Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin

Infobox Astronaut
name = Yuri Gagarin
Юрий Гагарин

type = Cosmonaut
nationality =Russian
date_birth =birth date|df=yes|1934|3|9
date_death =death date and age|df=yes|1968|3|27|1934|3|9
place_birth =Klushino, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
place_death = Kirzhach, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
occupation =Pilot
rank = Colonel (Polkovnik), Soviet Air Force
selection =Air Force Group 1
time =1 hour, 48 minutes
mission =Vostok 1
insignia =

Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin ( _ru. Ю́рий Алексе́евич Гага́рин, "Jurij Aleksejevič Gagarin" IPA-ru|ˈjurʲɪj ɐlʲɪˈksʲeɪvʲɪtɕ gɐˈgarʲɪn; 9 March 1934 - 27 March 1968), Hero of the Soviet Union, was a Soviet cosmonaut. On 12 April 1961, he became the first human in outer space and the first to orbit the Earth. He received medals from around the world for his feat.

Early life

Yuri Gagarin was born in the village of Klushino near Gzhatsk (now in Smolensk Oblast, Russia), on 9 March 1934. The adjacent town of Gzhatsk was renamed Gagarin in 1968 in his honor. His parents, father Alexey Ivanovich Gagarin and mother Anna Timofeyevna Gagarina, worked on a collective farm.cite web |url=http://www.time.com/time/europe/hero2006/gagarin.html |title=Yuri Gagarin |work=Time Europe "via " Time.com |first=Dennis |last=Tito |date=2006-11-13 |accessdate=2008-03-30] While manual labourers are described in official reports as "peasants", this may be an oversimplification if applied to his parents — his mother was reportedly a voracious reader, and his father a skilled carpenter. Yuri was the third of four children, and his elder sister helped raise him while his parents worked. Like millions of people in the Soviet Union, the Gagarin family suffered during Nazi occupation in World War II. His two elder siblings were sent to Germany as slave labourers in 1943, and did not return until after the war. While a youth, Yuri became interested in space and planets, and began to dream about his space tour which became true one day.cite book |title=Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965 |publisher=University of Nebraska Press |location=Lincoln |author=French, Francis; Burgess, Colin |pages=p. 2 |year=2007 |isbn=0803211465 |oclc=71210133] Yuri was described by his teachers in the Moscow satellite town of Lyubertsy as intelligent and hard-working, if occasionally mischievous. His mathematics and science teacher had flown in the Soviet Air Forces during the war, which presumably made some substantial impression on young Gagarin.

After starting an apprenticeship in a metalworks as a foundryman, Gagarin was selected for further training at a technical high school in Saratov. While there, he joined the "AeroClub", and learned to fly a light aircraft, a hobby that would take up an increasing proportion of his time. Through dint of effort, rather than brilliance, he reportedly mastered both; in 1955, after completing his technical schooling, he entered military flight training at the Orenburg Pilot's School. While there he met Valentina Goryacheva, whom he married in 1957, after gaining his pilot's wings in a MiG-15. Post-graduation, he was assigned to Luostari airbase in Murmansk Oblast, close to the Norwegian border, where terrible weather made flying risky. As a full-grown man, Gagarin was convert|1.57|m|ftin tall, which was an advantage in the small Vostok cockpit. He became Lieutenant of the Soviet Air Force on 5 November 1957 and on 6 November 1959 he received the rank of Senior Lieutenant.ru icon cite web |url=http://www.astronaut.ru/as_rusia/vvs/text/gagarin.htm |title=Юрий Алексеевич Гагарин |work=Astronaut.ru |date=2007-07-11 |accessdate=2008-03-30]

Career in the Soviet space program

election and training

In 1960, after the search and selection process Yuri Gagarin was selected with 19 other cosmonauts for the Soviet space program. Along with the other prospective cosmonauts, he was subjected to experiments designed to test his physical and psychological endurance; he also underwent training for the upcoming flight. Out of the twenty selected, the eventual choices for the first launch were Gagarin and Gherman Titov because of their performance in training, as well as their physical characteristics — space was at a premium in the small Vostok cockpit and both men were rather short. Soviet officials weighed other factors as well in selecting Yuri: his appearance, his capacity to handle media attention, his Russian heritage and even the name "Gagarin," which was also a family name associated with Tsarist aristocracy.

pace flight

On 12 April 1961, Gagarin became the first human to travel into space in "Vostok 3KA-2" (Vostok 1) and return. His call sign in this flight was Kedr (Cedar; _ru. Кедр).cite web |url=http://www.astronautix.com/astros/gagarin.htm |title=Gagarin |work=Astronautix.com |date=2007-11-17 |accessdate=2008-03-30] During his flight, Gagarin famously whistled the tune "The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows" ( _ru. "Родина слышит, Родина знает").ru icon cite web |url=http://epizodsspace.testpilot.ru/bibl/gagarin/doroga/obl.html |title=Дорога в космос |work=Pravda "via" TestPilot.ru |first=Юрий |last=Гагарин |date=2004-12-03 |accessdate=2008-03-30] cite web |url=http://www.sovmusic.ru/english/download.php?fname=rodinasl |title=Motherland Hears (download) |work=SovMusic.ru |accessdate=2008-03-30] The first two lines of the song are: "The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows/Where her son flies in the sky".cite web |url=http://www.sovmusic.ru/english/text.php?fname=rodinasl |title=Motherland Hears (lyrics) |work=SovMusic.ru |accessdate=2008-03-30] This patriotic song was written by Dmitri Shostakovich in 1951 (opus 86), with words by Yevgeniy Dolmatovsky.

There are speculations in the media that from orbit Gagarin made the comment, "I don't see any God up here." However, no such words appear in the verbatim record of Gagarin's conversations with the Earth during the spaceflight.ru icon cite web |url=http://www.cosmoworld.ru/spaceencyclopedia/gagarin/index.shtml?doc10.html |title=Полная стенограмма переговоров Юрия Гагарина с Землей с момента его посадки в корабль (за два часа до старта) до выхода корабля "Востока-1" из зоны радиоприема |work=Cosmoworld.ru |accessdate=2008-03-30] In a 2006 interview a close friend of Gagarin, Colonel Valentin Petrov, stated that Gagarin never said such words, and that the phrase originated from Nikita Khrushchev's speech at the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, where the anti-religious propaganda was discussed. In a certain context Khrushchev said, "Gagarin flew into space, but didn't see any God there".ru icon cite web |url=http://www.interfax-religion.ru/orthodoxy/?act=interview&div=73&domain=1 |title=Я горжусь обвинениями в том, что ввел Юрия Гагарина в православие |work=Interfax-religion.ru |date=2006-04-12 |accessdate=2008-03-30] Colonel Petrov also said that Gagarin had been baptised into the Orthodox Church as a child.

While in orbit Gagarin was promoted "in the field" from the rank of Senior Lieutenant to Major, and this was the rank at which TASS announced him in its triumphant statement during the flight.Fact|date=February 2007

Gagarin being safely returned, Nikita Khrushchev rushed to his side and Gagarin issued a statement praising the Communist Party of the Soviet Union as the "organizer of all our victories". Khrushchev saw Gagarin's achievement as a vindication of his policy of strengthening the Soviet Union's missile forces at the expense of conventional arms. This policy antagonized the Soviet military establishment and contributed to Khrushchev's eventual downfall.

Fame and later life

After the flight, Gagarin became a worldwide celebrity, touring widely with appearances in Italy, Great Britain,cite web |url=http://www.wcml.org.uk/people/yuri.htm |title=A Thaw in the Cold War |work=WCML.org.uk |first=John |last=Callow |date=2007-11-30 |accessdate=2008-03-30] Germany, Canada, and Japan to promote the Soviet achievement.

In 1962, he began serving as a deputy to the Supreme Soviet. He later returned to Star City, the cosmonaut facility, where he worked on designs for a reusable spacecraft. Gagarin worked on these designs in Star City for 7 years. Gagarin became Lieutenant Colonel (or Podpolkovnik) of the Soviet Air Force on 12 June 1962 and on 6 November 1963 he received the rank of Colonel (Polkovnik) of the Soviet Air Force. Soviet officials tried to keep him away from any flights, being worried of losing their hero in an accident. Gagarin was backup pilot for Vladimir Komarov in the Soyuz 1 flight. As Komarov's flight ended in a fatal crash, Gagarin was ultimately banned from the space program.

Death and legacy

Gagarin then became deputy training director of the Star City cosmonaut training base. At the same time, he began to re-qualify as a fighter pilot. On 27 March 1968, while on a routine training flight out of Chkalovsky Air Base, he and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin (Seregin) died in a MiG-15UTI crash near the town of Kirzhach. Gagarin and Seryogin were buried in the walls of the Kremlin on Red Square.

It is not certain what caused the crash, but a 1986 inquest suggests that the turbulence from a Su-11 'Fishpot-C' interceptor using its afterburners may have caused Gagarin's plane to go out of control.cite news |url=http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080327/102375607.html |title=Forty years on, Yuri Gagarin's death still a mystery |work=RIA Novosti |date=2008-03-28 |accessdate=2008-08-01]

Russian documents declassified in March 2003 showed that the KGB had conducted their own investigation of the accident, in addition to one government and two military investigations. The KGB's report dismissed various conspiracy theories, instead indicating that the actions of air base personnel contributed to the crash. The report states that an air traffic controller provided Gagarin with outdated weather information, and that when Gagarin flew, conditions had deteriorated significantly. Ground crew also left external fuel tanks attached to the aircraft. Gagarin's planned flight activities needed clear weather and no outboard tanks. The investigation concluded that Gagarin's aircraft entered a spin, either due to a bird strike or because of a sudden move to avoid another aircraft. Because of the out-of-date weather report, the crew believed their altitude to be higher than it actually was, and could not properly react to bring the MiG-15 out of its spin.cite news |url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/1425937/KGB-held-ground-staff-to-blame-for-Gagarin%27s-death.html |title=KGB held ground staff to blame for Gagarin's death |work=The Daily Telegraph |first=Ben |last=Aris |date=2008-03-28 |accessdate=2008-08-01]

In his 2004 book "Two Sides of the Moon", Alexey Leonov recounts that he was flying a helicopter in the same area that day when he heard "two loud booms in the distance." Corroborating other theories, his conclusion is that a Sukhoi jet (which he identifies as a Su-15 'Flagon') was flying below its minimum allowed altitude, and "without realizing it because of the terrible weather conditions, he passed within 10 or 20 meters of Yuri and Seregin's plane while breaking the sound barrier." The resulting turbulence would have sent the MiG into an uncontrolled spin. Leonov believes the first boom he heard was that of the jet breaking the sound barrier, and the second was Gagarin's plane crashing.cite book |title=Two Sides of the Moon |publisher=Thomas Dunne Books |location=New York |first=Alexei |last=Leonov |coauthors=Scott, David |year=2004 |pages=p. 218 |isbn=0-312-30865-5 |oclc=56587777]

A new theory, advanced by the original crash investigator in 2005, hypothesizes that a cabin air vent was accidentally left open by the crew or the previous pilot, leading to oxygen deprivation and leaving the crew incapable of controlling the aircraft.cite web |url=http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/world/Inquiry-promises-to-solve-Gagarin.2615429.jp |title=Inquiry promises to solve Gagarin death riddle |work=Scotland on Sunday |first=Ed |last=Holt |date=2005-04-03 |accessdate=2008-03-30]

On 12 April 2007, the Kremlin vetoed a new investigation into the death of Gagarin. Some experts who had been involved in the original investigation had formulated a new theory, based on modern technology and investigative methods. Government officials said that they saw no reason to begin a new investigation.cite web |url=http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/article2442171.ece |title=Kremlin vetoes new inquiry into mystery death of Yuri Gagarin |work=Belfast Telegraph |first=Andrew |last=Osborn |date=2007-04-12 |accessdate=2008-03-30] All found parts of the wrecked MiG-15UTI were collected and are stored in sealed barrels.

There were two commemorative coins issued in the Soviet Union to commemorate 20th and 30th anniversaries of his flight: 1 rouble coin (1981, copper-nickel) and 3 rouble coin (1991, silver). In 2001, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Gagarin's flight, a series of four coins bearing his likeness was issued in Russia: 2 rouble coin (copper-nickel), 3 rouble coin (silver), 10 rouble coin (brass-copper, nickel), and 100 rouble coin (silver).ru icon cite web |url=http://www.cbr.ru/bank-notes_coins/base_of_memorable_coins/main.asp?IsDetal=0&Year=9&s_cat=1 |title=База данных по памятным и инвестиционным монетам |work=CBR.ru |accessdate=2008-03-30]

ee also

*Soviet space program
*Space Race
*Yuri's Night
*Soviet space program conspiracy accusations
*Kosmonaut Yuri Gagarin - space control-monitoring ship


*cite book |title=Vostok 1: First Human in Space |publisher=Enslow Publishers |location=Springfield |first=Michael D |last=Cole |year=1995 |isbn=0-89490-541-4 |oclc=31739355
*cite book |title=Starman: The Truth Behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin |publisher=Bloomsbury |location=London |first=Jamie |last=Doran |coauthors=Bizony, Piers |year=1998 |isbn=0-7475-4267-8 |oclc=39019619

External links

* [http://www.ispyspace.com/Yuri_Gagarin.html Yuri Gagarin - The First to Fly]
* [http://kp.ru/photo/gallery/1918/?showall=1 Gagarin's photos]
* [http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0309.html Obituary, NY Times, 28 March 1968 "Yuri Gagarin Killed As Test Plane Falls"]
*ru icon [http://epizodsspace.testpilot.ru/bibl/gagarin/doroga/obl.html Юрий Гагарин. Дорога в космос] — his book in Russian (HTML)
*ru icon [http://www.rgantd.ru/gag70_cd/start_me.htm Photo, Audio and Video with Yuri Gagarin] , online version of CD created to his 70th anniv. on the homepage of Russian state archive for scientific-technical documentation (RGANTD).
*ru icon [http://www.rtc.ru/encyk/gagarin/main1.shtml Article in online Encyclopedia of cosmonautics] A lot of information about the first human's flight to space.
*ru icon [http://hyyuducom.narod.ru/santer/gagarin/index.html Gagarin's flight 3D visualization] — contains the real record of his conversation with the Earth during the spaceflight
*ru icon [http://epizodsspace.testpilot.ru/bibl/i_tsk/zv-reis.html Annotated transcript of Gagarin's radio conversations with ground stations, starting 2hrs (4:10 UTC) before launch]
* [http://www.astronautix.com/astros/gagarin.htm Gagarin] — detailed biography at [http://www.astronautix.com/ Encyclopedia Astronautica]
* [http://www.ffagency.com/gagarin/ List (with photos) of Gagarin statues]
* [http://yle.fi/elavaarkisto/?s=s&g=2&ag=12&t=283&a=02190 11 minutes long interview of Yuri Gagarin by The Finnish Broadcasting Company in 1961]
* [http://www.yurisnight.net Yuri's Night - World Space Party]
*Find A Grave|id=3485

NAME=Gagarin, Yuri
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Gagarin, Yuri Alexeyevich; Ю́рий Алексе́евич Гага́рин, Jurij Aleksejevič Gagarin
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Soviet cosmonaut
DATE OF BIRTH=9 March 1934
PLACE OF BIRTH=Klushino near Gzhatsk, Russia
DATE OF DEATH=27 March 1968

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