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Speaker Stephen Walker
Date Friday 23 April 2021, 7pm BST
On 12 April 1961 Yuri Gagarin, a 27-year-old Russian ex-foundry worker and father of two, climbed inside a tiny spherical capsule and blasted into the skies on top of the Soviet Union’s most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile.
Eleven minutes later he was in orbit, circling the globe 10 times faster than a rifle bullet, the first human to leave our planet and journey into the unknown realm of space.
Join Stephen Walker, documentary director and author of Beyond, an exhilarating new book on this dramatic chapter of humanity’s greatest adventure, as he tells the gripping tale of the race between the superpowers to put the first person in space on its 60th anniversary.
In conversation with BBC Sky at Night Magazine Editor Chris Bramley, our speaker will give a unique insight into why Gagarin was selected to be the first human to leave our planet, drawn from extensive original research and vivid interviews with people who knew him.
He will also unpack the contrasting approaches to the space programmes in the USSR and the USA, which played out against the backdrop of political confrontation in the depths of the Cold War.
Illustrated with rare archive images of Gagarin’s 1961 flight to space, its lead-up and reception, the talk will give a unique insight into the cosmonauts, scientists and engineers who put the first person in space, and pushed humanity further out to the stars.
As always, you’ll be able to submit your questions throughout the talk, to be answered live in the second part of the presentation.