"Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship, I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty -- not destroy it!"
-- Yuri Gagarin
On April 12, 1961, 27-year-old Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly in space. Gagarin orbited Earth one time in the spaceship Vostok 1 at 18,000 mph at an altitude of nearly 188 miles and became the first human to see Earth from space.
Exactly 20 years later, on April 12, 1981, the United States celebrated a new era in space flight, launching Space Transportation System, flight 1 (STS-1): Space Shuttle Columbia. The space shuttle was designed to carry large crews, lift heavy loads into orbit and return under its own power -- capabilities unsurpassed by any existing or planned spacecraft. The International Space Station could not have been built without the space shuttle.
Please join the Baker Institute and the Rice Space Institute as we celebrate Yuri"s Night 2011 -- just one of more than 220 events in 48 countries on 6 continents -- featuring speaker Steven Hawley, Ph.D., a former NASA astronaut who has flown on five space shuttle missions. Hawley will discuss "The Engineering, Scientific and Cultural Legacy of the Space Shuttle."