News / USA

Chicago's Adler Planetarium Honors Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin

Kane Farabaugh

Chicago’s Adler Planetarium was the first one built in the United States, in 1930.  Since it opened, it has helped visitors understand the marvels of astronomy.  It has mounted celebratory exhibits about historic U.S. accomplishments in space, spotlighting the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo NASA missions and their astronauts.  But, as the museum prepares for a major expansion, it is also celebrating the accomplishments of other nations' space-faring achievements, overlooked during the Cold War.

Though it was almost 50 years ago, cosmonaut Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu remembers April 12, 1961 well.  He was eight years old at the time, living in the Romanian city of Brasov.

“I was in the house together with my sister and mother listening to the radio, and the radio stopped and very important news was translated about the flight of the first human into outer space,” he said.

That human was Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.  His voyage into space was a monumental achievement, celebrated throughout the Soviet Union.

“Yuri Gagarin showed us how to break frontiers, the frontier of the atmosphere,” Prunariu said.

Twenty years later, in May 1981, Prunariu himself blasted into space on a Soviet-built Soyuz rocket.  He was Romania’s first and still only cosmonaut.  Prunariu credits Gagarin with charting his own path into space.

“Yuri Gagarin’s a symbol, and we celebrate this symbol of the possibility of a human being to fly above the atmosphere of the Earth,” he said.

“We seem to forget that Gagarin’s flight in 1961 was so important,” said James Andrews, Professor of Russian History at Iowa State University.  He says Gagarin’s accomplishment, just over three years after the Soviets launched the first satellite - Sputnik - into space, was greeted with shock in the United States.  It was later overshadowed by dramatic U.S. strides in space exploration.  

“There was this monumental event that happened after Sputnik and I think we need to remember how important that was and how heroic,” Andrews said.

“We really haven’t broadened the view to look at what other nations, particularly the Soviet Union, were doing at the time," said Adler Planetarium President Paul Knappenberger.  "But that’s something we’re working on now.”

At a ceremony in Chicago, Knappenberger was joined by Cosmonaut Prunariu as the Adler Planetarium's first recognition of Yuri Gagarin’s triumph was unveiled.

A bust of Gagarin, donated by the city of Moscow to the city of Chicago, honors the Russian cosmonaut and first human in space 50 years after his accomplishment.  It will have a permanent home next to exhibits that - up until now - have mostly honored American achievements in space.

Knappenberger says it is a sign of things to come.

“We’re planning to expand the Adler in the near future with a new building adjacent to this one that will have a space exploration theme where we will celebrate not only the past accomplishments of the Soviet Union and America but also what’s going on right now on the international scene and with the private sector getting involved in space exploration,” he said.

Cosmonaut Prunariu, who is now the chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Space, says honoring both past Soviet and American accomplishments helps chart a future path to the stars.

“This is not the last frontier.  Other frontiers will be Mars, will be the solar system, will be other planetary systems," he said. "And for sure, we have to promote the idea that progress is promoted through such human adventures.”

The Adler Planetarium was not selected to receive one of the newly retired NASA space shuttles.  It will receive the astronaut space flight simulator currently located at Johnson Space Center in Houston.  It will be a centerpiece exhibit of the $40 million expansion effort to turn the Adler Planetarium into Chicago’s Space Science Center.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs