50th Anniversary of Spaceflight


April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin was the first human in space. The rocket carying Vostok 1 spacecraft with Youri Gagarin on board blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome at 6:07 am of local time. Spacecraft Vostok 1 circled the planet Earth in 108 minutes, while Gagarin reported of the happening outside of his vizor (illuminator). This was the first step of humanity into the vast universe and unleashed a great era of human spaceflight.

August of 1999, in Vancouver, Washington, the ceremony of the memorial rededication to Chkalov’s Transpolar flight took place.  Honorable guests from Russia were present, among whom were the family members of Chkalov, his son, Seattle’s Council General, and the second man in space Gherman Titov.

I was videotaping that ceremony for CVTV, and one would think, nothing may be connecting Gagarin and Vancouver, Washington, perhaps one is right.  But I think differently.  Gagarin was the first man in space to orbit the Earth in spacecraft Vostok 1, Gherman Titov was the second man to do the same but for 25 hours and not one but 17 orbits around Earth.  Gherman Titov visited Vancouver, Washington during transpolar flight memorial rededication.

It is amazing how intertwined our lives often get, without us even knowing.  Here, in Vancouver, Washington, cosmonaut Gherman Titov walked the grounds of the Fort Vancovuer National Historic reserve and visited the Pearson Air Museum nearly 40 years after the first spaceflight took place.

This visit, even though was wonderfully conducted by the local government officials, mayor Royce Pollard and others gave great speeches, and the presence of local representatives as well as the official delegation from Russia made the event festive and gala-ish, it went by unnoticed.  The majority of locals, and once again our neighbor city with its major local networks did not even know this event was happening.

Somehow I care about the fact that the second man in space visited our town, weather unnoticeably or not, it became a part of history.  So, the question would then be how much do we go about life and skip its true shining of the happening around us.

From Baikonur Cosmodrome to the spaceflight era, from Vancouver Washington’s Pearson Air Museum, to the world history of aerospace, today I celebrate, along with the global community the 50th Anniversary of Spaceflight!