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Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space

Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space



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On April 12, 1961, aboard the spacecraft Vostok 1, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin becomes the first human being to travel into space. During the flight, the 27-year-old test pilot and industrial technician also became the first man to orbit the planet, a feat accomplished by his space capsule in 89 minutes. Vostok 1 orbited Earth at a maximum altitude of 187 miles and was guided entirely by an automatic control system. The only statement attributed to Gagarin during his one hour and 48 minutes in space was, “Flight is proceeding normally; I am well.”

After his historic feat was announced, the attractive and unassuming Gagarin became an instant worldwide celebrity. He was awarded the Order of Lenin and given the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Monuments were raised to him across the Soviet Union and streets renamed in his honor.

The triumph of the Soviet space program in putting the first man into space was a great blow to the United States, which had scheduled its first space flight for May 1961. Moreover, Gagarin had orbited Earth, a feat that eluded the U.S. space program until February 1962, when astronaut John Glenn made three orbits in Friendship 7. By that time, the Soviet Union had already made another leap ahead in the “space race” with the August 1961 flight of cosmonaut Gherman Titov in Vostok 2. Titov made 17 orbits and spent more than 25 hours in space.

READ MORE: What Really Happened to Yuri Gagarin, the First Man in Space?

To Soviet propagandists, the Soviet conquest of space was evidence of the supremacy of communism over capitalism. However, to those who worked on the Vostok program and earlier on Sputnik (which launched the first satellite into space in 1957), the successes were attributable chiefly to the brilliance of one man: Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. Because of his controversial past, Chief Designer Korolev was unknown in the West and to all but insiders in the USSR until his death in 1966.

Born in the Ukraine in 1906, Korolev was part of a scientific team that launched the first Soviet liquid-fueled rocket in 1933. In 1938, his military sponsor fell prey to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s purges, and Korolev and his colleagues were also put on trial. Convicted of treason and sabotage, Korolev was sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp. The Soviet authorities came to fear German rocket advances, however, and after only a year Korolev was put in charge of a prison design bureau and ordered to continue his rocketry work.

In 1945, Korolev was sent to Germany to learn about the V-2 rocket, which had been used to devastating effect by the Nazis against the British. The Americans had captured the rocket’s designer, Wernher von Braun, who later became head of the U.S. space program, but the Soviets acquired a fair amount of V-2 resources, including rockets, launch facilities, blueprints, and a few German V-2 technicians. By employing this technology and his own considerable engineering talents, by 1954 Korolev had built a rocket that could carry a five-ton nuclear warhead and in 1957 launched the first intercontinental ballistic missile.

That year, Korolev’s plan to launch a satellite into space was approved, and on October 4, 1957, Sputnik 1 was fired into Earth’s orbit. It was the first Soviet victory of the space race, and Korolev, still technically a prisoner, was officially rehabilitated. The Soviet space program under Korolev would go on to numerous space firsts in the late 1950s and early ’60s: first animal in orbit, first large scientific satellite, first man, first woman, first three men, first space walk, first spacecraft to impact the moon, first to orbit the moon, first to impact Venus, and first craft to soft-land on the moon. Throughout this time, Korolev remained anonymous, known only as the “Chief Designer.” His dream of sending cosmonauts to the moon eventually ended in failure, primarily because the Soviet lunar program received just one-tenth the funding allocated to America’s successful Apollo lunar landing program.

Korolev died in 1966. Upon his death, his identity was finally revealed to the world, and he was awarded a burial in the Kremlin wall as a hero of the Soviet Union. Yuri Gagarin was killed in a routine jet-aircraft test flight in 1968. His ashes were also placed in the Kremlin wall.


Yuri Gagarin: First Man in Space

Yuri Gagarin was the first person to fly in space. His flight, on April 12, 1961, lasted 108 minutes as he circled the Earth for a little more than one orbit in the Soviet Union's Vostok spacecraft. Following the flight, Gagarin became a cultural hero in the Soviet Union. Even today, more than six decades after the historic flight, Gagarin is widely celebrated in Russian space museums, with numerous artifacts, busts and statues displayed in his honor. His remains are buried at the Kremlin in Moscow, and part of his spacecraft is on display at the RKK Energiya museum.

Gagarin's flight came at a time when the United States and the Soviet Union were competing for technological supremacy in space. The Soviet Union had already sent the first artificial satellite, called Sputnik, into space in October 1957.

Before Gagarin's mission, the Soviets sent a test flight into space using a prototype of the Vostok spacecraft. During this flight, they sent a life-size dummy called Ivan Ivanovich and a dog named Zvezdochka into space. After the test flight, the Soviet's considered the vessel fit to take a human into space. [Infographic: How the First Human Spaceflight Worked]


Yuri Gagarin: 10 Facts to Know About the First Man in Outer Space

April 12, 1961, will always be remembered in history as the day when Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who was only 27 years old at the time, became the first man in space. Sputnik remembers Gagarin and his historic flight by sharing 10 commonly unknown facts about the world’s first cosmonaut.

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first man in outer space when the Vostok-1 spacecraft with the Soviet cosmonaut on board was launched from the Baikonur space center on April 12, 1961, at 6:07 AM local time, marking a new era in human history.

1. Gagarin was born on March 9, 1934, in the village of Klushino, which was later renamed Gagarin, in the Smolensk District in the western part of Russia. Gagarin was the third of four children in his family, with his two older siblings deported to a Nazi concentration camp and used as slaves.

3. Prior to his flight, a group of experts selected Gagarin out of many other candidates to be a cosmonaut after a series of psychological and physical tests. Gagarin was the clear leader and had a strong sense of determination, purpose and competition. At the same time, Yuri was very friendly, polite and open-hearted. He had excellent memory and was very intelligent. His short stature (Gagarin was 157 cm or 5'2" tall) also contributed to his selection, as it was an advantage in the spacecraft's cramped two-meter wide cockpit.

4. The TASS news agency prepared three possible variants of news before the flight. The first one was written in case of success the second &mdash a call for help to find Gagarin if the Vostok-1 failed to reach the orbit and fell somewhere in a forest or the ocean and the third one was about Gagarin's tragic death.

5. When Gagarin launched from the Baikonur space station he held the military rank of lieutenant. Right after landing, he was promoted to major.

6. A couple of days prior to his flight, Gagarin wrote a farewell letter to his wife Valentina in case he died during the flight. When the flight ended successfully, the letter was forgotten however, Valentina received the letter in 1968 following a flight accident which claimed Gagarin's life.

8. Considered as one of the heroes of the Soviet Union, Gagarin nonetheless was religious and even offered to restore the ruined Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

9. When Queen Elizabeth II met Gagarin during his visit to Britain, she asked for a picture to be taken with the Soviet Cosmonaut. Although according to etiquette it wasn't allowed, the Queen insisted, saying that Gagarin was a very special man.

10. Gagarin was scheduled to go to space once more, however, unfortunately the legendary cosmonaut died in a plane crash during a training exercise in 1968. Gagarin remains a hero of the Soviet Union and his statues stand in Russia to this day.

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Vostok 2 and Gherman Titov

On Aug. 6, 1961, the USSR launched Vostok 2, which carried cosmonaut Gherman Titov, who became the fourth person in space after American astronauts Alan Shepard and Virgil Grissom flew suborbital flights for NASA's Mercury program. Titov became the first person to stay in space for more than a day, orbiting the Earth 17.5 times over the course of 25 hours, according to the New Zealand website Daryl's Space Collection.

Titov had been Gagarin's backup pilot for Vostok 1, and Vostok 2 was his only spaceflight. After his flight, he was grounded for medical reasons as he had the unfortunate honor of being the first person to experience space sickness, having been so nauseated that he could barely eat during his mission, according to Russianspaceweb.com.


The complicated history of America, Russia, and outer space

From the time 20 Soviet air force pilots were selected to train for the first crewed spaceflight, Gagarin’s calm demeanor, quick learning skills and beaming smile made him an early favorite.

Two days before blastoff, the 27-year-old Gagarin wrote a farewell letter to his wife, Valentina, sharing his pride in being chosen to ride in Vostok 1 but also trying to console her in the event of his death.

“I fully trust the equipment, it mustn’t let me down. But if something happens, I ask you Valyusha not to become broken by grief,” he wrote, using a nickname for her.

Authorities held onto the letter and eventually gave it to Gagarin’s widow seven years later after he died in an airplane crash. She never remarried.

Gagarin’s pioneering, single-orbit flight made him a hero in the Soviet Union and an international celebrity. After putting the world’s first satellite into orbit with the successful launch of Sputnik in October 1957, the Soviet space program rushed to secure its dominance over the United States by putting a man into space.

“The task was set, and people were sleeping in their offices and factory shops, like at wartime,” Fyodor Yurchikhin, a Russian cosmonaut who eventually made five spaceflights, recalled.

As the Soviet rocket and space program raced to beat the Americans, it suffered a series of launch failures throughout 1960, including a disastrous launch pad explosion in October that killed 126 people. Missile Forces chief Marshal Mitrofan Nedelin was among the victims.

Like Gagarin, Soviet officials were prepared for the worst. No safety system had been installed to save the cosmonaut in case of another rocket explosion at blastoff or after.

Authorities drafted three versions of a bulletin about Gagarin’s flight for the official TASS news agency: one announcing a successful flight, another in case of problems, and the third one for a mission ending in disaster.

Apart from potential engine failures and other equipment malfunctions, scientists questioned an individual’s ability to withstand the conditions of spaceflight. Many worried that a pilot could go mad in orbit.

Soviet engineers prepared for that situation by developing a fully automatic control system. As an extra precaution, the pilot would receive a sealed envelope containing a secret code for activating the capsule’s manual controls. The theory was that a person who could enter the code must be sane enough to operate the ship.

Everyone in the space program liked Gagarin so much, however, that a senior instructor and a top engineer independently shared the secret code with him before the flight to save him the trouble of fiddling with the envelope in case of an emergency.

Problems began right after Gagarin got into Vostok 1, when a light confirming the hatch’s closure did not go on. Working at a frantic pace, a leading engineer and a co-worker removed 32 screws, found and fixed a faulty contact, and put the screws back just in time for the scheduled launch.

Sitting in the capsule, Gagarin whistled a tune. “Poyekhali!” — “Off we go!” — he shouted as the rocket blasted off.

As another precaution, the orbit was planned so the spacecraft would descend on its own after a week if an engine burn failure stranded the ship. Instead, a glitch resulted in a higher orbit that would have left Gagarin dead if the engine had malfunctioned at that stage.

While the engine worked as planned to send the ship home, a fuel loss resulted in an unexpected reentry path and a higher velocity that made the ship rotate wildly for 10 agonizing minutes.

Gagarin later said he nearly blacked out while experiencing G-forces exceeding 10 times the pull of gravity. “There was a moment lasting two or three seconds when instruments started fading before my eyes,” he recalled.

Seeing a cloud of fiery plasma around his ship on re-entry, he thought his ship was burning.

A soft-landing system hadn’t been designed yet, so Gagarin ejected from the module in his spacesuit and deployed a parachute. While descending, he had to fiddle with a sticky valve on his spacesuit to start breathing outside air. A reserve chute unfolded in addition to the main parachute, making it hard for him to control his descent, but he landed safely on a field near the Volga River in the Saratov region.

Gagarin was flown to Moscow to a hero’s welcome, hailed by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and greeted by enthusiastic crowds cheering his flight as a triumph on par with the victory in World War II. In the years before he died at age 34, he basked in international glory, visiting dozens of countries to celebrate his historic mission.

“The colossal propaganda effect of the Sputnik launch and particularly Gagarin’s flight was very important,” Moscow-based aviation and space expert Vadim Lukashevich said. “We suddenly beat America even though our country hadn’t recovered yet from the massive damage and casualties” from World War II.

Gagarin was killed in a training jet crash on March 27, 1968. Not quite 16 months later, the U.S. beat the Soviet Union in the space race, putting an astronaut on the moon.

The 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union ended the era of rivalry. Russia’s efforts to develop new rockets and spacecraft have faced endless delays, and the country has continued to rely on Soviet-era technology. Amid the stagnation, the much-criticized state space corporation Roscosmos has focused on a costly plan to build its new, rocket-shaped headquarters on the site of a dismantled rocket factory.


Hey There, Spaceman! Remembering Yuri Gagarin, The First Man in Space

Exactly sixty years ago this week science fiction became reality, when Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin made history by becoming the first human being to enter space.

‘I think this is one of the greatest achievements in the history of mankind’ was the verdict of the British astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell.

Yuri Gagarin’s journey into space on the Vostok 1 spacecraft (he completed a full orbit of the earth in one hour forty-eight minutes) was a stunning achievement for Soviet science, one which gripped the imagination of the entire world.

The idea of space travel had, after all, fascinated mankind for generations. In his 1865 novel ‘From the Earth to the Moon’ the French author Jules Verne fantasized about a massive gun rocket which could propel people inside a projectile into space. Space has always seemed- to use the opening phrase of a popular sci-fi series- the final frontier.

Sixty years ago, the Soviet Union certainly appeared to have the edge in the Cold War ‘space race’ with the USA.

Inspired by the ideas of the great Russian rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, in 1957 the Soviets had launched Sputnik 1 , the first man-made object to orbit the earth (after which the Sputnik media organisation was named). That same year, a dog named Laika from an animal shelter in Moscow would make headlines by becoming the first animal in space - taking off in Sputnik 2 .

Four years later, the ‘Workers State’ had beaten its ‘capitalist’ rivals and put the first man into space.

Gagarin, who had not attended university, and whose parents had worked in a collective farm (kolkhoz) expressed with a wonderful simplicity what he saw from above the Earth. “Orbiting Earth in the spaceship, I saw how beautiful our planet is. People, let us preserve and increase this beauty, not destroy it!” he later wrote. Years later Gagarin’s daughter Yelena told of her father’s love of books:

The man who loved 'The Little Prince', made a safe landing in a field near Saratov, a city in southern Russia. A five-year-old girl Rita Nurskanova, was out planting potatoes with her granny. At first they were frightened by the man approaching in an orange space suit, but he sought to reassure them that he was a friend and not a foe. When the grandmother asked where he had come from, Gagarin replied ‘I came on a ship’. When the grandmother said ‘There’s no sea near here. What ship? Gagarin replied ‘I came from the sky’.

He returned home to a richly-deserved hero’s welcome.

Even British Conservative politicians were impressed.

Gagarin was driven through the streets of Moscow, with the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushschev beside him. With his cheerful personality, boyish looks and ready smile, the first man in space became a hero not just in his home country but throughout the world. Enjoying a popularity more associated with film stars, Gagarin embarked on a world tour. This included a visit to England in July 1961, where he was invited to lunch with the Queen and Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace. As he was driven by Rolls Royce, with a VIP escort, from Heathrow Airport to the Russian Embassy, large crowds came out to greet him. ‘London went wild and thousands crammed the streets to pay homage’, the Aberdeen Evening Express reported.

It’s interesting - reading the old press cuttings- to compare the widespread goodwill there was in the west towards Gagarin and the Soviet Union in 1961, with the toxic Russophobia of today- when, as this excellent piece by James Woudhysen for Spiked points out, Russia can do nothing right. What’s the difference? Well, sixty years ago, pro-war Russophobic hawks were not so embedded in governing circles and elite media, and doing their absolute worst to poison east-west relations and prevent ‘détente’. Life was far happier without these people.

Gagarin - having been cheered across the globe - became an official ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ and was promoted to be a Lieutenant Colonel and later Colonel in his country’s Airforce.

Sadly his own story was to have a tragic postscript. In March 1968, the first man in space was working as a training director. He took off with flight instructor and celebrated test pilot Vladimir Seryogin in a MiG-15 jet fighter and both men were killed instantly when the plane crashed into a forest. Gagarin was just 34 when he died.

The Soviet Union- and the entire world- mourned.

Gagarin and Seryogin were buried in the walls of Red Square in the Kremlin.

Questions were soon being asked as to how the two men had been killed in what was a routine exercise.

Numerous theories were put forward in the years that followed, but in 2013, Aleksey Leonov, the famous cosmonaut, and the first man to walk in space, told RT that crash was caused by an unauthorized SU-15 fighter flying too close to Gagarin’s plane.

Whatever the cause of Gagarin’s fatal accident, it was a sad and untimely end to a man who was the greatest icon of the space age- an era, which as I noted in an earlier Sputnik article, was a time of great global optimism.

Nothing though has quite matched the excitement felt throughout the world when Yuri Gagarin made his historic journey sixty years ago. So let’s raise our glasses this week to toast the very brave man from Klushino, the ‘Cosmonaut who never stopped smiling’ and what he and the Soviet scientists achieved.

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Yuri Gagarin: 8 things you (probably) didn’t know about the first man in space

1) When he set off for space, Gagarin was dressed in a bright orange spacesuit and a helmet inscribed with ‘CCCP’ painted in red. The painted letters were a last minute addition, marking Gagarin as a Soviet citizen so that he would be recognised after parachuting to safety following ejection from the spacecraft

2) Gagarin took off with the words ‘Poyehali!’ (Let’s go!)

3) The astronaut was just 27 years old when he set off on his legendary flight

4) Gagarin’s rocket was an adapted missile, called R-7 or ‘Semyorka’. The rocket carried his ‘Vostok’ spacecraft, which translates as ‘east’ in Russian

5) It is said that Gagarin made a good impression on chief designer Korolev when he followed the Russian custom for entering a home and took off his shoes before getting into the newly designed Vostok spacecraft

6) Since 12 April 1961, the anniversary of Gagarin’s first flight has been celebrated in Russia as a holiday known as Cosmonautics Day

7) Yuri Gagarin was also back-up commander for the ill-fated Soyuz 1 mission, which crashed on 24 April 1967. He died in a training flight the following year

8) Gagarin trained as a steel worker and was invited to visit England in July 1961, just months after his historic mission, by Britain’s Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers

You can find more historical space travel facts here

This article was first published by History Extra in 2014


Contents

Yuri Gagarin was born 9 March 1934 in the village of Klushino, [1] in the Smolensk Oblast of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, near Gzhatsk (renamed Gagarin in 1968 after his death). [2] His parents worked on a collective farm [3] —Alexey Ivanovich Gagarin as a carpenter and Anna Timofeyevna Gagarina as a dairy farmer. [4] [b] Yuri was the third of four children. His older brother Valentin was born in 1924, and by the time Yuri was born he was already helping with the cattle on the farm. His sister Zoya, born in 1927, helped take care of "Yura" and their youngest brother Boris, born in 1936. [6] [7]

Gagarin's hometown was situated along the path of several invasions of Russia, and had been the site of many wars and conquests from foreign nations. [8] Like millions of Soviet Union citizens, his family suffered during the Nazi occupation during World War II. [9] During the German advance on Moscow, retreating Red Army soldiers seized the collective farm's livestock. [10] The Nazis captured Klushino on 18 October 1941. On their first day in the village, they burned down the school, ending Yuri's first year of education. [11] The Nazis also burned down 27 houses in the village and forced the residents including the Gagarins to work the farms to feed the occupying soldiers. Those who refused were beaten or sent to the concentration camp set up at Gzhatsk. [11]

A German officer took over the Gagarin residence. On the land behind their house, the family was allowed to build a mud hut measuring approximately 3 by 3 metres (10 by 10 ft), where they spent 21 months until the end of the occupation. [9] During this period, Yuri became a saboteur, especially after one of the German soldiers, who the children called "the Devil", tried to hang his younger brother Boris on an apple tree using the boy's scarf. In retaliation, Yuri sabotaged the soldier's work he poured soil into the tank batteries gathered to be recharged and randomly mixed the different chemical supplies intended for the task. [12] In early 1943, his two older siblings were deported by the Germans to Poland for slave labour. They escaped and were found by Soviet soldiers who conscripted them into helping with the war effort. They did not return home until after the war, in 1945. [13] [14]

The rest of the Gagarin family believed the two older children were dead, and Yuri became ill with "grief and hunger" [15] he was also beaten for refusing to work for the German forces and spent the remainder of the war at a hospital as a patient and later as an orderly. His mother was hospitalized during the same period, after a German soldier gashed her leg with a scythe. When the Germans were routed out of Klushino on 9 March 1944, Yuri helped the Red Army find mines buried in the roads by the fleeing German army. [15]

In 1946, the family moved to Gzhatsk, where Gagarin continued his education. [9] Yuri and Boris were enrolled at a crude school built in the town and run by a young woman who volunteered to be the teacher. They learned to read using a discarded Russian military manual. A former Russian airman later joined the school to teach math and science, [16] Yuri's favourite subjects. Yuri was also part of a group of children that built model airplanes. He was fascinated with flying crafts from a young age and his interest in airplanes was energized after a Yakovlev fighter plane crash landed in Klushino during the war. [17]

In 1950, aged 16, Gagarin began an apprenticeship as a foundryman at a steel plant in Lyubertsy, near Moscow, [13] [14] and enrolled at a local "young workers" school for seventh-grade evening classes. [18] After graduating in 1951 from both the seventh grade and the vocational school with honours in mouldmaking and foundry work, [18] he was selected for further training at the Industrial Technical School in Saratov, where he studied tractors. [13] [14] [19] While in Saratov, Gagarin volunteered at a local flying club for weekend training as a Soviet air cadet, where he trained to fly a biplane, and later a Yakovlev Yak-18. [14] [19] He earned extra money as a part-time dock labourer on the Volga River. [9]

In 1955, Gagarin was accepted to the First Chkalovsky Higher Air Force Pilots School in Orenburg. [20] [21] He initially began training on the Yak-18 already familiar to him and later graduated to training on the MiG-15 in February 1956. [20] Gagarin twice struggled to land the two-seater trainer aircraft, and risked dismissal from pilot training. However, the commander of the regiment decided to give him another chance at landing. Gagarin's flight instructor gave him a cushion to sit on, which improved his view from the cockpit, and he landed successfully. Having completed his evaluation in a trainer aircraft, [22] Gagarin began flying solo in 1957. [13]

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. [23] On 7 July 1959, he was rated Military Pilot 3rd Class. [24] 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. [23] [25] By this point, he had accumulated 265 hours of flight time. [23] Gagarin was promoted to the rank of senior lieutenant on 6 November 1959, [24] three weeks after he was interviewed by a medical commission for qualification to the space programme. [23]

Selection and training

Gagarin's selection for the Vostok programme was overseen by the Central Flight Medical Commission led by Major General Konstantin Fyodorovich Borodin of the Soviet Army Medical Service. He underwent physical and psychological testing conducted at Central Aviation Scientific-Research Hospital, in Moscow, commanded by Colonel A.S. Usanov, a member of the commission. The commission also included Colonel Yevgeniy Anatoliyevich Karpov, who later commanded the training centre, Colonel Vladimir Ivanovich Yazdovskiy, the head physician for Gagarin's flight, and Major-General Aleksandr Nikolayevich Babiychuk, a physician flag officer on the Soviet Air Force General Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Air Force. [26] The commission limited their selection to pilots between 25 and 30 years old. The chief engineer of the programme Sergei Korolev also specified that candidates, to fit in the limited space in the Vostok capsule, should weigh less than 72 kg (159 lb) and be no taller than 1.70 metres (5 ft 7 in) [27] [28] Gagarin was 1.57 metres (5 ft 2 in) tall. [29]

From a pool of 154 qualified pilots short-listed by their Air Force units, the military physicians chose 29 cosmonaut candidates, of which 20 were approved by the Credential Committee of the Soviet government. The first twelve including Gagarin were approved on 7 March 1960 and eight more were added in a series of subsequent orders issued until June. [26] [c] Gagarin began training at the Khodynka Airfield in downtown Moscow on 15 March 1960. The training regimen involved vigorous and repetitive physical exercises which Alexei Leonov, a member of the initial group of twelve, described as akin to training for the Olympic Games. [30] In April 1960, they began parachute training in Saratov Oblast and each completed about 40 to 50 jumps from both low and high altitude, over both land and water. [31]

Gagarin was a candidate favoured by his peers when they were asked to vote anonymously for a candidate besides themselves they would like to be the first to fly, all but three chose Gagarin. [32] One of these candidates, Yevgeny Khrunov, believed that Gagarin was very focused and was demanding of himself and others when necessary. [33] On 30 May 1960, Gagarin was further selected for an accelerated training group, known as the Vanguard Six or Sochi Six, [34] [d] from which the first cosmonauts of the Vostok programme would be chosen. The other members of the group were Anatoliy Kartashov, Andriyan Nikolayev, Pavel Popovich, German Titov, and Valentin Varlamov. However, Kartashov and Varlamov were injured and replaced by Khrunov and Grigoriy Nelyubov. [36]

As several of the candidates selected for the programme including Gagarin did not have higher education degrees, they were enrolled into a correspondence course programme at the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy. Gagarin enrolled in the programme in September 1960 and did not earn his specialist diploma until early 1968. [37] [38] Gagarin was also subjected to experiments that were designed to test physical and psychological endurance including oxygen starvation tests in which the cosmonauts were locked in an isolation chamber and the air slowly pumped out. He also trained for the upcoming flight by experiencing g-forces in a centrifuge. [36] [39] Psychological tests included placing the candidates in an anechoic chamber in complete isolation Gagarin was in the chamber on 26 July – 5 August. [40] [31] In August 1960, a Soviet Air Force doctor evaluated his personality as follows:

Modest embarrasses when his humor gets a little too racy high degree of intellectual development evident in Yuriy fantastic memory distinguishes himself from his colleagues by his sharp and far-ranging sense of attention to his surroundings a well-developed imagination quick reactions persevering, prepares himself painstakingly for his activities and training exercises, handles celestial mechanics and mathematical formulae with ease as well as excels in higher mathematics does not feel constrained when he has to defend his point of view if he considers himself right appears that he understands life better than a lot of his friends. [32]

The Vanguard Six were given the title of pilot-cosmonaut in January 1961 [36] and entered a two-day examination conducted by a special interdepartmental commission led by Lieutenant-General Nikolai Kamanin, the overseer of the Vostok programme. The commission was tasked with ranking the candidates based on their mission readiness for the first human Vostok mission. On 17 January, they were tested in a simulator at the M. M. Gromov Flight-Research Institute on a full-size mockup of the Vostok capsule. Gagarin, Nikolayev, Popovich, and Titov all received excellent marks on the first day of testing in which they were required to describe the various phases of the mission followed by questions from the commission. [33] On the second day, they were given a written examination following which the special commission ranked Gagarin as the best candidate for the first mission. He and the next two highest-ranked cosmonauts, Titov and Nelyubov, were sent to Tyuratam for final preparations. [33] Gagarin and Titov were selected to train in the flight-ready spacecraft on 7 April. Historian Asif Siddiqi writes of the final selection: [41]

In the end, at the State Commission meeting on April 8, Kamanin stood up and formally nominated Gagarin as the primary pilot and Titov as his backup. Without much discussion, the commission approved the proposal and moved on to other last-minute logistical issues. It was assumed that in the event Gagarin developed health problems prior to liftoff, Titov would take his place, with Nelyubov acting as his backup.

Vostok 1

On 12 April 1961, at 6:07 am UTC, the Vostok 3KA-3 (Vostok 1) spacecraft was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome. Aboard was Gagarin, the first human to travel into space, using the call sign Kedr (Russian: Кедр , Siberian pine or cedar). [42] The radio communication between the launch control room and Gagarin included the following dialogue at the moment of rocket launch:

Korolev: Preliminary stage . intermediate. main. LIFT-OFF! We wish you a good flight. Everything's all right.
Gagarin: Off we go! Goodbye, until [we meet] soon, dear friends. [43] [44]

Gagarin's farewell to Korolev using the informal phrase Poyekhali! ( Поехали! , 'Off we go!') [e] later became a popular expression in the Eastern Bloc that was used to refer to the beginning of the Space Age. [47] [48] The five first-stage engines fired until the first separation event, when the four side-boosters fell away, leaving the core engine. The core stage then separated while the rocket was in a suborbital trajectory, and the upper stage carried it to orbit. Once the upper stage finished firing, it separated from the spacecraft, which orbited for 108 minutes before returning to Earth in Kazakhstan. [49] Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth. [50]

"The feeling of weightlessness was somewhat unfamiliar compared with Earth conditions. Here, you feel as if you were hanging in a horizontal position in straps. You feel as if you are suspended", Gagarin wrote in his post-flight report. [51] He also wrote in his autobiography released the same year that he sang the tune "The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows" ( "Родина слышит, Родина знает" ) during re-entry. [52] Gagarin was recognised as a qualified Military Pilot 1st Class and promoted to the rank of major in a special order given during his flight. [24] [52]

At about 7,000 metres (23,000 ft), Gagarin ejected from the descending capsule as planned and landed using a parachute. [53] There were concerns Gagarin's spaceflight record would not be certified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world governing body for setting standards and keeping records in the field, which at the time required that the pilot land with the craft. [54] Gagarin and Soviet officials initially refused to admit that he had not landed with his spacecraft, [55] an omission which became apparent after Titov's flight on Vostok 2 four months later. Gagarin's spaceflight records were nonetheless certified and reaffirmed by the FAI, which revised its rules, and acknowledged that the crucial steps of the safe launch, orbit, and return of the pilot had been accomplished. Gagarin continues to be internationally recognised as the first human in space and first to orbit the Earth. [56]

Gagarin's flight was a triumph for the Soviet space programme and he became a national hero of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, as well as a worldwide celebrity. Newspapers around the globe published his biography and details of his flight. He was escorted in a long motorcade of high-ranking officials through the streets of Moscow to the Kremlin where, in a lavish ceremony, Nikita Khrushchev awarded him the title Hero of the Soviet Union. Other cities in the Soviet Union also held mass demonstrations, the scale of which were second only to the World War II Victory Parades. [57]

Gagarin gained a reputation as an adept public figure and was noted for his charismatic smile. [58] [59] [60] On 15 April 1961, accompanied by officials from the Soviet Academy of Sciences, he answered questions at a press conference in Moscow reportedly attended by 1,000 reporters. [61] Gagarin visited the United Kingdom three months after the Vostok 1 mission, going to London and Manchester. [58] [62] While in Manchester, despite heavy rain, he refused an umbrella, insisted that the roof of the convertible car he was riding in remain open, and stood so the cheering crowds could see him. [58] [63] Gagarin toured widely abroad, accepting the invitation of about 30 countries in the years following his flight. [64] In just the first four months, he also went to Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Hungary, and Iceland. [65] Because of his popularity, US president John F. Kennedy barred Gagarin from visiting the United States. [46]

In 1962, Gagarin began serving as a deputy to the Soviet of the Union, [66] and was elected to the Central Committee of the Young Communist League. He later returned to Star City, the cosmonaut facility, where he spent several years working on designs for a reusable spacecraft. He became a lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Forces on 12 June 1962, and received the rank of colonel on 6 November 1963. [24] On 20 December, Gagarin became Deputy Training Director of the cosmonaut training facility. [67] Soviet officials, including Kamanin, tried to keep Gagarin away from any flights, being worried about losing their hero in an accident noting that he was "too dear to mankind to risk his life for the sake of an ordinary space flight". [68] Kamanin was also concerned by Gagarin's drinking and believed the sudden rise to fame had taken its toll on the cosmonaut. While acquaintances say Gagarin had been a "sensible drinker", his touring schedule placed him in social situations in which he was increasingly expected to drink alcohol. [13] [19]

Two years later, he was re-elected as a deputy of the Soviet Union but this time to the Soviet of Nationalities, the upper chamber of legislature. [66] The following year, he began to re-qualify as a fighter pilot [69] and was backup pilot for his friend Vladimir Komarov on the Soyuz 1 flight after five years without piloting duty. Kamanin had opposed Gagarin's reassignment to cosmonaut training he had gained weight and his flying skills had deteriorated. Despite this, he remained a strong contender for Soyuz 1 until he was replaced by Komarov in April 1966 and reassigned to Soyuz 3. [70]

The Soyuz 1 launch was rushed due to implicit political pressures [71] and despite Gagarin's protests that additional safety precautions were necessary. [72] Gagarin accompanied Komarov to the rocket before launch and relayed instructions to Komarov from ground control following multiple system failures aboard the spacecraft. [73] Despite their best efforts, Soyuz 1 crash landed after its parachutes failed to open, killing Komarov instantly. [74] After the Soyuz 1 crash, Gagarin was permanently banned from training for and participating in further spaceflights. [75] He was also grounded from flying aircraft solo, a demotion he worked hard to lift. He was temporarily relieved of duties to focus on academics with the promise that he would be able to resume flight training. [76] On 17 February 1968, Gagarin successfully defended his aerospace engineering thesis on the subject of spaceplane aerodynamic configuration and graduated cum laude from the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy. [38] [76] [77]

In 1957, while a cadet in flight school, Gagarin met Valentina Goryacheva at the May Day celebrations at the Red Square in Moscow. [78] She was a medical technician who had graduated from Orenburg Medical School. [14] [19] [79] They were married on 7 November of the same year, [14] the same day Gagarin graduated from his flight school, and they had two daughters. [80] [81] Yelena Yurievna Gagarina, born 1959, [81] is an art historian who has worked as the director-general of the Moscow Kremlin Museums since 2001 [82] [83] and Galina Yurievna Gagarina, born 1961, [81] is a professor of economics and the department chair at Plekhanov Russian University of Economics in Moscow. [82] [84] Following his rise to fame, at a Black Sea resort in September 1961, he was reportedly caught by his wife during a liaison with a nurse who had aided him after a boating incident. He attempted to escape through a window and jumped off a second floor balcony. The resulting injury left a permanent scar above his left eyebrow. [13] [19]

In his youth Gagarin was a keen sportsman and played ice hockey as a goalkeeper. [85] He was also a basketball fan and coached the Saratov Industrial Technical School team, as well as being a referee. [86]

Some sources have said that Gagarin commented during his space flight, "I don't see any God up here," though no such words appear in the verbatim record of his conversations with Earth stations during the spaceflight. [87] In a 2006 interview, Gagarin's friend Colonel Valentin Petrov stated that Gagarin never said these words and that the quote originated from Khrushchev's speech at the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU about the state's anti-religion campaign, saying "Gagarin flew into space, but didn't see any god there". [88] Petrov also said Gagarin had been baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church as a child, and a 2011 Foma magazine article quoted the rector of the Orthodox Church in Star City saying, "Gagarin baptized his elder daughter Yelena shortly before his space flight and his family used to celebrate Christmas and Easter and keep icons in the house". [89]

On 27 March 1968, while on a routine training flight from Chkalovsky Air Base, Gagarin and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin died when their MiG-15UTI crashed near the town of Kirzhach. The bodies of Gagarin and Seryogin were cremated and their ashes interred in the walls of the Kremlin. [90] Wrapped in secrecy, the cause of the crash that killed Gagarin is uncertain and became the subject of several theories. [91] [92] At least three investigations into the crash were conducted separately by the Air Force, official government commissions, and the KGB. [93] [94] According to a biography of Gagarin by Jamie Doran and Piers Bizony, Starman: The Truth Behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin, the KGB worked "not just alongside the Air Force and the official commission members but against them." [93]

The KGB's report, declassified in March 2003, dismissed various conspiracy theories and instead indicated the actions of airbase personnel contributed to the crash. The report states that an air-traffic controller provided Gagarin with outdated weather information and that by the time of his flight, conditions had deteriorated significantly. Ground crew also left external fuel tanks attached to the aircraft. Gagarin's planned flight activities needed clear weather and no outboard tanks. The investigation concluded Gagarin's aircraft entered a spin, either due to a bird strike or because of a sudden move to avoid another aircraft. Because of the out-of-date weather report, the crew believed their altitude was higher than it was and could not react properly to bring the MiG-15 out of its spin. [94] Another theory, advanced in 2005 by the original crash investigator, hypothesizes that a cabin air vent was accidentally left open by the crew or the previous pilot, leading to oxygen deprivation and leaving the crew incapable of controlling the aircraft. [91] A similar theory, published in Air & Space magazine, is that the crew detected the open vent and followed procedure by executing a rapid dive to a lower altitude. This dive caused them to lose consciousness and crash. [92]

On 12 April 2007, the Kremlin vetoed a new investigation into the death of Gagarin. Government officials said they saw no reason to begin a new investigation. [95] In April 2011, documents from a 1968 commission set up by the Central Committee of the Communist Party to investigate the accident were declassified. The documents revealed that the commission's original conclusion was that Gagarin or Seryogin had manoeuvred sharply, either to avoid a weather balloon or to avoid "entry into the upper limit of the first layer of cloud cover", leading the jet into a "super-critical flight regime and to its stalling in complex meteorological conditions". [96]

Alexei Leonov, who was also a member of a state commission established to investigate Gagarin's death, was conducting parachute training sessions that day and heard "two loud booms in the distance". He believes that a Sukhoi Su-15 was flying below its minimum altitude and, "without realizing it because of the terrible weather conditions, he passed within 10 or 20 meters of Yuri and Seregin's plane while breaking the sound barrier". The resulting turbulence would have sent the MiG-15UTI into an uncontrolled spin. Leonov said the first boom he heard was that of the jet breaking the sound barrier and the second was Gagarin's plane crashing. [97]

According to some conspiracy theories, Gagarin's death was ordered by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, who supposedly was jealous of Gagarin's popularity, overshadowing him at public events. [98] [99] [100] [101] [102]

Medals and orders of merit

On 14 April 1961, Gagarin was honoured with a 12-mile (19 km) parade attended by millions of people that concluded at the Red Square. After a short speech, he was bestowed the Hero of the Soviet Union, [103] [104] Order of Lenin, [103] Merited Master of Sports of the Soviet Union [105] and the first Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR. [104] On 15 April, the Soviet Academy of Sciences awarded him with the Konstantin Tsiolkovsky Gold Medal, named after the Russian pioneer of space aeronautics. [106] Gagarin had also been awarded four Soviet commemorative medals over the course of his career. [24]

He was honoured as a Hero of Socialist Labor from Czechoslovakia on 29 April 1961, [107] [108] and Hero of Socialist Labor (Bulgaria, including the Order of Georgi Dimitrov) the same year. [24] On the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the Cuban Revolution (26 July), President Osvaldo Dorticos of Cuba presented him with the first Commander of the Order of Playa Girón, a newly created medal. [109]

Gagarin was also awarded the 1960 Gold Air Medal and the 1961 De la Vaulx Medal from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale in Switzerland. [110] He received numerous awards from other nations that year, including the Star of the Republic of Indonesia (2nd Class), the Order of the Cross of Grunwald (1st Degree) in Poland, the Order of the Flag of the Republic of Hungary, the Hero of Labor award from Democratic Republic of Vietnam, [24] the Italian Columbus Day Medal, [111] and a Gold Medal from the British Interplanetary Society. [112] [113] President Jânio Quadros of Brazil decorated Gagarin on 2 August 1961 with the Order of Aeronautical Merit, Commander grade. [114] During a tour of Egypt in late January 1962, Gagarin received the Order of the Nile [115] and the golden keys to the gates of Cairo. [64] On 22 October 1963, Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova were honoured with the Order of Karl Marx from the German Democratic Republic. [116]

Tributes

The date of Gagarin's space flight, 12 April, has been commemorated. Since 1962, it has been celebrated in the USSR and most of its former territories as Cosmonautics Day. [117] [118] Since 2000, Yuri's Night, an international celebration, is held annually to commemorate milestones in space exploration. [119] In 2011, it was declared the International Day of Human Space Flight by the United Nations. [120]

A number of buildings and locations have been named for Gagarin. The Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City was named on 30 April 1968. [121] The launch pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome from which Sputnik 1 and Vostok 1 were launched is now known as Gagarin's Start. Gagarin Raion in Sevastopol, Ukraine, was named after him during the period of the Soviet Union. The Russian Air Force Academy was renamed the Gagarin Air Force Academy in 1968. [122] A street in Warsaw, Poland, is called Yuri Gagarin Street. [123] The town of Gagarin, Armenia was renamed in his honour in 1961. [124]

In 1961 the Olympic sports training center in Chernihiv in Ukraine, was named Stadion Yuri Gagarin and the 25 May 1964, Gagarin in person attended the stadium.

Gagarin has been honoured on the Moon by astronauts and astronomers. During the American space programme's Apollo 11 mission in 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left a memorial satchel containing medals commemorating Gagarin and Komarov on the Moon's surface. [125] [126] In 1971, Apollo 15 astronauts David Scott and James Irwin left the small Fallen Astronaut sculpture at their landing site as a memorial to the American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts who died in the Space Race the names on its plaque included Yuri Gagarin and 14 others. [127] [128] In 1970, a 262 km (163 mi) wide crater on the far side was named after him. [129] Gagarin was inducted as a member of the 1976 inaugural class of the International Space Hall of Fame in New Mexico. [130]

Gagarin is memorialised in music a cycle of Soviet patriotic songs titled The Constellation Gagarin ( Созвездье Гагарина , Sozvezdie Gagarina) was written by Aleksandra Pakhmutova and Nikolai Dobronravov in 1970–1971. [131] The most famous of these songs refers to Gagarin's poyekhali!: in the lyrics, "He said 'let's go!' He waved his hand". [47] [131] He was the inspiration for the pieces "Hey Gagarin" by Jean-Michel Jarre on Métamorphoses, "Gagarin" by Public Service Broadcasting, and "Gagarin, I loved you" by Undervud. [132]

Vessels have been named for Gagarin Soviet tracking ship Kosmonavt Yuri Gagarin was built in 1971 [133] and the Armenian airline Armavia named their first Sukhoi Superjet 100 in his honour in 2011. [134]

Two commemorative coins were issued in the Soviet Union to honour the 20th and 30th anniversaries of his flight: a one-ruble coin in copper-nickel (1981) and a three-ruble coin in silver (1991). In 2001, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Gagarin's flight, a series of four coins bearing his likeness was issued in Russia it consisted of a two-ruble coin in copper-nickel, a three-ruble coin in silver, a ten-ruble coin in brass-copper and nickel, and a 100-ruble coin in silver. [135] In 2011, Russia issued a 1,000-ruble coin in gold and a three-ruble coin in silver to mark the 50th anniversary of his flight. [136]

In 2008, the Kontinental Hockey League named their championship trophy the Gagarin Cup. [137] In a 2010 Space Foundation survey, Gagarin was ranked as the sixth-most-popular space hero, tied with the fictional character James T. Kirk from Star Trek. [138] A Russian docudrama titled Gagarin: First in Space was released in 2013. Previous attempts at portraying Gagarin were disallowed his family took legal action over his portrayal in a fictional drama and vetoed a musical. [139]

Statues, monuments and murals

There are statues of Gagarin and monuments to him located in the town named after him as well as in Orenburg, Cheboksary, Irkutsk, Izhevsk, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, and Yoshkar-Ola in Russia, as well as in Nicosia, Cyprus, Druzhkivka, Ukraine, Karaganda, Kazakhstan, and Tiraspol, Moldova. On 4 June 1980, Monument to Yuri Gagarin in Gagarin Square, Leninsky Avenue, Moscow, was opened. [140] The monument is mounted to a 38 m (125 ft) tall pedestal and is constructed of titanium. Beside the column is a replica of the descent module used during his spaceflight. [141]

In 2011, a statue of Gagarin was unveiled at Admiralty Arch in The Mall in London, opposite the permanent sculpture of James Cook. It is a copy of the statue outside Gagarin's former school in Lyubertsy. [142] In 2013, the statue was moved to a permanent location outside the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. [143]

In 2012, a statue was unveiled at the site of NASA's original spaceflight headquarters on South Wayside Drive in Houston. The sculpture was completed in 2011 by Leonov, who is also an artist, and was a gift to Houston commissioned by various Russian organisations. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were present for the dedication. [144] [145] The Russian Federation presented a bust of Gagarin to several cities in India including one that was unveiled at the Birla Planetarium in Kolkata in February 2012. [146]

In April 2018, a bust of Gagarin erected on the street in Belgrade, Serbia, that bears his name was removed, after less than a week. A new work was commissioned following the outcry over the disproportionately small size of its head which locals said was an "insult" to Gagarin. [147] [148] Belgrade City Manager Goran Vesic stated that neither the city, the Serbian Ministry of Culture, nor the foundation that financed it had prior knowledge of the design. [149]

In August 2019, the Italian artist Jorit painted Gagarin's face on the facade of a twenty-story building in the district of Odintsovo, Russia. [150] [151] The mural is the largest portrait of Gagarin in the world. [152]

In March 2021, a statue of Gagarin was unveiled at Mataram Park (Taman Mataram) in Jakarta, Indonesia in celebration of the 70th anniversary of Indonesia-Russia diplomatic relations as well as the 60th anniversary of the first human space flight. The statue, sculpted by Russian artist A.D. Leonov and presented by Russian embassy in Jakarta, is considered as "a sign of strengthening relations" between Moscow and Jakarta, which have been sister cities since 2006. [153] [154]

50th anniversary

The 50th anniversary of Gagarin's journey into space was marked in 2011 by tributes around the world. A documentary film titled First Orbit was shot from the International Space Station, combining sound recordings from the original flight with footage of the route taken by Gagarin. [155] The Russian, American, and Italian crew of Expedition 27 aboard the ISS sent a special video message to wish the people of the world a "Happy Yuri's Night", wearing shirts with an image of Gagarin. [156]

The Central Bank of the Russian Federation released gold and silver coins to commemorate the anniversary. [136] The Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft was named Gagarin with the launch in April 2011 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of his mission. [157] [158]

  1. ^ Russian: Юрий Алексеевич Гагарин , IPA:[ˈjʉrʲɪj ɐlʲɪˈksʲejɪvʲɪtɕ ɡɐˈɡarʲɪn] Gagarin's first name is sometimes transliterated as Yuriy, Youri, or Yury.
  2. ^ Alexey and Anna's names are sometimes transliterated as Aleksei Ivanovich and Anna Timofeevna, respectively. [5]
  3. ^ The first twelve announced on 7 March 1960 were Lieutenant Alexei Leonov, Senior Lieutenants Ivan Anikeyev, Valery Bykovsky, Yuri Gagarin, Viktor Gorbatko, Grigori Nelyubov, Andriyan Nikolayev, German Titov, Boris Volynov, and Georgy Shonin, Captain Pavel Popovich and Engineer Captain Vladimir Komarov. On 9 March 1960, Senior Lieutenant Yevgeny Khrunov was added. Senior Lieutenants Dmitri Zaikin and Valentin Filatyev joined the group on 25 March. They were followed by Major Pavel Belyayev and Senior Lieutenants Valentin Bondarenko, Valentin Varlamov and Mars Rafikov who joined on 28 April 1960. Captain Anatoly Kartashov was the last to join in June 1960. [26]
  4. ^ The group was also nicknamed the "Lilies" by their fellow cosmonauts, a reference to "Lilies of the Valley", a song by composer Oscar Feltsman. [35][36]
  5. ^ Some sources translate this phrase as "Let's go!" [45][46]
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  2. ^French 2010, p. 270
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  5. ^Jenks 2012a, pp. 140–141
  6. ^Doran & Bizony 2011, pp. 11–12
  7. ^Burgess & Hall 2009, p. 42
  8. ^Jenks 2013, p. 28.
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  12. ^ abJenks 2013, p. 36.
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  14. ^ abcdef
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  19. ^Doran & Bizony 2011, p. 18.
  20. ^Doran & Bizony 2011, p. 18–20.
  21. ^ ab
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  24. Rincon, Paul & Moskvitch, Katia (4 April 2011). "Profile: Yuri Gagarin". BBC News. Archived from the original on 21 April 2018 . Retrieved 20 June 2018 .
  25. ^ abBurgess & Hall 2009, p. 43
  26. ^Burgess & Hall 2009, p. 352
  27. ^Burgess & Hall 2009, pp. 43–44
  28. ^ abcdBurgess & Hall 2009, p. 45
  29. ^ abcdefg
  30. "Юрий Алексеевич Гагарин" [Gagarin Yuri Alekseevich]. Astronaut.ru (in Russian). Archived from the original on 22 June 2019 . Retrieved 2 April 2019 .
  31. ^Lindsay 2013, p. 42
  32. ^ abcHall, Shayler & Vis 2007, p. 120
  33. ^Siddiqi 2000, p. 244
  34. ^Norberg 2013, p. 16
  35. ^Impey 2015, p. 51
  36. ^Hall, Shayler & Vis 2007, p. 121
  37. ^ abSiddiqi 2000, p. 248
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  39. ^ abcSiddiqi 2000, p. 261
  40. ^Cavallaro 2018, p. 96
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  42. Belyayev, Pavel & Leonov, Alexei (14 May 1965). "How bright it is – how incredibly beautiful!". Life. Time Inc. p. 124. Archived from the original on 11 March 2021 . Retrieved 23 October 2020 .
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  44. ^Hall, Shayler & Vis 2007, p. 135
  45. ^ ab
  46. Lebedev, Vitaliy (August 2011). "Диплом гагарина" [Gagarin's diploma] (PDF) . New Defence Order Strategy (in Russian). 16 (4): 117–118. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 January 2017 . Retrieved 13 June 2019 .
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  49. ^Siddiqi 2000, pp. 271–272
  50. ^Siddiqi 2000, p. 283
  51. ^Hall & Shayler 2001, p. 150
  52. ^French & Burgess 2009, p. 20
  53. ^Evans 2010, p. 18
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  55. Orange, Richard (12 April 2011). "Yuri Gagarin: 50th anniversary of the first man in space". The Telegraph. ISSN0307-1235. Archived from the original on 4 July 2019 . Retrieved 4 July 2019 .
  56. ^ abDushenko 2019, p. 1097
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Sputnik's launch took US military officials by surprise and in 1958 NASA was created to take on the Russians' space superiority.

But in 1961, the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit Earth, traveling in the capsule-like spacecraft Vostok 1 - the US were still second in the space race.

Later that year, then-President John F. Kennedy made the bold claim that the US would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade, and NASA's budget was hiked by more than 500 per cent over the next four years.

NASA met Kennedy's lofty target in July 1969 when US astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin and Michael Collins set off on the Apollo 11 space mission.

Gagarin only went to space once, although did serve as a backup crew for the first Soyuz mission in 1967 that saw cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov killed when it crashed into he ground after a parachute failure during its return to Earth

Fearing for the life of a man that had become a national icon, Soviet officials banned Gagarin from further spaceflight after the Soyuz failure

Since Gagarin's flight hundreds of people have flown into space, with most travelling to the International Space Station - only 24 have gone beyond low Earth orbit

In the Soviet Union April 12, the day of Gagarin's (pictured) flight was marked as Cosmonautics Day, first observed in 1963 and still observed in modern Russia and some former Soviet states

WHAT WAS THE SPACE RACE?

The space race was a 20th-century competition between two super powers - the capitalist US and the communist Soviet Union.

Each super power waged a bitter campaign to prove the superiority of their space technology in a race that became symbolic of the Cold War era.

The race began in 1957 when a Russian ballistic missile launched the world's first ever man-made satellite to enter Earth's orbit, known as 'Sputnik'.

Sputnik's launch took US military officials by surprise and in 1958 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) was created to take on the Russians' space superiority.

But in 1961, the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit Earth, traveling in the capsule-like spacecraft Vostok 1 - the US were still second in the space race.

Later that year, then-President John F. Kennedy made the bold claim that the US would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade, and Nasa's budget was hiked by more than 500 per cent over the next four years.

Armstrong would go on to become the first man on the moon - effectively ending the Cold War.

To mark the 60th anniversary of Gagarin's first flight, Russia's state controlled international television network, RT, has digitally restore the speech he gave a year after his trip to space.

They used neural networks and machine learning to restore, add colour and refresh the imagery and audio from archive frames recorded on 35mm film.

'Dear friends! Today is the day of the first anniversary of the first manned flight into space in the history of mankind, 'says Gagarin in his speech.

He noted that the flight of the Soviet spaceship 'Vostok-1' opened not only a new faith in space exploration, but also 'was a messenger of peace and goodwill' to all the people on Earth.

Since the days of the space race, travel has been restricted primarily to low Earth orbit, including trips to various space stations, including the ISS.

To date 553 people have travelled to space from 37 countries with just 24 going beyond low Earth orbit.

People from the US make up 61% of all space travellers or 339 people, followed by Russia at 21% or 121 people.

The next highest number of travellers from a single country is Japan at 12 people, or 2% of all people that have journeyed into space.

Yuri Night, also known as the 'World Space Party' is an international even observed since 2011 and this year will stream live on YouTube for free.

Next year it will be 50 years since the last humans went further than low Earth orbit, when the NASA Apollo 17 crew landed on the moon.

The next time astronauts will leave low Earth orbit is expected to happen in 2023 when a crew on Artemis II will orbit the moon.

The year after Artemis III will take the first woman and the next man to land on the surface of the moon for the first time since 1972.

Going forward the first humans to land on another planet is expected to happen in 2035, when an extended Artemis mission will land on Mars.

In a video produced by RT, Gagarin's first anniversary speech has been restored and colourised

THE SPACE SHUTTLE: AMERICA'S LONGEST RUNNING SPACE EXPLORATION PROGRAMME

Born with Columbia, it was NASA's longest-running space exploration programme.

Atlantis was launched in 1985.

The next-to-youngest in Nasa's fleet remains at Kennedy Space Center as a museum display.

This grand finale came 50 years to the day that Gus Grissom became the second American in space, just half a year ahead of Glenn.

Atlantis - the last of Nasa's three surviving shuttles to retire - performed as admirably during descent as it did throughout the 13-day flight.

A full year's worth of food and other supplies were dropped off at the space station, just in case the upcoming commercial deliveries get delayed.

The international partners - Russia, Europe, Japan - will carry the load in the meantime.

Not all 1,333 days in space have been a success, however.

Two of the shuttles - Challenger and Columbia - were destroyed, one at launch, the other during the ride home.

It could happen before then if Elon Musk gets the SpaceX Starship spacecraft ready for a proposed crewed Mars trip in 2026.

The most recent flight to space saw NASA's Mark Vande Hei, Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskly and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos travel in a Soyuz capsule to the ISS, 254 miles above the Earth.

Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Galactic said he has dreamed of experiencing the view of Earth from space - as first seen by Yuri Gagarin - since he was a child watching the moon landings.

'Today, we celebrate International Day of Human Spaceflight with the commercial space industry on the cusp of turning my dream, and thousands of others, into a reality by regularly flying private astronauts into space.

'This is the dawn of a new space age and I feel even more passionate about the future of space travel now than I did when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon.'

Chris Hadfield, former Canadian astronaut and Virgin Galactic advisor said spaceflight is hard and magnificent, an achievement 'worthy of recognition.'

'April 12 is the 60th anniversary of an immensely brave man who forged our way into the unknown, Yuri Gagarin, and I respect and honor him for it.

'Every astronaut since then, from Al Shepard to the international Soyuz crew that launched to the space station last week, has followed in Yuri's footsteps.'

With the rise in commercial space travel, from firms like Virgin Galactic, the number of people recognised as astronauts will increase exponentially.

'I'm glad that all those who complete a spaceflight with Virgin Galactic will also be recognized by the Association of Space Explorers,' said Virgin Galactic Chief Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses.

'It's an honor to be recognized by an organization which counts so many pioneers of space exploration among its members.

'I'm looking forward to working with them to continue to inspire and educate people around the advantages of seeing the world's problems from the perspective of space.'

NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis mission

Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology.

NASA has chosen her to personify its path back to the Moon, which will see astronauts return to the lunar surface by 2024 - including the first woman and the next man.

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars.

Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Artemis 1 will be an uncrewed flight that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.

During this flight, the spacecraft will launch on the most powerful rocket in the world and fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown.

It will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about a three-week mission.

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. This graphic explains the various stages of the mission

Orion will stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before.

With this first exploration mission, NASA is leading the next steps of human exploration into deep space where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems near the Moon needed for lunar surface missions and exploration to other destinations farther from Earth, including Mars.

The will take crew on a different trajectory and test Orion’s critical systems with humans aboard.

The SLS rocket will from an initial configuration capable of sending more than 26 metric tons to the Moon, to a final configuration that can send at least 45 metric tons.

Together, Orion, SLS and the ground systems at Kennedy will be able to meet the most challenging crew and cargo mission needs in deep space.

Eventually NASA seeks to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.

The space agency hopes this colony will uncover new scientific discoveries, demonstrate new technological advancements and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy.


Soviet cosmonaut made pioneering spaceflight 60 years ago

MOSCOW (AP) — Crushed into the pilot's seat by heavy G-forces, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin saw flames outside his spacecraft and prepared to die. His voice broke the tense silence at ground control: “I’m burning. Goodbye, comrades.”

Gagarin didn’t know that the blazing inferno he observed through a porthole was a cloud of plasma engulfing Vostok 1 during its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, and he was still on track to return safely.

It was his quiet composure under pressure that helped make him the first human in space 60 years ago.

Gagarin’s steely self-control was a key factor behind the success of his pioneering 108-minute flight. The April 12, 1961, mission encountered glitches and emergencies — from a capsule hatch failing to shut properly just before blastoff to parachute problems in the final moments before touchdown.

From the time 20 Soviet air force pilots were selected to train for the first crewed spaceflight, Gagarin’s calm demeanor, quick learning skills and beaming smile made him an early favorite.

Two days before blastoff, the 27-year-old Gagarin wrote a farewell letter to his wife, Valentina, sharing his pride in being chosen to ride in Vostok 1 but also trying to console her in the event of his death.

“I fully trust the equipment, it mustn’t let me down. But if something happens, I ask you Valyusha not to become broken by grief,” he wrote, using a nickname for her.

Authorities held onto the letter and eventually gave it to Gagarin's widow seven years later after he died in an airplane crash. She never remarried.

Gagarin's pioneering, single-orbit flight made him a hero in the Soviet Union and an international celebrity. After putting the world's first satellite into orbit with the successful launch of Sputnik in October 1957, the Soviet space program, rushed to secure its dominance over the United States by putting a man into space.

“The task was set, and people were sleeping in their offices and factory shops, like at wartime,” Fyodor Yurchikhin, a Russian cosmonaut who eventually made five spaceflights, recalled.

As the Soviet rocket and space program raced to beat the Americans, it suffered a series of launch failures throughout 1960, including a disastrous launch pad explosion in October that killed 126 people. Missile Forces chief Marshal Mitrofan Nedelin was among the victims.

Like Gagarin, Soviet officials were prepared for the worst. No safety system had been installed to save the cosmonaut in case of another rocket explosion at blastoff or after.

Authorities drafted three versions of a bulletin about Gagarin’s flight for the official TASS news agency: one announcing a successful flight, another in case of problems, and the third one for a mission ending in disaster.

Apart from potential engine failures and other equipment malfunctions, scientists questioned an individual's ability to withstand the conditions of spaceflight. Many worried that a pilot could go mad in orbit.

Soviet engineers prepared for that situation by developing a fully automatic control system. As an extra precaution, the pilot would receive a sealed envelope containing a secret code for activating the capsule's manual controls. The theory was that a person who could enter the code must be sane enough to operate the ship.

Everyone in the space program liked Gagarin so much, however, that a senior instructor and a top engineer independently shared the secret code with him before the flight to save him the trouble of fiddling with the envelope in case of an emergency.

Problems began right after Gagarin got into Vostok 1, when a light confirming the hatch's closure did not go on. Working at a frantic pace, a leading engineer and a co-worker removed 32 screws, found and fixed a faulty contact, and put the screws back just in time for the scheduled launch.

Sitting in the capsule, Gagarin whistled a tune. “Poyekhali!” — “Off we go!” — he shouted as the rocket blasted off.

As another precaution, the orbit was planned so the spacecraft would descend on its own after a week if an engine burn failure stranded the ship. Instead, a glitch resulted in a higher orbit that would have left Gagarin dead if the engine had malfunctioned at that stage.

While the engine worked as planned to send the ship home, a fuel loss resulted in an unexpected reentry path and a higher velocity that made the ship rotate wildly for 10 agonizing minutes.

Gagarin later said he nearly blacked out while experiencing G-forces exceeding 10 times the pull of gravity. “There was a moment lasting two or three seconds when instruments started fading before my eyes,” he recalled.

Seeing a cloud of fiery plasma around his ship on re-entry, he thought his ship was burning.

A soft-landing system hadn’t been designed yet, so Gagarin ejected from the module in his spacesuit and deployed a parachute. While descending, he had to fiddle with a sticky valve on his spacesuit to start breathing outside air. A reserve chute unfolded in addition to the main parachute, making it hard for him to control his descent, but he landed safely on a field near the Volga River in the Saratov region.

Gagarin was flown to Moscow to a hero’s welcome, hailed by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and greeted by enthusiastic crowds cheering his flight as a triumph on par with the victory in World War II. In the years before he died at age 34, he basked in international glory, visiting dozens of countries to celebrate his historic mission.

“The colossal propaganda effect of the Sputnik launch and particularly Gagarin’s flight was very important,” Moscow-based aviation and space expert Vadim Lukashevich said. “We suddenly beat America even though our country hadn’t recovered yet from the massive damage and casualties” from World War II.

Gagarin was killed in a training jet crash on March 27, 1968. Not quite 16 months later, the U.S. beat the Soviet Union in the space race, putting an astronaut on the moon.

The 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union ended the era of rivalry. Russia's efforts to develop new rockets and spacecraft have faced endless delays, and the country has continued to rely on Soviet-era technology. Amid the stagnation, the much-criticized state space corporation Roscosmos has focused on a costly plan to build its new, rocket-shaped headquarters on the site of a dismantled rocket factory.

Associated Press journalists Kostya Manenkov and Kirill Zarubin in Moscow contributed to this report.


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