1961: Yuri Gagarin’s First Space Flight

1961: Yuri Gagarin’s First Space Flight
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons / Yuri Gagarin welcome Warsaw 1961

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 12 April 1961
  • Yuri Gagarin flew over Siberia, Hawaii, South America, and Africa, and finally landed on the territory of Russia - all in one hour and 48 minutes.

This day is inscribed in the history of human space exploration with capital letters. On this day Yuri Gagarin became the first man to get into orbit around the Earth.

The spacecraft was called Vostok 1 (the word “vostok” means east in Russian) and was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in what is now the Republic of Kazakhstan (today the Kazakhstani government rents the cosmodrome to Russia – it is still in use).

Gagarin’s flight lasted for one hour and 48 minutes, and in that time he circled the Earth in an orbit that reached a maximum height of 327 kilometers.

He flew over Siberia, Hawaii, South America, Africa and landed on the territory of Russia, 280 kilometers away from the planned location. At an altitude of 7,000 meters Gagarin left the aircraft and landed with his parachute.

When he finally landed, he first met a peasant woman and her daughter, both intimidated by Gagarin’s appearance in the orange space suit. He reassured them with these words: 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!”

Incidentally, the Americans were pretty far behind the Soviets in the first phase of space flight. The first American who managed to fly into Earth’s orbit was John Glenn on 20February, 1962, more than 10 months after Gagarin.

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