Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin – first cosmonaut
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on 12 April 1961.
Gagarin became an international celebrity, and was awarded many medals and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation’s highest honor.
Yuri Gagarin was born on March 6, 1934 in the village of Klushino near Gzhatsk (renamed Gagarin in 1968 after his death), now Smolensk Oblast.
In his youth, Gagarin became interested in space and planets. After studying for one year at a vocational technical school in Lyubertsy, Gagarin was selected for further training at a technical high school in Saratov. While there, he joined the Aero Club, and learned to fly a light aircraft.
In 1955 he entered military flight training at the Orenburg Pilot’s School, where he met Valentina Goryacheva, whom he married in 1957.
He became a Lieutenant in the Soviet Air Force on 5 November 1957; on 6 November 1959 he received the rank of Senior Lieutenant.
In 1960 Yuri was chosen for the Soviet space program. Later Gagarin was selected for an elite training group known as the Sochi Six, from which the first cosmonauts of the Vostok program would be chosen.
It’s interesting: Gagarin was 1.57 meters (5 ft 2 in) tall.
Gagarin kept physically fit throughout his life, and was a keen sportsman.
In addition to being a keen ice hockey player, Gagarin was also a basketball fan, and coached the Saratov Industrial Technical School team, as well as being a referee.
On 12 April 1961, aboard the Vostok 1, Gagarin became both the first human to travel into space, and the first to orbit the earth.
Gagarin became worldwide popular!
On 27 March 1968, while on a routine training flight from Chkalovsky Air Base, he and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin died in a MiG-15UTI crash near the town of Kirzhach. The bodies of Gagarin and Seryogin were cremated and the ashes were buried in the walls of the Kremlin on Red Square. Gagarin was survived by his wife Valentina, and daughters Elena and Galina.
Gagarin was also honored by the American space program during Apollo 11 when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left a memorial satchel containing medals commemorating Gagarin and fellow cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov on the surface of the Moon. On 1 August 1971, Apollo 15 astronauts David Scott and James Irwin left the Fallen Astronaut on the surface of the Moon as a memorial to all the American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts that died in the Space Race, with Yuri Gagarin listed among 14 others.
Yuri Gagarin was elected an honorary citizen of the cities of Kaluga, Novozybkov, Novocherkassk, Lyubertsy, Sumqayit, Smolensk, Vinnytsia and Sevastopol, Saratov, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Tyumen (the USSR), Orenburg (Russia), Sofia, Pernik, Plovdiv (Bulgaria), Athens (Greece), Famagusta, Limassol (Cyprus), Saint-Denis (France), and Teplice (Czech Republic). He was also awarded the golden keys to the gates of the city of Cairo and Alexandria (Egypt).
The 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s journey into space was marked in 2011 by tributes around the world. A film entitled First Orbit was shot from the International Space Station, combining the original flight audio with footage of the route taken by Gagarin. The Russian, American, and Italian Expedition 27 crew aboard the ISS sent a special video message to wish the people of the world a Happy Yuri’s Night, wearing shirts with an image of Gagarin.
Honors and awards
Hero of the Soviet Union (14 April 1961)
Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR (27 June 1961)
Hero of Socialist Labor (Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, 29 April 1961)
Hero of Socialist Labor, (People’s Republic of Bulgaria, 24 May 1961)
Hero of Labor, (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 (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 (USSR, 14 April 1961)
Order of Georgi Dimitrov (Bulgaria, 24 May 1961)
Order of the Star, 2nd Class (Indonesia, 10 June 1961)
Cross of Grunwald, 1st class (Poland, 20 June 1961)
The first Commander of the Order Playa Giron (Cuba, 18 July 1961)
For achievements in aeronautics (Brazil, 2 August 1961)
Order of the Flag of the Hungarian Republic, 1st class with diamonds (Hungary, 21 August 1961)
Order of Karl Marx (German Democratic Republic, 22 October 1963)
Order of Klement Gottwald (Czechoslovak Socialist Republic)
Order of the Nile (Egypt, 31 January 1962)
Order of the African Star (Liberia, 6 February 1962)
Order of the Southern Cross (Brazil, 3 August 1961)
Jubilee Medal 40 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR (USSR, 1958)
Jubilee Medal Twenty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 (USSR, 9 May 1965)
Medal For Impeccable Service, 3rd class (Soviet Union, March 1966)
Jubilee Medal 50 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR (USSR, January 1968)
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky Gold Medal 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
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