Yuri Gagarin is a monument of the Soviet space conquest. Sixty years ago, he became the first man in the world to be sent to space.
A Soyuz rocket flew to the International Space Station on Friday 9 April 2021 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, with two Russian cosmonauts and one American astronaut on board.
Sixty years ago, on 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin was the first man to go into space. When the Russian cosmonaut enters the first stage of the Vostok rocket, his pulse goes abnormally from 64 to 157 beats per minute; he knows he has only one chance in two of survival.
The rocket takes off at 09:07. In 11 minutes, the ship reaches its orbit. At an altitude of 250 kilometres, Gagarin sends his first message: “I observe the earth. I can distinguish the relief, the forests, the clouds“.
This first 89-minute human-lived tour of the Earth is one of the greatest landmarks in history. Barely two days after its landing, this success went around the world. Yuri Gagarin received honours from then-Soviet leaders Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev. The hero died 7 years later at the age of 34 during a test flight aboard a fighter plane.
This national hero is still celebrated in Russia and his legend is still skilfully maintained. The Vostok capsule, in which the astronaut made his first flight, can be seen in a museum in Moscow.