PLANETARY VISIONS LTD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PLANETARY VISIONS LTD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Vostok 1 Launch. Simulated satellite image of Kazakhstan taken from low Earth orbit, showing the launch of the Soviet Vostok 1 spacecraft, carrying Yuri Gagarin on the first manned orbital spaceflight, on 12th April 1961. The location of the Russian space launch site at Baikonur is shown, together with the Vostok 1 spacecraft, still attached to the third stage of its launch vehicle. The Aral Sea to the west is shown at its full extent, before the catastrophic shrinkage that started in the late 1960s. Other physical features include Lake Balkhash to the east, the Syr Darya River, and the Kyzyl Kum desert to the southwest. The dry grasslands of the Kazakh Steppe extend to the Ural Mountains on the northwestern horizon.
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