Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a brave Soviet pilot and cosmonaut who made history as the first human ever to traverse the depths of outer space.
On April 12, 1961, Gagarin blasted off in the Vostok 1 capsule, making a single orbit around Earth before returning safely to land.
It was an extraordinary feat of human exploration that opened up never-before-seen vistas and transformed our understanding of what was capable from atmospheric heights.
Gagarin’s courage and pioneering spirit are cemented in memory as he blazed a trail for mankind into undiscovered realms and galaxies beyond our own.
Yuri Gagarin Facts for Kids
- Yuri Gagarin was the first person to fly in space.
- He was a Russian cosmonaut.
- His spacecraft was called Vostok 1.
- He orbited Earth once in April 1961.
- He was 27 years old when he flew.
- He died in a plane crash in 1968 at age 34.
The Early Life of Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin was born to Aleksey Ivanovich Gagarin and Anna Timofeyevna Gagarina in Klushino, Russia, on March 9, 1934. During World War II, he and his family experienced great suffering as the Nazi troops occupied their hometown, burned 27 houses in the village, and took over their house.
Yuri’s two elder siblings were deported to Poland, and it took 21 months for them to come home safely after escaping captivity. Yuri himself was frequently beaten by German soldiers when he refused to work for them.
After the war ended, they moved to Gzhatsk, where Yuri could continue his education. He joined a model airplane club at the age of 16, developed an interest in aircraft since childhood, and later enrolled in a steel plant vocational school with honors, where he learned the mechanics of tractors.
He also got trained at a flying club as a Soviet air cadet and eventually became one of the first humans to travel into space as part of the USSR’s Vostok program on April 12, 1961.
Yuri Gagarin’s Involvement With the Soviet Air Force
The Soviet Air Force was the main aerial warfare service branch of the Soviet Armed Forces from 1946. It included strategic bombers, fighters, and some space exploration spacecraft along with their support personnel, equipment, and aircraft.
He began his flying career with the Soviet Air Force in 1955 and graduated as a Lieutenant in 1959. After expressing interest in space exploration, he was chosen to be part of the Soviet space program and went on to become one of the most well-known figures in modern history.
What did Gagarin do during his time with the Soviet Air Force?
Gagarin trained on Yak-18 and MiG-15 aircraft at the First Chkalovsky Higher Air Force Pilots School in Orenburg. After an initial setback, he successfully completed solo flights before being assigned to Northern Fleet’s Loustari Air Base for two years, where he received his Military Pilot 3rd Class rating on July 7, 1959.
His skillful performance impressed commanding officers enough so that when Luna 3 spacecraft launched on October 6, 1959, Gagarin expressed interest in space exploration, which would later earn him selection for the Soviet space program leading him to his historic achievement of becoming the first man to go into outer space aboard Vostok 1 mission.
Yuri Gagarin’s Career in the Soviet Space Program
On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space by boarding Vostok 1 after being chosen from a group of 154 qualified pilots.
Gagarin was an instant favorite among his peers; when asked to vote for another candidate, only three didn’t choose him.
He was one of twenty cosmonauts approved by the Soviet Credential Committee and selected for the Vanguard Six, also known as the Sochi Six.
To prepare for his flight into space, Gagarin underwent intense physical and psychological tests, including oxygen deprivation and being isolated in an anechoic chamber. Afterward, doctors noted that he was persevering and had quick reactions as well as high intellectual development.
Gagarin’s flight aboard Vostok 1 marked the beginning of the Soviet Space Program and made him an international celebrity.
It motivated others to pursue science and exploration despite political tensions between countries during this time period.
Vostok 1 was the first human spaceflight mission, launched on April 12, 1961. On board was Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. After his successful mission, he became known as a Hero of the Soviet Union and was acclaimed by many nations around the world.
Gagarin returned to the cosmonaut facility after his mission and spent years working on reusable spacecraft technology.
As recognition for his work, he joined the Central Committee of the Young Communist League in 1962 and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Forces on June 12 that same year. In 1963, he achieved the rank of Colonel and took on a role at the cosmonaut training facility as Deputy Training Director.
Soyuz 1 was a Soviet spaceflight mission that was lost in an accident during its return to Earth. The mission aimed to dock with the Soyuz 2 spacecraft, but due to several technical errors, the mission failed, killing the cosmonaut on board.
Yuri Gagarin was initially selected to lead this mission, but he was replaced by Viktor Komarov after his successful first flight on Vostok 1. Despite this, Gagarin still personally accompanied Komarov to the launchpad and gave him some final instructions.
Unfortunately, the Soyuz 1 launch ended in tragedy when an error caused it to travel off-course and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere resulting in its disintegration.
Gagarin was officially banned from training cosmonauts or flying solo as an astronaut afterward.
To redeem himself from the tragedy of Soyuz 1, Gagarin dedicated himself to academics and sought higher education in aerospace engineering at the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy.
He graduated with honors on February 17, 1968, and successfully defended his thesis on aerospace engineering soon afterward.
The death of Yuri Gagarin, the first man to travel into space, is an incident that happened on March 27, 1968. After taking a training flight in his MiG-15UTI with Vladimir Seryogin as his instructor, their plane crashed near the village of Kirzhach.
Multiple investigations were conducted by the Air Force and government, and it was concluded that Gagarin might have encountered a bird strike or might have been avoiding another aircraft at the time.
In 2005, a hypothesis suggested that leaving an air vent open might have caused Oxygen deprivation which made it difficult for Gagarin to control the plane.
Perhaps they didn’t recognize the lack of oxygen because they had practiced under similar conditions.
This tragic event would mark a turning point for human space exploration and technology.
Important Facts and Overview
Yuri Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, completing a single orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961. Prior to his historic flight, Gagarin was a fighter pilot in the Soviet Air Forces and completed a routine training flight at Chkalovsky Air Base.
Gagarin was one of 20 cosmonaut candidates selected for the Soviet space program in 1960. Among his colleagues were fellow cosmonauts Alexei Leonov and Vladimir Komarov, as well as flight instructor Valentina Goryacheva. Gagarin’s successful flight into space established the Soviet Union as a leader in the space race and made Gagarin a global celebrity.
Gagarin was born on March 9, 1934, in the village of Klushino, near Moscow, Russia.
He joined the Soviet Air Forces in 1955 and trained as a fighter pilot.
Gagarin’s historic space flight lasted just under two hours and orbited the Earth at a maximum altitude of about 200 miles.
After his flight, Gagarin became a global celebrity and toured widely, visiting many countries around the world.
Gagarin was also actively involved in the Soviet space program and trained as a backup crew member for several manned space missions.
Tragically, Gagarin died in a plane crash on March 27, 1968, while on a routine training flight. He was 34 years old.
Gagarin’s legacy as the first human in space is remembered and celebrated in Russia and around the world. He is widely regarded as a hero, and his name is synonymous with space exploration.