Who is the first human in space? Sending humans to Space was actually a challenging task during the early space race. However, the Soviet Union decided to break this record by sending one of its Soviet pilots and cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin to space in 1961. During that first human spaceflight aboard the Vostok 1 space capsule, Gagarin orbited around Earth.
Upon return, he became an international celebrity and was also awarded for his great achievement for humanity globally. So how did Gagarin become the first human in space? Continue reading to Find out.
How Yuri Gagarin Became the First Human in Space
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was born on March 9, 1934, in the Soviet Russian village of Klushino. His parents worked on a collection farm, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). BBC revealed that German soldiers took over Klushino as a way of advancing on Moscow in October 1941, during World War II.
The soldiers stayed for 21 months in the land before leaving. When the Second World War was over Gagarin and his entire family relocated to a nearby town of Gzhatsk, which is now named Gagarin. After their relocation, the young Gagarin enrolled in secondary school and studied math and physics, according to the New Mexico Museum of Space History.
Gagarin spent six years in the secondary school before going to technical school in Saratov. He joined a local flying club in Saratov and began to learn how to fly a plane. Gagarin proceeded to attend the Soviet Air Force Academy and graduated in 1957. ESA revealed that he was lucky to become one of the 20 Soviet fighter pilots selected to become cosmonauts.
Gagarin was probably chosen because of his small size as he could fit perfectly in small spacecrafts built during the early human space race. Star Walk revealed that cosmonauts who would fit in the small Vostok capsule would not be taller than 1.75 meters (5 feet 9 inches). Since Gagarin was 1.57 m tall (5 feet 5 inches), he was the perfect cosmonaut for the first-ever crewed flight.
Preparing to fly the first human in space to orbit
Gagarin and other selected cosmonauts participated in intensive training in preparing for the spaceflight. Their training involves several physical and psychological experiments. During one of these psychological tests, a doctor praised Gagarin for his “degree of intellectual development.”
The doctor noted that the young cosmonaut pays great attention to details, has quick reaction time, strong imagination skills, and the ability to do complex mathematical calculations. These outstanding skills and his height qualified him to be selected by the Soviet Space Agency as the first human in space.
The Historic spaceflight that took Yuri Gagarin to orbit as the first human in space
The Soviets planned their first crewed mission to space using Vostok 1 spacecraft. It was built with different specifications. The crewed session of the capsule was designed to be spherical and it has an internal diameter of about 7 feet (2 meters). The Vostok 1 spacecraft was launched on April 12, 1961, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (now Kazakhstan), carrying the first human in space to orbit.
During the liftoff, the ground control team checked on Gagarin to see if everything was going as planned. Gagarin replied “Poyekhali!” which means “Off we go” in Russia, ESA reveals. Once Gagarin arrived in orbit with the capsule, he orbited Earth for about an hour before reentering Earth’s atmosphere once again.
During the spaceflight, everything went smoothly for Gagarin. However, he lost communication with the ground control on several occasions. During the reentry process, the two parts of the spacecraft failed to separate correctly. However, when the spacecraft was about 4 miles (6 kilometers) above the ground, Gagarin deployed his parachute back to Earth just as planned.
He landed on farmland outside the city of Engels, Russia. The Soviet Union kept its mission a secret until it was successful. Gagarin became a celebrity after the mission. The Soviets barred him from visiting the United States. But he still traveled around the world and received many honors, according to The Telegraph. One of these awards was the “Hero of the Soviet Union,” which was the nation’s highest honor.
Death of Gagarin
After the first successful flight, the Soviets were willing to explore space more. So, On April 23, 1967, the Soyuz 1 mission was launched carrying cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov with Gagarin as the backup. During the landing of the spacecraft, the parachute failed to deploy which killed Komarov immediately.
Gagarin was barred from spaceflight after the crash because the Soviets didn’t want their national hero to be killed. Soviet Union officials also banned him from flying regular aircraft. However, after Gagarin completed additional training, he was allowed to continue flying once again.
On March 27, 1968, Yuri Gagarin was killed by the plane he was test-piloting. The plane crashed and killed him and his flying instructor Vladimir Seryogin, ESA reported. The actual cause of the crash was unclear. However, an investigation carried out by the KGB, the former Soviet security and Intelligence agency revealed that the aircraft began to spin and likely maneuver to avoid a weather balloon.
Since they were at a higher altitude, the two pilots could not regain control. The cause of the crash was blamed on the inaccurate weather information given, according to BBC. However, this report was difficult to confirm as there were many theories surrounding the crash.
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut who became the first human in space. In 1961, he orbited Earth aboard the Vostok 1 space capsule, the first-ever crewed spacecraft. As a result, he became an international celebrity and received many awards for this achievement, both within and outside the Soviet Union.
Frequently Asked Questions
Did the first man in space live?
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, a Soviet Pilot born on March 9, 1934, was the first man in space. He traveled to space on April 12, 1961, aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft and orbited around Earth for 1 hour before landing on farmland outside the city of Engels, Russia.
Gagarin died on March 27, 1968, while test-piloting an aircraft. The first human in space actually inspired and motivated many space agencies to start considering human spaceflight missions.
Who was the first man in space death?
On March 27, 1968, the first man in space died during a test flight in higher altitudes. However, the actual cause of his death is still unknown to this day.