For the past decade or more, every April 12, citizens from all over the world commemorate Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering 1961 spaceflight (the first human in space), and also the launch of the first Space Shuttle mission (twenty years later to the day),with special events large and small — collectively termed Yuri’s Night – World Party for Space.
This year, University of Lincoln (UK) professor Chris Riley, PhD, who is also the director of First Orbit, the hit internet film that recreates the story of Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering spaceflight of 1961, is inviting fans to join him on Twitter this Thursday 12 April at 06:07 UT (07:07 BST)* were he will be presenting a live running commentary to coincide with the annual ‘anniversary screening’ of First Orbit on YouTube.
“I see the Earth and it is beautiful!” — Yuri Gagarin, April 12, 1961
A Global (Interactive) Social Media Experiment
Riley’s aim is to create a social media experience that truly unites people from all over the world at the exact time that Gagarin first orbited planet Earth.
From Director Chris Riley: ‘We are live tweeting the entire Vostok 1 mission in real time, with commentary, at the exact moment the mission flew around the Earth – between 06:07UT and 07:55UT. ”
*Important NOTE: The timings for the US would be: East Coast (UT-6 hours): 00:07 to 01:55 12th April, West Coast (UT-8 hours): 22:07 to 23:55 11th April [that’s TONIGHT! for US West Coasters]
Chris can be found on the Twitter feed @alifeofriley, and on the day he’ll be using the hashtag #firstorbit to answer viewers’ questions and interact with the movie, which can be streamed from www.youtube.com/firstorbit at exactly the same time as the flight happened.
Tweeted commentary from Riley will highlight specific content from the film, as viewers stream it in real time. “Over half a century after Yuri’s flight, Twitter and YouTube have emerged as the perfect platforms to share this unique story from our common human heritage in this way”.
A Multi-Lingual Event
The British Interplanetary Society will also be hosting free multi-language screenings at their central London headquarters from 12 April, beginning with the Russian and English subtitled versions. Dates and times can be found at www.bis-space.com/firstorbit.
Chris is also encouraging people to live-tweet the mission audio transcript in their own languages, from 06:07 UT (07:07 BST) on 12 April, using the appropriate language hashtags found at http://www.firstorbit.org/yuri-tweet. Transcripts of over 30 languages, already translated by fans, can be downloaded from here too.
So, if you’re in a particularly SPACEY mood, come celebrate our species’ entry into space and join in this first-of-its-kind, global commemoration of the first orbiting of Earth (and its first viewing from space) by a human being.
And, for another pioneering space moment, view this mini-documentary (by this author) on HAM, the first chimp in space (told as an ‘imagined memoir’):
Photos: C. Riley press pack, courtesy of footagevault