Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin – first cosmonaut
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin is a Soviet pilot, the man who made the first flight into space. The cosmonaut became a legend not only for the inhabitants of the USSR. You know, he is an honorary citizen of foreign cities and an international public figure. Yuri Alekseyevich opened a new page in the study of outer space and became a symbol of the development of Soviet science and aviation. Gagarin became an international celebrity, and was awarded many medals and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation’s highest honor.
The boy was born on March 9, 1934 in the village of Klushino, the Western region of the USSR, into a family of well-to-do peasants. He was the third of four children. Yura’s childhood was peaceful and joyful.
At the age of 6 Yura went to school. But he had finished only the first grade, before the Great Patriotic War began. German troops captured part of the territory of the USSR. They reached Klushino. Becoming a famous person, Yuri preferred never to remember the dark times of the occupation. It is known that German soldiers drove his family out of the house and took young people with them as prisoners of war. So his brother and sister were taken away.
In 1943 Klushino was liberated, and soon after the war the Gagarins moved to Gzhatsk, where the boy continued his studies. Yuri was engaged in a variety of activities, from music to photography.
After Gagarin finished 6 grades, he decided to move to Moscow, because he felt too constrained in a small town. Parents tried to dissuade the ambitious youth, but they could not do it. So, in 1949, 15-year-old Yuri moved to the capital.
The teenager lived with relatives and studied at a vocational school. Then Gagarin played basketball and soon became the captain of the team. In 1951, the young man moved to Saratov, where he began to study at an industrial technical school. During his studies, Yuri’s first acquaintance with the sky took place.
After listening to Tsiolkovsky’s calculations in 1954, the young man simply fell in love with the idea of flying beyond the Earth. Although he could hardly imagine then what his passion would turn out to be. The following year, Gagarin graduated from the technical school. In parallel the young man continued to attend the club of aviators.
A few months after the future cosmonaut finished his studies, he was called up for the army service in the military aviation school in Chkalov. There, Gagarin had a serious conflict, almost cost him his life. Gagarin, appointed assistant platoon commander, was extremely strict in terms of discipline, which, of course, did not suit his fellow students. One night he was caught and severely beaten. The young man had been in the hospital for a month before he could return to the service. It is noteworthy that this incident did not change his attitude towards students.
The cadet Gagarin easily coped with any tasks, except for landing the aircraft. It was because of the boy’s small height. So, he had problems with the viewing angle during landing.
In 1957, Yuri graduated from the school and began to serve in the Murmansk region.
Later, in 1959, Gagarin served as a senior lieutenant and received the title of a military pilot of the 1st class. At the same time, he became a candidate for a flight beyond the Earth. In March 1960, the pilot began training.
The flight on the Vostok spacecraft was associated with enormous risks for Gagarin’s life. Due to the rush, some important systems were not duplicated, the spaceship was not equipped with a soft landing system, and even an emergency rescue system was not created in case of malfunctions during the launch.
On April 12, 1961 the spacecraft took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Due to the fact that there were malfunctions with the equipment, Gagarin flew 100 kilometers higher than originally was planned. If there were problems with the braking system, the cosmonaut would have to return to Earth for more than a month, while the reserve of water and food was calculated for only 10 days.
Despite numerous problems, Gagarin safely landed after his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth. The cosmonaut was taken to the nearest village, and phoned the authorities with a report on the successful landing and the absence of injuries. Since the flight was secret, even the Soviet media learned about the technological breakthrough of their home state only the following day.
As soon as the information became available, Gagarin turned into a world-wide star. On April 14, 1961 a grandiose celebration was held in honor of the cosmonaut.
A month later, Gagarin was sent abroad with the Peace Mission, where he was to visit more than 20 countries. Personal charisma of Yuri contributed a lot to strengthening the positive image of the USSR.
The next few years, Gagarin was mainly engaged in public activities. The famous cosmonaut made a lot of efforts to popularize cosmonautics and was going to become a member of the lunar space crew. Major Gagarin also entered the Air Force Engineering Academy.
On March 27, 1968 Gagarin’s plane crashed into the ground. Instructor Vladimir Seregin and Gagarin were killed. The bodies of the pilots were cremated, the urns with ashes were buried in the Kremlin wall.
In 1957, Yuri married Valentina Goryacheva. They had two daughters: Elena was born in 1959, and Galina was born in March 1961. The astronaut and his daughters were fond of animals, so they had ducks, chickens, squirrels and deer.
After the death of her husband Goryacheva did not marry again.
– Before the first space flight TASS prepared three reports: in case of a successful flight, unsuccessful flight and in case of landing outside the territory of the USSR.
– The legendary phrase Let’s Go! (Poekhali!) is a quote from Dickens.
– The call sign of the first person in space was known to all Soviet schoolchildren – Cedar.
– In Britain, the queen invited the astronaut to drink tea, and then photographed next to Gagarin for memory, which violated the protocol. The queen explained her act by saying that the cosmonaut was not earthly, but a heavenly person, so there was nothing insulting in taking photos with him.
– Despite the active social life, the cosmonaut always found time for hobbies. So, he was engaged in collecting cacti and water skiing.
– Returning to Earth, Gagarin decided to write a documentary children’s story. It’s called I See the Earth.
– There are two feature films about the cosmonaut: So the Legend Began (1976) and Gagarin. The First in Space (2013).
– 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.