Today is First Contact Day, marking only 52 years until Dr. Zefram Cochrane conducts the first successful test flight of a warp drive engine, attracting the attention of a passing Vulcan scout ship and thus engaging humanity in first contact with an alien race.
A week from today marks an equally significant event: the fiftieth anniversary of the first manned space flight, that being Yuri Gagarin's orbit of the planet Earth. At the age of 27 and seven years before his death, Gagarin made history by literally going where no man had gone before, opening a new frontier for countless other brave men and women to explore.
The anniversary of that occasion is known as Yuri's Night, and to commemorate the fiftieth such celebration, this year's Yuri's Night will see the debut of a documentary dedicated to Gagarin's accomplishment. Dubbed First Orbit, the film will be shown on April 12th for free online as well as at over 220 parties hosted across the globe. It's a day- and night-long celebration of a 108-minute flight that changed history.
For a moving documentary that captures many of NASA's accomplishments after Gagarin's precedent, I highly recommend In the Shadow of the Moon. This film and those like it capture a rare and exciting era in exploration that those alive today may not ever see again.