Where We Came From.
The concept of Yuri’s Night was first conceived by Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides, George T. Whitesides, and Trish Garner during the Space Generation Forum at the UNISPACE III conference in 1999. The Vienna Declaration after UNISPACE III set up a new World Space Week “between 4 and 10 October for the yearly celebration at the international level.” This event was timed to commemorated the launch of Sputnik 1 on Oct 4 and the signing of the UN Outer Space Treaty on Oct 10. Wishing to specifically celebrate the human aspects of spaceflight, George and Loretta moved ahead with planning for the first Yuri’s Night event on April 12: a dual anniversary of human spaceflight achievements. In 2000, Yuri’s Night was announced as an event in LA scheduled for April 12, 2001. Friends and colleagues, including those from the Space Generation Forum, asked to host their own celebrations around the world at the same time. The World Space Party was born and continues to rock the planet today!
From 2001 until 2010, Yuri’s Night was a project of the Space Generation Advisory Council and run under the non-profit Space Generation Foundation in the United States. In 2010 Yuri’s Night became an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the United States. As of 2022, the name of the nonprofit is changing to The SpaceKind Foundation to better reflect the variety of programs and projects being supported. The Yuri’s Night name and branding will continue to be used for global outreach events.
Where We Are Going.
The mission of The SpaceKind Foundation is to use the excitement and inspiration of space as a catalyst for educating and developing the next generation of explorers. We fulfill this mission through a commitment to:
- empowering leaders: in making a difference, pursuing their dreams, and inspiring others to do the same.
- building communities: working shoulder to shoulder on visionary projects, overcoming barriers and finding common ground.
- bridging cultures: be they geographic, social or technical, we are all learning to speak each other’s languages.
- encouraging science literacy: bringing people hands-on experiences and passionate storytelling to explore their physical world and nurture their love of learning.
- promoting a sustainable and peaceful future: sharing “the Overview Effect” with all people, inspiring them to take ownership of our home planet and the future of humanity.
Yuri’s Night is project of The SpaceKind Foundation a non-profit organization using the excitement and inspiration of space as a catalyst for educating and developing the next generation of explorers. We organize events, host projects, and encourage exploring new ideas.
You may know The SpaceKind Foundation best for our namesake annual event in April: Yuri’s Night, The World Space Party! We combine space-themed partying with education and outreach. Every year on or around April 12th we celebrate all that humanity brings with us as we explore the cosmos: music, art, science, culture, and each other! We use space to bring the world together, to empower the greatest parts of who we are, and give vision to where we are going.
Yuri’s Night parties are held around the world every April in commemoration of Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human to venture into space on April 12, 1961, and the inaugural launch of the first Space Shuttle on April 12, 1981..We support grassroots event organizers around the planet with information, logos, multimedia, and publicity. These events can range from an all-night mix of techno and technology at a NASA Center, to a movie showing and stargazing at your local college, to a gathering of friends at a bar or barbecue. Yuri’s Night also produces two flagship events, in LA at the California Science Center and at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. In 2020 and 2021, Yuri’s Night pivoted to all-digital flagship events. The live webcasts included a range of guests including artists, astronauts, musicians, Mars scientists, and cultural icons. You can watch them here: 2020 Webcast / 2021 Webcast.
Other SpaceKind Foundation projects include:
- SpaceKind leadership training led by co-founder Loretta Whitesides based on her book “The New Right Stuff”
- The Cosmic Odyssey Scholarship sending pediatric cancer survivors and their families to Space Camp
- Fiscal management of Mission: Astro Access, a project in association with SciAccess to launch a group of disabled scientists, veterans, students, athletes, and artists on a parabolic flight as the first step in a progression toward flying a diverse range of people to space
- The Spirit of Yuri’s Night Award, recognizing a person or team that embodies the Yuri’s Night mission by using music and art to make space cool
- Organizing a 2024 Total Eclipse Festival in Kerrville, TX, with a team of Eclipse Ambassadors across the path of totality, to spread the Overview Effect during the eclipse
- Additional events celebrating World Space Week annually, along with significant specific space milestones such as New Horizons flyby of Pluto
- Fiscal management of the Analog Astronaut Conference, the Proctor Foundation, and the ZG4STEM Foundation
Since 2001, Yuri’s Night / The SpaceKind Foundation has:
- Featured talks and presentations by Sir Richard Branson, Ray Bradbury, Will Wright, George Takei, Richard Garriott, Anousheh Ansari, and many others in the aerospace, art, science, and music industry
- Been celebrated at the South Pole, Hayden Planetarium, on Mars, and in orbit on the International Space Station
- Inspired and empowered people around the planet to create outreach events in their own communities
- Planted hundreds of “moon trees” around the world in collaboration with American Forests
- Received the “Best Presentation of Space” award from the Space Frontier Foundation
- Trained the next generation of space leaders for organizations such as the National Space Society, Virgin Galactic, and Space Florida
- Debuted new music videos, including “Art Together Now” by the band OK Go
- Partnered with Disney Jr. to distribute free online project materials and along with the “Yuri’s Night” episode of Miles from Tomorrowland
In 2011, the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight, over 100,000 people attended 567 officially-recognized events in 75 countries on all 7 continents, while tens of thousands more watched the 12-hour live Yuri’s Night Global Webcast and participated online in the virtual world of Second Life.