Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space on April 12, 1961, when his Vostok rocket completed a single orbit of the earth. This article, written on the 50th anniversary of his historic flight, contains a number of interesting Yuri Gagarin facts.
Yuri Gagarin was born on 9 March, 1934
Gagarin was born in Klushino, Russia, near the modern city of Smolensk. His parents were farmers and, during the war with Germany, his house was occupied by a Nazi officer, forcing the Gagarin family to live in a hut in their garden.
Yuri Gagarin Height
Gagarin was only 5’2” tall. His lack of stature and low weight made him an ideal early astronaut.Gagarin the Sportsman
Gagarin loved sports, especially ice hockey and basketball. His regular position as an ice hockey player was Goalkeeper. He also refereed basketball matches.
Gagarin didn’t see God in Space
One of the most often repeated Yuri Gagarin quotes is “I don’t see God up here”, which he was supposed to have commented by radio during his flight. No record of the comment can be found, and it is unlikely to be true.
Gagarin was one of 20 pilots initially selected for the Soviet space program, and one of two pilots selected for the first mission into space. Had Gagarin become ill, Gherman Titov would have become the first human in space.
Gagarin toured the world
After completing his first manned spaceflight, Cosmonaut Gagarin toured the world, visiting many countries including the United Kingdom, where he met the British Prime Minsiter.
Gagarin the politician
In 1962, the year after his flight, Gagarin was elected as a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. He did not take to politics, however, and soon returned to flight testing. Soviet officials, keen not to lose a major propaganda asset, didn’t approve, however, and he eventually became a director of cosmonaut training at Star City.
Yuri Gagarin died on 27 March 1968, when his MiG crashed. There has been much speculation that his death was not an accident, especially as he was reported to have recently argued with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, but no evidence has been found to indicate that his death wasn’t an accident.
Gagarin 50th Anniversary
The Yuri Gagarin 50th anniversary has been celebrated around the world. Films have been released, statues made, and a special video message was recorded by the current crew of the International Space Station. You can read more about Yuri Gagarin’s 50th anniversary at the yurigagarin50.org website.
Gagarin remains a popular cultural icon, and there have been many Gagarin tributes made. In recognition of Gagarin’s love of ice hockey, the Russian Kontinental Hockey League named their trophy the Gagarin Cup, and in 2010, Gagarin was voted the sixth most popular space hero of all time – intriguingly, he tied for sixth place with the fictional Captain Kirk!
If you enjoyed this article, you can find more information about Yuri Gagarin at the Russian Space Web site. You can also read more by visiting the related links below.