Isaac Asimov and Richard Dawkins. The one wrote accessible, simply written introductions to science for all people as well as writing about bright technological futures, the other mainly just spews condescending rants about religion as if Brits would give up the x-factor for test tubes and statistics on biodiversity in ericaceous shrubs if the CofE were disestablished.

Of course, the philosophy of science at the time also had a dark side: there were very silly and creepy Malthusian texts as well as a ridiculous fear of over-population (even though Western Europe had mainly reached demographic transition by the 70s). As a Christian I do not think that science is something that will spiritually save mankind, but I do think it is invaluable and the pursuit of knowledge is better for the spirit of a society than consumerism.

So in all, yes, I think Gagarin’s flight is well worth celebrating, whatever my disagreements with the regime that got him there.