Thursday, December 13, 2012
Yuri Gagarin (Ю́рий Гага́рин) was born in Smolensk in 1934. His family were farmers and they suffered greatly from the Nazi occupation of the Soviet Union in the 40's, which caused a lot of strain. He went to school and eventually attended training to become a pilot. His colleagues spoke very highly of him and he did very well in training. It was his fellow students who voted for him to be selected for the up and coming space program. He started his training for space flight and was selected again for an elite group, the Sochi Six, which led to the selections for the Vostok program. In April of 1961, he orbited the Earth. This was groundbreaking as no person had even ever been in space before. The flight only lasted and hour and a half or so but it changed the course of the Cold War for a while since the space race was such a fierce and expensive element. Post flight, he became really famous and traveled around the world. Women, apparently, really liked him. He wanted to go to space on additional occasions but due to safety concerns the USSR would not really let him. Eventually he died in a slightly suspicious jet crash during a training exercise. Several investigations were launched, none that conclusive. He remains one of the most famous figures from the Soviet Union and has appeared on stamps and coins since his death in 1968 at the age of 34.