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.
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.”
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.
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.
- MIR’s 30 Years: Beyond the Stars, Inside the Russian Space Program
- Train Like a Cosmonaut in Russia
- July 20, 1969: Moon Landing Anniversary
- Postcard from Doug: Watch a Soyuz Launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan (VIDEO)
An unforgettable highlight of the tour is witnessing the launch of a Soyuz rocket as it speeds toward the International Space Station.
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.
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 1-800-424-7289 to start planning your travels today.
(Top photo credit: Douglas Grimes)
PUBLISHED: March 24, 2014