Most of us remember Neil Armstrong as the first person who landed on the moon. But before Neil went to space, there was another human who dared to travel beyond earth’s atmosphere. Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin sat alone in the Vostok 1 spacecraft on April 12, 1961.
He became the first person to travel into space. And as the liftoff began, Yuri said, “Poyekhali!” which means, “Off we go!” in Russian.
There was a secret nationwide selection process in 1960, and Yuri Gagarin was chosen with the other 19 pilots. And soon, Yuri was selected for an elite training group known as the ‘Sochi Six.’ This group became a part of the Vostok program.
Gagarin and the other 19 pilots were a part of many experiments that were designed to test their physical and psychological endurance. Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov were selected because of their performance in training, as well as their physical characteristics.
But Yuri was the favored candidate by his peers. In fact, when all of the candidates were asked to vote and 17 of them chose Gagarin.
On April 12, 1961, at 6 a.m., Vostok 1 took off from southern Kazakhstan and went up to 200 miles above the Earth. And within 15 minutes, Gagarin became the first human to enter space.
But because there were a lot of unknowns in this mission, the Soviet space agency had decided to do something drastic. As they were uncertain over Gagarin’s ability to remain conscious, he wasn’t given any control of the operation.
It was actually handled by ground control and automatic onboard systems. Once he passed the earth’s atmosphere and was in orbit, Gagarin traveled once around the Earth at a speed of about 17,500 miles per hour, circling it entirely in just an hour and a half.
However, the descent was a harrowing experience for the pilot. The ball shaped capsule was gyrating at blazing speed and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Just when the capsule was over 4 miles above the ground level, Yuri ejected himself from the spacecraft.
He then landed safely with a parachute. From launch to landing, the entire ordeal only took one hour and 48 minutes.
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