Who was the First Person in Space?
Outer space refers to the region beyond the envelope of the earth’s atmosphere. Humanity reached a major milestone of our existence, when on April 12, 1961, the Soviet Union successfully launched Yuri Gagarin into space. Flying in his Vostok 1 capsule, Gagarin completely orbited the earth within 108 minutes. Landing back safely on Earth, Gagarin was the first human to ever enter into space. Born out of the competitive space race against the United States, Gagarin’s successful mission brought joy and pride to the Soviet Union.
Preparation for the Mission
Before attempting the first manned space mission, the Soviets carried out a test flight into space by launching a dummy (called Ivan Ivanovich) and a dog (known as Zvezdochka). Following the excellent performance of the prototype Vostok spacecraft, the Soviets concluded that all was set for a manned mission. They then launched Gagarin into space to orbit our planet for the first time in human history.
America’s Response to Gagarin’s Spaceflight.
Earlier in October 1957, the Soviets beat Americans by launching Sputnik 1; the first artificial satellite in space. America stared in amazement as the Russians beat them in round one of the space race. Barely a month after Gagarin’s launch, the United States also launched its first man (Alan Shepard) into space — it was on May 5, 1961. In late January 1958, America launched Explorer 1 — the first US satellite in space.
On October 1, 1958, the US government then officially established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA’s Apollo missions in 1969 safely landed the first humans on the moon’s surface — (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and others). Finally, John Glenn of the USA orbited the Earth on February 20, 1962.
NASA renewed American confidence in its technological capabilities. The rumors were that America could have launched Shepard earlier into space before the Soviets, but his mission was postponed a number of times.
Yuri Gagarin — an Overview of the First Man in Space
By virtue of his laudable achievement, Gagarin became a global hero till his last days on Earth and beyond. Born in Moscow on March 9, 1924, Gagarin was the third of his parents’ four children.
He had demonstrated a strong passion for flying planes at an early age. So when he had a chance to learn flying, he gladly accepted it. He was 27-years-old when he was selected to fly the Vostok 1 spacecraft. Blasting off into space from a launchpad, Gagarin reached an altitude of 327 km (203 miles) and completely circled the earth. His space vehicle contained enough food to feed him for 10 days, in case of an emergency.
On returning to earth at high velocity, his spacecraft had nothing to slow him down for safe landing. Descending to an attitude of 7 km (4 mi), Gagarin activated a parachute and successfully landed. He traveled round the world and shared his story. Gagarin died prematurely in March 1968 in a fighter jet crash.
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