Yuri Gagarin
Overview
 
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet
Soviet Air Force
The Soviet Air Force, officially known in Russian as Военно-воздушные силы or Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily and often abbreviated VVS was the official designation of one of the air forces of the Soviet Union. The other was the Soviet Air Defence Forces...

 pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

, when his Vostok spacecraft
Spacecraft
A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo....

 completed an orbit
Orbit
In physics, an orbit is the gravitationally curved path of an object around a point in space, for example the orbit of a planet around the center of a star system, such as the Solar System...

 of the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 on April 12, 1961.

Gagarin became an international celebrity, and was awarded many medals and honours, including Hero of the Soviet Union
Hero of the Soviet Union
The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.-Overview:...

, the nation's highest honour. Vostok 1
Vostok 1
Vostok 1 was the first spaceflight in the Vostok program and the first human spaceflight in history. The Vostok 3KA spacecraft was launched on April 12, 1961. The flight took Yuri Gagarin, a cosmonaut from the Soviet Union, into space. The flight marked the first time that a human entered outer...

 marked his only spaceflight, but he served as backup crew to the Soyuz 1
Soyuz 1
Soyuz 1 was a manned spaceflight of the Soviet space program. Launched into orbit on April 23, 1967 carrying cosmonaut Colonel Vladimir Komarov, Soyuz 1 was the first flight of the Soyuz spacecraft...

 mission (which ended in a fatal crash).
Encyclopedia
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet
Soviet Air Force
The Soviet Air Force, officially known in Russian as Военно-воздушные силы or Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily and often abbreviated VVS was the official designation of one of the air forces of the Soviet Union. The other was the Soviet Air Defence Forces...

 pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

, when his Vostok spacecraft
Spacecraft
A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo....

 completed an orbit
Orbit
In physics, an orbit is the gravitationally curved path of an object around a point in space, for example the orbit of a planet around the center of a star system, such as the Solar System...

 of the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 on April 12, 1961.

Gagarin became an international celebrity, and was awarded many medals and honours, including Hero of the Soviet Union
Hero of the Soviet Union
The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.-Overview:...

, the nation's highest honour. Vostok 1
Vostok 1
Vostok 1 was the first spaceflight in the Vostok program and the first human spaceflight in history. The Vostok 3KA spacecraft was launched on April 12, 1961. The flight took Yuri Gagarin, a cosmonaut from the Soviet Union, into space. The flight marked the first time that a human entered outer...

 marked his only spaceflight, but he served as backup crew to the Soyuz 1
Soyuz 1
Soyuz 1 was a manned spaceflight of the Soviet space program. Launched into orbit on April 23, 1967 carrying cosmonaut Colonel Vladimir Komarov, Soyuz 1 was the first flight of the Soyuz spacecraft...

 mission (which ended in a fatal crash). Gagarin later became deputy training director of the Cosmonaut Training Centre outside Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, which was later named after him. Gagarin died in 1968 when a MiG 15 training jet he was piloting crashed.

Early life

Gagarin was born in the village of Klushino
Klushino
Klushino is a village in Smolensk Oblast, Russia, situated on the old road between Vyazma and Mozhaysk, not far from Gzhatsk.It was the site of a major battle during the Russo-Polish War . The village is best known as the birthplace of Yuri Gagarin, the first Soviet cosmonaut and the first man in...

 near Gzhatsk (now in Smolensk Oblast
Smolensk Oblast
Smolensk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its area is . Population: -Geography:The administrative center of Smolensk Oblast is the city of Smolensk. Other ancient towns include Vyazma and Dorogobuzh....

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

), on 9 March 1934. The adjacent town of Gzhatsk was renamed Gagarin in 1968 in his honour. His parents, Alexey Ivanovich Gagarin and Anna Timofeyevna Gagarina, worked on a collective farm. While manual labourers are described in official reports as "peasants", his mother was reportedly a voracious reader, and his father a skilled carpenter
Carpenter
A carpenter is a skilled craftsperson who works with timber to construct, install and maintain buildings, furniture, and other objects. The work, known as carpentry, may involve manual labor and work outdoors....

. Yuri was the third of four children, and his elder sister helped raise him while his parents worked. Like millions of people in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, the Gagarin family suffered during Nazi occupation in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. After a German officer took over their house, the family constructed a small mud hut where they spent a year and nine months until the end of the occupation. His two older siblings were deported to Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 for slave labour
OST-Arbeiter
OST-Arbeiter was a designation for slave workers gathered from Eastern Europe to do forced labor in Germany during World War II. The Ostarbeiters were mostly from the territory of Reichskommissariat Ukraine . Ukrainians made up the largest portion although many Belarusians, Russians, Poles and...

 in 1943, and did not return until after the war. In 1946, the family moved to Gzhatsk.

Career in the Soviet Air Force

In his youth, Gagarin became interested in space and planets. After studying for one year at a vocational technical school
Vocational technical school
Vocational Technical School – "Professionalno-tehnicheskoye uchilishche" are vocational education facilities established in the former Soviet Union to train qualified industrial workers and servicemen...

 in Lyubertsy
Lyubertsy
Lyubertsy is a city and the administrative center of Lyuberetsky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia. Population: Lyubertsy was founded in 1623, and it became a city in 1925.-Notable people:*Sergei Abeltsev, LDPR politician...

, Gagarin was selected for further training at a technical high school in Saratov
Saratov
-Modern Saratov:The Saratov region is highly industrialized, due in part to the rich in natural and industrial resources of the area. The region is also one of the more important and largest cultural and scientific centres in Russia...

. While there, he joined the "AeroClub", and learned to fly a light aircraft, a hobby that would take up an increasing portion of his time.

In 1955, after completing his technical schooling, he entered military flight training at the Orenburg
Orenburg
Orenburg is a city on the Ural River and the administrative center of Orenburg Oblast, Russia. It lies southeast of Moscow, very close to the border with Kazakhstan. Population: 546,987 ; 549,361 ; Highest point: 154.4 m...

 Pilot's School. While there he met Valentina Goryacheva, whom he married in 1957, after gaining his pilot's wings in a MiG-15. Post-graduation, he was assigned to Luostari
Luostari
Luostari is a rural locality in Pechengsky District of Murmansk Oblast, Russia located near the Norwegian border. Before World War II, Luostari was part of Finland. It was occupied by the German army during World War II. Luostari/Pechenga airfield is located nearby....

 airbase in Murmansk Oblast
Murmansk Oblast
Murmansk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia , located in the northwestern part of Russia. Its administrative center is the city of Murmansk.-Geography:...

, close to the Norwegian border
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, where terrible weather made flying risky. He became a Lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 in the Soviet Air Force
Soviet Air Force
The Soviet Air Force, officially known in Russian as Военно-воздушные силы or Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily and often abbreviated VVS was the official designation of one of the air forces of the Soviet Union. The other was the Soviet Air Defence Forces...

 on 5 November 1957 and on 6 November 1959 he received the rank of Senior Lieutenant.

Selection and training

In 1960, after the search and selection process, Yuri Gagarin was chosen with 19 other pilots for the Soviet space program
Soviet space program
The Soviet space program is the rocketry and space exploration programs conducted by the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from the 1930s until its dissolution in 1991...

. Gagarin was further selected for an elite training group known as the Sochi Six from which the first cosmonauts of the Vostok programme
Vostok programme
The Vostok programme was a Soviet human spaceflight project that succeeded in putting a person into Earth's orbit for the first time. The programme developed the Vostok spacecraft from the Zenit spy satellite project and adapted the Vostok rocket from an existing ICBM design...

 would be chosen. Gagarin and other prospective cosmonauts were subjected to experiments designed to test physical and psychological endurance; he also underwent training for the upcoming flight. Out of the twenty selected, the eventual choices for the first launch were Gagarin and Gherman Titov
Gherman Titov
Gherman Stepanovich Titov was a Soviet cosmonaut who, on August 6, 1961, became the second human to orbit the Earth aboard Vostok 2, preceded by Yuri Gagarin on Vostok 1...

 because of their performance in training, as well as their physical characteristics — space was at a premium in the small Vostok
Vostok spacecraft
The Vostok was a type of spacecraft built by the Soviet Union. The first human spaceflight in history was accomplished on this spacecraft on April 12, 1961, by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin....

 cockpit and both men were rather short. Gagarin was 1.57 metre tall, which was an advantage in the small Vostok
Vostok spacecraft
The Vostok was a type of spacecraft built by the Soviet Union. The first human spaceflight in history was accomplished on this spacecraft on April 12, 1961, by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin....

 cockpit
Cockpit
A cockpit or flight deck is the area, usually near the front of an aircraft, from which a pilot controls the aircraft. Most modern cockpits are enclosed, except on some small aircraft, and cockpits on large airliners are also physically separated from the cabin...

.

In August 1960, when Gagarin was one of 20 possible candidates, an Air Force doctor evaluated his personality as follows:
Gagarin was also a favoured candidate by his peers. When the 20 candidates were asked to anonymously vote for which other candidate they would like to see as the first to fly, all but three chose Gagarin. One of these candidates, Yevgeny Khrunov
Yevgeny Khrunov
Yevgeni Vassilyevich Khrunov was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew on the Soyuz 5/Soyuz 4 mission.He was born in Prudy.Yevgeni Khrunov was a colonel, Hero of the Soviet Union and Kandidat of Technical Sciences ....

, believed that Gagarin was very focused, and was demanding of himself and others when necessary.

Gagarin kept physically fit throughout his life, and was a keen sportsman. Cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky wrote:
In addition to being a keen ice hockey player, Gagarin was also a basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 fan, and coached the Saratov Industrial Technical School team, as well as being an umpire/referee.

Space flight

On 12 April 1961, aboard the Vostok 3KA-3 (Vostok 1
Vostok 1
Vostok 1 was the first spaceflight in the Vostok program and the first human spaceflight in history. The Vostok 3KA spacecraft was launched on April 12, 1961. The flight took Yuri Gagarin, a cosmonaut from the Soviet Union, into space. The flight marked the first time that a human entered outer...

), Gagarin became both the first human to travel into space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

, and the first to orbit the earth. His call sign was Kedr (Siberian Pine
Siberian Pine
The Siberian Pine, Pinus sibirica, in the family Pinaceae is a species of pine tree that occurs in Siberia from 58°E in the Ural Mountains east to 126°E in the Stanovoy Range in southern Sakha Republic, and from Igarka at 68°N in the lower Yenisei valley, south to 45°N in central...

).

In his post-flight report, Gagarin recalled his experience of spaceflight, having been the first human in space:

Following the flight, Gagarin told the Soviet leader
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the title given to the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. With some exceptions, the office was synonymous with leader of the Soviet Union...

 Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

 that during reentry he had whistled the tune "The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows" . The first two lines of the song are: "The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows/Where her son flies in the sky". This patriotic song was written by Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich was a Soviet Russian composer and one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century....

 in 1951 (opus 86), with words by Yevgeniy Dolmatovsky
Yevgeniy Dolmatovsky
Yevgeniy Aronovich Dolmatovsky was a Soviet poet and a Russian popular song lyricist. He was born and died in Moscow.-Examples of his songs:* Ballad of the Siberian Land - 1947* Yearning for the Motherland - 1948* Song of the Forests (music by Domitri Shostakovich, Opus 81) - 1949** The Pioneers...

.

Christianity

Some sources have claimed that Gagarin commented during the flight, "I don't see any God up here." However, no such words appear in the verbatim record of his conversations with Earth-based stations during the spaceflight. In a 2006 interview, Gagarin's friend Colonel Valentin Petrov stated that the cosmonaut never said such words, and that the quote originated from Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

's speech at the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU about the state's anti-religion campaign
USSR Anti-Religious Campaign (1958–1964)
During a more tolerant period towards religion from 1941 until the late 1950s in the Soviet Union, the church grew in stature and membership. This provoked concern by the Soviet government under Nikita Khrushchev, which decided in the late 1950s to undertake a new campaign to quell religion in...

, saying "Gagarin flew into space, but didn't see any god there." Petrov also said that Gagarin had been baptised into the Orthodox Church as a child, and a 2011 Foma magazine article quoted the rector of the Orthodox church in Star City saying, "Gagarin baptized his elder daughter Elena shortly before his space flight; and his family used to celebrate Christmas and Easter and keep icons in the house."

After Vostok 1

After the flight, Gagarin became a worldwide celebrity, touring widely abroad. He visited Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, and Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 to promote the Soviet Union's accomplishment of putting the first human in space. He visited the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 three months after the Vostok 1 mission, visiting the cities of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

, the latter of which has been fondly remembered by locals.

The sudden rise to national and international fame took its toll on Gagarin. Due to attending various functions and receptions in his honour, he had to consume large amounts of Vodka and alcoholic beverages, even though he normally did not drink. This started changing his physical appearance, which became heavier. The lavish attention of female fans also took its toll on his marriage. It is rumoured that his wife once caught him in a hotel room with another woman. He jumped out of the second floor window and hit his face on a kerbstone, which resulted in a deep cut above his left eye. The scar remained visible after that incident.

In 1962, he began serving as a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. He later returned to Star City, the cosmonaut facility, where he spent seven years working on designs for a reusable spacecraft. He became Lieutenant Colonel
Lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant colonel is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies and most marine forces and some air forces of the world, typically ranking above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence...

 (or Podpolkovnik
Podpolkovnik
Podpolkovnik is a military rank in Slavic countries which corresponds to a lieutenant colonel in English-speaking states. Usually this word is translated as lieutenant colonel, however the transliteration is also in common usage, for the sake of the historical context.The exact name of this rank...

) of the Soviet Air Force
Soviet Air Force
The Soviet Air Force, officially known in Russian as Военно-воздушные силы or Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily and often abbreviated VVS was the official designation of one of the air forces of the Soviet Union. The other was the Soviet Air Defence Forces...

 on 12 June 1962 and on 6 November 1963 he received the rank of Colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 (Polkovnik
Polkovnik
Polkovnik is often a military rank in Slavic countries which corresponds to a colonel in English-speaking states. However, in the Ukraine, polkovnyk was an administrative rank similar to a governor...

) of the Soviet Air Force. Soviet officials tried to keep him away from any flights, being worried of losing their hero in an accident. Gagarin was backup pilot for his friend Vladimir Komarov in the Soyuz 1
Soyuz 1
Soyuz 1 was a manned spaceflight of the Soviet space program. Launched into orbit on April 23, 1967 carrying cosmonaut Colonel Vladimir Komarov, Soyuz 1 was the first flight of the Soyuz spacecraft...

 flight, which was launched despite Gagarin's protests that additional safety precautions were needed. When Komarov's flight ended in a fatal crash, Gagarin was ultimately banned from training for and participating in further spaceflights.

Gagarin had become deputy training director of the Star City
Star City, Russia
Star City is a common name of an area in Moscow Oblast, Russia, which has since the 1960s been home to the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center...

 cosmonaut training base. At the same time, he began to re-qualify as a fighter pilot
Fighter pilot
A fighter pilot is a military aviator trained in air-to-air combat while piloting a fighter aircraft . Fighter pilots undergo specialized training in aerial warfare and dogfighting...

.

Death

On 27 March 1968, while on a routine training flight from Chkalovsky Air Base
Chkalovsky Airport
Chkalovsky Airport , is a military airport base near Shchyolkovo, Moscow Oblast, Russia. It is located 31 km northeast of Moscow.Chkalovsky provides air support for Star City, Russia, Yuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center, and other elements of the Soviet space program and Russian Federal Space...

, he and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin
Vladimir Seryogin
Vladimir Sergeyevich Seryogin was a Soviet test pilot, a Hero of the Soviet Union, who was awarded medals of the 1st and 2nd degrees in the World War II, and later the Lenin award....

 died in a MiG-15UTI
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 was a jet fighter developed for the USSR by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich. The MiG-15 was one of the first successful swept-wing jet fighters, and it achieved fame in the skies over Korea, where early in the war, it outclassed all straight-winged enemy fighters in...

 crash near the town of Kirzhach
Kirzhach
Kirzhach is a town on the Kirzhach River in Vladimir Oblast, Russia, located in the western of the oblast, west of Vladimir and south of Alexandrov. Population: -History:...

. The bodies of Gagarin and Seryogin were cremated and the ashes were buried in the walls of the Kremlin
Kremlin Wall Necropolis
Burials in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in Moscow began in November 1917, when 240 pro-Bolshevik victims of the October Revolution were buried in mass graves on Red Square. It is centered on both sides of Lenin's Mausoleum, initially built in wood in 1924 and rebuilt in granite in 1929–1930...

 on Red Square
Red Square
Red Square is a city square in Moscow, Russia. The square separates the Kremlin, the former royal citadel and currently the official residence of the President of Russia, from a historic merchant quarter known as Kitai-gorod...

. Gagarin was survived by his wife Valentina, and daughters Elena and Galina. Elena Gagarina, Yuri's oldest daughter, is an art historian who works as a director-general of the Moscow Kremlin
Moscow Kremlin
The Moscow Kremlin , sometimes referred to as simply The Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River , Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square and the Alexander Garden...

 Museums since 2001. His youngest daughter, Galina, is a department chair at Plekhanov Russian Economic University in Moscow.

Cause of jet crash

The cause of the crash that killed Gagarin is not entirely certain, and has been subject to speculation and conspiracy theories over the ensuing decades.

Soviet documents declassified in March 2003 showed that the KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 had conducted their own investigation of the accident, in addition to one government and two military investigations. The KGB's report dismissed various conspiracy theories, instead indicating that the actions of air base personnel contributed to the crash. The report states that an air traffic controller
Air traffic controller
Air traffic controllers are the people who expedite and maintain a safe and orderly flow of air traffic in the global air traffic control system. The position of the air traffic controller is one that requires highly specialized skills...

 provided Gagarin with outdated weather information, and that by the time of his flight, conditions had deteriorated significantly. Ground crew also left external fuel tanks attached to the aircraft. Gagarin's planned flight activities needed clear weather and no outboard tanks. The investigation concluded that Gagarin's aircraft entered a spin
Spin (flight)
In aviation, a spin is an aggravated stall resulting in autorotation about the spin axis wherein the aircraft follows a corkscrew downward path. Spins can be entered intentionally or unintentionally, from any flight attitude and from practically any airspeed—all that is required is sufficient yaw...

, either due to a bird strike
Bird strike
A bird strike—sometimes called birdstrike, avian ingestion , bird hit, or BASH —is a collision between an airborne animal and a man-made vehicle, especially aircraft...

 or because of a sudden move to avoid another aircraft. Because of the out-of-date weather report, the crew believed their altitude to be higher than it actually was, and could not properly react to bring the MiG-15 out of its spin.

In his 2004 book Two Sides of the Moon, Alexey Leonov recounts that he was flying a helicopter in the same area that day when he heard "two loud booms in the distance." Corroborating other theories, his conclusion is that a Sukhoi jet (which he identifies as a Su-15 'Flagon'
Sukhoi Su-15
The Sukhoi Su-15 was a twin-engined supersonic interceptor developed by the Soviet Union in the 1960s to replace the Sukhoi Su-11, which was becoming obsolete as the United States and Britain introduced newer and more capable strategic bombers...

) was flying below its minimum allowed altitude, and "without realizing it because of the terrible weather conditions, he passed within 10 or 20 meters of Yuri and Seregin's plane while breaking the sound barrier." The resulting turbulence would have sent the MiG into an uncontrolled spin. Leonov believes the first boom he heard was that of the jet breaking the sound barrier, and the second was Gagarin's plane crashing.

Another theory, advanced by the original crash investigator in 2005, hypothesizes that a cabin air vent was accidentally left open by the crew or the previous pilot, leading to oxygen deprivation and leaving the crew incapable of controlling the aircraft. A similar theory, published in Air & Space magazine, is that the crew detected the open vent and followed procedure by executing a rapid dive to a lower altitude. This dive caused them to lose consciousness and crash.

On 12 April 2007, the Kremlin vetoed a new investigation into the death of Gagarin. Government officials said that they saw no reason to begin a new investigation.

In April 2011, documents from a 1968 commission set up by the Central Committee of the Communist Party to investigate the accident were declassified. Those documents revealed that the commission's original conclusion was that Gagarin or Seryogin had maneuvered sharply either to avoid a weather balloon, leading the jet into a "super-critical flight regime and to its stalling in complex meteorological conditions," or to avoid "entry into the upper limit of the first layer of cloud cover".

Legacy

Aside from his short stature at 1.57 metre, one of Gagarin's most notable traits was his smile. Many commented on how Gagarin's smile gained the attention of many in the crowd on the frequent tours Gagarin did in the months after the Vostok 1 mission success.

Gagarin also garnered a reputation as an adept public figure. When he visited Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

 in the United Kingdom, it was pouring with rain; however, Gagarin insisted that the car hood remain back so that the cheering crowds could catch a glimpse of him. Gagarin stated, "If all these people have turned out to welcome me and can stand in the rain, so can I." Gagarin refused an umbrella
Umbrella
An umbrella or parasol is a canopy designed to protect against rain or sunlight. The term parasol usually refers to an item designed to protect from the sun; umbrella refers to a device more suited to protect from rain...

 and remained standing in his open-top Bentley
Bentley
Bentley Motors Limited is a British manufacturer of automobiles founded on 18 January 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley known as W.O. Bentley or just "W O". Bentley had been previously known for his range of rotary aero-engines in World War I, the most famous being the Bentley BR1 as used in later...

 so that the cheering crowds could still see him.

Sergei Korolev, one of the masterminds behind the early years of the Soviet space program, later said that Gagarin possessed a smile "that lit up the Cold War".

Tributes

There were two commemorative coins
Commemorative coins of the Soviet Union
Commemorative coins were released in the USSR between 1965 and 1991. Most of them were made of copper-nickel alloy, but there were also silver coins, gold coins, palladium coins and platinum coins. All of the coins were minted either by the Moscow Mint or by the Leningrad Mint...

 issued in the Soviet Union to commemorate 20th and 30th anniversaries of his flight: 1 ruble
Soviet ruble
The Soviet ruble or rouble was the currency of the Soviet Union. One ruble is divided into 100 kopeks, ....

 coin (1981, copper-nickel) and 3 ruble coin (1991, silver). In 2001, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Gagarin's flight, a series of four coins bearing his likeness was issued in Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

: 2 ruble
Russian ruble
The ruble or rouble is the currency of the Russian Federation and the two partially recognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Formerly, the ruble was also the currency of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union prior to their breakups. Belarus and Transnistria also use currencies with...

 coin (copper-nickel), 3 ruble coin (silver), 10 ruble coin (brass-copper, nickel), and 100 ruble coin (silver). In 2011, Russia issued a 1,000 ruble coin (gold) and 3 ruble coin (silver) to mark the 50th anniversary of his flight.
Gagarin Raion in the Sevastopol
Sevastopol
Sevastopol is a city on rights of administrative division of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. It has a population of 342,451 . Sevastopol is the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa....

 city (Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

) was named after him during the Soviet Union.

In 2008, the Kontinental Hockey League
Kontinental Hockey League
The Kontinental Hockey League is an international professional ice hockey league in Eurasia founded in 2008. As of 2009, it is ranked as the strongest hockey league in Europe....

 named their championship trophy the Gagarin Cup
Gagarin Cup
The Gagarin Cup is the trophy presented to the winner of the Kontinental Hockey League playoffs, and is named after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space...

.

In a 2010 Space Foundation
Space Foundation
The Space Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports the global space industry through information and education programs. It is a resource for the entire space community - industry, national security organizations, civil space agencies, private space companies and the military around the...

 survey, Gagarin was ranked as the #6 most popular space hero, tied with Star Trek
Star Trek
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

's fictional Capt. James T. Kirk
James T. Kirk
James Tiberius "Jim" Kirk is a character in the Star Trek media franchise. Kirk was first played by William Shatner as the principal lead character in the original Star Trek series. Shatner voiced Kirk in the animated Star Trek series and appeared in the first seven Star Trek movies...

.

In January 2011, Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

n airline Armavia
Armavia
Air Company "Armavia" is an airline with its head office on the grounds of Zvartnots International Airport in Zvartnots, Armenia, near Yerevan. It operates international passenger services from Yerevan to destinations in Europe and Asia...

 named their first Sukhoi Superjet 100
Sukhoi Superjet 100
The Sukhoi Superjet 100 is a modern, fly-by-wire regional jet in the 75- to 95-seat category. With development starting in 2000, the plane was designed by the civil aircraft division of the Russian aerospace company Sukhoi in co-operation with Western partners...

 in Gagarin's honour.

On 14 July 2011, a copy of the Yuri Gagarin Statue
Yuri Gagarin Statue
The Yuri Gagarin Statue is a zinc statue depicting the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin standing on top of a globe wearing a spacesuit. The figure was unveiled on July 14, 2011 and rests in the Mall in London, close to Admiralty Arch and facing opposite of the Statue of Captain Cook.The 3.5m high statue is...

 from outside his former school in Lyubertsy
Lyubertsy
Lyubertsy is a city and the administrative center of Lyuberetsky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia. Population: Lyubertsy was founded in 1623, and it became a city in 1925.-Notable people:*Sergei Abeltsev, LDPR politician...

 was unveiled at the Admiralty Arch
Admiralty Arch
Admiralty Arch is a large office building in London which incorporates an archway providing road and pedestrian access between The Mall, which extends to the South-West, and Trafalgar Square to the North-East. It was designed by Sir Aston Webb, constructed by John Mowlem & Co and completed in 1912...

 end of The Mall in London, opposite the permanent sculpture of James Cook.

50th anniversary

The 50th anniversary of Gagarin's journey into space was marked in 2011 by tributes around the world. A film entitled First Orbit
First Orbit
First Orbit is a feature-length, experimental documentary film about Vostok 1, the first manned space flight around the Earth. By matching the orbit of the International Space Station to that of Vostok 1 as closely as possible, in terms of ground path and time of day, documentary filmmaker...

 was shot from the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

, combining the original flight audio with footage of the route taken by Gagarin. The Russian, American, and Italian Expedition 27
Expedition 27
Expedition 27 was the 27th long-duration expedition to the International Space Station , starting on 16 March 2011. Expedition 27 saw numerous notable events, including the undocking of the Progress M-09M and Kounotori 2 spacecraft, the arrival of the Soyuz TMA-21 and Progress M-10M spacecraft, and...

 crew aboard the ISS sent a special video message to wish the people of the world a "Happy Yuri's Night
Yuri's Night
Yuri's Night is an international celebration held on April 12 every year to commemorate space exploration milestones. The event is named for the first human to launch into space, Yuri Gagarin, who flew the Vostok 1 spaceship on April 12, 1961. In 2004, people celebrated Yuri's Night in 34...

", wearing shirts with an image of Gagarin.

Swiss-based German watchmaker Bernhard Lederer created a limited edition of 50 Gagarin Tourbillons to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's flight.

Honours and awards

  • Hero of the Soviet Union
    Hero of the Soviet Union
    The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.-Overview:...

     (14 April 1961)
  • Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR (June 27, 1961)
  • Hero of Socialist Labour (Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, 29 April 1961)
  • Hero of Socialist Labour, (People's Republic of Bulgaria, 24 May 1961)
  • Hero of Labour, (Democratic Republic of Vietnam, 28 April 1962)
  • President of the Soviet-Cuban friendship
  • Honorary Member of the Society, "the Finland-Soviet Union"
  • Honorary member of the International Academy of Astronautics
    International Academy of Astronautics
    The International Academy of Astronautics is an international community of experts committed to expanding the frontiers of space. It is a non-governmental organisation established in Stockholm on August 16, 1960....

     (1966)
  • Honored Master of Sports of the USSR (1961, title obtained as a reward for a space flight)
  • Military Pilot 1st Class (1961, awarded the qualification of space flight)
  • Honorary suvorovets (Moscow Suvorov Military School, 1962)
  • Order of Lenin
    Order of Lenin
    The Order of Lenin , named after the leader of the Russian October Revolution, was the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union...

     (USSR, 14 April 1961)
  • Order of Georgi Dimitrov (Bulgaria, 24 May 1961)
  • Order of the Star
    Order of the Star
    Order of the Star could refer to:*Colonial Order of the Star of Italy*Order of the Star *Order of the Star *Order of the Star *Order of the Star *Order of the Star of Ghana*Order of the Star of India...

    , 2nd Class (Indonesia, 10 June 1961)
  • Cross of Grunwald
    Cross of Grunwald
    Order Krzyża Grunwaldu 1943-1960, Krzyż Grunwaldu 1960-1992 was a military decoration created in November 1943 by the High Command of Gwardia Ludowa, a World War II Polish resistance movement in Poland organised by the Polish Workers Party...

    , 1st class (Poland, 20 June 1961)
  • The first Commander of the Order "Playa Giron" (Cuba, July 18, 1961)
  • "For achievements in aeronautics" (Brazil, August 2, 1961)
  • Order of the Flag of the Hungarian Republic, 1st class with diamonds (Hungary, 21 August 1961)
  • Order of Karl Marx
    Order of Karl Marx
    The Order of Karl Marx was the most important order in the German Democratic Republic . Award of the order also included a prize of 20,000 East German marks....

     (German Democratic Republic, October 22, 1963)
  • Order of Klement Gottwald
    Order of Klement Gottwald
    The Order of Klement Gottwald was established by the Czechoslovak government in February 1953. The original name of the Order was "Order of building of socialist homeland"...

     (Czechoslovak Socialist Republic)
  • Order of the Nile
    Order of the Nile
    The Order of the Nile is Egypt's highest state honor. The award was instituted in 1915 by Sultan Hussein Kamel to be awarded by Egypt for exceptional services to the nation...

     (Egypt, 31 January 1962)
  • Order of the African Star
    Order of the African Star
    The Order of the African Star was established by King Leopold II of Belgium on 30 December 1888, in his capacity as ruler of the Congo Free State, and was awarded for services to Congo and for the "promotion of African civilisation in general". It was incorporated into the Belgian honours system...

     (Liberia, February 6, 1962)
  • Medal "40 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR" (USSR, 1958)
  • Medal "For development of virgin lands" (USSR, 12 April 1961)
  • Medal "20 Years of Victory in Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945." (USSR, 9 May 1965)
  • Medal "For meritorious service, 3rd class (Soviet Union, March 1966)
  • Medal "50 Years of the USSR Armed Forces" (USSR, January 1968) [32]
  • Gold Medal Konstantin Tsiolkovsky "for outstanding work in the field of interplanetary communications" (USSR)
  • Medal of de Lavaux (FAI)
  • Gold Medal of the Austrian Government, 1962
  • Gold medal and diploma "Man in Space," the Italian Association of Space
  • Gold Medal "For outstanding difference" and the Royal Aero Club diploma Sweden
  • Most of the gold medal and diploma FAI
  • Gold Medal of the British Society for interplanetary travel, 1961
  • Medal of Columbus (Italy)
  • Gold Medal of Saint-Denis (France)
  • Gold Medal Award "for courage" of the Fund Matstsotti (Italy), 2007

and others.

Yuri Gagarin was elected an honorary citizen of the cities of: Kaluga
Kaluga
Kaluga is a city and the administrative center of Kaluga Oblast, Russia, located on the Oka River southwest of Moscow. Population: It is served by Grabtsevo Airport.-History:...

, Novozybkov
Novozybkov
Novozybkov is a historical town in Bryansk Oblast, Russia. Population: -History:It was founded in 1701 and granted town status in 1809. Novozybkov was a major hemp supplier in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly for the production of ropes for the Russian Navy...

, Novocherkassk
Novocherkassk
Novocherkassk is a city in Rostov Oblast, Russia, located on the right bank of the Tuzlov River and on the Aksay River. Population: 169,039 ; 170,822 ; 178,000 ; 123,000 ; 81,000 ; 52,000 ....

, Lyubertsy
Lyubertsy
Lyubertsy is a city and the administrative center of Lyuberetsky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia. Population: Lyubertsy was founded in 1623, and it became a city in 1925.-Notable people:*Sergei Abeltsev, LDPR politician...

, Sumqayit
Sumqayit
Sumgayit is one of the largest cities in Azerbaijan, located near the Caspian Sea, about 31 kilometres away from the capital, Baku. The city has a population of 308,700 , making it the third-largest city in Azerbaijan after the capital Baku and Ganja. The city has a territory of 83 km². It...

, Smolensk
Smolensk
Smolensk is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River. Situated west-southwest of Moscow, this walled city was destroyed several times throughout its long history since it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk...

, Vinnytsia
Vinnytsia
Vinnytsia is a city located on the banks of the Southern Bug, in central Ukraine. It is the administrative center of Vinnytsia Oblast.-Names:...

 and Sevastopol
Sevastopol
Sevastopol is a city on rights of administrative division of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. It has a population of 342,451 . Sevastopol is the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa....

, Saratov
Saratov
-Modern Saratov:The Saratov region is highly industrialized, due in part to the rich in natural and industrial resources of the area. The region is also one of the more important and largest cultural and scientific centres in Russia...

, Komsomolsk-on-Amur
Komsomolsk-on-Amur
Komsomolsk-on-Amur is a city in Khabarovsk Krai, Russia, situated on the left bank of Amur River. It is located on the BAM railway line, northeast of Khabarovsk. Population: -Geography and climate:...

, Tyumen
Tyumen
Tyumen is the largest city and the administrative center of Tyumen Oblast, Russia, located on the Tura River east of Moscow. Population: Tyumen is the oldest Russian settlement in Siberia. Founded in 16th century to support Russia's eastward expansion, the city has remained one of the most...

 (the USSR), Orenburg
Orenburg
Orenburg is a city on the Ural River and the administrative center of Orenburg Oblast, Russia. It lies southeast of Moscow, very close to the border with Kazakhstan. Population: 546,987 ; 549,361 ; Highest point: 154.4 m...

 (Russia), Sofia
Sofia
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

, Pernik
Pernik
Pernik is a city in western Bulgaria with a population of 81,052 . It is the main city of Pernik Province and lies on both banks of the Struma River in the Pernik Valley between the Viskyar, Vitosha and Golo Bardo mountains.Originally the site of a Thracian fortress founded in the 4th century BC,...

, Plovdiv
Plovdiv
Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia with a population of 338,153 inhabitants according to Census 2011. Plovdiv's history spans some 6,000 years, with traces of a Neolithic settlement dating to roughly 4000 BC; it is one of the oldest cities in Europe...

 (Bulgaria), Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 (Greece), Famagusta
Famagusta
Famagusta is a city on the east coast of Cyprus and is capital of the Famagusta District. It is located east of Nicosia, and possesses the deepest harbour of the island.-Name:...

, Limassol
Limassol
Limassol is the second-largest city in Cyprus, with a population of 228,000 . It is the largest city in geographical size, and the biggest municipality on the island. The city is located on Akrotiri Bay, on the island's southern coast and it is the capital of Limassol District.Limassol is the...

 (Cyprus), Saint-Denis
Saint-Denis
Saint-Denis is a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the centre of Paris. Saint-Denis is a sous-préfecture of the Seine-Saint-Denis département, being the seat of the Arrondissement of Saint-Denis....

 (France), Teplice
Teplice
Teplice , Teplice-Šanov until 1948 is a town in the Czech Republic, the capital of the Teplice District in the Ústí nad Labem Region. It is the state's second largest spa town ....

 (Czech republic). He was also awarded the golden keys to the gates of the city of Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 and Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 (Egypt).

See also

  • Cosmonautics Day
    Cosmonautics Day
    Cosmonautics Day is a holiday celebrated in Russia and some other former USSR countries on April 12. This holiday celebrates the first manned space flight made on April 12, 1961 by the 27-year old Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Gagarin circled the Earth for 1 hour and 48 minutes aboard the Vostok...

     – holiday celebrated in Russia and other former USSR countries on April 12
  • Yuri's Night
    Yuri's Night
    Yuri's Night is an international celebration held on April 12 every year to commemorate space exploration milestones. The event is named for the first human to launch into space, Yuri Gagarin, who flew the Vostok 1 spaceship on April 12, 1961. In 2004, people celebrated Yuri's Night in 34...

     – international celebration held every April 12
  • Kosmonaut Yuri Gagarin
    Kosmonaut Yuri Gagarin
    Kosmonavt Yuri Gagarin was a Soviet space control-monitoring ship that was devoted to detecting and receiving satellite communications. Named after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, she was completed in December 1971 to support the Soviet space program...

     – Soviet space research ship

Sources

Part 1 (page 1-500), Part 2 (page 501-1011).

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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