On April 12, 1961, at 6:07 AM. UTC, Vostok 1 had been launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and carried the first man into space. He was, of course – Yuri Gagarin, and this is a few facts you should know about him.
#1 Who was Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was born on March 9, 1934, and 3rd of 4 children in his family. He was educated as a steel worker and later attended First Chkalov Air Force Pilot’s School in Orenburg. Becoming a pilot let him become a part of the Vostok program.
USSR – 1961
He was 1 of 20 candidates included in the program and as we know he was the one who was finally chosen for the mission. In the finals, he won against Gherman Titov – also a well-known Soviet cosmonaut. One of the factors he had on his side was his height of only 157 cm. It is noteworthy to mention that 17 out of 20 candidates voted to see him becoming the first man in space (of course they couldn’t vote for themselves).
USSR – 1961
#2 Vostok 1
Vostok 1 (Russian: Восто́к, English: East) was the name for the first successful manned flight in history. The Vostok 3KA space capsule was carried by a modified R-7 Semyorka ICBM rocket. Before that, we simply lacked rocket powerful enough to do the job.
USSR – 1961
One interesting fact and the less-known fact is that capsule lacked thrusters so when reentering the atmosphere, it couldn’t land. Therefore, some 7 kilometers above ground, Yuri ejected from the capsule and landed using the parachute, accordingly original plan. This wasn’t disclosed mentioned too often, because that doesn’t sound so sexy as completely successful landing.
USSR – 1964
The other important fact is that the whole flight was automated because nobody could be 100% sure will the cosmonaut will be able to pilot the flight whole time. Still, there were manual controls present in case of an emergency.
USSR – 1975
#3 Preparations for the flight
On the way to launch, pad bus stopped so Yuri could take a leak. It became kind of traditions, so cosmonauts still practice this custom these days. Before entering the Vostok spacecraft, Yuri took off his shoes – the same custom used when entering the home. This left an additional impression to the chief designer – Sergei Korolev. Gagarin took off with the words “Poyehali!” (“Let’s go!”).
USSR – 1977
April 12, is celebrated in Russia, since 1961, as a Cosmonautics day.
Yuri Gagarin got many medals and awards with the most notable of them being: Hero of the Soviet Union (14 April 1961) and the Order of Lenin (USSR, 14 April 1961). He visited numerous places around the USSR/CCCP and the world. He visited the UK from July 11 to July 15, 1961. He was invited by Britain’s Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers and also had lunch with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace.
USSR – 1980
He died on March 27, 1968, as the result of an accident during the training flight from Chkalovsky Air Base. He piloted MiG-15UTI together with instructor Vladimir Seryogin. They were cremated and buried in the walls of the Kremlin on Red Square.
USSR – 1981
#6 Few Quotes from Yuri Gagarin
I want to conclude this article with a few quotes from Yuri.
“Circling the earth in the orbital spaceship I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world!! Let us safeguard and enhance this beauty-not destroy it.”
Uganda – 2012
“I saw for the first time the earth’s shape. I could easily see the shores of continents, islands, great rivers, folds of the terrain, large bodies of water. The horizon is dark blue, smoothly turning to black… the feelings which filled me. I can express with one word-joy.”
“Looking at the earth from afar you realize it is too small for conflict and just big enough for co-operation.”
“I see no god up here…”
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