Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin

First man in space

On 12 April 1961 Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space when he orbited the Earth once during a 108 minute flight.

In 1960 Gagarin, a fighter pilot, was shortlisted for the Vostok 1 programme, which built on the success of Sputnik 1 just three years earlier. German Titov was Gagarin's closest rival for selection - both men tried to impress space programme director Sergei Korolev.

Gagarin became an instant worldwide celebrity and visited several countries including Britain in 1961. However, he was never to emulate his success and died in a military training flight on 27 March 1968, aged 34.

Image: Yuri Gagarin before launch (credit: Ria Novosti/SPL)

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Yuri Gagarin

About Yuri Gagarin

A Soviet fighter pilot becomes the first man in space.

About Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (Russian: Ю́рий Алексе́евич Гага́рин[note 1]; IPA: [ˈjʉrʲɪj ɐlʲɪˈksʲejɪvʲɪtɕ ɡɐˈɡarʲɪn]; 9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968) was a Russian-Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on 12 April 1961.

Gagarin became an international celebrity, and was awarded many medals and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation's highest honour. Vostok 1 marked his only spaceflight, but he served as backup crew to the Soyuz 1 mission (which ended in a fatal crash). Gagarin later became deputy training director of the Cosmonaut Training Centre outside Moscow, which was later named after him. Gagarin died in 1968 when the MiG-15 training jet he was piloting crashed.

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