First Orbit – 12th April 1961

This is a re-creation of Gagarin’s flight. The orbit was NE across Siberia, down SE across the Pacific missing the Americas, around the foot of Chile and then up across the Atlantic crossing the Africa coast at The Congo and then across Egypt, the Nile, the Red Sea, then onwards over the Caucuses and finally to descend by parachute.
The film was made from the International Space Station by the European Space Agency members. The orbit of the ISS does not follow Gagarin’s so that there were many ISS’s orbits necessary to cover different segments to complete the film. The orbits are defined in six axis and whenever a spacecraft joins or leaves, the orbit of the ISS is deflected and consequently the filming sequence had to be re-scripted to conform to the new orbit – very time consuming and irritating.
Over the Pacific the flight was in the dark and as there are no cities there no points of light in the darkness. This sequence should be viewed with the room lights off because they use a thermal imaging camera which shows some detail including the lightening flashes from the different thunderstorms. The night rolls in like a fog bank rather than a straight line and the dawn appears with a thin red smear followed by the sky being washed in blue.
An inspirational film well worth watching for its entire 1 hr 40 mins: film recreating Gagarin’s flight.
A recording of the seminar given at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) on 12th April 2011 by the producer of the film, together with some space scientists is very interesting and provides background information on the development of the film: recording of the IET seminar.
(News item by John Wilkins)
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