Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968) was the first human being to travel in space when he successfully completed a single orbit in a one-man space capsule, Vostok I. The son of a carpenter, Gagarin joined the Soviet Air Force in 1955. Two years later his country, the Union Soviet Socialist Republic, launched Sputnik, the world’s first communications satellite.
Gagarin’s historic spaceflight took place on April 12, 1961. Launched from Kazakhstan, his craft reached a speed of 17,000 miles an hour and a distance of 187 mile above Earth. Vostok I orbited Earth once; the flight lasted 108 minutes. Although Gagarin was scheduled for further spaceflights, he died in a jet crash in 1968. His Russian birthplace now bears his name.
Following the flight, Gagarin became an international celebrity and was awarded by many of honors and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, Russia’s highest honor. Even today, Gagarin is widely celebrated in Russian Space Museums, with numerous artifacts and statues in his honor. Gagarin’s flight came at a time when the United States and the Soviet Union were competing for the space technological supremacy. The Soviet Union had already launched first artificial satellite, Sputnik-1 into space in October, 1957.
Before Yuri Gagarin’s flight to space, Soviet Union launched a test flight into the space using prototype of Vostok spacecraft. During this flight, Soviets sent a life-size dummy called Ivan Ivanovich and a dog named Zvezdochka into space. After the successful launching of this test flight, they considered this vessel fit to take a human into space.