President Obama to Attend Endeavour’s Last Launch on April 29

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President Barack Obama and the entire First Family apparently plan to attend the final launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour, according to government officials and multiple news outlets. Endeavour is slated to blast off on the STS-134 mission next Friday, April 29 from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida at 3:47 p.m. EDT.

There has already been intense drama surrounding the STS-134 mission because it is being commanded by Mark Kelly. Kelly is the husband of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona who was critically wounded by gunshots to her head at point blank range during an assassination attempt while attending a meet and greet with her constituents on Jan. 8, 2011. Six people – including a nine year old girl and a federal judge – were killed and a dozen more were wounded that awful day.

Space Shuttle Endeavour awaits her final launch on April 29, 2011 from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, FL Credit: Ken Kremer

The Presidents appearance at the STS-134 launch will almost certainly lead to skyrocketing interest, but has not yet been officially announced by NASA and the White House. The event is not yet listed on the presidents official schedule.

However, a tweet by the staff of Congresswoman Giffords on her official website states Obama will attend; “We are very happy that Pres. Obama is coming to Mark’s launch! This historic mission will be #Endeavours final flight.”

NASA spokesman Allard Beutel told me today, “I cannot confirm whether the president will be coming to launch next week. If he’s coming, which I can’t confirm, we are a White House agency.”

“We always welcome a visit from the President,” Beutel said.

Security is always tight at KSC during a shuttle launch. A visit by President Obama will certainly lead to even tighter security controls and even more massive traffic jams.

Giant crowds were already expected for this historic final spaceflight of Space Shuttle Endeavour, NASA’s youngest Orbiter, on her 25th mission to space.

Endeavour is carrying the $2 Billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) ) on a 14-day flight to the International Space Station, a premier science instrument that will collect cosmic rays, search for dark energy, dark matter and anti matter and seeks to determine the origin of the Universe. See my photo below of the AMS from inside the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF) at KSC with the principal investigator, Nobel Prize winner Prof. Sam Ting of MIT.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden just announced that Endeavour will be displayed at the California Science Museum following her retirement from active flight service upon landing.

President Obama last visited KSC on April 15, 2010 and gave a major policy speech outlining his radical new human spaceflight goals for NASA. Obama decided to cancel NASA’s Project Constellation ‘Return to the Moon’ Program and the Ares 1 and Ares 5 rockets. He directed NASA to plan a mission for astronauts to visit an Asteroid by 2025 and one of the moons of Mars in the 2030’s. Obama also decided to revive the Orion crew module built by Lockheed Martin, which is now envisaged for missions beyond low earth orbit (LEO), and invest in development of new commercial space taxis such as the Dragon spacecraft by SpaceX for transporting astronaut crews to the ISS.

Spokesman Beutel said that during the April 2010 visit, “The President met with space workers.” He could not comment on details of the president’s plans for the STS-134 visit and said information would have to come from the White House.

The last time a sitting president watched a live human space launch was in 1998 when then President Bill Clinton attended the blastoff of the return to space of Astronaut and Senator John Glenn. Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth back in 1962. Glenn’s first flight took place a little over a year after the historic first human spaceflight by Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961- which occurred exactly 50 years ago last week.

Congresswoman Giffords is recovering from her wounds and Shuttle Commander Kelly has said that she would like to attend the STS-134 launch. But no official announcement about her attendance has been made by NASA and depends on many factors including decisions by the doctors treating her in a Houston area hospital.

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and Nobel Prize Winner and Principal Investigator Sam Ting of MIT - inside the Space Station Processing Facility at KSC. The STS-134 mission of shuttle Endeavour will deliver the AMS to the ISS. The AMS purpose is to try and determine the origin of the Universe. . Credit: Ken Kremer
Close up of Endeavour crew cabin, ET, SRB and astronaut walkway to the White Room. Credit: Ken Kremer

Yuri Gagarin From the Earth to Mars Tribute

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50 Years ago, the dream of human spaceflight opened with the courageous blastoff of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin inside the Vostok 1 spacecraft on April 12, 1961. Gagarin was the first person to orbit the Earth. Less than a month later on May 5. 1961, Astronaut Alan Shepard bravely set forth on America’s first human spaceflight – Freedom 7.

Barely three weeks afterward on May 25, 1961, these momentous events of the early Space Age led directly to Project Apollo and the historic announcement by President Kennedy that the United States “would land a man on the moon” by the end of the 1960’s.

In honor of Yuri Gagarin, NASA’s Opportunity Mars Rover explored a small and highly eroded crater dubbed “Vostok Crater” in 2005 during its journey in the Meridian Planum region on the Martian surface. Along the edge of the crater, researchers commanded Opportunity to use the Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT), to drill into a rock dubbed “Gagarin” on Sols 401 and 402 in March 2005.

Yuri Gagarin - first human in space. Credit: Russian Archives

I created the poster collage above as a tribute to the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin and his legacy which eventually led to the exploration of Mars by the Spirit and Opportunity rovers

Opportunity landed on Mars on Jan. 24, 2004 for a planned 90 sol mission. By the time that Opportunity arrived at Vostok Crater, she had already lasted more than 4 times longer than expected and found that water existed on ancient Mars.

Opportunity is still alive today on Sol 2571, more than 28 times beyond its design lifetime !

Opportunity used its rock abrasion tool (RAT) on a rock named "Gagarin" during Sols 401 and 402 on Mars (March 10 and 11, 2005). This false-color image shows the circular mark created where the tool exposed the interior of the rock Gagarin at a target called "Yuri." The circle is about 4.5 centimeters (1.8 inches) in diameter. Gagarin is at the edge of a highly eroded, small crater that was named "Vostok" for the spacecraft that carried Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in the first human spaceflight, on April 12, 1961. This image combines exposures taken through three different filters by Opportunity's panoramic camera on Sol 405 (March 14, 2005). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./ASU

Scientists are using the data gathered from “Gagarin Rock” and other locations explored by Opportunity to help elucidate the history of the past flow of liquid water on the red planet and determine whether the wet environmental conditions could ever have supported martian microbial life – past or present.

“The 50th anniversary of mankind’s first fledgling foray into the cosmos should serve as an important reminder of the spirit of adventure and exploration that has propelled mankind throughout history,” said Mars rover science team member James Rice of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md, in a statement. “We are a species of explorers; it is encoded into our very DNA.”

“Half a century ago Yuri Gagarin was lofted into a totally unknown, remote and hostile environment and in doing so opened up a new limitless frontier of possibilities for mankind,” Rice added. “A mere 23 days later another brave human, Alan Shepard, climbed aboard a rocket and ventured into the starry abyss. Their courage and vision continue to inspire and lead us into the unknown. Hopefully, one day in the not too distant future it will lead humanity on a voyage to Mars.”

Many people, including myself, were inspired by the Space Race to become scientists and engineers and hope that continues for the next generation of students today.

Read more about Yuri Gagarin and Opportunity in my related stories:

Yuri Gagarin and Vostok 1 Photo Album – 50th Anniversary of Human Spaceflight
Countdown to Yuri’s Night and the 50th Anniversary of Human Spaceflight !
Stirring Video Tributes to Yuri Gagarin
Opportunity Rover Completes Exploration of fascinating Santa Maria Crater

Opportunity used its rock abrasion tool on a rock named "Gagarin" during the 401st and 402nd Martian days, or sols, of the rover's work on Mars (March 10 and 11, 2005). This image, taken by Opportunity's navigation camera on Sol 405 (March 14, 2005), shows the circular mark left on the rock. The circle is about 4.5 centimeters (1.8 inches) in diameter. At the end of the rover's arm, the tool turret is positioned with the rock abrasion tool pointing upward in this image. The abrasion target on the rock Gagarin was informally named "Yuri." Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Opportunity Traverse Map during 7 year long journey across Mars.
Map shows the long journey of Opportunity spanning the Meridiani Planum region from landing in Jan 2004 to recent stop at Santa Maria crater. Opportunity explored Vostok Crater in March 2005, about 1 year after landing as indicted by marker in yellow. Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell Marco Di Lorenzo, Kenneth Kremer

NASA Space Shuttle Owner’s Workshop Manual Book Review

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The shuttle era is ending and when things end people have the tendency to look back and reflect on the trials and tribulations of that period. There are many news books that are being produced that seek to capitalize on this nostalgia – and a few old ones, are being re-released with current and updated information within. One of the more notable efforts is NASA SPACE SHUTTLE Owner’s Workshop Manual.

With modern imagery and text reflective of the program’s long history, the book encapsulates all of the accomplishments that the vehicle’s design allowed to become a reality. The book uses very current information, so much so that it mentions the shooting of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords which took place this past January.

The book provides for a succinct review of the program’s history, its contributions, the setbacks of the Challenger and Columbia disasters as well as other aspects both known and unforeseen of the vehicle’s overall design. Although the book is relatively short, it covers the rationale behind why the space shuttle was designed the way that it was, how the spacecraft launches, flies and lands as well as numerous other facets that comprised the space shuttles’ history.

Written by Dr. David Baker and published by Zenith Press, the book retails for $28 and is well worth the price. With only two flights left before the shuttles are sent to their final resting places in museums and theme parks around the nation this book will make for a great memento of the vehicle that placed the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit, that helped build the International Space Station and that has been the focal point of U.S. human space efforts for the past thirty years.

With the shuttle program ending soon, the book; NASA Space Shuttle Owner's Workshop Manual provides a concise review of the various aspects and impacts that the thirty-year program has had. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

At Shuttle Program’s Twilight, Tears and Cheers as Triumphs and Tragedies are Remembered

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CAPE CANAVERAL – With the shuttle program’s end less than three months away, NASA took time to honor the program that has been the focal point of the agency’s manned space flight efforts for the past thirty years. At 1 p.m., NASA’s Administrator, Charles Bolden, along with Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana, astronaut Janet Kavandi, shuttle Endeavour’s Vehicle Manager Mike Parrish and STS-1 Pilot Robert Crippen spoke to NASA employees and members of the media regarding the programs long history and its many achievements.

However, the most important announcement of the day was where the remaining shuttles will go when the program draws to a close. It was announced that the space shuttle Enterprise, a test article of the shuttle design, will move from its current home at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. The Udvar-Hazy Center will be home for Discovery, which finished its last mission in March. Endeavour, which is being readied for its final flight at the end of this month, will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Atlantis, which is currently scheduled to fly the last shuttle mission in June, will go to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

From left-to-right: Former astronaut and KSC Director Robert Crippen, former astronaut and current NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, astronaut Janet Kavandi, former astronaut and current KSC Director Bob Cabana and shuttle Endeavour's Vehicle Manager Mike Parrish. Behind them is shuttle Atlantis, which will remain at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

Although Bolden and Cabana are former astronauts, they were joined by one of the two men that flew the very first shuttle mission, STS-1 – Robert Crippen. This mission is viewed as one of the most risky test flights in history. If something had gone wrong during the first mission’s launch, Crippen and Commander John Young would have had to eject from Columbia – through the vehicle’s fiery plume. However, everything worked according to plan and Columbia landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California two days later.

The weight of the day’s events had an obvious impact on Bolden and Crippen, both of whom were visibly emotional during the presentation. Crippen’s comments detailed the feelings of many in that this is a bitter-sweet anniversary. Those in attendance supported the four-time shuttle veteran with loud applause when it was announced that Atlantis would remain at Kennedy Space Center.

Former NASA astronaut and current Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana gestures toward shuttle Atlantis which will remain in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

“Stay focused, “said Bolden during his comments, referring to the gap in manned space flight that is about to take place. “It’s been a rough day.”

There was also a guest appearance from the current members of the International Space Station who called in from on orbit. They apologized for not being able to attend – before they acknowledged it was thanks to the hard work of those present that they couldn’t be there. Astronauts Cady Coleman, Ron Garan were joined by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli as well as cosmonauts Dmitry Kondratyev, Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev. The station’s crew spoke about how the shuttle program made this international effort possible.

The crew of the International Space Station conduct a long-distance phone call to attendees at the 30th Anniversary event of the shuttle program. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

On April 12, 1981, the space shuttle Columbia roared into orbit on the first mission of the shuttle program. The first crew only had two astronauts on board, Apollo veteran John Young and rookie astronaut Robert Crippen. The first flight of the shuttle program took place 20 years to the day that the first human rode fire into orbit – Yuri Gagarin.

There are currently only two shuttle flights remaining, Endeavour is slated to conduct its 25th and final mission, STS-134, at the end of this month and Atlantis will launch the final mission on June 28. Once this mission is over, NASA will have to rely on Russia for access to the International Space Station until small, commercial firms; those supported under President Obama’s new plans for NASA can produce a launch system to fill the void.

“I would have been happy to get any of the orbiters here at KSC,” said Robert Crippen when interviewed. “Getting Atlantis makes this a very good day.”

The space shuttle Atlantis was on display, with commemorative banners from each of the orbiters. Atlantis will reside at Kennedy Space Center after her final flight this June. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

FBI Memo Does Not Prove Aliens Crash Landed in Roswell

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A 1950 FBI memo is creating some recent buzz by UFO supporters who say this provides “smoking gun” evidence that the US government recovered a crashed alien ship and bodies in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The memo, found on the FBI vault website and dated March 22, 1950 reports that an informant related information about three flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico along with three bodies of human shape, but only 3 feet tall, and dressed in metallic cloth.

So, does this “newly found” and “secret” memo confirm what UFO supporters have believed for years, that the government covered up a landing by aliens in Roswell?

Sorry, no.

While the memo is genuine – written up by FBI special agent Guy Hottel, (you can see it on the FBI Vault website) it is not new, is not secret and does not have anything to do a supposed crash by an alien ship in Roswell, New Mexico.

The memo is not classified, as was reported by some websites, and has actually been discussed by UFO supporters for years, having been released in 1976 by the FBI. Even Robert Hastings, the guy who believes UFOs are shutting down nuclear reactors posted a comment on a UFO website that he has been discussing this memo in his talks since 1981.

So, the memo is certainly not new.

Also, the memo is not a secret FBI report, but a third-hand account from agent Hottel reporting what an Air Force investigator was told by an “informant.”

Lastly, as Benjamin Radford points out in his post on Live Science, “ the description in the memo of three ‘flying saucers…circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter,’ does not match the 1947 Roswell crash at all. Roswell eyewitnesses described finding lightweight metallic debris scattered in a field—not three intact 50-foot saucers holding nine dead alien bodies.”

In fact, Radford goes on, this memo does not refer to Roswell, but instead to a reported UFO crash in another small New Mexico town called Aztec in March 1948. The supposed crash was made famous by journalist Frank Scully who wrote for Variety magazine and wrote specifically about the Aztec crash in 1949. However, in 1952, it was revealed by another reporter that Scully had been hoaxed by a con man named Silas Newton, who fabricated the entire story in hopes of making money from the deal. Newton was arrested and convicted of fraud.

So, nothing new has been “revealed” by this old memo which very likely describes Newton’s account of an event that has since been proven to be a complete fabrication.

Stirring Video Tributes to Yuri Gagarin

Today, April 12, is the 50th Anniversary of Earth’s first manned spaceflight by Hero Cosmonaut , Yuri Gagarin of what was then the Soviet Union. He was strapped aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft and blasted off to the High Froniter at 9:07 a.m. Moscow time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome

Roskosmos – the Russian Federal Space Agency – honors his memory with this stirring video tribute chronicling the Flight of Yuri Gagarin. The outstanding video is set to the song “Seed” with lyrics sung by the Russian Red Army Choir. Dramatic video clips show rare views of Gagarin in training, the actual launch day events and concludes with his grand reception.

Gagarin’s smile is infectious and the video brings him to life. Watch and enjoy – several times . And be prepared to journey back in time to the era of the Space Race and the Soviet Union.

Included below is another music video with more amazing videos clips from the Flight of Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961and a brief video summarizing his all too short life. Gagarin would have been celebrating his 75th birthday on March 9.

Today, people around the globe will celebrate the historic occasion at over 500 Yuri’s Night Events. You can still join in the fun and attend. Find out how at the Yuri Night Website. Or join Ken in Princeton Junction, New Jersey for a free talk about Yuri and another historic space milestone, the 30th Anniversary of the first shuttle flight: STS -1.

And be sure to watch the new film First Orbit, steaming online, which recreates the view that Gagarin would have seen.

Send Ken your “Yuri’s Night” event photos/report and any photos of Yuri Gagarin to publish at Universe Today. Email kremerken at yahoo dot com

Read more about Gagarin in my earlier stories:
Yuri Gagarin and Vostok 1 Photo Album – 50th Anniversary of Human Spaceflight
Countdown to Yuri’s Night and the 50th Anniversary of Human Spaceflight !

Roscosmos website
Yuri’s Night Website
Yuri’s Night Party list
Yuri’s Night Party with Ken in Princeton Junction, NJ, USA
First Orbit Website
STS-1 NASA Mission Website
Ken Kremer

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Movie Premiere: First Orbit

50 years ago Yuri Gagarin became the world’s first human to go into space. What did he see? He described it fairly well, but there are limited pictures and no video from his time in orbit. Now, through a unique collaboration between a filmmaker and ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli on board the International Space Station, high definition video of what Gagarin might have seen has been woven together with historic recordings of the flight (subtitled in English) to create a new, free film called “First Orbit” that has now been released. This movie is a real time recreation of Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering first orbit, shot entirely in space from on board the International Space Station. The film combines this new footage with Gagarin’s original mission audio and a new musical score by composer Philip Sheppard. For more information about the movie see the First Orbit website.

Also, the @FirstOrbit twitter feed will tweet the original communications in “real” time (50 years later) on April 12, recreating the events as Gagarin flew on Vostok 1 flew from 6:07-7:55 UTC.

Celebrate Yuri’s Night with the Crew of the Space Station

The Expedition 27 crew aboard the International Space Station sends a special message to the world to wish everyone a happy Yuri’s Night — the wish comes complete with special t-shirts for the occasion (and floating hair!) Expedition 27 includes Commander Dmitry Kondratyev and Flight Engineers Andrey Borisenko, Cady Coleman, Alexander Samokutyaev, Paolo Nespoli and Ron Garan. Find more information on Yuri’s Night at the event website.

Yuri Gagarin and Vostok 1 Photo Album – 50th Anniversary of Human Spaceflight

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50 Years ago on April 12,1961 the era of Human spaceflight opened with a roar to the heavens above with the thunderous blastoff of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin aboard the Vostok 1 capsule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome Site No.1 at 9:07 a.m. Moscow time. Gagarin, at the age of 27, dared to brave the perils of the unknown and became the first human being to be strapped atop a rocket, ascend to outer space and view what no one else had ever seen, the entire Earth as a sphere. A bold and courageous test flight in every dimension. And the effects of weightlessness had only been tested on dogs – not people.

Herein is a picture album of significant launch day events, including three collages of rare photos of Yuri Gagarin climbing up the launch tower and boarding the Vostok 1 spacecraft for the historic liftoff of the first manned spaceflight on April 12, 1961.

Sergei Korolev, “Chief Designer” of the Soviet Space program radioed, “LIFT OFF! We wish you a good flight. Everything is all right.”

Yuri Gagarin in orbit
“Poyekhali!”, Gagarin replied “[Off we go!].”

“I see Earth! It is so beautiful!” Gagarin said from orbit. “I see rivers. Visibility is good.”

Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, put out a call for anyone interested in Yuri Gagarin and the birth of the human space exploration era to share their documents, photos and other information with the public – and the fabulous collages resulted from the response.

Do you have photos or memories of Gagarin ? Send them to Ken. Gagarin traveled widely as an ambassador of goodwill, bridging the dangerous ideological gulf between East and West during the height of the Cold War.

Gagarin’s flight lasted 108 minutes for a single orbit around the Earth. The mission was brought to a close with the de-orbit firing of the reentry rockets. Gagarin ejected from the capsule at 7 km altitude because the hard landing of the capsule was too dangerous for people. So he parachuted safely to the ground. April 12 has been celebrated as Cosmonautics Day in Russia every year since 1962. Vostok 1 was Gagarin’s only flight

Tragically, Gagarin’s life ended on March 27, 1968. He was flying a routine training mission in a MiG-15UTI fighter with flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin when the plane suddenly crashed near the town of Kirzhach. Gagarin was laid to rest in the wall of the Kremlin on Red Square.

In honor of this 50th anniversary of the dawn of Human spaceflight, a global network of over 444 Yuri’s Night parties are being staged worldwide on April 12, 2011 to celebrate one of the humankind’s greatest achievements – that’s double the number from 2010.

20 years after Gagarin’s flight, NASA’s first space shuttle blasted off on the STS-1 mission on April12, 1981.

You can join in the local Yuri’s Night festivities taking place in more than 70 countries from Afghanistan (visited by Gagarin in Dec. 1961) to Vietnam. Or join Ken in Princeton Junction, New Jersey for a free presentation about Gagarin’s flight and my behind the scenes look at the space shuttle and beyond.

Send Ken your “Yuri’s Night” event photos/report and any photos of Yuri Gagarin to publish at Universe Today. Email kremerken at yahoo dot com

Read Ken’s other stories about Yuri Gagarin and Yuri’s Night:
Countdown to Yuri’s Night and the 50th Anniversary of Human Spaceflight !
Stirring Video Tributes to Yuri Gagarin

Roscosmos website
Yuri’s Night Website
Yuri’s Night Party list
Yuri’s Night Party with Ken in Princeton Junction, NJ, USA
First Orbit Website
STS-1 NASA Mission Website
Ken Kremer

Yuri Gagarin - First Spaceman
On 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space, launched into orbit on the Vostok 3KA-3 spacecraft (Vostok 1). Credits: alldayru.com
Rollout and Erection of Vostok 1 Credits: alldayru.com
Yuri Gagarin suits up for launch
Yuri Gagarin seen dressing in a heating/cooling garment worn under his orange pressure suit. On 12 April 1961, Gagarin became the first human to travel into space, launched into orbit on the Vostok 3KA-3 spacecraft (Vostok 1). Credits: alldayru.com
Gagarin heads to the launch pad on April 12, 1961
Yuri Gagarin on the bus on the way to the launch pad with cosmonaut German Titov behind him. Titov was the back-up pilot who later became pilot of Vostok 2. Credit: NASA
Rare Photos of Yuri Gagarin and Vostok 1 Launch on April, 12, 1961 – First Human Spaceflight.
Collage of rare photos of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin boarding Vostok 1 spacecraft and historic launch of first manned spaceflight on April 12, 1961 from Baikonur Cosmodrome Site No.1 at 9:07 a.m. Moscow time (607 UTC), Soviet Union. Gagarin is greeted by Oleg Ivanvosky who now works in the museum of Lavochkin R&D. Credits: Oleg Ivanvosky/ Evgeny A. Sivukhin/Lavochkin R&D/Roscosmos
Rare Photos of Yuri Gagarin and Vostok 1 Launch on April, 12, 1961 – First Human Spaceflight.
Collage of rare photos of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin boarding Vostok 1 spacecraft and historic launch of first manned spaceflight on April 12, 1961 from Baikonur Cosmodrome Site No.1 at 9:07 a.m. Moscow time (607 UTC), Soviet Union. Gagarin is greeted by Oleg Ivanvosky who now works in the museum of Lavochkin R&D. Credits: Oleg Ivanvosky/ Evgeny A. Sivukhin/Lavochkin R&D/Roscosmos
Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin strapped inside Vostok 1 capsule on April 12, 1961
Launch of Yuri Gagarin and Vostok 1 on 12 April 1961 opens Era of Human Spaceflight
Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to journey into outer space by launching to orbit aboard Vostok 1.
Vostok 1 Landing
Here the reentry capsule of the Vostok 3KA-3 spacecraft (Vostok 1) is seen with charring and its parachute on the ground after landing south west of Engels, in the Saratov region of southern Russia. Gagarin ejected from the capsule at 7 km altitude and parachuted safely to the ground. Credits: alldayru.com
Stamps published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's mission. Credit: Roscosmos

Jethro Tull in Space

I’ve had this song in my head ever since Sunday when I first saw this video, so finally decided I had to post it. Astronaut (and flautist) Cady Coleman on board the International Space Station hooked up with Ian Anderson, founder of the rock band Jethro Tull, to collaborate for the first space-Earth duet. The song, “Bourree in E Minor,” was written by Johann Sebastian Bach, but Jethro Tull made the song famous (again) with their own arrangement of the tune back in 1969, the same year Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the moon. Coleman and Anderson played the song in recognition of 50 years of human spaceflight and the anniversary of the first launch of a human to space by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961.

Coleman played her part from 220 miles above Earth late last week. Anderson played his part while on tour in Perm, Russia, during the weekend. The two parts were then joined.

Just see if you can keep this song out of your head for the rest of the day!