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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5 Responses to Why the Huntsville Times?

  1. nick niziolek

    Hi, I am a student at Olson Middle in minnesota. I am doing a huge research project on Yuri Gagarin. I would like to know if you have the name of the writer of this newspaper?

    Thanks for you time, Nick Niziolek

  2. P Hodkinson

    Hello Nick, I am sorry but don’t know the writer/editor of this piece, though it maybe worth looking at Piers’ book Starman which has more information. I wish you luck in your project and would be interested in knowing how it turns out. Send a link for ongoing or completed research. Been a bit of a buzz in the UK as we finally have our own astronaut, Tim Peake over 50 years after Yuri’s exciting blast.

  3. FINN

    Hello Nick, thanks for this information. DO you know if there is anywhere that I can read the original news article?
    Thanks.

  4. Matthew

    Yes, as comrade Finn asked, where can the original news article be found, as all the pictures ive found are too blurry to read.

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