“I see Earth! It is so beautiful!”

“When I orbited the Earth in a spaceship, I saw for the first time how beautiful our planet is. Mankind, let us preserve and increase this beauty, and not destroy it!”

These were the words of the first human being to ever look down on the planet earth from orbit. On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.

People around the world will mark the 50th anniversary of one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments this Tuesday, April 12, as they celebrate Yuri’s Night.

Yuri’s Night, the World Space Party, will be celebrated (as of April 10) at 420 locations in 70 countries on 6 continents. This is truly a worldwide celebration. Visit the organization’s website for more information and a list of the hundreds of worldwide events. there will almost certainly be one near you.

While spaceflight is now a common event, it was a huge story 50 years ago. Many experts had ideas of what would happen to a man in space; some thought an astronaut would suffer from vertigo, some thought his eyes would rupture, some thought there was no way a man could survive the dangers of liftoff and re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. With his flight, Yuri Gagarin proved that man can indeed function and survive in space. Russian television tells part of the story below.

“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, 1st person in space