7 Stunning Photographs of Yuri Gagarin in Color

Yuri Gagarin was a Soviet cosmonaut born on the 9 March 1934 to a carpenter and bricklayer, and a milkmaid. At the age of 21, Gagarin was drafted in the Soviet Army, becoming a Lieutenant for the Air Force in 1957. In 1960, Yuri Gagarin was selected for the Soviet Space Program along with 19 other but was one of only two selected, Gherman Titov. These two were chosen because of their performance in training but also for their size. Space was limited in the spacecraft cockpit, so the people inside had to be small; Gagarin was 5ft 2in (1.57m) and Titov was 5ft 4in (1.63m).

Portrait colorized photo of Yuri Gagarin smiling
Portrait Photograph of Yuri Gagarin showing his famous smile. Colorization by Marina Amaral

Yuri Gagarin only went to space once but he was the back up commander for the Soyuz 1 mission in which cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov died on the 24 April 1967 after the parachute of the capsule did not open and it crashed into the earth at a high speed.

Yuri Gagarin saluting while wearing a military uniform
Photograph of a saluting Yuri Gagarin at the age of 27. Colorization by Klimbim

On the 12th April 1961, Yuri Gagarin boarded the Vostok 1 as the only crew member, and the mission began at 6:07 am. The mission only lasted 1 hour and 48 minutes, far less time than the Vostok 2 mission (1 day, 1 hour, and 18 minutes) in August of the same year. However, the former is far more important as it was the first manned spaceflight in history. Yuri Gagarin became the first human to go into outer space, leaving the atmosphere and orbiting the earth. This journey made him an international celebrity, and he toured around the world in the years following the mission.

Yuri Gagarin in the Vostok 1 cockpit in a space suit
Photograph of Yuri Gagarin in his space suit in the Vostok 1 cockpit on 12 April 1961. Colorization by Xander-Lionheart
Yuri Gagarin in his military uniform with his daughter and wife
Photograph of Yuri Gagarin along with his wife Valentina and his daughter Yelena in 1961. Colorization by Konstantin Fiev

On the 10 April 1961, two days before his mission, Yuri Gagarin wrote a farewell letter to his wife Valentina in case of his death on the trip to outer space. She received the letter in 1968 following his death in a plane crash.

Yuri Gagarin smiling at a beefeater
Photograph of Yuri Gagarin in London, England in July 1961. Colorization by Konstantin Fiev

Gagarin was invited to England by Britain’s Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers, a trade union representing foundries. They invited him because he trained as a steel worker.

Yuri Gagarin pouring a beer
Photograph of Yuri Gagarin at the Carlsberg Brewery in Denmark on the 21 September 1962. Colorization by Jecinci

Gagarin died on the 27 March 1968 at the age of 34 in a plane crash during a routine training flight from Chkalovsky Air Base. He and Vladimir Sereyogin, his flight instructor, perished in the crash. Many tributes were paid to Gagarin following his death; for example, his hometown of Gzhatsk was renamed to Gagarin, and items commemorating him were left on the Moon by the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.

Yuri Gagarin standing in uniform with a sports car
Yuri Gagarin with his Matra Bonnet Djet VS coupe. Colorization by Klimbim

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