50th Anniversary of first Human space flight.
50 years ago today, at 06:07 the Vostok 1 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying human cargo. Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin would soon become the first man in the history of the human race to look at the Earth from the outside. He entered orbit only ten minutes later. This was a magnificent feat when you consider the fact that today is the 50th anniversary and the Wright brothers had performed the first powered flight only 48 years previous.
After just over an hour in orbit the Vostok 1 re-entered the atmosphere and, after ejection, Gagarin landed safely 16 miles south west of Engels in the Saratov region where he was found by a farmer and his daughter, of which Gagarin later said:
"When they saw me in my space suit and the parachute dragging alongside as I walked, they started to back away in fear. I told them, don't be afraid, I am a Soviet like you, who has descended from space and I must find a telephone to call Moscow!".
Gagarin became an international celebrity, and was awarded numerous medals and honours, including Hero of the Soviet Union. Vostok 1 marked his only spaceflight, but he served as backup to the Soyuz 1 mission, which ended in a fatal crash. Gagarin later became deputy training director of the Cosmonaut Training Centre outside Moscow, which was later named after him. He tragically missed seeing the first Moon landing when a training jet he was piloting crashed, killing him, in 1968.
I can only imagine what a powerful symbol and an iconic photograph the image of him smiling alongside the Apollo 11 crew would have been.
Have to admit I didn't even know he had died so long ago.
I did laugh at this quote though
I told them, don't be afraid, I am a Soviet like you, who has descended from space and I must find a telephone to call Moscow!"