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

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid