India Today, April 12, 2016
“The feeling of weightlessness was somewhat unfamiliar compared with Earth conditions. Here, you feel as if you were hanging in a horizontal position in straps. You feel as if you are suspended.” - Yuri Gagarin
Russian-Soviet pilot and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who is well-known as the first human to journey into outer space, became the first human to cross into outer space with the launch of Vostok 1 on April 12 in the year 1961.
On the 55th anniversary of his travelling into space, listed are some lesser-known facts on Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, the first man to touch the sky:
1. Gagarin went to vocational school in Moscow, intending to become a foundry worker (foundry is a factory that produces metal castings)
2. After graduating from the vocational school in 1951, he was selected for training at the Saratov Industrial Technical School, where he studied tractors
3. Gagarin volunteered for weekend training as a Soviet air cadet at a local flying club where he learned to fly
4. Gagarin was one of the 20 pilots chosen for the initial Soviet space programme. He was so popular among his fellow candidates that 17 of them anonymously nominated him for the space programme
5. Out of the 20 selected, the eventual choices for the first launch were Gagarin and Gherman Titov. One of the factors for their selection was their physical characteristics. Since the space was limited in the small Vostok cockpit, Gagarin was chosen as he was only 5 feet 2 inches tall
6. On April 12, 1961, the Vostok 3KA-3 (Vostok 1) spacecraft was launched. Gagarin thus became both the first human to travel into space, and the first to orbit the earth
7. His call sign was Kedr, which is the name of a Russian pine tree
8. In total, Gagarin's flight lasted 108 minutes
9. In 1962, he began serving as a deputy to the Soviet of the Union, and was elected to the Central Committee of the Young Communist League
10. Gagarin became Lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Forces in 1962, and received the rank of colonel in 1963
11. On March 27 in the year 1968, Gagarin died in a jet fighter aircraft crash while on a routine training flight from Chkalovsky Air Base
12. Yuri Gagarin was born near Gzhatsk, which was renamed Gagarin in 1968 after his death.