Two American flights followed in May and July, although neither completed a full orbit.
Then, 50 years ago today, a second Russian cosmonaut, Gherman Titov, was the world’s second man to fully orbit the earth — and he did it in serious style. Titov completed an impressive 20 orbits, and became the first human to spend a whole day in space.
Since then, a great many more Russians have gone into space — all with luscious Russian names: Aleksandr, Aleksei, Andrei, Andriyan, Anatoly, Boris, Dmitri, Fyodor, Gennadi, Georgi, Gherman, Igor, Konstantin, Leonid, Lev, Maksim, Mikhail, Musa, Nikolai, Oleg, Pavel, Pyotr, Roman, Salizhan, Sergei, Svetlana, Talgat, Toktar, Valentin, Valentina, Valery, Vasili, Vitali, Vladimir, Vyacheslav, Yelena, Yevyeny, Yuri.
To commemorate their achievement in the only way we know how to at Nook of Names, here’s a closer look at some of them:
Andriyan — Андриян. A variant of Andrei, the Russian form of Andrew.
Anatoly — Анатолий. The Russian form of the Greek Anatolios, from Greek anatolê ‘rising’, specifically of any heavenly body above the horizon. St Anatolios is popular in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Anatoly is a very popular Russian boy’s name. Anatoli and Anatoliy are alternative forms in the Latin script.
Dmitri — Дмитрий. Russian form of Greek Demetrios, meaning ‘belonging to Demeter’ — the Goddess. Also found as Dmitry and Dmitriy in English. A common Russian pet-form is Mitya.
Gennadi — Геннадий. Russian form of Greek Gennadios, from gennadas ‘noble’. The name of an Orthodox saint. Also transliterated as Gennady and Gennadiy.
Gherman — Герман. Actually the Russian form of Herman, not German.
Igor — Игорь. The B movie number 1 choice for creepy castle doorkeeper, Igor is the Russian form of Old Norse Ingvarr ‘warrior of (the God) Ing’. The name of a 10th Century Pagan prince of Kiev — successor of Oleg.
Musa – Муса. Russian form of Moses.
Oleg — Олег. Russian form of the Old Norse Helgi ‘sanctity’ and ‘holiness’. Oleg of Novgorod was an 10th Century Pagan prince, responsible for establishing Kiev as the capital of the Rus’ people.
Salizhan — Салижан. A Kyrgyz name.
Svetlana – Светлана. A very popular Russian girl’s name. It was coined in the early 19th Century from the Russian svet ‘light’ as a translation of the Greek Photine by the Russian poet Alexander Vostokov, who introduced it in one of his poems. Svetka and Lana are two common short forms.
Talgat — Талғат. A Kazakh name.
Toktar — Тоқтар. Another Kazakh name.
Vitali — Виталий. Russian form of Latin Vitalis ‘alive’, the name of many saints. Also found as Vitaly.
Vladimir – Владимир. One of the most familiar Russian names, from the Old Slavic volod ‘to rule’ + *meri ‘greatness’, although the second element is popularly associated with Modern Russian mir ‘peace’.
Yuri — Юрий. The usual Russian form of George, although, as can be seen from the list, Georgi (Георгий) is also used.
Sadly, Titov in 2000. But I imagine many a Russian is lifting a glass of Smirnoff to his achievement today. молодцом, Титов!