'World of Tanks' honors the 60th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's historic spaceflight with 'To the Stars!' event

Tank battles and history will collide this month as the makers of the free-to-play game "World of Tanks" honor the legacy of famed cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin for the 60th anniversary of his historic launch into space. 

Gagarin's historic launch on Vostok 1 on April 12, 1961 kicked off the era of human spaceflight that continues to this day. To celebrate, "World of Tanks" developer Wargaming has launched its "To The Stars!" event, which recruits Gagarin into the game along with Vostok 1 themed goodies for players. The event launched Wednesday (April 7 ) and runs through April 19. 

"To the Stars! is a two-pronged in-game event which will see players acquire Star Points. By acquiring this special form of in-game currency through daily missions, they themselves will get great rewards, such as a unique 2D style based on Vostok 1 and the man himself, Yuri Gagarin, as well as some other valuable items," reads an event description." Gagarin will be an in-game commander, dressed in his iconic orange flight suit, who will represent the U.S.S.R. nation."

In photos: Yuri Gagarin, first man in space

"World of Tanks" creators worked with Gagarin's daughter, Galina Gagarina, to launch a commemorative website for the 60th anniversary of Vostok 1. You can see that "To The Stars! website here, where players can also track their progress in the event.  

"Yuri Gagarin proved that humans can live and operate in space. His flight encouraged and gave hope to all those who dreamed of this! It kickstarted the deep understanding of humanity’s role in preserving and developing our cosmic home—Earth,” Galina Gagarin said in a statement. "I'm happy to know that, through the millions-strong audience of World of Tanks, the memory of mankind’s first foray into space will be preserved for years to come!"

The Wargaming/MS-1 team behind the mobile tank game "World of Tanks Blitz" also marked Gagarin's historic flight recently by launching a tank model to the stratosphere. 

The developer sent a 1:32 scale model of a modified Tier VI Cromwell B, a British tank that was used during Allied Second World War operations in the mid-1940s. A highlight reel on YouTube shows the tank soaring first above a snowy plain, before you can glimpse the curvature of the Earth below.

The 15-mile- (24-kilometer-) high launch was performed to advertise a new "cosmic flavor" coming to the game in April including a Battle Pass – called Operation Red Planet – that is starring this tank model.  The battle pass includes several events running up to and in some cases, through the April 12 anniversary of Gagarin's first-ever spaceflight.

For the next two week, the game promises a "shower of cosmic activities," according to a press release. They include: 

  • The grand return of the "Gravity Force Mode" between April 12 and April 18, including a new ability that "allows tanks to jump up and operate in the air," according to the press release. Last year in April, the battle game transformed the Sea of Tranquility – the famous landing site of Apollo 11 in 1969 – this limited-time game mod. It allows players to play with physics and see  how tank fighting can send you flying across the lunar surface
  • A "Sheridan Rocket event" between April 9 and 16, allowing players to get a Sheridan Missile Tank through performing certain activities, not yet disclosed in the press release.  

"April is a traditional 'cosmic' month in World of Tanks Blitz, when we encourage our players to step out of the earthly limits and indulge in a truly out-of-this-world experience," Natallia Pershyts, publishing product director of World of Tanks Blitz, said in a statement. "This time, we're treating them to a whole cluster of special activities so everyone can find something to their liking."

"World of Tanks Blitz" is a free massively multiplayer online (MMO) game available on iOS, macOS, Android, Windows 10, Steam, and Nintendo Switch.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace