April 12, 1961 - Poyekhali! (Let's Go!) was heard over the radio as Vostok 1 rocketed away from Baikonur Cosmodrome with Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, making him the first human to depart our atmosphere and enter mankind's final frontier.

The spaceflight consisted of one orbit around Earth, the shortest manned orbital flight to date. According to official records, 108 minutes from launch to landing. As planned, Gagarin parachuted to the ground separately from his spacecraft after ejecting at 23,000 ft altitude.

Approximately 10 minutes after ejection from his capsule, 08:05 UT, Gagarin landed. Both he and the spacecraft landed via parachute 16 mi south west of Engels, in the Saratov region at 51.270682°N 45.99727°E, over 280 km to the west of the planned landing site.

A farmer and her daughter observed the strange scene of a figure in a bright orange suit with a large white helmet landing near them by parachute. Gagarin later recalled, "When they saw me in my space suit and the parachute dragging alongside as I walked, they started to back away in fear. The famed asked "Can it be that you have come from outer space?" to which Gagarin replied: "As a matter of fact, I have!" I told them, don't be afraid, I am a Soviet citizen like you, who has descended from space and I must find a telephone to call Moscow!"

Sadly, On 27 March 1968, on a routine training flight from Chkalovsky Air Base, he and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin were killed when their MiG-15UTI crashed near the town of Kirzhach.

Investigations concluded that the MiG - 15UTI was for unknown reasons maneuvered into a "super-critical flight regime and stalling in complex meteorological conditions,"

The bodies of Gagarin and Seryogin were cremated and the ashes were buried within in the walls of the Kremlin on Red Square.

As an example of Gagarin's reputation of good character, during a visit to Manchester in the United Kingdom, it was pouring rain. Gagarin insisted that the car roof remain down because "If all these people have turned out to welcome me and can stand in the rain, so can I." Gagarin refused an umbrella and remained standing in his open-top Bentley so that the cheering crowds could still see him.

"I saw how beautiful our planet is. People, let us preserve and increase this beauty, not destroy it!"
-Yuri Gagarin




Leave a comment