So... Happy Yuri's night wingnuts and other space lovers


Rear Admiral
Today (April 12) is important to any one even remotly interested in space exploration. 57 years ago for the first time a human crossed the boundary of space and entered orbit. So using this ocasion wanted to write some of my thoughts and drop few facts regarding soviet space program, especially as I found out taht many people in the West tend to have much less knowledge abot it than about it's American counterpart. And while Soviet Union was a totalitarian dictatorship and definetly not a good place to live or even be around, there is (to paraphrase admiral Tolwyn) no denying their achivements

When, on April 12 1961 Yuri Gagarin made his historical flight, Americans were still Catching up to the Soviets, who gained strong lead in space race after sending Sputnik 1 in 1959, and later the dog Laika aboard sputnik 2 (And yes, I am toatally aware of Laika's grim fate. It's worth noting that years later scientists involved with the program admitted it was a mistake). One of the strongest part of the program was R-7 rocket family - what was world's first - and honestly not very good - ICBM proved to be possibly worlds gratest orbital launch vehicle ever - Soyuz rockets that carry Cosmonauts (and since the and of Shuttle program American Astronauts as well) to ISS today are direct deriviatives of the rocket that launched Gagarin's Vostok 1

Of course today we know there was some corner cutting involved - Vostok capsules could keep their passenger alive during re-entry, but not landing, forcing them to catapult, a fact that was kept secret during the time so they would be viable to some arbitrary record criteria.

Even after Gagarin Soviets held a number of firsts in space exploration -first multi crew spacraft (Voskhod 1) first spacewalk by Alexey Leonov flying aboard Voskhod 2 (By the way Leonov would lateopen new era of space cooperation, as he comanded Soyuz parto of Apollo-Soyuz Test Program, first misson to be coordinated between US and USSR ), and number of first in unmanned missions, including first photos of the far side of the moon(taken by Luna 3), first probe to land on another planet (Venera 7), and fiirst automated rovers to ride on celestial bodies (Lunokhod 1 and 2 on the moon. Worth noting this is were paths of Soviet space program and Origin Systems creator Richard Garriot cross, as he purchased Lunokhod 2 on an auction, becomeing first person to own a private object on the moon)

Gagarin himself went on to become international celebrity, but never had a chance to fly in space again. He died in training Jet crash in 1968, prepering for a second spaceflight



Rear Admiral
I'll have to admit that I didn't really well and truly appreciate the achievements of the Russian space program until I started playing Kerbal Space Program and started following Scott Manley and Vintage Space on YouTube.

Didn't realize that Gagarin made his flight on 12 April, though. Today's my middle kid's sixth birthday; it's something I'll have to remember from now on.