National Astronaut Day
Today, the 5th of May, is National Astronaut Day (in America), so I thought for my blog this week I would give a little overview on the day and its history.
National Astronaut Day celebrates the first American astronaut in space. This is in contrast to the International Day of Human Spaceflight, April 12th, which celebrates the first human trip to space, made by Yuri Gagarin.
On May 5th, 1961, Alan Shepard used the Freedom 7 capsule to make the first American human spaceflight. His flight in space was 15 minutes long and he was at a height of 116 miles into the atmosphere.
National Astronaut Day, while commemorating the day of human spaceflight, is actually about celebrating astronauts themselves as well as the ideals and beliefs that go into being an astronaut. Specifically, the official website for National Astronaut day says that the point is to celebrate "heroic bravery" and "adventurous spirit." The site goes on to connect these characteristics to everyday life for most people. I think there is something to be said for everyday life requiring a little bit of bravery and spirit.
This year is the 60th anniversary of human spaceflight and there is a commemorative badge shown here:
National Astronaut Day was actually only started in 2016 by the uniphi Space Agency, and was intended to try and inspire young people to "reach for the stars" and follow their dreams, much like astronauts must.
As an interesting side note, the uniphi Space Agency helps to set up astronaut speaking engagements to spread their knowledge and inspire children, so look into that if you want to hear from some astronauts!
How do I celebrate National Astronaut Day?
This depends on who you ask. According to the National Day Calendar website, you have a couple options. They suggest reading a couple biographies of astronauts and posting about astronauts on social media. The official website for National Astronaut Day also advocates posting on social media to bring attention to astronauts and celebrate them. However, I really like the playlist that the official site has as well. It contains a bunch of space-related songs, including the introductory theme song for the Star Trek: Enterprise show, which was one of my favorites as a kid (and maybe now).
Personally, I think I'll plan to kick back, have a good drink, and watch a bunch of rocket launches and clips from space missions, just to put me in the mood and remind me of what astronauts dare to do.
While I think most people would say that we can learn many things from astronauts, I think for me, one of the biggest takeaways is how brave and persistent they must be. Astronauts regularly do things that risk their lives and they had to work for years to reach a point where they could be chosen to do so. I'm going to try to think about those qualities today, every May 5th, and just going forward in my life, and try to be inspired by the amazing people who dare to be astronauts. I'm also leaving you all with a lovely rocket launch video to get your celebration started.
Here are links for the National Day Calendar and the official National Astronaut Day site, where I found most of my information. Check them out! Especially the official site, it has a lot of cool astronaut information and great ways to celebrate them.
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