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PostPosted: 12 Apr 2011, 15:53 
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On April 12 1961 Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the earth onboard his spacecraft Vostock I. The flight lasted 108 minutes.


Twenty years later on April 12th 1981 Astronaut John Young and Navy test pilot Bob Crippen piloted the space shuttle Columbia on it's first flight. STS-1 was the first orbital flight of the space shuttle program.

Today April 12th 2011 NASA will announce where it has chosen to retire 3 of the Space Shuttle Orbiters.

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PostPosted: 12 Apr 2011, 16:05 
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Was about to post somethign on this as well. :D

CNN

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Gagarin's first space trip celebrated 50 years on

Fifty years after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's Vostok spacecraft blasted off from the steppes of Soviet Kazakhstan and into the history books, the epic flight of the first human in space was being celebrated Tuesday.

Gagarin spent 108 minutes crammed inside a tiny capsule completing the first ever orbit of Earth before landing back on Soviet soil in what was seen as a major coup for Moscow in its Cold War space race with the United States.

Half a century on, long after the Soviet Union's demise heralded a new era of global space cooperation, Gagarin's flight was being commemorated by enthusiasts on Earth, in orbit and in cyberspace.

A film shot from the International Space Station painstakingly recreating the April 12, 1961 orbit was broadcast on YouTube, launched to coincide with the Gagarin's 9.07am Moscow-time blast off.

Search engine Google offered its own cheery tribute, switching its usual logo for an illustration recalling the golden era of space travel.

And on the space station itself, one of its current occupants -- NASA astronaut Cady Coleman -- performed a flute duet with earthbound Ian Anderson of 1970s rock band Jethro Tull to mark the event.

In Russia, where Gagarin is still revered as one of the few enduring heroes of the Soviet era, visitors flocked to a space exhibition in Moscow featuring a replica of the cosmonaut's Vostok capsule.

Among them Alexey Leonov, the first Soviet cosmonaut to conduct a space walk, said Gagarin's legacy would outlive the political rivalries which sent him into space and inspired the U.S. Apollo moon landings less than a decade later.

"In the past, we used to make a point of whether he or she was an American or a Russian or what not," he said. "In my view, if we don't remember what happened 50 years ago, we will forget everything in 100 years."

American space explorers also paid tribute to Gagarin. Former NASA astronaut Thomas Stafford said Gagarin's flight pushed the boundaries of science and engineering.

"There always has to be the first," he said. "And at the time, you know, there was a big competition. I would say here today that without Yuri Gagarin flying, I would probably have not flown to the moon."

Gagarin didn't live to witness the hundreds who have journeyed to space since his first flight. He was killed in 1968 in a plane crash.

In a recent interview, his daughter Elena Gagarina said her father had always shrugged off the considerable risks he endured during take off, orbit and landing, and longed to return to space one day.

"I can imagine how dangerous it was, but it wasn't something he would talk about," she told Andrea Rose of the British Council, a UK cultural organization that is bringing a statue of Gagarin from Moscow to display in London.

"But after his first flight, he wanted to fly again in space. He wanted to continue his work as a pilot and as a cosmonaut."

Rose told CNN Gagarin remained a globally important figure because of his achievement and his inspirational, if tragically short, life as a carpenter's son who went on to become one of the 20th century's biggest names.

"It was a breakthrough for mankind; for millennia nobody had ever traveled outside Earth's atmosphere, and to be the first is an inspiration to us all," she said.

"He is a contemporary Russian icon in the best possible sense. He came from the most modest roots and did something extraordinary."


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PostPosted: 12 Apr 2011, 22:19 
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Yes! I've posted this before but it bears repeating - the best read on the subject (and to my mind, the best book about flying, next to Ernest Gann's works) - is Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff".

Compulsory reading for all on the forum (and much beyond!).


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PostPosted: 13 Apr 2011, 08:50 
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Michael wrote:
the best read on the subject (and to my mind, the best book about flying, next to Ernest Gann's works) - is Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff".


And an awesome movie too! :D


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PostPosted: 13 Apr 2011, 09:52 
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Dean wrote:
And an awesome movie too!


Agreed on both counts. The BBC produced a 4 part docudrama called "Space Race" in 2005 that's also well worth a look.


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PostPosted: 13 Apr 2011, 12:39 
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Kremlin and I have both the book and the movie.

As for the space shuttles:

Atlantis - Kennedy Space Center in Florida
Endeavour - California Science Center in Los Angeles
Discovery - Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Enterprise - Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York

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PostPosted: 13 Apr 2011, 19:28 
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Eugene wrote:
The BBC produced a 4 part docudrama called "Space Race" in 2005 that's also well worth a look.


Just been re-watching parts of this. Quite a bit of actual footage shot at the time has been included. Especially the Soviet stuff. Get it if you can!


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PostPosted: 14 Apr 2011, 13:25 
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Agreed. The film was - though coming in for some pointed criticism at the time - excellently executed, particularly in respect of the accurate casting (Sam Shepard as Chuck Yeager, Ed Harris as John Glenn [talk about a look-alike!], Scott Glenn as Alan Shepard and Dennis Quaid as "Gordo" Cooper) and the fantastic musical score (using Holst's "Jupiter" was as inspired as the use of Wagner's "Flight of the Valkyries" for Apocalypse Now). Incidentally (or perhaps not?) those were also two of the three secrets of success in "The Battle of Britain" and "Top Gun" - an all-star cast and classical or bass-rich music. The third ingredient? Why, using unbelievable footage (the rougher the better) of real aircraft of course!


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PostPosted: 14 Apr 2011, 14:15 
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There is a fairly good article, covering some of the technical aspects, of the filming of "The Right Stuff" in the January 1984 AIR INTERNATIONAL volume 26, No 1.


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