T-six months. This is a countdown not of a real rocket launch, but that of an event which opened an important chapter in world space history. It is the 50th anniv of the the first human space flight. The person who embarked on this challenging mission, which lasted for 108 minutes, was a young Russian pilot, Yuri Gagarin. The date was April 12, 1961.
April 12,2011. This day will mark the 50th anniv of this flight, and it is six months from today. The countdown for the much-awaited celebrations has started which will aim to promote the importance of space among the younger generation. As the countdown clock is ticking away, organisations all over the world are being formed to celebrate the event. A notable example is YuriGagarin50 which has been established in the UK with an informative website.It says: ``This is a notable anniversary in its own right, but also a significant opportunity to raise the profile of space in the UK.''
According to the website, the 50th anniv of Gagarin's 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. Some of the aims of YuriGagarin50 are:-
* Showcase UK and Russian achievements in space science, technology and engineering.
* Excite and engage the public with space and the advancements derived from it, using Gagarin's flight as a catalyst.
* Promote sustainable colloboration between UK and Russia, science and technology and culture.
* Stimulate celebration and recognition of the global significance of Gagarin and his flight--``the first person in space, the first person to see the earth as a planet.''
This enterprising organisation was launched on June 10,2010, by Helen Sherman, Britain's first astronaut who visited the Russian Mir space station in 1991.
India is now planning a manned space flight in 2015. This of course depends on whether the government will give its final `go' for this mission. Assuming that it gets the green signal and the flight takes off from Sriharikota, who can deny that it had its early beginnings with the launch of Gagarin on April 12,1961? That is not all. Gagarin also laid a strong foundation for Indo-Russian space ties when he visited India in November 1961.
With the countdown in progress for the 50th anniv celebrations of his flight, is it not time to establish organisations in India similar to YuriGagarin50? To celebrate the anniv in a memorable way, they can explore the possibility of joining hands with the Russian diplomatic missions and science popularisation groups. If this plan materialises, it will undoubtedly go a long way in exciting the younger generation and inspire them to study science and maths and choose a career with Isro and participate in India's inter planetary missions.
As it is done with various other events marking annivs, commercial houses should think of manufacturing Gagarin T-shirts, caps, cups and balls pens. Efforts should also be made to market Gagarin's famous autobiography, ``The Road To Stars.'' I have been trying to obtain a copy, but have not succeeded. Can anyone suggest how I can get it?
Let us look forward to great Gagarin days ahead.