50 years ago Yuri Gagarin became the first human to fly in space, representing the Soviet Union, not the United States. Gagarin's was the first flight in the space race, which ended when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon eight years later.
A Pasadena woman co-organized a global party for the first human in space.
The Yuri's Night party was Tuesday at the Griffith Observatory and other locations around the world.The global party -- about 470 events in more than 70 countries -- celebrates cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's 1961 launch.
The event was organized by Loretta Whitesides, who came up with the idea in 1999 -- long after the end of the Cold War. Whitesides studied astrobiology at Stanford and Caltech.
The inspiration for Yuri's Night developed at a Vienna conference on the peaceful use of space.
Gagarin was launched into space on April 12, 1961. Less than a month later, Alan Shepard became the first American in space.
A curator will discuss space history and the launch at the Griffith Observatory. Whiteside's husband, the chief exec of Virgin Galactic and Yuri's Night co-founder, also plans to speak.
Are you celebrating Yuri's Night? Share your plans-- and your space launch reminisces -- in the comments.