Space Conference removes name of first cosmonaut because he was Russian

The first person to ever reach space has had his name removed from an event held by a US-based nonprofit simply because he was Russian.

Space Foundation removed Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s name ”in light of current world events.” It changed the name of a fundraiser at its Space Symposium conference from “Yuri’s Night” to “A Celebration of Space: Discover What’s Next.”

The fundraiser honors the wonders of space and this year is also the organization’s tenth anniversary. Astronaut meet-and-greets, a drone obstacle course, and a silent auction are all scheduled as part of the program.

According to Futurism, who first broke the story, “It’s a rather dubious show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, especially considering that Gagarin worked for the USSR, a completely different country from modern day Russia. And the icing on the cake? Ukraine actually appears to be rather fond of Gagarin and his monumental achievement.”

On April 12, 1961, Gagarin launched into space as a Soviet cosmonaut. In 108 minutes, he orbited Earth once and landed in the Soviet Union. 

He was conferred the Order of Lenin and the titles of Hero of the Soviet Union and Pilot Cosmonaut of the Soviet Union after his space journey.

The decision to rename the fundraiser comes in the wake of a slew of new global sanctions levied against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Many brands have abandoned Russia, and Western countries have withdrawn Russia-made or branded products from their shelves.

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