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Cosmonautics Day – April 12, 2023

Cosmonautics Day is observed annually on April 12 in Russia and other former Soviet Union nations. This holiday commemorates the first crewed space flight on April 12, 1961, with Russian Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on board. Thus, the Soviet Union became the first country to send a crewed flight to space, and Gagarin became the first human to orbit the planet. This elevated him to the status of a national hero as his country awarded him the title of ‘Hero of the Soviet Union.’ On April 9, 1962, the Soviet Union declared April 12 as Cosmonautics Day.

History of Cosmonautics Day

On April 12, 1961, the Soviet Union made history by being the first country to send a crewed flight to space. Aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft, cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first man to orbit the planet, spending 108 minutes in outer space. This achievement opened up a new era in space exploration and was seen as a triumph for the Soviet space program. The only words attributed to Gagarin during the flight were: “Flight is proceeding normally; I am well.” After his historic flight, Gagarin was exalted to the status of a celebrity and hero.

Major newspapers worldwide published his biography and other details of his flight. After being escorted to the Kremlin in a motorcade of high-ranking officials, he was awarded the title of ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ by Nikita Khrushchev, the highest Soviet honor that could be achieved. Other awards presented to him included the ‘Order of Lenin,’ ‘Merited Master of Sports of the Soviet Union,’ ‘Hero of Socialist Labor in Czechoslovakia,’ the ‘Konstantin Tsiolkovsky Gold Medal,’ and ‘Pilot-Cosmonaut of the U.S.S.R.’ On April 9, 1962, Cosmonautics Day was established by the Soviet Union. After becoming a deputy to the Soviet Union in 1962, he was promoted to the rank of colonel of the Soviet Armed Forces on November 6, 1963. On April 7, 2011, to mark the 50th anniversary of the monumental flight, the United Nations General Assembly declared April 12 as the International Day of Human Space Flight. Also known as Yuri’s Night, the World Space Party has been celebrated worldwide on April 12 since 2001.

On Cosmonautics Day in Russia, participants convene at Gagarin’s statue in the city of Korolyov. From there, they visit his grave, located in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis. After that, they move to Cosmonauts Alley and, finally, the parade concludes with a visit to the Novodevichy Cemetery.

Cosmonautics Day timeline

1934
Gagarin is Born

Gagarin is born in the village of Klushino, Russia.

1961
Gagarin Makes History

Russia becomes the first country to send a crewed flight to space and Gagarin becomes the first human to orbit the planet.

1962
Cosmonautics Day is Established

The Soviet Union establishes Cosmonautics Day.

1963
Gagarin is Promoted

Gagarin is promoted to the rank of colonel of the Soviet Armed Forces.

1968
Gagarin Passes Away

Gagarin loses his life as a result of a plane crash on March 27.

2001
The World Space Party

The World Space Party, also known as Yuri’s Night, is established.

2011
April 12 Goes International

The United Nations General Assembly declares April 12 as the International Day of Human Space Flight.

Cosmonautics Day FAQs

Who was the first woman in space?

Launched on a solo mission aboard the Vostok 6, Russian Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space on June 16, 1963.

Who is the oldest astronaut alive?

At 94 years old, Frank Boorman is the oldest former American astronaut alive.

Who landed first on the moon?

Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, launched by the American Apollo Lunar Module Eagle, became the first to land on the moon on July 20, 1969.

How to Observe Cosmonautics Day

  1. Go stargazing

    Have you ever wondered what the stars look like up close? Go stargazing when night comes around and use a telescope to get a closer look.

  2. School yourself

    The world we live in is vast and mysterious. There are many little-known facts about our planet and the universe at large. Celebrate this monumental holiday by educating yourself about the globe and how it works so seamlessly and flawlessly.

  3. Share your knowledge with others

    Post about this one-of-a-kind holiday on all your socials. Let others be informed about the commemoration of this special occasion in the history of our planet.

5 Tributes Paid To Yuri Gagarin

  1. The training center

    The Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City was named after Gagarin on April 30, 1968.

  2. The Air Force Academy

    The Russian Air Force Academy was renamed the Gagarin Air Force Academy in 1968.

  3. Hockey championship

    The Kontinental Hockey League named their championship trophy the Gagarin Cup.

  4. A series of coins

    In Russia, a series of coins bearing Gagarin’s likeness was issued in 2001.

  5. The town of Gzhatsk

    The town of Gzhatsk in Smolensk Oblast was renamed Gagarin after his death in 1968.

Why Cosmonautics Day is Important

  1. He made his country proud

    Gagarin was able to complete a highly delicate mission without losing his cool. He handled the pressure of being the only man on a space flight for 108 minutes. As a result, he made his country proud.

  2. He was modest

    Gagarin was famous for being a modest man. This rare quality in a man so successful distinguished him from others.

  3. He was dedicated

    Even after winning multiple medals and being deemed a national hero, Gagarin refused to rest on his oars. After his flight, he began serving as a deputy to the Soviet of the Union, became deputy training director of the Cosmonaut Training Facility, continued to work as a pilot, and even graduated cum laude from the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy. Gagarin continued to work hard despite all his achievements.

Cosmonautics Day dates

YearDateDay
2023April 12Wednesday
2024April 12Friday
2025April 12Saturday
2026April 12Sunday
2027April 12Monday

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