UAE tribute to Yuri Gagarin’s historic space flight with Burj Khalifa display

The UAE Space Agency commemorated the 60th anniversary of the first human space flight by projecting an animated content clip and iconic image of Yuri Gagarin – the Soviet cosmonaut – onto the façade of the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai on April 12, 2021.

A Soviet Air Force jet fighter pilot, Gagarin was the first human to blast off into space when he launched from the Baikononur cosmodrome on April 12, 1961, orbiting Earth once – alone – in his Vostok 1 capsule before returning safely to Earth, landing in southeastern Russia.


Gagarin pronounced his famous “Poyekhali!” (Let’s Go!) as his Vostok 1 space capsule lifted off the ground.

Gagarin’s space flight was a triumph for the Soviet space programme and he became a national hero of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, as well as a global celebrity.

Gagarin’s inaugural space flight also marked the beginning of the space era for humankind.

Since 2011 the United Nations celebrates April 12 every year as the International Day of Human Space Flight, while Russia commemorates the day as Cosmonauts Day.

The night-time animated LED projection of Gagarin’s remarkable and historic space feat on the world’s tallest tower featured Arabic and English content and a still image of Gagarin in his space helmet and orange spacesuit.

Posting on its official Twitter account on April 12, 2021, @uaegov (UAE Government Media Office) tweeted in Arabic: ‘The UAE Space Agency celebrates the 60th anniversary of the first human space flight into space on the façade of the Burj Khalifa @uaespaceagency.’

Video animation

The @uaegov Twitter post included a brief animated clip of the Burj Khalifa display commemorating the first human space flight dedication involving Yuri Gagarin.

Commenting on Gagarin’s and the then Soviet Union’s momentous human space flight achievement, Russia’s Consul General in Dubai Oleg Fomin, told TASS: “Yuri Gagarin’s flight marked a new era in space conquest. There is not a country in the world where the name of our celebrated cosmonaut would not be known.

“We are very happy that the UAE Space Agency supported the initiative of the Russian side to shine light on the 60th anniversary of the first human space flight in such a beautiful and original way,” Fomin added.

Yuri Gagarin
Russia celebrates April 12 every year as Cosmonauts Day, in tribute to Yuri Gagarin. Credit: Roscosmos

Anatoly Krasnikov, Roscosmos representative in the Arabian Gulf, said: “We are very grateful to our Arab partners for this great event, for blessed memory of the heroic feat of our illustrious compatriot and for considerate treatment of his feat.


“It is a clear mark for us that the UAE is seriously committed to bilateral and mutually beneficial cooperation [in space exploration],” Krasnikov told TASS.

The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/65/271 of April 7, 2011, declared April 12 as the International Day of Human Space Flight “to celebrate each year at the international level the beginning of the space era for mankind, reaffirming the important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals and increasing the well-being of States and peoples, as well as ensuring the realisation of their aspiration to maintain outer space for peaceful purposes.

“April 12, 1961 was the date of the first human space flight, carried out by Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet citizen. This historic event opened the way for space exploration for the benefit of all humanity,” said the UN.

500 reach space

Over the past 60 years, more than 500 people have visited Earth’s orbit, but Gagarin will always be astronaut No. 1.

Opened in 2010 in Downtown Dubai, the Burj Khalifa is 828 metres tall.

On April 12, 2021, the International Day of Human Space Flight, Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) announced the name of Nora Al Matrooshi as the first Emirati and Arab female astronaut, while the name of Mohammed Al Mulla was also revealed.

UAE Astronaut Programme

Both Al Matrooshi and Al Mulla constitute the second batch of the UAE Astronaut Programme.

The UAE has a vibrant State funded space exploration programme that currently involves the Gulf country’s Hope probe orbiting Mars, along with operation of Earth observation satellites.

The UAE plans to send the MBRSC’s Rashid rover to the lunar surface in 2022 on an ispace lunar lander, carried from Earth on a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

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