HIS LIFE IN PICTURES
April 12, 1961 the first earthling escaped the gravity well of planet
earth. In the spaceship Vostok 1, Senior Lieutenant Yuri Alexeyevich
Gagarin orbited earth one time at an altitude of 187 3/4 miles (302
kilometers) for 108 minutes at 18,000 miles an hour. He was the
first man to see that the earth was indeed round, indeed mostly
water, and indeed magnificent.
the Gagarin RealSlide show here.
to download RealPlayer? Click
small RealPlayerG2 link at the top of the resulting Real Networks
page is free.)
Posters of Gagarin, the first cosmonaut in space,
appeared throughout Russia.
who was this hero that hundreds of thousands of people greeted in
the streets? How was it that he alone was chosen to break the barrier
of gravity, to "go where no man had gone before"?
sitting, here with his brothers & sisters, was the third child.
was born on March 9, 1934 in Klushino, a small village 100 miles
west of Moscow. His father was a cabinetmaker, carpenter, bricklayer,
and farmer, and his mother was a milkmaid. Together they worked
on a kolkhoz or collective farm. By Soviet social standards, his
heritage was impeccable. He was the third of four children. During
the war, the Nazis threw his family out of their home and took away
two of his sisters. Yuri helped his parents dig a dugout where they
lived untill the war was over, then the family moved to Gziatsk.
he was a teenager, he witnessed a Russian Yak fighter plane make
a forced landing in a field near his home. It was just returning
from battle, its wings bullet-ridden. When the pilots emerged covered
in medals, he was so impressed:
at age 10.
"We understood immediately the price that had to be
paid for military decorations. We boys all wanted to be brave and
handsome pilots. We experienced strange feelings such as we had never
Yuri, 3rd from left, told how he and his friends made trouble for
completed six grades of secondary school where he studied mathematics,
his favorite subject, and physics, then went to a trade school where
he became a foundry-man. At the same time he read Longfellow's Hiawatha
and the works of Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens, as well as the
works of the Russian rocket pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935).
a year and a half at the trade school, he joined a four-year technical
school in Saratov. In his fourth year at school he was offered the
chance to join a flying club. And so began the realization of his
dream to become a pilot. He took his first solo flight in 1955.
He was frequently praised for his ability to handle a plane and
his skill in making a smooth landing; "He'll make a wonderful pilot,"
his instructor and mentor Dmitry Pavlovich Martyanov said.
attended trade school where he became a foundry-man.
Yuri was so excited about flying that he spent an entire summer
in a tent next to the airfield.
took his first solo
flight in 1955.
The Russian State
Archive of Scientific & Technical Documents.
The Gallery > Yuri Gagarin p.1