First Orbit: 50 Years Of Manned Spaceflight
By James Grahame
April 12th, 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's orbit of earth. He was only 27 years old, and his epic journey lasted a mere 108 minutes.
To mark the occasion, British filmmaker Chris Riley worked with Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli to shoot a film from the ISS. They determined that the ISS takes roughly the same orbit as Gagarin's flight every week or so. However, when one takes the time of day into account, it matches only once every six weeks.
The result is a 108 minute film that unfolds in real time. It traces Yuri's flight as accurately as possible, including a 40 minute stretch of near darkness over the Pacific. NASA provided some additional footage, including a moonrise -- something that Gagarin didn't have the opportunity to witness on his own journey.
As he recounted afterwards, ""I could have gone on flying through space forever." He never got the chance to experience weightlessness again, perishing in an aircraft accident at the age of 37.
The film will be available for free viewing on YouTube, starting on April 12th.