April 12, 2021 marks the 60th anniversary of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic Vostok 1 mission, which gave him the honour of becoming the first human to venture into space.
A former fighter pilot, Gagarin’s mission in space lasted for one hour and 48 minutes. His capsule was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (now in Kazakhstan) and it re-entered the earth’s orbit near the City of Engels in Wesrtern Russia, with Gagarin jumping out of the capsule with a parachute.
Gagarin’s journey changed the course of history forever, here are a few interesting facts about the Vostok 1 mission—
1) Gagarin’s first words as soon as his capsule took off was “Poekhali!” (“Let’s Go).
2) The mission didn’t go exactly as planned because the capsule entered into orbit at a higher altitude than planned. This meant that the capsule was prone to brake failure, which might have resulted in Gagarin remaining in space for a longer time. However, the brakes worked perfectly well and Gagarin re-entered the Earth’s orbit as planned.
3) According to reports a farmer and his daughter were the first to spot Gagarin while he landed. Since the mission occurred during the height of the cold war, they suspected him to be a US spy and Gagarin reportedly had to convince them otherwise.
4) Since the USSR kept the mission as a top secret due to security concerns, Gagarin’s feat became public only after he had safely landed on Earth. Understandably, soon after, the news of a man conquering space, sent shock waves across the world.
5) Thousands of people joined the celebrations in Saint Petersburg to watch a firework display, as scores of scale-model rockets were launched into the sky.