Friday, April 12, 2013
April 12 - The First Human in Outer Space (Yuri Gagarin)
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin became the first human being to enter outer space on April 12, 1961, when his spacecraft Vostok I completed an orbit of the Earth, the first ever by a manned vehicle. The flight took 108 minutes from launch to landing (the shortest manned orbital flight). The spacecraft was a small round capsule launched from Baikonur cosmodrome, in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan east of the Aral Sea; it was designed to maintain life for 10 days if re-entry failed. Medical staff and engineers were uncertain how a human would react to weightlessness, so the spacecraft was locked on automatic controls, though Gagarin had an override code. On re-entry, he was ejected from the capsule 7 kilometers above the Earth. He landed with a parachute 280 miles west of the planned site near Baikonur. A farmer and her daughter, seeing a figure in a bright orange suit with a large helmet, backed away in fear. Gagarin said to them, “Don’t be afraid! I must find a telephone to call Moscow!"