Yuri Gagarin Google Doodle
On April 12th 2011, the Google doodle team celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight with a Yuri Gagarin Google Doodle. The flight occurred on April 12th 1961 and the cosmonaut who manned the space craft was the Russian Yuri Gagarin. In the Yuri Gagarin Google Doodle the search engine’s iconic logo was written in an angular font with Cyrillic connotations. The two “Os” of the Google logo were replaced, the first of which was replaced by the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin wearing an old fashioned space suit. The second “O” was replaced by a red planet on which a rocket appeared. The rocket had a remarkable resemblance to a Vostok 3KA, the spacecraft which Gagarin piloted. When users moved their cursor over the Yuri Gagarin Google Doodle the rocket took off exiting from the doodle.
The doodle, which appeared globally, was accompanied by a blog, both the blog and the doodle can still be viewed by clicking here. Users who clicked on the doodle were redirected to a Google search for Yuri Gagarin, the top result for which was the Wikipedia page dedicated to Gagarin.
Gagarin’s successful space flight made him a national hero in his native Russia, then the Soviet Union. His status was in part attributed to the fact that his achievement meant that the Russian’s beat the American’s in the second stage of the space race. Gagarin’s space flight came four years after the Soviet Union had amazed the world by placing the first satellite, Sputnik, into space.
It was not only Google who celebrated the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s space conquest, Russia also acknowledged the anniversary of their countryman and cosmonaut. The Russian celebration was much grander than the Yuri Gagarin Google Doodle, the face of Gagarin was painted onto the side of the Soyuz rocket which took the final three residents of the International Space Station into space to live aboard the station on April the 12th 2011.
The Russian celebrations did not end there, a 50 gun salute was held in Moscow and a party was hosted in his honour at the Kremlin. Our planetary celebrations were accompanied by an extra-terrestrial celebration which was held on the International Space Station, the party was attended by three Russian astronauts, two American astronauts and one Italian astronaut.
The child who was to become the first man in space was born on March 9th 1934. He was born in the village of Klushino, near to the town of Gzhatsk, which was renamed Gagarin in 1968. Like many of the inhabitants of the Soviet Union, Yuri Gagarin suffered at the hands of the Nazi’s under their occupation during the Second World War. The Nazi’s invaded Klushino during November 1941 as part of the German advance on Moscow. During the Nazi occupation of Klushino a German officer commandeered the Gagarin family home. Following their eviction, the Gagarin family were allowed to build a small mud hut on the land situated behind the residence. The family spent a year and nine months living within the hut, until the German’s withdrew from the village and occupation ended.
In 1955 following his graduation from technical school the Soviet Army drafted the young Gagarin. Following this, he joined the Soviet Air Force and was sent to a pilot school, where he soloed a Mig-15 for the first time in 1957.
Yuri was one of twenty pilots selected for the Soviet space program. Due to his high performance in the experiments designed to test the candidate’s mental and physical abilities, he was selected to become Russia’s first cosmonaut. Gagarin also came first in a poll among his fellow candidates when they were asked to name the candidate which they would like to see fly.
Following his journey into space, Gagarin wrote of the experience, “The feeling of weightlessness was somewhat unfamiliar compared with Earth conditions. Here, you feel as if you were hanging in a horizontal position in straps. You feel as if you are suspended.”
Gagarin died aged just thirty, his death occurred on March 27th 1964 and occurred during a routine training flight. The flight took off from the Chkalovsky Air Base and Gagarin was accompanied by his flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin. They both died in the Mig-15UTI when it crashed near the town of Kirzhach. Following their deaths, both of the bodies were cremated, their ashes were then buried together in the walls of the Kremlin at the Red Square in Moscow.
Over the years the cause of the crash has been uncertain and as a result the topic of much controversy. The most plausible account came from the KGB report which was declassified during March 2003. The findings of the KGB report attributed the crash to failures on the part of airbase controllers. This is due to the fact the base’s air traffic controller provided Gagarin with incorrect information regarding the weather. Due to this by the time of Gagarin’s final flight the weather had deteriorated massively. Further failures by the airbase personal observed by the KGB report were the fact that during the flight the airbase personal had left external fuel tanks attached to the aircraft.
The report damned the airbase staff as they were aware that the activities which Gagarin planned required clear weather and for no external fuel tanks to be placed on the aircraft. As a result of this negligence, when the aircraft entered a spin the pilots were unable to bring the aircraft out of it, as they believed that their altitude was much higher than it actually was.
The cause of the spin was attributed to an unauthorized Su-15 which was flying in the area. This cause was put forward in June 2013 by Alexey Leonov in a televised interview. He explained that the spin occurred when “the aircraft reduced its echelon at a distance of 10–15 meters in the clouds, passing close to Gagarin, turning his plane and thus sending it into a tailspin – a deep spiral, to be precise – at a speed of 750 kilometres per hour.” The condition of Leonov being able to reveal the truth of the event was that he was not to name the pilot of the Su-15.
This is not the first time that the Google homepage has celebrated one of the twentieth century’s major landmarks. The search engine has also celebrated, with a dedicated doodle, the Roswell 66th anniversary, the 100th anniversary of the first aviation “loop the loop” and the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jnr’s “I Have A Dream” speech.