Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Celebrating "Yuri's Night" -- 50 Years of Humans in Space

From the time I was a little girl, I was a HUGE fan of space flight.  I remember delivering fliers for the opening of my Uncle Jim's new gas station when everyone came outside to look at Sputnik.  The date was October 4, 1957.  We Americans were shocked into action as it was the U.S.S.R. that beat us into space.  Seeing that small satellite travel overhead when I was only eight years old triggered in me a lifelong interest in space.

As an adult I am a fan of NPR's Science Friday with Ira Flatow. Last Friday Ira discussed the upcoming 50th anniversary of Yuri Gargarin's flight into space.  There is a group that is organizing celebrations of this event all over the world.  The focus is on celebrating man's first spaceflight and the value of continued space exploration.

I'm also a "follower" of Neil deGrasse Tyson on twitter. Today's tweet was as follows:

He went on to explain that the first mammals to achieve orbit in order were: dog, guinea pig, mouse, Russian Human, chimpanzee and American human.

As a girl of 13, I started recording the history of Americans in space.  I recall the mix of excitement and anxiety that we experienced in those early days.  Space capsules dropped into the ocean following reentry and helicopters with divers were dispatched from naval ships to recover the astronauts.  It wasn't always a smooth recovery.

I was particularly interested in John Glenn.  Not only was he the first American to orbit the earth in space, but he was from Ohio.  I can't imagine the courage it took to be willing to climb into that capsule and be launched into space.  As we watched the launch on television, Americans burst with pride as Glenn reassured all of us that he felt fine.

Our local newspaper did its best to try to convince us that we were catching up with the Soviets by publishing this chart.  However, Soviet cosmonaut Titov had orbited the earth 17 times a full six months before Glenn traveled into space.

On this the 50th anniversary of man's entry into space, I can't help but think about the sacrifices in both capital and lives lost that have contributed to where we are now. We have an INTERNATIONAL space station -- a microcosm of what cooperation among nations and BOTH men and women can mean to our future on this planet. In these difficult financial times, I can't help but wonder where we will be on the centennial anniversary of our entry into space.

I did my best as a science teacher of 5th and 6th grade students to share my love of space with the next generation. This picture is of my students at the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati mugging for the camera.  This and several other pictures were mailed to John Glenn.

Wishing everyone a happy Yuri's Night. Dreaming of a world of cooperation among humans from all nations. 

Note:  If you share my interest in this topic, you may want to read this link.  This link discusses a book to be released next month that discusses what amounted to a suicide mission of a Russian cosmonaut.  It is an amazing story.

Check out this youtube video produced by NASA to celebrate Yuri's Night. I don't want to spoil it -- so just watch.

1 comment:

  1. You made my day - my week - with this Kathy. Bolling's Suite for Flute & Jazz piano and Jethro Tull were and still are on all my playlists. Never thought I'd hear Anderson doing it. Pair them with your scrapbooks and clear passion and it's my favorite post of the month. Thank you!


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