On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin pronounced his famous “Poyekhali!” (Let’s Go!) as the Vostok spacecraft lifted off the ground, taking the first person ever to space. April 12 is celebrated every year in Russia as Cosmonautics Day, and as International Day of Human Space Flight in the rest of the world.
The US State Department made no mention at all of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, in its Facebook statement released on the occasion of International Day of Human Space Flight on Monday and posted pictures of US astronauts instead.
The head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, took to Twitter to slam the Monday release of the State Department, posting, “superpowers don’t act this way.”
The Russian Embassy in Washington also said on Facebook commenting on the State Department’s failure to mention Gagarin on the 60th anniversary of his flight that the department was distorting the memory of the first human in space.
“Regrettably, the US State Department has again demonstrated memory loss regarding the history of space exploration. We wish to remind that the UN General Assembly declared April 12 the International Day of Human Space Flight in memory of the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin,” the embassy said.
It reminded that just days ago, on April 9, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei went to the International Space Station (ISS) on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft named after Yuri Gagarin.
“Our forgetful colleagues can find the bust of the space pioneer at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, Sculptures of Yuri Gagarin also were erected in Cleveland, Colorado Springs, New York City, Houston and Chicago. Thousands of Americans, including astronauts and NASA personnel, visit these sites every year to honor the memory of the Soviet cosmonaut,” the embassy said.
The UN General Assembly declared April 12, the day of Gagarin’s space flight, as the International Day of Human Space Flight in 2011.
US-based Space Foundation CEO Tom Zelibor told Sputnik on Monday that legendary Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering space flight 60 years ago was life-changing for every nation on the planet. According to Zelibor, many people in the United States are unaware either of the achievements of the Russian space program or the risks of Gagarin’s space flight, and that the Soviet cosmonaut’s story should be told better in the US.