First Human in Space

Fifty years ago today, Yuri Gagarin, of the U.S.S.R., became the first human to be launched into space, electrifying the world and shocking the Soviet Union’s major competitor, the United States of America. The Russian pilot circled the earth in one orbit, in a Vostok spacecraft, to be precise the Vostok 3KA, which had flown in six unmanned test missions prior to the 1961 historic mission.

The Vostok 3KA was developed for two purposes: as a manned spacecraft and as a platform for spying. Without the spy camera, it would have failed to obtain support from the Communist party, for the Cold War had been warming up for years.

Yuri Gagarin died on 27 March 1968, while on a routine training flight in a MiG-15UTI. The plane crashed near the town of Kirzhach. Although conspiracy theories have been suggested, it is generally believed to have been an accident, possibly partially from the use of outdated weather information.

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