Russia Celebrates Cosmonautics Day
Published: April 14, 2014 (Issue # 1805)
Russia celebrates Cosmonautics Day every April 12. This holiday was instituted by the April 9, 1962 executive order of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet (Parliament) in honor of the first manned space flight.
On April 12, 1961, a launch vehicle orbited the Vostok spacecraft with the first cosmonaut, Soviet citizen Yury Gagarin, on board.
After circling the Earth once, the spacecraft’s descent module landed in the USSR. The cosmonaut ejected at an altitude of several kilometers above the ground and parachuted into a field at 10.55 am Moscow Time. He landed on the bank of the Volga River near the village of Smelovka in the Ternovsky District of the Saratov Region.
The flight lasted 108 minutes, and the launch of the world’s first manned spacecraft was supervised by Sergei Korolev, Anatoly Kirillov and Leonid Voskresensky.
This history-making event paved the way for space exploration for the benefit of the entire humankind. New opportunities in space were created in 2000 when the first crew boarded the International Space Station (ISS), a joint space project involving 15 countries.
The station is tracked 24 hours a day from the Russian Federal Space Agency’s Mission Control Center in Korolev near Moscow and NASA's Mission Control Center at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Since the start of its operation, the ISS has gradually turned into a huge laboratory in near-Earth space.
In the years following Yury Gagarin’s first space flight, over 500 people from almost 40 countries have flown in space.
In 1962, Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR Gherman Titov, Yury Gagarin’s backup man during the first space flight, voiced an initiative to institute Cosmonautics Day in the USSR. He also suggested calling on the UN, on behalf of the Soviet Government, to institute World Cosmonautics Day.
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