The First Man in Space
Updated: Nov 20, 2022
Yuri Gagarin was the first person to fly in space. His flight, on April 12, 1961, lasted 108 minutes as he circled the Earth for a little more than one orbit in the Soviet Union's Vostok spacecraft. Following the flight, Gagarin became a cultural hero in the Soviet Union. Even today, more than six decades after the historic flight, Gagarin is widely celebrated in Russian space museums, with numerous artifacts, busts, and statues displayed in his honor. His remains are buried at the Kremlin in Moscow, and part of his spacecraft is on display at the RKK Energiya museum.
Gagarin's flight came at a time when the United States and the Soviet Union were competing for technological supremacy in space. The Soviet Union sent the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, into space in October 1957.
Before Gagarin's mission, the Soviets sent a test flight into space using a prototype of the Vostok spacecraft. During this flight, they sent a life-size dummy called Ivan Ivanovich and a dog named Zvezdochka into space. After the test flight, the Soviets considered the vessel fit to take a human into space.