60 years ago today, Yuri Gagarin was the first man to enter space

Relevant to this forum, Gagarin was a Russian Orthodox Christian and 5'2" tall. Hearing this man's story makes me wonder about what our western culture prioritizes. This is a summation from wiki and my wife's observations:

Poyekhali! Поехали! “Let’s Go!”

That’s what Yuri Gagarin said, 60 years to this day, when he blasted off on a Vostok 1 spacecraft and became the first man to orbit the Earth for 108 minutes before ejecting from the spacecraft at a height of 23,000 feet and parachuting down to Kazakhstan.


(The following is from the wiki page on him)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri_Gagarin Born March 9th, 1934

His height made him a good candidate for the mission since he had to be no taller than 5’7” or 159 lbs.

This may possibly be explained by his early life when at the age of 16, he was evicted by German occupation forces from his family residence along with the other 5 members of his household and they had to live in a mud hut in the backyard at a size of 100 square feet.

During this period, he became a saboteur and used ad-hoc chemicals to disable German tanks. When his two older siblings were deported for slave labor, he became ill with grief and hunger and beaten for refusing to work for the German forces. He spent the remainder of the war in a hospital as a patient and orderly.

He learned to read in a crude school with a discarded Russian military manual. A former Russian airman later joined the school to teach math and science, Yuri’s favorite subjects.

In 1957, while a cadet in flight school, Gagarin met Valentina Goryacheva at the May Day celebrations. They married that year and had two daughters.

Gagarin was a candidate favored by his peers; when they were asked to vote anonymously for a candidate besides themselves they would like to be the first to fly, all but three chose Gagarin.

In August 1960, a Soviet Air Force doctor evaluated his personality as follows:
“Modest; embarrasses when his humor gets a little too racy; high degree of intellectual development evident in Iurii; fantastic memory; distinguishes himself from his colleagues by his sharp and far-ranging sense of attention to his surroundings; a well-developed imagination; quick reactions; persevering, prepares himself painstakingly for his activities and training exercises, handles celestial mechanics and mathematical formulae with ease as well as excels in higher mathematics; does not feel constrained when he has to defend his point of view if he considers himself right; appears that he understands life better than a lot of his friends.”

After his Vostok 1 mission on April 12th, 1961, he was promoted to Colonel and continued to participate in the space program designing new spacecraft. There was a controversy where the Soyuz 1 spacecraft, that would later become the most reliable and longest in-use spacecraft to this very day, was politically pressured into launch against Gagarin’s objections and Gagarin accompanied his best friend, Vladimir Komarov to the launch site. Komarov refused to let Gagarin fly it to protect him. Komarov perished when the faulty spacecraft’s parachute failed to open. It is alleged that Gagarin threw a drink into General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev’s face in anger and grief (I heard this from my wife.)

Gagarin resumed his studies and on 17 February 1968, successfully defended his aerospace engineering thesis on the subject of spaceplane aerodynamic configuration and graduated cum laude from the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy.

Despite precautions to protect his life, while on a routine training flight a month later, March 27, 1968 from Chkalovsky Air Base, Gagarin and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin died when their MiG-15UTI crashed near the town of Kirzhach. Their bodies were cremated and interred in the walls of The Kremlin.

There’s a Titanium monument to him above the Moscow Metro station
And also a Bulgarian pop song about him (above.)
 

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Peacock
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Gagarin wasn't the first man in space, he was the first person to survive and return alive from a space mission. IIRC there might have been up to 8 men and a woman who were launched into space by the Soviets and never returned, most were burned alive, died from their spacecraft crash or even from lack of oxygen stuck in orbit. One of the failed missions in which a female cosmonaut was burned alive in her capsule upon reentry was actually captured by an Italian ham radio amateur.


1959 newspaper:
1618237142833.png

1962 Santa Cruz Sentinel:
1618237378758.png

Gagarin knew that his mission was a very dangerous one, losing some of the comrades who were in the Soviet space program, he made it back alive, so he was a real hero.
 
Gagarin wasn't the first man in space, he was the first person to survive and return alive from a space mission. IIRC there might have been up to 8 men and a woman who were launched into space by the Soviets and never returned, most were burned alive, died from their spacecraft crash or even from lack of oxygen stuck in orbit. One of the failed missions in which a female cosmonaut was burned alive in her capsule upon reentry was actually captured by an Italian ham radio amateur.


1959 newspaper:
View attachment 30261

1962 Santa Cruz Sentinel:
View attachment 30262

Gagarin knew that his mission was a very dangerous one, losing some of the comrades who were in the Soviet space program, he made it back alive, so he was a real hero.

That is a valid point and was noted at the time:
At about 7,000 metres (23,000 ft), Gagarin ejected from the descending capsule as planned and landed using a parachute.[52] There were concerns Gagarin's spaceflight record would not be certified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world governing body for setting standards and keeping records in the field, which at the time required that the pilot land with the craft.[53] Gagarin and Soviet officials initially refused to admit that he had not landed with his spacecraft,[54] an omission which became apparent after Titov's flight on Vostok 2 four months later. Gagarin's spaceflight records were nonetheless certified and reaffirmed by the FAI, which revised its rules, and acknowledged that the crucial steps of the safe launch, orbit, and return of the pilot had been accomplished. Gagarin continues to be internationally recognised as the first human in space and first to orbit the Earth.[55]
 
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