|YuriGagarin50 launch press release|
10th June 2010
PREPARING TO CELEBRATE 50 YEARS OF HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT
YuriGagarin50, a campaign to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight and the achievements of UK and Russian spaceflight over the past 50 years, was launched today by Dr Helen Sharman OBE at the House of Commons.
Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space and first person to orbit the Earth on 12 April 1961. YuriGagarin50 aims to encourage activities around the anniversary on 12 April 2011 and raise awareness of the legacy of Gagarin’s flight.
“Space is an inspirational subject and human spaceflight in particular has motivated many young people to follow careers in science and engineering. Gagarin’s legacy touches many areas of our lives today; many people are unaware of how many applications space has in modern life and the important contribution space makes to the UK economy. In particular, space plays a vital role in the environmental monitoring of our planet. Yuri Gagarin was the first person to see the Earth from space and was struck by its beauty, its fragility and humanity’s duty to protect it,” said Dr Chris Welch, Chair of YuriGagarin50.
Dr Helen Sharman, who became Britain’s first astronaut when she spent 7 days on the Mir Space Station in 1991, said “Yuri Gagarin was given the international crown for inspiration. Wherever he went, crowds of people thronged the streets to catch a glimpse of the person who embodied the abilities of fellow humans, the bravery of exploration, and the desire to discover what is new. On my last night in space, reflecting on my time, I realised that being away from Earth reinforced what my Russian friends had told me on the ground – what’s important is personal relationships and what people can do together. Space is grand and being part of it makes people feel grand.”
Stephen McPartland MP, said “The space sector is very important in the UK, providing 70 000 jobs. It has constantly outstripped the rest of the economy for more than a decade. Space technology is the highest skilled sector in manufacturing. I believe that we can use space as an inspirational tool to drive ourselves out of recession.”
Morgan Evans, aged 9, said, “I don’t think that I am brave enough to travel into space on a real rocket but it is exciting to find out about space from scientists and astronauts.”
The YuriGagarin50 website, www.yurigagarin50.org, has a searchable calendar of events planned to celebrate the anniversary, which include exhibitions, talks, hands on activities and other events. As the site develops in the run up to the anniversary, further information will be included on Yuri Gagarin, his visit to the UK in July 1961 and current space activities in the UK and Russia.
Dr Welch also announced the ‘Rockets for Yuri’ initiative today, which will encourage the public to take part in a mass launching of air and water-powered rockets at locations across the UK at 12pm on 12th April 2011 to celebrate Gagarin’s flight.
Read a poem by Matt Henderson on how has space inspired him.
Dr Chris Welch
Although this anniversary has clear significance for human spaceflight, it also offers an excellent opportunity to focus attention on many other space and space-related activities and showcase the UK’s achievements and expertise in these areas. General interest in astronauts is high and is used frequently as powerful tool for education, outreach and public engagement.
In 2011, Gagarin’s role as the first human in space and the fact of the 50th anniversary of his flight will provide a very strong ‘Gagarin hook’ to capture attention which can be subsequently directed in other directions to the benefit of the wider UK space community. YuriGagarin50 will provide a single overarching framework to stimulate and facilitate events and activities throughout the UK which will be arranged and organised by different groups and organisations and matched to local needs and resources.
The aims of YuriGagarin50 are to:
YuriGagarin50 is supported by the UK Space Agency, the Space Education Trust, Whiteshirt Communications, the Planetary Society and FootageVault.