Yuri Gagarin before launch, 1961

Yuri Gagarin before launch, 1961

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Credit: SPUTNIK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Yuri Gagarin before launch, in his flight suit and helmet, in a bus heading toward the Vostok 1 launch site in Kazakhstan, USSR, on 12 April 1961. Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968) was soon to become famous as the first man in space. He was launched in the Vostok 1 spacecraft and spent 1 hour and 48 minutes in Earth orbit. He crossed over Siberia, the Pacific Ocean, the tip of South America, and the southern Atlantic. Re-entry commenced over Africa, and Gagarin ejected from the spacecraft 7 kilometres up, over the Saratov region of Russia, parachuting safely to the ground. He became famous worldwide, and was made a Hero of the Soviet Union. He died in 1968 when the fighter plane he was flying crashed.

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