On the 12th of April 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. His mission lasted for only 108 minutes but within this short time he managed to change fundamentally our knowledge about the universe. Since then Gagarin became a hero in his native country as well as in the rest of the world. This year we celebrate the 80th birthday anniversary of this great man.
Yuri Gagarin was born in a small village called Klushino in an ordinary Russian family. His father was a carpenter and his mother worked at a farm. When the boy was only 7, the Nazi army occupied the village. After the end of World War II the family moved to the city of Gzhatsk. There he studied till 1951 when he entered an industrial school in Saratov. His career as a pilot started three years later when he joined a flying club. Though he became a military pilot graduating from Aviation school in Orenburg, he was always interested in space flights. He was the first to offer himself as a candidate for the space mission. Those 20 lucky men who had been chosen for the flight were nicknamed »the first star crew.» Soon three leaders were announced — Gagarin, Titov and Nelyubov. The competition was very strong but the fact that Korolev, the chief rocket engineer, was in favor of Gagarin played a great role.
The space flight was also of major political importance. At that time the Soviet Union was fiercely competing with the American space team. Initially, the Soviet mission was supposed to take place in June or July 1961. But suddenly they found out that the United States planned to send the first man to space on the 20th of April. Thus, Khrushchev ordered to change the dates and on the 12th of April Yuri Gagarin boarded Vostok 1.
This day brought about a radical transformation in the life of the cosmonaut and his country. He became a hero of the nation, a symbol of Soviet domination in space. Everybody knew him and everyone wanted to be his friend. The government presented him an apartment, a black »Volga» car, and 15,000 Rubles, which was a fortune back in the 60’s.
Unfortunately, the reality was not unclouded happiness for Gagarin. The authorities didn’t allow him to train and he couldn’t even hope to make another flight. The situation seemed to be even more ridiculous when the first cosmonaut had to spend his time having meetings and conferences. Gagarin was nearly desperate when in 1968 he got permission to start training. The decision was fatal leading to the absurd death of the world famous pilot during a flight.
We won’t try to figure out the real reason of the tragedy — all the facts and circumstances have been thoroughly analyzed by the experts. The most important thing for us now is to keep his honest name and reputation for future generations.