Yuri Gagarin

Forty five years ago Yuri Gagarin rode a tower of fire into space, Vostok 1 propelled him into Earth orbit. Cosmonaut day became an official holiday the following year.

Yuri Gagarin in ManchesterYuri Gagarin in ManchesterYuri Gagarin in Manchester
Yuri Gagarin visiting Manchester, UK.

And of course one of my favourite monuments; the Space Obelisk, built to celebrate humankind's conquest of space.

Space ObeliskSpace Obelisk

It stands at over 100 meters, which is about 350 feet and was built in 1964. The guy sat in front of it is the father of space travel - the guy who thought of using multi-staged liquid fuelled rockets to reach orbit - Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, born in Siberia in 1857, at the age of 10 he lost his hearing due to scarlet fever and was excluded from any schooling - however he educated himself, he wrote over 500 scientific papers and influenced many Soviet engineers, including Sergey Korolev who became Chief Designer of the Soviet Space program.

"The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but we cannot live forever in a cradle."

Tsiolkovsky, aged 78 died in 1935, he lived long enough to witness his ideas starting to unfold, he proved mathematically the possibility of space flight, calculated the escape velocity from the Earth into orbit was 8 km per second - easily achievable with multi-staged liquid hydrogen and oxygen rockets, predicted; space suits, double pressurised hulls, reclining seats to resist G force, the problems of eating, drinking, and sleeping in weightlessness, and even closed cycle biological systems to provide food and oxygen for space colonies. And so on. Truly a legend considering he did a lot of this before the Wright brother's first flight.

"Men are weak now, and yet they transform the Earth's surface. In millions of years their might will increase to the extent that they will change the surface of the Earth, its oceans, the atmosphere, and themselves. They will control the climate and the Solar System just as they control the Earth. They will travel beyond the limits of our planetary system; they will reach other Suns, and use their fresh energy instead of the energy of their dying luminary."


And from the BBC:

BBC on this day: Soviets win space race