April 12th, 1961 – first person reaches orbit, Russian, Vostok 1
Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit in space on April 12, 1961. Gargarin was just 27 years old. He was born March 9th, 1934 in the village of Klushino, Russia. Gagarin died in a jet-plane accident March 27, 1968.
“On 12 April 1961, Gagarin became the first human to travel into space in Vostok 3KA-2 (Vostok 1). His call sign in this flight was Kedr (Cedar) (Russian: Кедр). During his flight, Gagarin famously whistled the tune “The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows” (Russian: “Родина слышит, Родина знает”). The first two lines of the song are: “The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows/Where her son flies in the sky.”
From L/R: Korolev, Gagrin, Titov and Popvich.
Image credit: eBay auction item
Quotes by Yuri Gagarin:
“The whole of my life seems to be condensed into this one wonderful moment. Everything that I have been, everything that I have done, was for this. Could anyone dream of more?”
– Spoken just before he entered the spacecraft before his proto-orbital launch. Quoted in Barbree (p. 48).
“Spaceflights cannot be stopped. This is not the work of any one man or even a group of men. It is a historical process which mankind is carrying out in accordance with the natural laws of human development (1967).”
– Quoted in Into that Silent Sea (p. 35).
Quote by U.S. astronaut John Glenn, on Russia’s accomplishment of sending Gagarin to space:
“They just beat the pants off us, that’s all. There’s no use kidding ourselves about that. But now that the space age has begun, there’s going to be plenty of work for everybody.”
– Quoted in Barbree p. 53.
Quote by President Lyndon B. Johnson
“Yuri Gagarin’s courageous and pioneering flight into space opened new horizons and set a brilliant example for the spacemen of the two countries [United States and Russia].”
– Source: Into That Silent Sea, p.1