Celebrating man’s first flight in space

The 50th anniversary of man’s first space flight is to be marked with a series of events at the University.

Activities including an exhibition, film screenings and a public talk will draw upon the relationship between Russian literature and space exploration, and the inspiration each has had on the other.

Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, was a fan of the work of popular Russian poet Sergei Esenin.

Gagarin recited Esenin’s work while in orbit.

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Tickets for the exhibition preview and talk by Brian Harvey are free.

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Rare documents

Gagarin made the first human space flight in a 108-minute orbit in the Vostok 1 spacecraft on 12 April 1961.

Documents relating to the cosmonaut’s historic flight form the heart of an exhibition, which is curated by the Director of Moscow’s Esenin museum.

Items on display include a book of poetry by Esenin which belonged to Gagarin and carries the cosmonaut’s handwritten inscriptions.

Also on show are photographs and documents linked to Gagarin’s career, and publications and promotional posters relating to his first flight in space.

Rare documents from the Esenin museum will be on show, including the manuscript of Esenin's last poem, written in blood.

Photos of the poet and books published during his lifetime will also be on display.

Poets have been stargazers since the earliest times. In many ways space exploration has been inspired by artists writing about the mysteries of space.

Lara Ryazanova-ClarkeDirector, Princess Dashkova Russian Centre

Space programme

The exhibition, entitled ‘Come, Russia, Spread your wings!’, will be previewed with a public talk by Brian Harvey, a writer and broadcaster with a special interest in Russian space exploration.

Mr Harvey will discuss the history and future of the Russian Space Programme at the Playfair Library at 5.15pm on 29 September.

Event details

Come, Russia, spread your wings! exhibition preview

Thursday 29 September 2011, 5.15pm

Thursday 29 September 2011, 8.00pm

Playfair Library, Old College

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Movie screening

Also taking place is a screening of two films: First Orbit, a new documentary by Christopher Riley featuring a computer simulation of Gagarin’s flight into space; and Defying Gravity, a 2005 Russian documentary about the history of space exploration.

The films are being screened back-to-back from 3pm on Wednesday 28 September at the Conference Room, Princess Dashkova Russian Centre, 14 Buccleuch Street. Entry is free.

Links with Russia

The University of Edinburgh has long-established ties with Russia and hosts the UK’s first academic Russian Centre, the Princess Dashkova Russian Centre.

It is the first UK institution to host the Gagarin exhibition in its world tour.

Come, Russia, Spread your wings! takes place during the UK-Russia Year of Space 2011.

The event is supported by the Russian government’s Russky Mir Foundation.

Gagarin was very moved by Esenin’s poetry, and six days after landing back on Earth, he inscribed his book of Esenin’s works. Both were kindred spirits with similar personalities – both were very spirited.”

Svetlana ShetrakovaDirector of Moscow State Esenin Museum, exhibition curator
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