SMOLENSK, March 09, 22:20 /ITAR-TASS/. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, would have turned 80 on March 9. The 80th anniversary of the legendary cosmonaut’s birth was marked by full-scale celebrations in his native village of Klushino and the town of Gagarin in Russia’s Smolensk region.
The jubilee festivities were attended by pilot-cosmonaut Alexei Leonov; Oleg Ostapenko, the head of the Russian Space Agency (Rosaviakosmos); People’s Artist of the USSR Joseph Kobzon and Governor of Smolensk region Alexei Ostrovsky as well as ten technicians who made Gagarin’s flight possible on April 12, 1961, delegations from 20 Russian regions and guests from Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Thomas Stafford, the former NASA astronaut, who was a test pilot in April 1961, remembers Gagarin’s flight very well. He describes it as a historical flight and a milestone event in the history of mankind that opened the door to further space exploration. In an interview with Itar-Tass, Stafford said that many space programmes, including the International Space Station project in which many countries were taking part, would have been impossible without Gagarin’s flight.
Yuri Gagarin “opened the way into outer space and made the first steps on a path leading to stars for all humanity,” Germany’s first cosmonaut Sigmund Jen told Itar-Tass on Sunday on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s birth.
He said that for him and several generations around the globe, Yuri Gagarin’s flight became a symbol of humanity’s technological and cultural progress.
“His flight also united people in their search for the common good, desire to reach harmony, progress and peace and preserve life on Earth and in the entire Universe,” Sigmund Yen emphasized.