Update: The first human spaceflight was Vostok 1 on April 12, 1961. Space Exploration celebrated the 60th anniversary with a series of questions:

Thank you for helping us recognize 60 years of human Space Exploration!

Yuri Gagarin

A request to our readers who also know Russian: We have some questions about the Soviet Union, Russia, and Roscosmos that currently have no answers. Please think about writing an answer!

Original meta question: We are approaching the 60th anniversary of the first human spaceflight on April 12. Do we want to do something for this important milestone in spaceflight?

Last year, I led a series of questions for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 13. There were 14 questions total, 2 per day for each of the mission's 7 days. The effort seemed to be well-received.

If there are no objections, I am willing to do a similar series of questions for the anniversary of Gagarin's flight. Six questions for the 60th anniversary sounds about right; two per day for three days. As I did for Apollo 13, I will compile a list of potential questions, and then pare it down to the most interesting and answerable.

I don't speak or read the Russian language. Nonetheless, I have asked questions about Soviet and Russian space history, to various degrees of success. If any of our Russian-speaking users are willing to participate in this effort, that would be greatly appreciated.

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    $\begingroup$ The previous even went splendidly, I expect this will be very well received as well. The Soviet and Russian programs are very under-represented in this site, this will at least put a small dent in our deficit. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 3:07
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    $\begingroup$ I added a Community Event that links back to here. You should be able to see it on the right-hand side of the SX homepage. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ If we are going to do something like this once a year, 2022 will be the 50th anniversary of Pioneer 10 and the 45th anniversary of the Voyagers. Clearly an outer solar system theme. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 6:23
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    $\begingroup$ Are you aware that this anniversary is commonly known as Yuri's Night in the space community? $\endgroup$
    – kim holder
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ I went to a few (more than a few?) Yuri's Night celebrations at the Outpost Tavern (which no longer exists), @kimholder. That was the dingy astronaut bar, complete with beer-soaked sticky carpeting. There's an ice house on Texas Highway 3 just south of NASA 1, but it doesn't quite match up to the Outpost. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 6:17
  • $\begingroup$ A link for people who don't know about Yuri's Night: yurisnight.net . Unfortunately, Yuri's Night apparently will only be a celebration by remote this year. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 6:27
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    $\begingroup$ Another alternative to the Outpost is what some call Building Zero, but that's an <expletive deleted> fern bar. I've been there once. The flooring should either be sticky carpeting, creaky wood, or dirt. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 6:38
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidHammen agreed, there is no substitute for the Outpost (RIP), certainly not the place you are referring to. A picture from my last visit to the Outpost $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 4:03
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    $\begingroup$ Coincidentally this April 12 will also be the 40th anniversary of the STS-1 launch. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 4:07
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble Nice. The picture makes clear that the Outpost was not an <expletive-deleted> fern bar. While that's a term from the 1980s, the concept unfortunately lives on. It's still possible to get the camaraderie that existed at the Outpost, such as getting together for a keg at the Gilruth, or some Shiners at a Texas ice house. Even Nobi Public House is kinda nice. But not Building Zero. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 4:30
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    $\begingroup$ My preferred name for what some call Building Zero near JSC is "the bar that shall not be named". $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 4:36
  • $\begingroup$ Apparently, one of the questions should be about how Yuri's Night is celebrated in the U.S. At least I know we will have some interesting answers. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 6:10
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    $\begingroup$ I very much appreciate this kind of question series focused around a single topic. I don't know how much work it is to put together, but it makes Space.SE feel "alive". $\endgroup$
    – Polygnome
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 21:03

2 Answers 2


I am also interested in such events, however I do not know how to take part in the same. This reply is also incidental. I clicked on the "upcoming events" and reached this place. Can some one guide me on how to be well conversant with this S.E site?

DrSheldon's reply (too long for comments):

This series is more difficult for me to come up with questions than Apollo 13, because I was already involved in a lot of Apollo questions here. My knowledge of the Vostok program is not as good. I already have a list of 16 questions, but many of them are meh.

The goal is two high-quality questions per day for 3 days; more than this might be perceived by the greater StackExchange community as overwhelming. The questions are asked roughly in order of pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight. I try to balance technical questions with "fun" questions; my hope is that all of the questions are interesting and answerable.

About 1-2 weeks prior to the event, I will create another answer in this meta question, providing the titles of my most promising question candidates. At that point, you can help by any of these ways:

  1. Examine the questions that I post, think about which ones you would be able to write a well-sourced answer, and leave a comment "I can answer question number ___". I want to ensure that the questions which I post for the event actually get answered, so letting me know that a question is answerable will help.

  2. Offer to post your own question for the event. If you believe you have a better question than the ones I will post here, we can reserve one of the 6 slots for your question. Simply leave a comment that you are willing to ask a question.

  3. Some might offer question ideas, that I would post as questions. If you choose this, I will give you credit, but you can't earn reputation like you would writing the question yourself (option #2 above).

  4. When the event comes, write answers.

Thanks for your interest!


Here are my question candidates.

  1. How was the SK-1 spacesuit tested prior to Gagarin's flight? (the Ivan Ivanovich mannequin is at least one potential answer)
  2. What measures did Vostok cosmonauts have to control cabin fires? (question particularly considers the death of Valentin Bondarenko)
  3. What led Yuri Gagarin to believe his hatch was not properly sealed?
  4. How did the pilot lockout on Vostok 1 work?
  5. Where were all of the tracking stations for Vostok 1?
  6. Did Yuri Gagarin really telephone officials in Moscow to come pick him up?
  7. Is the anniversary of Vostok 1 celebrated in the U.S. space community? (known to be answerable)
  8. How did Gagarin's flight affect improvements to the Vostok capsule?

The "best" (most interesting and answerable) 6 will be chosen, 2 per day for 3 days.

Here's how you can help:

  • Help me identify which of these questions can be answered. If you know or find resources to answer one of the above questions, post a comment below that "Question #__ is answerable." This does not obligate you to answer the question, it just helps me narrow down the list to the best questions.

  • If you have a better idea for a question that the ones above, leave a comment below, and I will reserve one of the 6 slots for your question.

  • Alternately, if you have a question idea but would like me to write up the question, post the idea in a comment below. If you choose this, I will give you credit, but you can't earn reputation like you would writing the question yourself.

  • When the questions are finally posted, write answers.

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    $\begingroup$ #6 is answerable, if I understand it correctly. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 8:37
  • $\begingroup$ Answer #5 - "The use of short-wave communications made it possible to receive radio reception on average for 85-95% of the daily time from the territory of the Soviet Union." "During the first flights, up to 12 shortwave radio centers operated in the Vesna system. After conducting a thorough analysis of the effectiveness of using each of them, it was decided to limit itself to six centers" kik-sssr.ru/0.10_-Vesna-_Habarovsk.htm VHF communication was carried out during the flight in the direct radio line of sight of the NIPs(KIK). svengrahn.pp.se/radioind/okik/okik.htm $\endgroup$
    – A. Rumlin
    Commented Apr 12, 2021 at 7:55
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    $\begingroup$ Answer #8 - in particular: communications, telemetry, television were modernized kik-sssr.ru/History-s_KIK_3.htm $\endgroup$
    – A. Rumlin
    Commented Apr 12, 2021 at 7:57

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