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First Orbit

Posted by Andrew at 5:09 PM on April 14, 2011

Continuing the celebration of Yuri Gagarin’s orbit of the Earth in Vostok 1 back in 1961, First Orbit is a documentary film that joins archive footage of the event with modern shots taken from the International Space Station (ISS). The filmmaker, Christopher Riley, collaborated with the European Space Agency to see if it would be possible to film the same view across the planet that Gagarin saw out of the window of his tiny spacecraft. As you might guess, it was possible, and by filming at particular time on a particular orbit, astronaut Paolo Nespoli captured a re-creation of that historic flight.

The film unfolds in real-time and includes Gagarin’s original communications with ground control, call sign Dawn. Fortunately there are English subtitles if your Russian is a bit rusty. There’s a stirring soundtrack by Philip Sheppard and it’s really quite mesmerising to watch. You almost forget that it happened 50 years ago and the real-time nature of it makes it feel that it’s unfolding as you watch.

The film is available on YouTube (below) but you can also freely download it in a variety of sizes. I’d recommend downloading the 1.9 GB hi-def version, and putting on the big TV. Set aside 108 minutes and become Yuri.

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