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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

First Flight: Gagarin goes into space April 12, 1961

Soviet photos, statements and accounts of the historic launch and the days that followed.

On April 12, 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first person to go into space. The Vostok space capsule carrying him was launched at 9:07 a.m. Moscow time and circled the globe in 108 minutes before landing safely 10:55 a.m. Moscow time. This was a remarkable accomplishment for Soviet science and the Soviet people having come out of the incredible devastation of the Second World War just 16 years previously.

(Read more about the Soviet space program at: The Soviet Space Program: A Review (

Gagarin became a Soviet and international hero and figure.

Taken from the Soviet English language press after his first flight these are various articles, statements and photos about it from April, 1961.

These include the original message from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and the Government of the Soviet Union announcing the flight, a detailed chronicle of the spaceship itself, of the training and testing leading up to the launch and of Gagarin's time in space among other documents. There are many photos that include Khrushchev, Brezhnev and other notable figures.

Bonus Photo Section:

The world's first astronaut is flown to the Soviet capital on April 14, two days after his space flight, to receive the homage of the country.

The big plane carrying Major Yuri Gagarin, surrounded by a flying guard of honor, circles in the air over Moscow before descending.

At the Vnukovo Airport thousands of Muscovites are on hand to greet the astronaut as he steps out of the plane onto the red carpet.

Major Yuri Gagarin reports to the nation that he has accomplished the mission assigned him—an orbital flight around the earth in the spaceship Vostok.

Nikita S. Khrushchev, other high Soviet Government officials and representatives of the diplomatic corps at Vnukovo Airport to welcome Gagarin.

Major Gagarin and his wife photographed with Government and Party leaders (upper row ). Relatives of the astronaut (bottom row ).

Leonid I. Brezhnev, President of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, presents the Order of Lenin and the Hero of the Soviet Union medal.

With his wife Valentina Gagarina, Chairman Khrushchev and Nina Khrushcheva at a reception in Gagarin's honor at the Grand Kremlin Palace.

Yuri Gagarin speaking at a jammed press conference on April 15, the day after the historic welcome, at the Scientists Club in Moscow.

One of the largest crowds in the city's history gathered in Red Square, Moscow, to cheer the man who blazed the trail to outer space .



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