Vostok 1 spacecraft re-entry, 1961

Vostok 1 spacecraft re-entry, 1961

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Credit: DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Vostok 1 spacecraft re-entry. Artwork of the Vostok 1 spacecraft during re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere during the historic spaceflight by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968). Separation of the descent module from the rest of the spacecraft initially failed (seen here), and this caused tumbling and higher than expected g-forces. Separation did eventually succeed, and Gagarin ejected from the descent module and parachuted safely to the ground in the Saratov region of Russia. Gagarin became the first human in space during this mission, flown on 12 April 1961. He circled the Earth once in a flight that lasted 1 hour and 48 minutes.

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