April 12th 2011 marks 50 years after Russia put the first man – Yuri Gagarin – into space. To celebrate this momentous moment of human history, Skyscanner blasts off into orbit and rounds up the best space attractions on terra firma – and beyond.
Yuri’s Night Space Parties – all over the world
From Australia to Afghanistan there will be space parties celebrating Yuri’s achievement with a mixture of music, food, talks and film depending on the party. Try Kosmica at The Arts Catalyst in London for space themed live music and screenings, or join the Yuri walk in South Bank which will cover the ‘Three Orbits of the South Bank’. There are more than 440 events in 70 countries taking place in 6 continents and – according to the website – on 2 worlds! For a full list of Yuri’s parties see: YurisNight.net.
Space Flights – Virgin Galactic
If you really want to experience space travel for real, and you’ve got the bank balance to back it up, then reserve your seat with Virgin Galactic. Tickets cost a hefty $200,000, but budding astronauts will get to sample zero-g in space as well as two days of pre-flight preparation at Spaceport America in New Mexico, plus membership to the world’s most exclusive flying club.
Star City, Moscow Oblast, Russia
Home to the Yuri Gargarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, this was a place of legendary status amongst the space racing community. A certain secrecy still lies over Star City; it is not marked on any map and is a closed ‘military townlet’. However, there are now plans to turn the complex into a tourist attraction by adding ‘futuristic hotels, a business centre and entertainment venues’ according to The Telegraph, and lucky visitors will be able to see various spacecraft from Russia’s spacefaring history.
Copenhagen Suborbitals – budget space travel
In a bid to make space travel more affordable, Danish non-profit organisation Copenhagen Suborbitals has been working on their own mission to launch a human being into space. Working with comparatively tiny budgets, the group have already designed built and launched a series of prototype rockets and are getting closer to their goal of launching a human into space. Space travel enthusiasts can learn more at CopenhagenSuborbitals.com.
Smithsonian, National air and space museum, Washington D.C, USA
Holding the world’s largest collection of historic air and spacecraft in the world, space boffins can enjoy thousands of artefacts from orbit including the Apollo 11 command module Columbia, and Lunar rock samples that visitors can touch.
Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, USA
Get up close and personal to NASA’s launch and landing facilities where you’ll be able to experience what it would be like to strap in and blast off into orbit with the shuttle launch simulator. Visitors can even get the chance to chat to a veteran shuttle astronaut, whilst rocket fans can visit the ‘Rocket Garden’, a collection of NASA’s rockets brought to life with dramatic lighting effects.