Yuri's Night slated at Rice

When Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin blasted off April 12, 1961, he launched the era of manned space flight. Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy will commemorate the 50th anniversary on Tuesday, April 12, along with the 30th anniversary of the space shuttle.

The event, titled "Yuri's Night," will begin at 6 p.m. in Baker Hall's Kelly International Conference Facility on the Rice campus, 6100 Main St. 

Yuri's Night 2011 is one of more than 220 events in 48 countries on six continents that will mark the historic date.

Twenty years after Gagarin's historic flight, the United States launched the Columbia Space Shuttle — designed to carry large crews, lift heavy loads into orbit and return under its own power. Former astronaut Steven Hawley, a veteran of five shuttle missions, will speak at the April 12 presentation on "The Engineering, Scientific and Cultural Legacy of the Space Shuttle." Hawley is a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Kansas.

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