(Joshua Paladino, Headline USA) The Space Foundation canceled Yuri Gagarin, the first man officially to leave the earth’s atmosphere and orbit the globe, because he was an ethnic Russian and a citizen of the USSR.
The American non-profit organization, which promotes space exploration with awards and educational activities, changed the name of “Yuri’s Night”—an annual celebration on April 12—to “A Celebration of Space: Discover What’s Next,” reported National File.
The lastest display of woke cancel-culture comes amid an alarming pattern of anti-Russian bigotry over the country’s conflict with Ukraine.
Absolutely appalling the way Russians are being treated in America and abroad. That our leaders and government institutions are allowing for—and at times calling for this discrimination following their global “black lives matter” hysteria is quite telling.
Russian lives matter.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) March 9, 2022
The Space Foundation said in a press release that the celebration will still “highlight Yuri’s flight” and other space milestones, but “a number of negative posts about Russia” led the group to drop the name.
“Nothing can erase the facts and history of Yuri Gagarin’s accomplishment as the first of humanity to go to space which Space Foundation has long recognized and celebrated throughout our organization’s history,” the group said.
To some extent, though, the disappearing of Gagarin for political reasons bore eerie paralells to the fate suffered by many of his fellow cosmonauts under the Stalin regime.
Those who proved to be problematic for the program during the Cold-War-era space race were oftentimes removed from official records and photographs, according to Wired.
That has fueled theories that some may have perished along the way, with intercepted recordings even hinting that a few of Gagarin’s forgotten predecessors made it into space, never to return.
Gagarin launched into outer space in the Vostok 1 spaceship on April 12, 1961. He died seven years later when his MiG-15, a conventional aircraft, crashed due to unknown causes.
The Space Foundation will also celebrate the Space Shuttle, the new Sally Ride Quarter, and the Webb Space Telescope, while looking forward to new achievements in space exploration.
“The focus of this fundraising event remains the same — to celebrate human achievements in space while inspiring the next generation to reach for the stars,” the group said in a since-deleted press release that sparked public outcry.
Gagarin received several awards in his lifetime and became a national hero in Russia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet states. He was named a “Hero of the Soviet Union” and a “Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR” and inducted into the “Order of Lenin.”