60 Years Ago — “I come from outer space!” [Yuri Gagarin – April 12 1961]

“Having stepped onto firm ground, I saw a woman and a girl who were standing near a spotted calf and who were watching me with bewilderment. When they saw me in my space suit and the parachute dragging alongside as I walked, they started to back away in fear. I told them, don’t be afraid, I am a Soviet like you, who has descended from space and I must find a telephone to call Moscow!”

Diary — Yuri Gagarin (April 12 1961)

April 12 2021 — On April 12 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first person to venture in outer space. His spacecraft — Vostok 1 — orbited for 108 minutes before returning to Earth in Kazakhstan. At about 7,000 metres (23,000 ft), Gagarin ejected from the descending capsule and landed using a parachute. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

RELATED POST: On This Day — Soviet Union Launches SPUTNIK (October 4 1957) [2020]

On April 14 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, Order of Lenin, Merited Master of Sports of the Soviet Union and the first Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR.

Gagarin with U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey, French Prime Minister Georges Pompidou and the Gemini 4 astronauts at the 1965 Paris Air Show

Gagarin toured widely abroad, accepting the invitation of about 30 countries in the years following his flight.

Because of his popularity, US president John F. Kennedy barred Gagarin from visiting the United States.

Less than a year later, the CIA produced the following document which is still fascinating reading.

On March 27 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.

The cause of the crash that killed Gagarin is uncertain and became the subject of several theories.

Yuri Gagarin: Still a hero after 60 years

“He loved people very much. He tried to help everybody when he was able to do it. He perfectly understood his importance, because in fact, after the flight, he was very respected. He understood he was able to get to any ministry, to any minister, with any request.”

Tamara Filitova — Niece of Yuri Gagarin

REFERENCES

Yuri Gagarin, 12 April 1961: “I come from outer space!” by Théo Pirard

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60 Years Ago — “I come from outer space!” [Yuri Gagarin – April 12 1961]

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