Last Updated on March 22, 2022
A space industry conference named for the first man to travel to outer space has erased his name from their title due to his Russian ethnicity, joining in with the anti-Russian sentiment displayed by several other organizations since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a non-NATO nation.
The nonprofit Space Foundation erased the name of Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man to enter outer space, from their “Yuri’s Night” space conference. The conference was given the stale new corporate name of “A Celebration of Space: Discover What’s Next,” citing his Gagarin’s ethnicity and “current world events.”
According to The Space Foundation, attendees spend time at the conference learning and talking about the present and future of space exploration. They also spend time examining the history of space exploration, making the erasure of Gagarin’s name an even more bizarre move, considering the central role he plays in the human history of outer space.
“The focus of this fundraising event remains the same — to celebrate human achievements in space while inspiring the next generation to reach for the stars,” a web posting from The Space Foundation, that was later deleted following public ridicule, read announcing the name change, which it blamed on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ironically, Yuri Gagarin never actually represented Russia, considering that nation, like Ukraine, was held under the rule of the Soviet Communists for his entire life, and was part of the USSR. Like in Russia, Gagarin is considered a hero in Ukraine and is widely admired. In 2011, a Ukrainian stamp even commemorated the 50th anniversary of his first flight into space.
The Space Foundation is far from the first group to censor connections to Russia and the Russian people since that nation invaded Ukraine, which has been under Russian rule and influence for much of its history. A number of other business and banking outfits have even pulled out of the country altogether, claiming that they’re standing in “solidarity” with Ukraine, as the Western corporate world continues to stoke tensions with Russia.
Americans widely oppose further involvement in the troubled region, particularly military involvement.