Magellan of the Universe “. “Columbus of space”. With nicknames like this it is obvious that the Day of Cosmonautics or the launch pad in Kazakhstan are dedicated to him on 12 April, from which Samantha Cristoforetti, Paolo Nespoli and Luca Parmitano also flew to the stars. Because he, Jurij Gagarin, from the ramp that today bears his name, on April 12 sixty years ago became the first to cross the atmosphere to orbit the Earth, the first cosmonaut to demonstrate how true the motto of the “father of space flights ”, Kostantin Ciolkovskij:“ The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live forever in a cradle ”.
Equally little surprise arouse the celebratory works, from the statues – the most beautiful in Moscow, in the square named after him – to the museums, including his accommodation at the cosmodrome, left as it was then and can be visited, to films like “Gagarin. First in space ”directed by Pavel Parkhomenko in 2013, an elegy rather than a biographical story. On the other hand, what is surprising, that is, to demonstrate how much the National Hero of the Soviet Union has survived it to become the heritage of the whole of humanity, is the amount of comics, TV series and even video games with Jurij Gagarin inside. These are all proofs of how, decades after its only orbital flight, the cosmic Magellan remains “the greatest hero in history”, in the words of biographer Lev Danilkin, or at least the only Soviet response “up to Neil Armstrong and Luke Skywalker. ”That Danilkin summons the Jedi Knight from“ Star Wars ”is significant. Because this was the first cosmonaut: a mythical figure, of which no label could translate “the tide of admiration” that overwhelmed her after returning from space
April 12, 1961
That April 12, 1961, Gagarin took off as a lieutenant and landed a hero, was not only demonstrated by the highest honor, Hero of the USSR, given a few days later by Nikita Khrushchev himself. Today, the imagination that its name evokes and the growing number of signs impressed in popular culture testify to this. In fact, although all his records were wiped out in a few weeks, Gagarin became “the angel who allowed humanity to live a fantastic moment, in which everyone suddenly began to think not about money, sex or to a career, but to the stars as a possible paradise. ”In other words, for sixty years Gagarin has been a symbol, the personification of the dream of going beyond the boundaries of humanity. Confirmations abound: “institutional” homages flank posters and T-shirts with the famous exclamation of departure, “Poyekhali” (let’s go). The comics flaunt a biographical approach, such as the English “Yuri’s Day: the Road to the Stars”, by Andrew King, Pears Bizony and Peter Hodkinson, or deeper reflections, as in the Italian “From up here the Earth is beautiful” by Toni Bruno.
Cinema and tv
There is also a film, “Hotel Gagarin” by Simone Spada, which apart from the title has nothing to do with the cosmonaut, yet another clue to how much his name has influenced the imagination. So, looking for him, Gagarin is also there where you do not expect: it is the emblem of enemy excellence in the series “The Right Sfuff – Real Men”, on Disney +, the faithful story, taken from the book “The right stuff” by Tom Wolfe, of the beginnings of the American adventure beyond the cosmos. It is invisible, only evoked but equally powerful, in the dystopian “For All Mankind”, the series produced by Apple TV that imagines what the world would be like if the Soviet Union first landed on the moon
. It is completely unexpected, but for this reason even more significant, within the digital universe of “Elite: Dangerous”, one of the most exciting space simulators available on PCs and game consoles, in which it is possible to dock at the “Gagarin Gate” to do full of resources and new goals. In the space reproduced by the procedural architecture of “Elite” it is not uncommon to find non-player characters or even real players whose “gamer tags” evoke the first cosmonaut or the legacy of the Soviet space program, between a “Station Tsiolkovsky Ring” and the “Station Korolev”, named after the equally legendary Chief Designer of the extraterrestrial activities of the USSR. Even more significant is that, in 2016, the first cosmonaut was one of the characters to “hunt” with an augmented reality app, on the false line of “Pokémon Go”, used by the Discover Moscow site to encourage tourism.