By World News Report Bureau
Every year April 12 is celebrated as Cosmonauts Day. Fifty-four years ago on April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut, 27-year-old Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin, went into space in the spaceship called “Vostok 1” and made one complete orbital flight around the Earth. It was the first manned spacecraft to orbit the earth. Yuri Gagarin’s space odyssey lasted 1 hour and 48 minutes, and overnight he became a world hero.
Thus began the era of Cosmonautics for all Humankind.
Newspapers all over the world ran stories about his flight. There were parades all over USSR. Moscow witnessed such a big parade that no one had seen since the WWII victory parades. Yuri Gagarin was given ceremonial hero’s welcome on the streets of Moscow. Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev awarded him the title– Hero of Soviet Union – the highest Soviet honor at Kremlin.
The Cosmonautics Day usually starts off in the city of Korolyov a suburb of Moscow -famous for being the center of Russian rocket production and the cradle of space exploration. Participants in the ceremony proceed to Red Square to lay wreaths and pay homage to Yuri Gagarin’s grave near the Kremlin Wall. The procession then continues to the Cosmonauts Alley, which has the busts of Yuri Gagarin, Sergei Korolyov and Valentina Tereshkova — who played a main role in the Soviet space program. A monument — “To the Conquerors of Space” was erected to commemorate achievements in Soviet space exploration in 1964.
Apart from the official ceremony various people try to celebrate the even in different ways.
A few years back a Moscow-based Institute of Medico-Biological Problems, producing food and beverages for cosmonauts in space, invited the general public to taste the space food and vacuum-packed vodka.
In 1968, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale declared it as the World Aviation and Astronautics Day. In 2011, this day was declared as the International Day of Human Space Flight.
As a special tribute to Gagarin’s memory, a mouse, named Shum was launched into the stratosphere in a miniature temperature-controlled capsule/ aircraft built by schoolchildren from Petersburg. It travelled a distance of 20 kilometers above the earth surface before safely landing 300 kilometers away in a forest in the Novgorod Region.
Before the launch, the school children ensured that there was enough oxygen on board for the three hour journey to the upper atmosphere and back. Another mouse called Gam was selected and kept as the stand-by pilot.
The miniature aircraft was made from a ten liter plastic bottle and air balloon. It was fitted with cameras and GPS tracker to observe his movements, before, during and after his flight
Prior to this people unsuccessful tried to send two cockroaches into the sky.
Even in the US fruit flies, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, cats, dogs, frogs, goldfish and monkeys were sent to heights up to 144,000 feet.