Prior to the 2019 contest, Latvia had participated in the Eurovision Song Contest nineteen times since its first entry in 2000. Latvia won the contest once in 2002 with the song “I Wanna” performed by Marie N. Following the introduction of semi-finals for the 2004, Latvia was able to qualify to compete in the final between 2005 and 2008. Between 2009 and 2014, the nation had failed to qualify to the final for six consecutive years. In the 2015 contest, Latvia managed to qualify to the final with the song “Love Injected” performed by Aminata, which placed 6th in the final, scoring 186 points, giving them their best placing since 2005. In 2018, Latvia was represented by Laura Rizzotto and the song “Funny Girl”, but the country did not qualify for the final and finished twelfth in the second semi-final with 106 points.
Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off on its maiden voyage on 3 October 1985, on mission STS-51-J, the second dedicated Department of Defense flight. It flew one other mission, STS-61-B, the second night launch in the shuttle program, before the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster temporarily grounded the Shuttle fleet in 1986. Among the five Space Shuttles flown into space, Atlantis conducted a subsequent mission in the shortest time after the previous mission (turnaround time) when it launched in November 1985 on STS-61-B, only 50 days after its previous mission, STS-51-J in October 1985. Atlantis was then used for ten flights between 1988 and 1992. Two of these, both flown in 1989, deployed the planetary probes Magellan to Venus (on STS-30) and Galileo to Jupiter (on STS-34). With STS-30 Atlantis became the first Space Shuttle to launch an interplanetary probe.
On 5 November 1957, Gagarin was commissioned a lieutenant in the Soviet Air Forces having accumulated 166 hours and 47 minutes of flight time. He graduated from flight school the next day and was posted to the Luostari Air Base close to the Norwegian border in Murmansk Oblast for a two-year assignment with the Northern Fleet. On 7 July 1959, he was rated Military Pilot 3rd Class. After expressing interest in space exploration following the launch of Luna 3 on 6 October 1959, his recommendation to the Soviet space programme was endorsed and forward by Lieutenant Colonel Babushkin. By this point, he had accumulated 265 hours of flight time. Gagarin was promoted to the rank of senior lieutenant on 6 November 1959, three weeks after he was interviewed by a medical commission for qualification to the space programme.