Several students crowded around a table in the Howe Hall atrium to participate in a game devised by the ISU Space Society. The club hosted a celebration known as “Yuri’s Night” on March 29, 2013, in honor of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.
Students huddled in small groups, discussing how they should design their rockets. Supplies consisted of a straw, paper and tape. They had only moments to come up with a design and assemble it before their rocket was launched.
The nozzle from an air compressor was inserted into the straw attached to the rocket. With a squeeze, air hissed through the nozzle and launched the rocket across the open space of the atrium floor.
The rocket that landed the furthest away from the launch point won. The prize was an official mug from NASA.
Students laughed as they put their designs together. Some rockets were exceedingly complex; some were the most basic structure allowed within the contest.
The rocket launching contest was just one of the many activities that occurred on “Yuri’s Night.” A jeopardy-like game also permitted students a chance to learn and discuss trivia about Gagarin.
Emily Knoll, vice president of the ISU Space Society, gave a brief overview on the Soviet cosmonaut.
“[Gagarin] was actually chosen in part because he was only 5-foot-2 and could fit inside the small capsule that was launched into space,” Knoll said.
To demonstrate just how small the craft containing Gagarin was, ISU Space Society members had printed out a life size model using 117 sheets of standard printing paper and taped it the atrium floor.
Knoll explained that though Gagarin’s flight was brief, taking only 108 minutes from launch to landing, it marked the beginning of mankind’s exploration of space.
The ISU Space Society and Students for the Exploration of Deep Space are not the only organizations to celebrate Gagarin. Knoll said many celebrations of Gagarin’s life occur throughout the world.
Logan Prust, junior in aerospace engineering, went to the event last year. He is part of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, which is an organization that co-hosts the event.
“I’m really excited to be here. The game got everyone involved…I’m surprised by how fast the night went,” Prust said.