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Yuri A. Gagarin


Pioneer Russian Cosmonaut

Born Klushino, Smolensk

March 9,1934—March 27, 1968

Colonel Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin was born of a peasant family in the village of Klushino, Smolensk region. His education was primarily in the vocations until he entered pilot training at Orenburg in 1957. He graduated with honors from the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy in 1967.

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was called "The Columbus of The Cosmos," an apt and well-deserved title. His epic 108 minute Earth orbital flight on April 12,1961, was far more than just a successful operational mission. It was man's first encounter with the nether regions of space and the beginning of man's journey to the stars. As pilot of the spaceship Vostok 1, he proved that man could endure the rigors of lift-off, re-entry, and weightlessness, and yet still perform the manual operations essential to spacecraft flight.

Gagarin was superbly prepared for his encounter with history, both physically and technologically. On the night before his flight while others paced and worried, "Cosmonaut One" slumbered. When asked how he could sleep so peacefully on the eve of the launching, Yuri answered, "Would it be right to take off if I were not rested? It was my duty to sleep so I slept." This is discipline and dedication at its best.

At the conclusion of his flight, he was subjected to the most intensive debriefing and scientific examination. It was found in spite of the difficult and strange weightless environment, his great skill permitted him to work and to record important data which his fellow astronauts and scientific collaborators would find vital to future space flights.

His impressions of space flight are filled with words of poetry - joy - beauty - black sky - bright stars - these are the universal words of the pilot who knows and loves the firmament. The light of the bright star of Yuri Gagarin was extinguished on March 27, 1968, when his aircraft crashed near Moscow.

Invested 1970 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame

From "These We Honor," The International Hall of Fame; The San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, CA. 1984

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Updated: March 12, 2004