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NASA’s History Office will hold a virtual “brown bag” lunch discussion on April 28, 2021 at 12:00 pm ET with Stephen Walker, author of the new biography of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin: “Beyond: The Astonishing Story of the First Human to Leave Our Planet and Journey into Space.”

The emailed announcement from the NASA History Office is reproduced below with a link to join the meeting (via Microsoft Teams).


Please join us on Wednesday, April 28 @12pm EDT for our upcoming history speaker:

Stephen Walker, Beyond: The Astonishing Story of the First Human to Leave Our Planet and Journey Into Space 

Microsoft Teams link for the event: Click here to join the meeting

Abstract: Travelling at almost 18,000 miles per hour – ten times faster than a rifle bullet – Gagarin circles the globe in just 106 minutes. From his windows he sees the earth as nobody has before, crossing a sunset and a sunrise, crossing oceans and continents, witnessing its beauty and its fragility. While his launch begins in total secrecy, within hours of his landing he has become a world celebrity- the first human to leave the planet. Beyond tells the thrilling story behind that epic flight on its sixtieth anniversary. It happened at the height of the Cold War as the US and USSR confronted each other across an Iron Curtain. Both superpowers took enormous risks to get a man into space first – the Americans in the full glare of the media, the Soviets under deep cover. Both trained their teams of astronauts to the edges of the endurable. In the end the race between them would come down to the wire.

Drawing on extensive original research and the vivid testimonies of eyewitnesses, many of whom have never spoken before, Stephen Walker unpacks secrets that were hidden for decades and takes the reader into the drama of one of humanity’s greatest adventures – featuring the scientists, engineers and political leaders on both sides, and above all the American astronauts and their Soviet rivals battling for supremacy in the heavens.

Stephen Walker was born in London. He has a BA in History from Oxford and an MA in the History of Science from Harvard. His previous book Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima was a New York Times bestseller and is in development as a movie for Working Title Films, to be directed by Cary Fukunaga with a screenplay by Tom Stoppard. He is also an award-winning documentary director – his films have won an Emmy, a BAFTA and the Rose d’Or, Europe’s most prestigious documentary award. He lives in London and is available for interview. For more information on the research, visit: https://www.stephenwalkerbeyond.com/


April 28, 2021
12:00 pm - 11:00 pm