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62 Years Since Yuri Gagarin Traveled to Outer Space

Yuri Gagarin first human in space
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On April 12, we commemorate the 62nd anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's groundbreaking 1961 journey as the first human in outer space.

A Legacy of Exploration: Yuri Gagarin’s Space Odyssey

On April 12, we commemorate the 62nd anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s groundbreaking 1961 journey as the first human in outer space. This historic 108-minute orbital flight aboard Vostok 1 not only transformed the world but also established World Aviation and Cosmonautics Day.

The Making of a Space Pioneer

Gagarin, a jet fighter pilot, was handpicked by the Soviet space program director Sergei Korolev due to his impeccable health, discipline, and professional background. At around 30 years old, 1.70 meters tall, and weighing between 68-70 kilos, Gagarin epitomized the ideal candidate for this unprecedented mission.

Before embarking on his legendary flight, Gagarin met Korolev and five other top Soviet pilots. Upon seeing the spacecraft’s cockpit, Gagarin eagerly removed his shoes and climbed up the hatch, securing his place in the mission.

A Letter to Remember

In a heartfelt letter to his wife, Valentina, Gagarin expressed his excitement for the upcoming flight and his unwavering faith in technology. He also acknowledged the potential risks and encouraged Valentina to remain strong, regardless of the outcome.

The First Manned Spacecraft: Vostok 1

Although the flight was designed to be fully automated, Gagarin could assume manual control if necessary. To safeguard against potential complications due to prolonged weightlessness, the numerical code for manual control was kept in a sealed envelope, which Gagarin was secretly given before the flight.

Blasting Off into History

As Gagarin ascended the metallic platform to board Vostok 1, he enthusiastically signed autographs and waved goodbye to onlookers. The spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakhstan) at 09:07 Moscow time, marking the beginning of Soviet space exploration.

An Orbit to Remember

During his orbit, Gagarin conducted simple experiments, documented his experiences, and marveled at Earth’s beauty. Meanwhile, US observers detected radio signals from Vostok 1, prompting the Pentagon to inform President John F. Kennedy’s senior science adviser, Dr. Jerome Wiesner, that the Russians had surpassed the Americans in space.

A Hero’s Return

Gagarin endured extreme physical and psychological stress during his descent, withstanding forces 8 to 10 times greater than normal and the exterior of the spacecraft enduring temperatures soaring to 5,000ºC. Despite these challenges, Gagarin successfully parachuted out of Vostok 1 at an altitude of 7 kilometers, narrowly avoiding a perilous landing in the Volga River. Upon reaching solid ground, he was greeted by a local ranger’s wife, Anna Tajtárova, and her granddaughter, Rita.

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