Why the Huntsville Times?

If you do any kind of an internet search on Yuri Gagarin, sooner or later you come across the image of the front page of the Huntsville Times for April 12 1961, announcing ‘Man Enters Space’ and using the photo, wired around the world by TASS, the Soviet news agency, of a modest and serious looking Yuri, in an ordinary flying helmet. Not only that, you come across it over and over again.

Outside the USA, most people’s reaction might be ‘where’s Huntsville?’ So why the Huntsville Times? It is a very respectable newspaper of course, with a long history, and still publishing today, that covers a sizeable chunk of Alabama and the Tennessee Valley regions of the USA. But that doesn’t explain why this particular paper is so often reproduced as the representative of how American media covered Gagarin’s flight. Why not say, the New York Times, or any of the other big US newspapers?

Well, the clue is actually in the place. Huntsville Alabama is where the US Army’s Redstone Arsenal is to be found, the cradle of US rocket technology, and the home of NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center. For this reason, the Huntsville Times has always had a special interest in spaceflight matters. You could say it was the discerning US spaceman’s newspaper of choice.

Andrew King, illustrator and story editor for Yuri’s Day book.


Yuri Gagarin is the first man in space on April 12, 1961

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