Hard to believe, but it was 50 years ago today that Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man from Earth to go into outer space. At the time, the news of tiny April 12, 1961 Vostok spacecraft which orbited the Earth made Yuri Gagarin an instant world celebrity and set a challenge for the young Kennedy Administration to set a challenge to land man on Earth’s moon before the end of the decade.
MiG pilot Yuri Gagarin also had a history of faith in God, making him somewhat unique among the other 19 potential cosmonaut candidates. He even had his daughter baptized at the Russian Orthodox church that the family sometimes attended shortly before his flight into space. His family celebrated both Christmas and Easter. Gagarin reportedly asked his wife to remarry if he should die during his flight into space. However, the first manned mission in space proved both successful and safe and Gagarin returned safely. However, seven years after his trip into space Gagarin and a co-pilot were killed when something went wrong in a routine training flight in a MiG-15UTI. Gagarin’s body was cremated and buried in the walls of the Kremlin as a national hero of Russia.
Today, the crew of the international space station sent words of praise today for Yuri Gagarin’s great achievement in Russian, English and Italian. A sign of how much the world has changed since the April 12, 1961 flight which sent Cold War shivers through the U.S. at the time, but is viewed as a pioneering space exploration achievement today.
Yuri Gagarin’s first manned space flight achievement was the beginning of the future.