Feeling down about spaceflight? Lift your spirits with Yuri's Night
By Alan Boyle
Yuri's Night has been celebrating space odysseys since 2001, on the 40th anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's history-making launch into orbit — but it's much more challenging to find cause for celebration this year.For a schedule of events, see the Yuri's Night website.*
First of all, it's been just a year since the huge golden anniversary of the first human spaceflight, in 2011. To mark the occasion, Yuri's Night put on more than 600 events in 75 countries, and that's a hard act for anyone to follow. Perhaps more importantly, this year marks the first Yuri's Night since NASA retired the space shuttle fleet. For the next few years, there's no way to launch astronauts from U.S. soil.
"With the shuttle era coming to an end, there's going to be a lot of nostalgia this year," Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto, director of marketing for Yuri's Night 2012, told me this week. "It's going to be an interesting time to see how people bridge the gap."
*Originally posted as the lead story in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Yuri's Night 2012 edition) on Daily Kos.