Yuri's Night is an international celebration held on April 12 every year to commemorate the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961, and the first Space Shuttle launch on April 12, 1981. In 2013, people celebrate together on April 4th - 12th in 261 individual events and 51 countries around the world. Locations will include Los Angeles, Stockholm, Antarctica, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Houston and the International Space Station.
On April 12th, 1961, Yuri Gagarin blasted off from the launch pad in Baikonur at 9:08 AM local time to become the first human being in space. Gagarin made his historic 108-minute flight (orbiting around the whole Earth once) and parachute-landed near his Vostok 1 capsule in the plains of Russia. At only 27 years old, Yuri became an international hero.
Exactly twenty years later, on April 12th, 1981, the United States embarked on a new era in spaceflight with the inaugural launch of a new type of spaceship: the Space Shuttle. Designed to carry a larger crew and large volumes of cargo to orbit, the Space Shuttles became synonymous with human spaceflight for an entirely new generation of young people.
Twenty years after that, on April 12th, 2001, young people all across the world gathered for the first time to celebrate these historic achievements and get ready to lead space exploration into the 21st century.