History, traditions

The man who conquered space

Today the country celebrates the planet's first astronaut's B-day

Yuri Gagarin's motherland celebrates the 70th anniversary of the planet's first space astronaut. The anniversary falls on March 9th. A large group of pilots and astronauts headed by the legendary Alexei Leonov, several delegates from the State Duma as well as famous actors and actresses were all invited to participate in the festivities in Gagarin's memory. They laid flowers on a grave of the parents of the famous astronaut.

Young space pilots from the Training Center arrived to the village Klushino, where their idol Yuri Alexeevich had been born. According to the space tradition, a young astronaut has to drink from the famous Gagarin's well (a special initiation ceremony) before he gets “accepted” by the space brotherhood.

Other guests from Moscow and from the so-called Star city (training grounds for future space pilots) teach Gagarin's classes to Russian students in numerous schools across the capital. They also organize interesting meetings and exhibitions in museums, reports ITAR-TASS.

A meeting dedicated to the memory of the first space explorer Yuri Gagarin has taken place by the Gagarin's monument on Red Square at 11:00 am MSK. Later, at 12:00 pm MSK, Moscow’s museum of first man in space has officially established the “Veteran Baikonur” club. Festivities are also scheduled to begin at 16:00 pm MSK at the “Komsomolets” auditorium. The festivities will include Gagarin’s scientific lectures, reading of which will last for four days.

Yuri Gagarin's biography and his first flight to space

He finished 7 classes, a preparatory college in Moscow's Lubertsi as well as a school for working youth. Afterwards he got accepted to an industrial college. His education was a typical one for a typical village fellow. Back then, every Soviet boy dreamed about one day becoming a space pilot. Majority of Gagarin's friends applied to various flying schools. Gagarin was no exception.

However, the Saratov's Air club turned Yuri down at first due to the applicant's height (only 165 cm). Eventually, he got in. The air club turned out to be a launching pad for his future career. In the course of his training flights, Yuri had to seat on a special cushion. It is only with this cushion that he was able to see the landing ground. Soon afterwards, Gagarin was drafted; then studied in one of the military aviation facilities, which he finished with honors in 1957.

A year later, having married, Yuri fled north where he continued serving in North Fleet Aviation. He was then enrolled in the first group of astronauts. There was a total of 20 of them. The only thing these several “star rangers” had in common was their short posture, which in fact was perfect for a relatively small size of a pilot's cabin.  

When Gagarin was launched in space, Soviet media composed three statements to be broadcasted live. The first one—triumphant, was meant to be broadcasted in case of a successful mission. The second one was meant to inform viewers of some failure. The final third announcement, informed of a tragic death of the astronaut.

On April 16, 1961, Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin has made the first space flight in the history of mankind on his space shuttle “Vostok”. It took him 1hr and 48 min to fly around the globe and successfully land in Saratov region.

The entire world fell in love with him within minutes after the news spread around the world and people were able to see the great man's picture. At 26, Yuri Gagarin became the world’s best known individual—Columbus of Space, Son of Earth, Citizen of the Universe. Afterwards, there were tears of happiness, meetings with high rank officials, talks with Khrushchev himself, numerous awards.

Despite the fact that the major portion of his time was occupied by public appearances, speeches, Gagarin continued to grow as a space pilot. He dreamed of the second flight, more challenging and a lengthy one. Authorities, on the other hand, wanted to “preserve” the legendary pilot. Eventually, Gagarin managed to get enrolled into a team of the first experimental space station. Training was severe. Unfortunately, his dream was not meant to become reality. On March 27, 1968 Gagarin tragically died while conducting his training flight on airplane MiG-15 along with pilot Seregin.

Actual reasons of Yuri Gagarin’s death remain unclear up until these days. There were versions of the crash. However none of them proved to be true in the end. Rumor has it that it was all due to the second pilot Seregin’s poor health that resulted in the fatal crash. He had some sort of a heart condition, which might have imparted his ability to pilot the plane. He might have lost his conscious and Gagarin was simply unable to maneuver the machine by himself. He could have catapulted and save his life, but Gagarin preferred to fight till the end. He died young, but remained in peoples’ memories as a true hero!     

Source: Newsru