Yuri Gagarin: The First Man In Space

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Yuri Gagarin in 1961.

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).

The Vostok 1 Capsule on display. Attribution: Vostok 1 spacecraft is the property of RKK Energiya. Self-made photograph uploaded by Errabee. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

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. This 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.

Gagarin (front left), photographed with US Vice President, Hubert Humphrey ,the Gemini 4 Astronauts, and French Prime Minister Georges Pompidou at the Paris International Air Show in June 1965.

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

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